U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 3-9 as National Farmers Market Week this year, as noted by the Farmers Market Coalition, and you can celebrate the week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).
Farmers markets are a great way to connect with the community, while also purchasing local produce, wild fish, locally baked bread and arts and crafts. Besides providing access to fresh local produce, farmers markets create strong economic engines in communities, promote local health and bring a diverse group of people together. They also help consumers meet and get to know the people who produce their food.
“The Sitka Farmers Market is a community festival where people of all walks of life come together and find great stuff, good food, amazing music, awesome produce, freshly harvested, and above all, great company!” said Debe Brincefield, one of the two Sitka Farmers Market co-managers.
Farmers markets have been growing nationally, from 2,863 in 2000 to more than 8,100 in 2014, a jump of more than 280 percent. While Alaska doesn’t have as many farmers markets as other states, it did have the highest percentage of new markets in the country in recent years, up to 35 markets in 2011 or 46 percent. The national rate of new market growth was 17 percent in 2011 and 9.6 percent in 2012.
Aug. 9 will be the fourth of six full Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, with the schedule running on alternate Saturdays (June 28, July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun.
The Sitka Farmers Market was the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons, and we also accept SNAP EBT payments. In addition, this year we teamed up with Sitka Tours to offer free bus service on market Saturdays. The bus picks up at Sawmill Creek Apartments at 9:45 a.m., at Indian River at 9:50 a.m., and Swan Lake Senior Center at 10 a.m., with the return trip leaving ANB Founders Hall at noon.
For more information about the market or hosting a booth, contact Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Ellexis Howey or Debe Brincefield at 738-8683 or firstname.lastname@example.org. By the way, we always need volunteers to help set up and take down the market before and after the event. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Also, we need volunteer harvesters from 3:30-5:30 p.m. every Friday and 8-9:30 a.m. on market Saturdays at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, which is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (the dark brown brick-and-wood church on Lincoln Street above Crescent Harbor). Fresh veggies will be available for a donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network or a WIC farmers market coupon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Mondays before a market Saturday. For more info on garden work parties, contact St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt at 738-7009 or 623-7003.