• Sitka to host two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany course for college credit

EBOT 100 flyer 2014

Sitka will be the site of a two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany summer fieldwork course May 19-30 offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuskokwim Campus (Bethel).

The Ethnobotany Certificate Program operated by the UAF Kuskokwim Campus is the first such program in this state and only one of a handful that are currently being offered in the entire United States. Ethnobotany is integral to life in Alaska because it recognizes cultural knowledge and deepens our connection with the expansive and exceptional natural world at our doorstep.

Students enrolled in the EBOT program will learn basic plant biology and floral ecology of Alaska, economic applications of ethnobotany, basic applied chemistry of plants, research methods for local specific projects, as well as traditional and new uses of Alaska native plants. These skills will prepare Alaska Native students for employment in wildlife and cultural management agencies, education, and other rural-based jobs, as well as further college milestones such as the associate’s and bachelor’s of
science degrees.

The Sitka-based class EBOT 100, “Introduction to Ethnobotany,” will discuss the relationships between people and plants in the Sitka region as well as other parts of Alaska and the rest of the world. People relate to plants in many ways, for example, by eating them, using them as medicine, naming them and telling stories about them.

To give you an idea of the types of things we’ll discuss, we have included a few sample pages from our ethnobotany program’s upcoming book on the ethnobotany of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, in Western Alaska. This will give you a feeling for how people of a different region relate to a few species you may also have in your area. Please read the descriptions on the EBOT program website of fireweed, Labrador tea and cloud berry. Then you can take a short quiz to see what you learned, and what you already know about plants and the study of how people use them.

The three-credit class (biology credits) costs $600 for tuition, books and materials, but there are scholarships available for Alaska-based students enrolled in the EBOT certificate program. In addition to the class, there will be a three-day program stakeholder meeting that will end on May 31 with a local foods dinner.

Registration forms for the class and the ethnobotany program are linked below. For more information, contact Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program Coordinator Rose Meier, PhD, at 1-907-474-6935 (voice), 1-907-474-5952 (fax) or by email at rameier@alaska.edu.

• Kuskokwim Campus Introduction to Ethnobotany 100 (Sitka) course application 2014

• Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program Application 2014

• UAF College of Rural and Community Development Registration Form

• Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center committee to present project update to Sitka Parks and Rec Committee

Community Greenhouse Turn Around_Page_1

Community Greenhouse Turn Around_Page_2Are you interested in seeing year-round produce and flower production in Sitka? The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center ad-hoc committee will give a project update to the City and Borough of Sitka Parks and Recreation Committee at noon on Thursday, May 1, at the Harrigan Centennial Hall Exhibit Room.

The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center idea started off as a project from the 2008 Sitka Health Summit, but problems acquiring land kept the center from advancing much beyond the concept stage. In recent months, the project gained some new momentum when city officials suggested using land at the city’s Turnaround Park (the old amphibious plane turnaround near the corner of Halibut Point Road and Katlian Street, where the Sitka Skatepark and Sitka Trail Works office are located).

The current proposal is to build a 25-foot-diameter geodesic dome in the middle of the site’s current parking lot. As the project grows, the plan is to build a 90-foot-diameter geodesic dome in the center (the smaller geodesic dome will be moved to another location), with two conventional greenhouses along the ridge by Katlian Street and by the guardrail by the Sitka Trail Works building. There also are plans for some garden landscaping around the site to help clean it up and make it a more attractive place to visit. The greenhouse project will not impede the use of the Sitka Skatepark.

The slideshow below includes several concept drawings by James Patterson. These plans are subject to change, but they help give people an idea of where the project stands right now. Another option is to start off with a high tunnel greenhouse and build around it.

Sitka residents are encouraged to attend the meeting Thursday to show their support for the project. “If we don’t make it through this committee meeting it be ‘back to the drawing board,'” project coordinator Kerry MacLane said. “Your appearance for even a few minutes from 12:10 12:30 p.m. would mean a lot.”

The project was presented to the Sitka Historic Preservation Commission in mid April (the Sitka Turnaround Park is a historic site). If the greenhouse concept is approved by the Parks and Rec Committee on Thursday, it then will be presented to the Sitka Planning Commission on May 6. After that, the proposal will go to the Sitka Assembly to approve a lease to use the property.

Linked below are some concept points and a response to some questions by Parks and Rec’s partner, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 747-7888.

• Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center proposal bullet points

• Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center response to DNR questions

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

• Kake to host three-day shellfish mariculture workshop on May 1-3

SE SWCD Shellfish Farming Brochure_draft_Page_1

The Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District (SESWCD) will host a comprehensive three-day shellfish mariculture workshop on Thursday through Saturday, May 1-3, in Kake.  (NOTE: Capital City Weekly ran an article covering this event, http://capitalcityweekly.com/stories/051414/new_1206564746.shtml).

This program will be aimed at teaching best management practices to beginning oyster farmers. The workshop curriculum will consist of lectures, labs, and hands-on field operations on working oyster farms. This workshop is open to the public and the District anticipates participation from shellfish farmers in Kake, Hoonah, and Angoon. Participants will learn from experts about nearly every aspect of oyster farming in Southeast Alaska.

The workshop also features a shellfish-oriented educational program at the Kake Community School, as well as a community presentation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 1, at the Kake Community Hall Kitchen. Topics at the community presentation include: food security and mariculture, shellfish enhancement activities for subsistence use, indirect economic benefits of mariculture in the community, and commercial aquaculture diversity.

The District’s partners in this project are the Organized Village of Kake and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. Other participating organizations include the Hoonah Indian Association, Haa Aaní LLC, Alaska Division of Economic Development (Alaska Department of Commerce, Communities and Economic Development), and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

One of the SESWCD’s strategic focus areas is mariculture development (shellfish farming). The intent is to facilitate increased mariculture development in Southeast Alaska to increase food security and support rural economies. This shellfish farming workshop will be the district’s first project in its mariculture program. The Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District is a statutorily authorized quasi-state agency that leverages public funding with private sources to help the communities of Southeast Alaska become more sustainable and self-sufficient.

To register or receive more info, contact James Marcus at 1-907-586-6878 (Juneau number) or districtmanager@seswcd.org.

• Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District Shellfish Mariculture Workshop in Kake press release (with tentative schedule on second page)

• Alaska State Parks now requires special permit to harvest seaweed at Halibut Point Recreation Area


Because of a major increase in the collection of seaweed from Halibut Point Recreation Area for gardens and compost, the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (aka, Alaska State Parks) is limiting the amount residents can remove in order to continue to provide reasonable qualities for all users.

Alaska State Parks has permitted collection of seaweed washed ashore at Halibut Point Recreation Area for many years. However, effective immediately a special-use permit is required to collect seaweed at Halibut Point Recreation Area. Commercial use will not be permitted.

Special-use permits are required for any vehicle access to Halibut Point Recreation Area due to increased damage to park terrain. Seaweed collection will be allowed for anybody willing to walk in and not use a vehicle. KCAW-Raven Radio recently ran this story, which provides more information about the new policies.

The Sitka Park office, which is located at the recreation area, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, but staff is often away from the office. Residents should make an appointment to obtain a seaweed special-use permit in advance of using it, at least a day prior to collecting, by calling state parks at 747-6249. Please note that those people needing a permit on a weekend should call during the week so staff can be available to open the gate. There is no charge for the permit. The access gate will be locked starting April 12. Gatherers are asked to limit the amount of seaweed they take.

Alaska State Parks said it appreciates the public’s cooperation in the implementation of the seaweed collection special-use permit. Access to Halibut Point Recreation Area for the disabled to get to the picnic and day use area will continue to be accommodated as quickly as possible, the park said. Contact park staff for more information.

• Alaska State Parks special-use permit for seaweed gathering at Halibut Point Recreation Area

• It’s time to … plant your broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas class on May 7

Broccoli growing in the garden

Broccoli growing in the garden

The Sitka Local Foods Network reminds you that it’s time to plant your broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas.

Linda Wilson will present a short workshop on planting brassicas at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, at 3509 Halibut Point Road. Broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas are good for stir fries and other meals, and they’re fun to grow. Parking space is limited, so please consider walking, riding your bike, taking the bus or carpooling. More information is available by calling Linda at 747-3096 (nights, weekends) or by emailing her at lawilson87@hotmail.com.

The Sitka Local Foods Network is hosting a series of “It’s time to …” workshops this spring and summer designed to help local residents learn about various aspects of vegetable gardening and fruit growing. Many of these classes will be informal get-togethers at various gardens around town. Please watch our websiteFacebook pageFacebook group, and local news media for information about upcoming classes. If you have an “It’s time to …” workshop you’d like to teach, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708.

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

• The Garden Show returns to KCAW-Raven Radio spring programming lineup


Kitty LaBounty, left, and Mollie Kabler have been hosts of The Garden Show on KCAW-Raven Radio for more than 20 years. (Photo courtesy of KCAW-Raven Radio)

For more than 20 years, Mollie Kabler and Kitty LaBounty have taken to the airwaves during the spring months for The Garden Show on KCAW-Raven Radio.

The show returned to the programming lineup earlier this month and airs from 5:30-6 p.m. on Saturdays from April through June, or longer into the summer if work schedules permit. Topics include timely tasks for gardening in Southeast Alaska, taking on-air questions, and themes around basic and more advanced gardening of vegetables, flowers, fruit etc.

Mollie and Kitty both have been gardening in Sitka for more than 25 years, and they also have gardening experience from their childhoods in Wisconsin (Mollie) and Oregon (Kitty). They both have passed the Master Gardener classes offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

To call the show with gardening questions, call 747-5877 between 5:30-6 p.m. on Saturday.

• Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report helps define Sitka’s food culture

Food Assessment Indicator Report web version_Page_01

SitkaCommunityFoodAssessmentLogoThe Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report was released on Monday, and the findings will help guide future food system planning in Sitka.

A 2012 Sitka Health Summit project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment has examined where Sitka residents get their food, what types they eat, what they grow, what they hunt and fish for, where they shop, what type of access people have to healthy food, and other questions about Sitka’s food supply. The findings of the food assessment will help Sitka improve its food security.

After Sitka residents chose the Sitka Community Food Assessment as a project at the September 2012 Sitka Health Summit, the work group received a grant to hire a coordinator and contract with a data person. A revised version of a questionnaire from a similar project on the Kenai Peninsula was posted online, available at the library, and discussed in focus groups, with more than 400 residents answering the 36 questions. In November 2013, some of the initial data was presented at the Sitka Food Summit, where about 60 residents discussed the results and noted any further research that needed to be done. Since then, the work group, in partnership with The Island Institute and others, fine-tuned the data before writing and editing the indicators report.

“We hope the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report can guide future food system planning and plant seeds for innovative responses that will strengthen Sitka’s food landscape,” project coordinator Lisa Sadleir-Hart wrote in the 26-page document’s introduction. “The Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report uncovers many weaknesses in our food system as well as some incredible assets that define Sitka’s food culture — a rich ecosystem filled with nutritious gems from the land and sea plus a generous spirit of sharing with our neighbors. Now that we’ve defined the current foodscape in Sitka, let’s work together to build a more resilient food system that can deeply nourish the entire community for generations to come.”

The Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report opens with Sitka’s demographics and several Sitka food facts. It then features data about how many people in Sitka hunt, fish, gather, and/or grow their own food, as well as some barriers. Next is information about where people in Sitka shop for their food, followed by how many people in Sitka are on some form of food assistance. The report also includes information about food in the schools, and local food manufacturing.

The findings will be presented to the community during an upcoming meeting of the Sitka Assembly, and the report will be posted online here (see below) and on The Island Institute’s website.

• Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicator Report (April 14, 2014, opens as PDF file)