• UAF Cooperative Extension Service to give presentation on preparing food in an emergency

OWL Happy Health Hour Sept. 29

Thursday’s 6.2-magnitude earthquake just north of Anchorage was a good reminder about the need to be prepared, especially in Alaska when we’re so isolated from the rest of the country. In honor of September being National Preparedness Month, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service‘s Happy Health Hour talk this month will be about how to prepare food during a power failure.

The talk takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 29 (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 are accessed at Kettleson Memorial Library, which right now is temporarily located in the old Stratton Library building on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service agent Linda Tannehill of Kenai will explain what to consider when storing food for emergencies and what food preparation options are available during a power failure. During a power failure, cooking and eating habits must change to fit the situation. We’ll cover what to consider when storing food for emergencies and what food preparation options are available during a power failure.

During an emergency — such as an earthquake, tsunami, or winter weather — the power can go out for hours, if not days or weeks. We also might lose our transportation infrastructure, meaning it could take some time to get a barge or airplane to town with emergency supplies. Individuals, families, and businesses should have spare food, medicine, portable stove and fuel, extra blankets, etc., to weather the emergency. Click this link to learn how to pack a home emergency kit. More emergency preparedness resources are available on the UAF Cooperative Extension Service website.

To learn more about the Happy Health Hour and this presentation, contact the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 1-877-520-5211 or go to http://www.uaf.edu/ces/. You also can call Jasmine Shaw at the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office at 747-9440 for more information.

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• It’s time to … get out and plant your fall garlic crop

A group of kids harvests garlic during an Aug. 12, 2011, work party at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm.

A group of kids harvests garlic during an Aug. 12, 2011, work party at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm.

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Garlic scapes for sale at the Sitka Farmers Market

This is the time when most people are thinking about making their final harvests and then preparing the garden for the winter. This also is the perfect time to plant garlic in Alaska, which does best when it is planted in late September to early October and has a chance to be in the ground over the winter.

Sitka gardener Linda Wilson of Sea View Garden and the Sitka Local Foods Network education committee will host a garlic planting class at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 5, at 3509 Halibut Point Road. Please note this is an updated date, time, and location for a previously announced class that needed to be rescheduled.

During the class you’ll learn about the two main types of garlic — hard-neck garlic, which grows a flower stalk during the summer, and soft-neck garlic, which doesn’t flower — and common varieties grown in Alaska (German white, Nootka rose, elephant, etc.). You also will learn why even if you don’t plant your garlic in the fall you still need to order your garlic bulbs now and store them in a cool place over the winter.

The Sitka Local Foods Network education committee has been hosting a series of “It’s time to …” workshops this year 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 website, Facebook 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.

• Inaugural Alaska Food Festival and Conference to feature Sitka speakers

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AlaskaFoodPolicyCouncilLogoThree Sitka residents will have prominent roles during the inaugural Alaska Food Festival and Conference on Friday through Sunday, Nov. 7-9, at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Lucy Cuddy Center. This event is hosted by the Alaska Food Policy Council.

Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart will deliver one of the two keynote speeches during lunch on Friday, when she will discuss food security and the results of the Sitka Community Food Assessment.

Keith Nyitray, president of the Sitka Food Co-op board, will participate in a panel discussion Friday afternoon about the future of food cooperatives in Alaska. Gordon Blue, the president/executive director of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust (which operates the Alaskans Own Seafood community supported fishery program), will participate in a Friday afternoon panel discussion about innovations to enhancing local fishing livelihoods in coastal Alaska.

This event has a different theme for each of the three days. Friday is the Alaska Food Policy Conference, which features local and national speakers who will present and lead discussions on a variety of food security, production, business and community issues. Saturday is the Alaska Food Festival, which gives participants to sample a variety of Alaska food products, attend short classes on various food topics, shop at the farmers market, etc. The event wraps up Sunday with the Food System Open House, where participants can visit sites in Anchorage that are doing exciting work in our food system.

To register for the Alaska Food Festival and Conference use this link, http://akfoodpolicycouncil.wordpress.com/conference/register/. Registration is $125, or $75 for students. For questions or more information, please feel free to contact the Alaska Food Policy Council at 1-907-269-8072 or akfoodpolicycouncil@gmail.com.

• 20th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network

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It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and gussy them up. The 20th annual Running of the Boots begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the big tent near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street.

This will be the second year featuring a new meeting point and course, allowing the race to be a bigger part of the End-of-Season Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association.

“I’m excited about the Running of the Boots joining the End-of-Season folks under one big tent … literally,” race organizer Kerry MacLane said. “We’ll have music, hot chocolate, and folks can enjoy a complimentary lunch after oodles of prizes have been awarded.”

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). The Running of the Boots raises funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners.

The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The new course starts by St. Michael’s Cathedral, and heads down Lincoln Street toward City Hall, takes a left on Harbor Drive and loops up Maksoutov Street and back to the starting line.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $5 per person and $20 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10 a.m. Costume judging starts about 10:30 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11 a.m. As usual, local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a Sitka Farmers Market booth with fresh veggies for sale. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Alaska Quest electronic benefit cards.

“This is a really fun way to advance the Sitka Farmers Market and our other Sitka Local Foods Network projects,” MacLane said. “This is a must-see annual change-of-the season tradition in Sitka.”

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-7888, or by email at maclanekerry@yahoo.com.

Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/. Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-13) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (type Running of the Boots into the search bar at the top of the page). Click here to see a slideshow of scenes from last year’s event.

Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork to stay updated on Sitka Local Foods Network activities.

• Sitka Local Foods Network to host a free late-harvest/winter-garden-preparation class

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Late harvests and preparing your vegetable garden for winter is the subject of the fifth class in the 2014 Sitka Local Foods Network education committee’s garden mentoring program.

The public is invited to join our current garden-mentoring families to learn about harvesting and storing potatoes, harvesting lettuce and kale into fall and winter, and preparing vegetable gardens for winter (and spring).

This free class will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, at Anna Bradley’s house, 4764 Halibut Point Road. The class is open to all first-time gardeners in Sitka.

Families that might be interested in participating in the garden mentor program are encouraged to come and learn about 2015 garden mentoring opportunities.

For more information, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708 or michelleputzfood@yahoo.com.

• Sitka Adventist School students harvest bumper crop from their school garden

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Students at Sitka Adventist School recently harvested a bumper crop of veggies they grew over the summer in their new school garden. Sitka Adventist School is a small private school for grades 1-8 located at 1613 Halibut Point Road (lower level).

“Our garden is relatively new. We built and planted it in spring of 2014,” Principal/Teacher Kallie McCutcheon said. “The students helped mix dirt, shovel dirt and sand, plant seeds and seedlings, water (on the rare occasion that it wasn’t supplied from the heavens), check plants, weed, and of course, pick our wonderful produce. We picked beets, carrots, potatoes and cabbage. I decided to plant the garden to teach the kids a skill and that they CAN grow plants!”

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• Baranof Elementary School first-graders harvest their kindergarten plantings at Russian Bishop’s House garden

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BIG HARVESTBaranof Elementary School first-grader Marley Bayne, 6, holds up a large carrot and a beet next to the Russian Bishop’s House garden Wednesday. The entire first-grade class harvested the vegetables they helped plant in the spring when they were kindergartners. This year’s growing season was especially good for the garden crops, which children are using to make soup in class. Sitka National Historical Park rangers organize the gardening activities with the help of school staff and parent volunteers. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo By James Poulson)