• Sitka Local Foods Network education committee recruiting families for garden mentor program


The Sitka Local Foods Network education committee wants to help families in Sitka learn how easy it can be to grow some of their own food. We are looking for two families of novice gardeners who want to learn about and try vegetable gardening in their own backyard through our new Family Garden Mentor project.

Through a series of six or seven workshops that will be held at the families’ homes, Sitka Local Foods Network volunteers will help the families:

  • Choose a location for a vegetable bed (learning about sun, drainage, etc.),
  • Build a raised bed, and acquire soil and soil amendments,
  • Learn about soil and prepare the soil for planting
  • Plant 2-4 easy-to-grow plants – specifically potatoes, lettuce, kale, and maybe a perennial edible like rhubarb or fruit bushes
  • Learn to take care of their plants over the summer — teaching how to care for and pick the vegetables (without killing the plant),
  • Harvest potatoes, and
  • Cook a meal using the vegetables they have grown

GreensInHoopHouseStPetersThe Sitka Local Foods Network will provide all materials — soil, lumber, seeds, etc. — free to the participating families. Families will be expected to provide the labor and enthusiasm for gardening.

Interested families must meet four requirements: 1) they must be first-time vegetable gardeners (this project is meant to help people who are just starting to garden), 2) they must want to try vegetable gardening and be committed to participating throughout the summer, 3) they must own their own property, and 4) they must agree to let others come and attend classes at their property. Other criteria will also be used to help select the final two families. Families that are not selected will be placed on a waiting list in the hope of future continuation and expansion of this project.

Workshops will start in April with selecting the site and run through September’s late harvest. Classes will focus on some of the easiest-to-grow vegetables (and fruit) in Sitka — potatoes, lettuce, kale, and rhubarb.

Families interested in participating should contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708 and provide a name, address, and contact phone number.

• Alaskans Own community-supported fisheries program announces 2014 season subscription prices

AO flier no tags

Sitka-based Alaskans Own seafood recently announced its subscription prices for its 2014 community-supported fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka, Juneau, and Anchorage. The prices appear to have gone down a tiny bit since the 2013 season.

Alaskans Own was the first CSF program in the state, modeling its program after the successful community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs that let customers deal directly with harvesters so they can buy subscription shares to the year’s crop/catch. In addition to the CSF program, Alaskans Own usually has a table at the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer.

ErinFultonAshiaLaneAlaskansOwnSeafoodThis is the fifth year of the Alaskans Own CSF program, and there are four-month and six-month subscriptions available. The six-month subscriptions  allow people to keep receiving freshly caught seafood through October instead of August, when the traditional four-month subscriptions end. Half-subscriptions also are available. Subscriptions include a mix of locally caught black cod (sablefish), halibut, king salmon, coho salmon, lingcod and miscellaneous rockfish, depending on the commercial fishing season and prices.

The Alaskans Own program is associated with the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust. The Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust’s mission is to strengthen Alaskan fishing communities and marine resources through scientific research, education, and economic opportunity.

Here is Alaskans Own CSF program information for 2014 provided in a recent email sent to the program’s past subscribers and other interested folk:

Hello, Sitka!

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, the herring are back, and Alaskans Own CSF is gearing up for our 2014 season.

This summer looks to be another season filled with even better quality seafood than before. We’d love to have you join us and get access to the great local seafood the Sitka has to offer.

It is difficult to tell, at this point, how prices will trend through the season. Please be assured that we will always bring you the very best value, highest quality seafood that we can, meeting or exceeding the total number of pounds for the plan that you choose. We will make adjustments in specific items to preserve this value. Our small staff gratefully receives assistance from a number of volunteers to help keep costs down. Any and all ‘profits’ go to support the scientific work of the Fishery Conservation Networks.

  • Six months, Full share: $760 (60 pounds, ~ 10 lb. /month)
  • Six months, Half share: $400 (30 pounds, ~ 5 lb./month)s
  • Four months, Full share: $520 (40 pounds, ~ 10 lb./month)
  • Four months, Half share: $280 (20 pounds, ~ 5 lb./month)

To renew your subscription with Alaskans Own, please send me an email, or give me a call on the Alaskans Own phone 907-738-2275(*). Subscriptions can be paid for using cash, check or credit card. You can learn more about what we offer and the work we do on our website: www.alaskansown.com.

Thank you for all your support. I hope you’ll join Alaskans Own again this season to enjoy the best seafood from the finest fishermen in Southeast Alaska.

Erin Fulton, Programs Coordinator, Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust

* With the Sitka Sound Science Center under construction, we won’t be in our normal office space — email and the new AO phone will be the best way to reach us, and to schedule an ‘in person’ meeting.

• USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offers funding support program for high tunnels


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCA) has revamped its cost-sharing program that enables qualifying landowners who produce food to build high tunnels.

High tunnels, also known as hoop houses or temporary greenhouses, extend the growing season so more food is produced before and after the traditional dates for growing stuff outdoors.

High tunnels are different than greenhouses in that they are passively heated by the sun, so they have lower energy costs than greenhouses. High tunnels are at least six-feet tall, and low tunnels aren’t eligible in this program. Food in high tunnels is planted either directly into the ground or in raised beds. To learn more about the USDA’s high tunnel program, click here (note, link is to FY2013 program information, there have been updates for FY2015 but no link was available). This link has frequently asked questions and answers about seasonal high tunnel systems for crops.

Picture10This program started a couple of years ago as a pilot program, but now is a permanent part of of the NRCS EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Programs). One major change is there now is no size restriction on the size of structures NRCS will provide cost-sharing funds (previously it was limited to up to 2,178 square feet, or 5 percent of one acre). Also, geodesic domes are now eligible. Both the land owner and land must meet certain eligibility requirements. Funding is provided on a reimbursable status once the high tunnel is installed and certified to meet NRCS standards. In previous years only a couple of Sitka residents have taken advantage of the program, but other areas of the state, such as Homer, have built dozens of high tunnels through the program.

For information regarding the NRCS technical service or program participation in Southeast Alaska, please contact Samia Savella at the Juneau field office at (907) 586-7220 or samia.savell@ak.usda.gov. Applications currently are being accepted for the 2015 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015) and applications must be received at the Juneau field office on or before June 15, 2014. Click here for a link to the Alaska NRCS page.

• High Tunnel Fact Sheet March 2014

• Flier about Southeast Alaska cost-sharing program March 2014

• It’s time to … prune your fruit trees workshop on Saturday, March 22


The Sitka Local Foods Network reminds you that it’s time to get out in the garden and prune your fruit trees. Jud Kirkness will present a free, short, on-the-ground fruit tree pruning workshop at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 22, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street). 

Due to limited space, those interested in participating need to pre-register by calling Michelle Putz at 747-2708.

The Sitka Local Foods Network will be hosting a series of “It’s time to …” workshops this spring and summer designed to help local residents with various aspects of vegetable gardening and fruit growing. Many of these classes will be informal get-togethers at various gardens around town.

In addition, don’t forget the Sitka Local Foods Network education committee will meet from 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, March 17, at Harrigan Centennial Hall to discuss future workshops and classes for the upcoming spring and summer.

We are still looking to expand our network of local volunteers who can teach classes (formal and informal) this year about growing food, so please attend if you’re interested. If you can’t attend, please email Charles Bingham at charleswbingham3@gmail.com with info about what topics you can teach, your gardening experience, and contact information so we can add you to our database of instructors.

• Sitka Conservation Society publishes resource guide for statewide Fish to Schools programs

Serving Local Fish in School Cafeteria_Page_01

The Sitka Conservation Society, which coordinates Sitka’s Fish to Schools program, has published a new resource guide, A Guide to Serving Local Fish in School Cafeterias, to help other school districts around the state implement similar programs in their communities.

F2S_Elementary2The Sitka Fish to Schools program came out of the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, when local residents chose as one of its community wellness projects to serve more local seafood in our schools. Since then the program has grown so that all students from Grades 2-12 in Sitka have a local seafood lunch option at least twice a month. This includes the Sitka School District schools, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, and Pacific High School, plus other local schools, the state-run boarding school Mount Edgecumbe High School and the private K-8 The SEER School.

Sitka is one of the first districts in the state to serve local seafood through the National School Lunch Program and has become a leader in the State of Alaska in getting local foods into schools. In the last three years, the number of schools interested in serving local seafood has increased ten-fold. Haines, Dillingham, Kodiak, Galena, and Juneau are a few of the districts that are now serving seafood in their meal programs.

In an effort to support regional and statewide efforts to serve local foods in schools, the Sitka Conservation Society developed a “how-to” guide to serving fish in schools. Using Sitka as a case study, it outlines procurement and processing strategies, legalities, tips, and recipes. Also included are case studies from around the state that offer tips and suggestions based on the success of their programs.

F2S_Elementary3The Sitka Fish to Schools program has seen an increase in meal participation on fish lunch days, likely attributed to the participation of students who typically bring a sack lunch. One student who reported never liking fish started to eat fish after a local chef came to her classroom. Others students circle fish lunch dates on their school lunch calendar, refusing home lunch that day. And why are they so excited? A middle school student put it this way, “It’s healthy and good for you and you feel good after you eat it.” Others give reasons of wanting to become a fisherman or cite the economic value to their community.

In addition to this guide is the “Stream to Plate” curriculum, a unit of seven lessons that connect salmon to the classroom. The lessons address the ecological significance and human relationship to salmon. These lessons have been tried and refined the last three years with third graders at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

Chris Bryner, teacher and collaborator on the salmon unit said, “The Fish to Schools curriculum connects my classroom to the community. Students not only learn about a resource relevant to their daily lives, but come away with an understanding that learning happens inside and outside of school.”

As the ninth largest seafood port in the country, Sitka is paving the way for locally-sourced meals. Their efforts are part of a larger national movement, Farm to School, to get local foods in schools. The Alaska Farm to School program honored Sitka’s Fish to Schools program for its innovation a couple of years ago.

celebrate fish to state“The beauty of Fish to Schools is that it provides a practical, local solution to a multitude of current global issues,” Fish to Schools Co-Founder Lexi Fish said. Local sourcing reduces the environmental impact of foods grown and raised thousands of miles away and ultimately supports a more resilient food system.

Local fish in school lunches not only tastes “delicus” (stet), as one third grader put it, but also addresses food justice, nutrition, community sustainability, and conservation. To get a free copy of the guide and curriculum, visit http://sitkawild.org/2014/03/a-guide-to-serving-local-fish-in-school-cafeterias/ or contact Sitka Conservation Society Community Sustainability Organizer Tracy Gagnon at 747.7509 or tracy@sitkawild.org.

Also, don’t forget to stop by the Celebrate Fish to State event from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, at Blatchley Middle School to learn more about the efforts to expand the Fish to Schools program statewide.

• Kayaaní Commission accepting letters of interest for commissioners.


Sitka Tribe of Alaska‘s Kayaaní Commission is accepting letters of interest to fill two open commissioner seats — a three-year term tribal citizen seat, and a one-year term general membership seat.

The Kayaaní Commission works to preserve and protect plants and the traditional ways they are used. It is a commission of knowledgeable tribal citizens, elders and knowledgeable Sitka residents who care for the preservation of traditional ways, protection of native species and their uses. The commission then shares that knowledge so it is not lost. A few years ago, the Kayaaní Commission published The Kayaaní Commission Ethnobotany Field Guide to Selective Plants in Sitka, Alaska, which details some of the food and medicinal uses of a variety of local plants.

For the open commission seats, the term “tribal citizen” shall mean any individual enrolled at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the term “general membership” of the Kayaani Commission shall mean all tribal citizens and residents of Sitka who have resided here for at least six months. Deadline is close of business on Friday, March 28.

Please mail or hand deliver letters of interest to the STA’s Resource Protection Department, 456 Katlian Street, Sitka, AK 99835, Attention: Heather Riggs, or email letters to heather.riggs@sitkatribe-nsn.gov. For more information, please contact Heather @ 747-7167.

• Celebrate Fish to State takes place on March 20 to support statewide Fish to Schools program

celebrate fish to state

SCSCohoPortionsForCookingSitka’s Fish to Schools program has been extremely successful the past three years, and now there’s a movement to make similar programs available statewide. Join us from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, at Blatchley Middle School as we celebrate Fish to State.

This event will celebrate the success of the Sitka Fish to Schools program, which is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society and other partners. The event will include short presentations from Sitka School Board President Lon Garrison, Sitka Local Foods Network President Lisa Sadleir-Hart, and Sitka Conservation Society Community Sustainability Organizer Tracy Gagnon. Light refreshments will be available.

The Sitka Fish to Schools program came out of the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, when local residents chose as one of its community wellness projects to serve more local seafood in our schools. Since then the program has grown so that all students from Grades 2-12 in Sitka have a local seafood lunch option at least twice a month. This includes the Sitka School District schools, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, and Pacific High School, plus other local schools, the state-run boarding school Mount Edgecumbe High School and the private K-8 The SEER School. The award-winning program has served as a model for a handful of other school districts in Alaska, and now there is a push to make it available statewide with a full curriculum and resource guide, plus financial support.

For more information, contact Ray Friedlander of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or ray@sitkawild.org.


• Sitka Sound Science Center presentation will shed light on impacts of Fukushima radiation in the Pacific Ocean


People living along the Pacific Coast, including in Sitka and Southeast Alaska, have been wondering about the impacts of radiation in the food supply ever since the March 2011 earthquake in Japan and Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant meltdown.

Dr. Lee Cooper of the University of Maryland, a Scientist in Residency Fellow at the Sitka Sound Science Center, will discuss the current state of the science on Fukushima radiation and its likely impact on the Gulf of Alaska during a brown-bag lunch presentation from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 14, at the Sitka Pioneer Home Chapel. Bring your lunch and questions to the presentation, which is sponsored by the Sitka Sound Science Center and the National Science Foundation.

According to the Sitka Sound Science Center:

It is projected that dissolved contaminants, particularly the radioactive isotopes of cesium, 137Cs and 134Cs from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power in Japan, will reach Southeast Alaska this year.  Because the amount of radiation released is uncertain and the accident site is still leaking to some extent, it is difficult to know exactly what the peak concentrations of radioactive cesium will be in local waters, but it is not likely to exceed levels that were observed during the bomb fallout era 40 to 50 years ago. Cesium is chemically very similar to potassium, which is a common ionic salt in seawater, so fortunately the concentration of cesium into the foodweb and into seafood harvested for food is comparatively modest.

Nevertheless, it is important to put into perspective the potential risks involved and communicate this to the public. This talk will summarize the newest scientific information that is available on the impacts of the accident, based upon a special session held in late February at the Ocean Science Meeting in Honolulu and attended by scientists studying Fukushima impacts, ranging from Japan and East Asia to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

For more information, contact Tory O’Connell at 747-8878.


• Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project to hold monthly meeting on Friday, March 14

Former Sitka Local Foods Network President Kerry MacLane, left, and Sprucecot Gardens Owner Judy Johnstone pose in front of one of the high tunnels recently erected on Judy’s land on Peterson Street. (Photo Courtesy of KCAW-Raven Radio)

Former Sitka Local Foods Network President Kerry MacLane, left, and Sprucecot B&B and Gardens Owner Judy Johnstone pose in front of one of the high tunnels recently erected in 2013 on Judy’s land on Peterson Street. (Photo Courtesy of KCAW-Raven Radio)

The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project will hold its next meeting at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, March 14, at the Sprucecot B&B and Gardens at 308 Peterson St. This meeting is open to the public.

Judy Johnstone, who owns Sprucecot B&B and Gardens, is hosting the meeting. Reports will be heard from committee members on possible building sites, including the Blatchley Community Gardens site and the old float plane turnaround area on Halibut Point Road.

The Sitka Local Foods Network is supporting this community greenhouse project, but is not coordinating it.

For more information, call Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.

• Sitka Local Foods Network extends application deadline for 2014 Sitka Farmers Market manager and assistant manager

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe Sitka Local Foods Network has extended the application deadline as it seeks a manager and assistant manager to coordinate the 2014 Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. These are contract positions, and the manager and assistant manager (who reports to the manager) receive small compensation depending on experience for their work organizing the six scheduled farmers markets this summer. The new application deadline for both positions is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18.

This is the seventh year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features six markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every other Saturday from June through September at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (this year’s tentative dates are June 28, July 12, 26, Aug. 9, 23, and Sept. 6). SLFNGroupwLindaThe farmers markets feature booths from local farmers/gardeners, local fishermen, and artisans and craftspeople. These events are great Sitka gathering places, and we promote local foods and other local goods at them.

A detailed description of the market manager duties can be found at the link below. For more information or to submit applications, contact Maybelle Filler at 738-1982 or mocampo25@hotmail.com, or you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Applications (a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three recommendations) are due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18. The market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market reports to the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors.

• Description of duties for market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market Manager (2014)