• Lori Adams’ contribution to Sitka gardening featured on Sitka Conservation Society website

Lori Adams poses with some of the ducks she keeps to help keep slugs at bay at her Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden. (Photo Courtesy of Sitka Conservation Society)

Lori Adams poses with some of the ducks she keeps to help keep the slugs at bay at her Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden. (Photo Courtesy of Sitka Conservation Society)

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this recent feature story about Sitka gardener Lori Adams on the Sitka Conservation Society‘s website.

Lori Adams is owner of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden (located at 2103 Sawmill Creek Road), and the author of “How to Grow Vegetables in Sitka, Alaska” (a collection of her 2012 Gardening in Southeast Alaska columns originally published in the Daily Sitka Sentinel). Lori also is a regular vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market.

The feature tells the story about how Lori wanted to start a you-pick garden at her house in 2007, but city code at the time didn’t allow people to grow food and then sell it directly to people from her private property. Lori worked with the city planning department and Sitka Assembly to rewrite the code so Sitka residents can apply for a special permit to sell food grown in their home gardens. The article also features several photos from her garden.

• Fish to Schools program seeks donations of coho salmon from commercial fishermen


The Fish to Schools program needs help from Sitka’s commercial fishermen. The program needs 500 pounds of coho salmon to help make Fish to Schools meals for Sitka students during the upcoming school year.

“Please donate a few of your fish at the closure of the second king opener to Fish to Schools this August and help us meet our goal to get locally caught coho in all Sitka schools,” Fish to Schools program coordinator Tracy Gagnon said. “We’re also collecting photos of you (fishermen) in action — please email a photo of you on the water.”

The Sitka Fish To Schools project (click here to see short video) got its start as a community wellness project at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, and now is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society. It started by providing a monthly fish dish as part of the school lunch as Blatchley Middle School, and since then has grown to feature regular fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School,Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, Pacific High School (where the alternative high school students cook the meals themselves), the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School.

In addition to serving locally caught fish meals as part of the school lunch program, the Fish To Schools program also brings local fishermen, fisheries biologists and chefs to the classroom to teach the kids about the importance of locally caught fish in Sitka. The program received an innovation award from the Alaska Farm To Schools program during a community celebration dinner in May 2012, and now serves as a model for other school districts from coastal fishing communities. In May 2014, the Fish to Schools program released a guidebook so other school districts in Alaska could create similar programs.

To donate, sign up in the main offices at Seafood Producers Cooperative or Sitka Sound Seafoods. The program can only accept commercially caught fish (no sport or subsistence fish).

For more information, contact Tracy Gagnon at Sitka Conservation Society, tracy@sitkawild.org or 747-7509.

• Bob Gorman to lead garden tour on July 31 as part of Sitka Seafood Festival

Bob Gorman, Extension Agent of the Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, shows some germinating seed starts during a free garden workshop on March 11, 2009.

Bob Gorman, Extension Agent of the Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, shows some germinating seed starts during a free garden workshop on March 11, 2009.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Professor Emeritus Bob Gorman will lead a walking garden tour at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 31, as part of the Sitka Seafood Festival.

The tour should last about 90 minutes, and participants should dress for the weather and be prepared for a walking tour with several stops. The garden tour will feature visits to a mixture of ornamental landscapes and food gardens in the downtown area.

Many of these gardens on this tour are private, home gardens, so no public map will be released for privacy reasons. However, last September when a cruise was in town with participants in the 2013 International Master Gardeners Conference, there was a similar tour of public gardens in town and there was a map (PDF document) provided to participants (note, the USDA Experimental Farm site in Sitka usually is closed to the public).

The event is free, but pre-registration is required and can be done by calling UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District office at 747-9440 or emailing Jasmine Shaw at jdshaw2@alaska.edu by noon on July 31.

• UAF Cooperative Extension Service to give presentation on antioxidants in Alaska’s wild berries

OWL Happy Health Hour specific July 28

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service‘s Happy Health Hour talk this month will be about antioxidants in Alaska’s wild berries.

The talk takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 28 (Happy Health Hour talks are the fourth Monday of every month) and is available at libraries statewide on the OWL Network. In Sitka, these talks usually are accessed at Kettleson Memorial Library. But this month’s talk will be available for Sitka residents in Room 106 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, because Kettleson Memorial Library is closed while it moves into temporary quarters for the upcoming library expansion project.

Roxie Rodgers Dinstel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service will talk about the health benefits of antioxidants, the levels of antioxidants in a variety of Alaska’s wild berries, and how different preservation methods affect antioxidant levels. Many wild berries in Alaska, such as blueberries, are considered super foods because of the high levels of healthy antioxidants in them, and Alaska wild blueberries are even richer in antioxidants than wild blueberries from the Lower 48.

To learn more about the Happy Health Hour and this presentation, call the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 1-877-520-5211 or go to http://www.uaf.edu/ces/.

• Volunteer harvesters needed at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

StPetersSignWithToDoListSignYour Sitka Local Foods Network needs a few volunteer harvesters to help pick the veggies at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm on Friday afternoons and occasional Saturday mornings.

We need veggie pickers from 3:30-5:30 p.m. every Friday throughout the summer to help harvest for the Sitka Farmers Market or our booth at Chelan Produce on non-market weeks. Volunteer harvesters also are needed from 8-9:30 a.m. on the Saturdays when we host the Sitka Farmers Market.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is a communal garden located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street (above Crescent Harbor). The communal garden grows produce sold at the Sitka Farmers Markets (held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on alternate Saturdays — July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). On non-market weekends, we host a booth with locally grown produce when the folks from Chelan Produce are in town across from AC Lakeside.

In addition, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Mondays the week of a Sitka Farmers Market (July 21, Aug. 4, Aug. 18, and Sept. 1) people who use WIC coupons can purchase produce from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. We will sell produce to anybody on those Mondays, but we are not set up to take SNAP (food stamp) EBT payments and so those without WIC coupons need to pay cash.

Volunteer harvesters usually can get small amounts of produce for their family when they help at the garden. For more information, please contact St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt at 738-7009. Volunteer harvesters should call Laura ahead of time to let her know you’re coming. Your help is greatly appreciated.

• Fish to Schools seafood recipe contest seeks kid-friendly dishes at Sitka Seafood Festival

Recipe Contest FinalDo you have a favorite kid-friendly and healthy fish entree recipe that uses local seafood? The program wants you to enter your dish in its recipe contest at the .

Do you have a favorite kid-friendly and healthy fish entree recipe that uses local seafood? The Fish to Schools program wants you to enter your dish in its recipe contest at the Sitka Seafood Festival.

The contest is free, just type up your recipe and email it to Sophie Nethercut of the Sitka Conservation Society at sophie@sitkawild.org. You also will be asked to make up a batch for sampling. A panel of local residents will judge the recipes at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, at the Sitka Seafood Festival’s main tent on the Sheldon Jackson Campus, and the winners receive prizes (including a gift certificate for Ludvig’s Bistro for the grand prize).

2014SSFSchedule5The purpose of the contest is to collect kid-friendly fish entree recipes that can be made for school lunches as part of the Fish to Schools program. The dishes should be healthy and easy to make (no special appliances). Baking the fish is preferred over frying, and recipes should be low in sodium and fat. The top seafood dishes will be used in school lunches at the Sitka School District, the state-run Mount Edgecumbe High School, and the private SEER School.

Samples of the dish (enough for at least 15 people to nibble) should be brought by 4:15 p.m. on Saturday to the Sitka Seafood Festival main tent at Sheldon Jackson Campus for judging. Entrants are encouraged to print out a copy of the recipe to include with your samples, and bring a photo of you making the dish (if possible).

For more information, click this link or call Sophie at 747-7509. This is one of many events as part of this year’s Sitka Seafood Festival, which has events on July 31-Aug. 2 at various locations around Sitka. Additional info about the Sitka Seafood Festival can be found here.


• State of Alaska updates safe seafood consumption guidelines


Eat all the salmon you want, but limit your amount of salmon shark, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology (part of the Division of Public Health) said when it recently updated its safe seafood consumption guidelines.

The Section of Epidemiology, in partnership with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, started testing Alaska seafood for toxic heavy metals, such as mercury, and other pollutants, such as pesticides, back in 2001. The main reason for the research was to determine safe levels of seafood consumption for pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants, and others. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, the research involved testing fish, and using human hair samples to see how the heavy metals moved from species to species.

The Division of Public Health Division recommends eating fish at least twice a week. Medical research shows salmon are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are believed to improve cholesterol and fight heart disease. Many types of Alaska seafood also are part of the traditional Alaska Native diet.

The good news is Alaska’s five salmon varieties (chinook/king, sockeye/red, coho/silver, chum/keta/dog, and humpy/pink) all tested as safe for everybody, with no limitations for pregnant women or others, as did halibut smaller than 40 pounds and Alaska pollock (commonly found in fish sticks and fast food fishburgers). This year’s expanded testing increased the number of safe-for-all species to 23 from 11 in 2007 (see chart above for complete list).

However, there were some seafood species where the Office of Epidemiology suggests consumption limits. Alaskans should use a point system, where people can eat up to 12 points a week (the safe species get zero points), with points based on six-ounce portions. Halibut (40-80 pounds), lingcod (35-40 inches) and lake trout are worth three points. Halibut (80-140 pounds), lingcod (40-45 inches) and longnose skate are worth four points. Halibut (140-220 pounds) and yelloweye rockfish are worth six points. Halibut (220 pounds or larger), lingcod (45 inches or longer), salmon shark and spiny dogfish are worth 12 points and should only be eaten once per week.