• Sitka Assembly to hear proposal to allow temporary front-yard produce stands for local gardeners

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

The Sitka Assembly is scheduled at its Tuesday, Nov. 25, meeting a proposal that will allow local gardeners to host temporary front-yard produce stands in residential areas.

Lisa Sadeir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

Lisa Sadeir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

The proposal will modify city code to change commercial use horticulture from a conditional use in residential and island zones to a permitted use. It was passed unanimously by the Sitka Planning Commission during that group’s Oct. 21 meeting, with a change that will allow an expedited review and permitting process from the Planning Commission, so home gardeners don’t have to go all the way to the Assembly for a permit. The current zoning code allows for you-pick gardens, such as Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden, but doesn’t allow for temporary home produce stands.

Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart and her husband, Tom Hart, who operate Anam Cara Garden, first proposed the idea in August. They felt home gardeners can go through the permitting process during the winter, so they can operate their front-yard produce stands during the summer. The Planning Commission included a variety of rules on size, hours, neighbor notification, parking needs, etc., and it will review each proposed produce stand.

“I believe the public collaboration process works — it was good being able to work with the commission to make adjustments it was concerned about,” Sadleir-Hart said, according to an Oct. 22 article in the Daily Sitka Sentinel. “It will move us closer in terms of increasing the presence of locally produced food in our community. It will give Sitkans an opportunity to sell their produce to their neighbors, and benefit their pocketbooks as well.”

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• Please remember those people in Sitka in need during this Thanksgiving season

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As we approach Thanksgiving, many families are gathering their supplies for the traditional feast. But there are a lot of people in Sitka who are struggling just to put food on the table.

In Sitka, the Salvation Army serves as the USDA-designated food bank and distribution point for commodity food. Maj. Turnie Wright (who teams up with his wife, Maj. Evadne Wright to run the local Salvation Army) said there are many items the Sitka Salvation Army can use to keep up with Sitka’s growing hunger needs. He said they served 77 meals at the soup kitchen the other day. You can learn more about Sitka’s growing number of people who need food assistance in the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report released in April 2014 (note, the number of people using the Salvation Army food bank and soup kitchen already is much higher than the numbers listed in the report).

Here’s a list:

  • gloves/mittens, hats, and coats (especially kids sizes)
  • sample-size toiletry kits
  • diapers (all sizes)
  • vegetables (canned, if possible, due to limited freezer space, or fresh for the soup kitchen)
  • cereals (avoid the sugar-laden junk masquerading as cereal)
  • peanut butter
  • potted meat (spreadable, such as Libby’s)
  • Ramen noodles
  • powdered milk
  • canned meats (such as chicken, salmon, Spam, etc.)
  • pork and beans
  • soups
  • spaghetti and other pasta
  • spaghetti sauce
  • fish (any type, frozen is preferred for the soup kitchen and canned for the food bank)
  • wild game (for the soup kitchen)
  • six-packs of Ocean Spray or other juices
  • bottled water/tea
  • raisins (preferably in the snack boxes)

Maj. Turnie Wright said the Salvation Army can break down bulk sizes of different foods for the food bank. He also said they accept grocery gift cards from the local stores and Costco. In addition, they can work with people who are taking their vehicles to Juneau on the ferry and have room to bring stuff back from the Southeast Food Bank or Costco (this helps Salvation Army avoid freight charges). Finally, when you design your garden this year, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry.

The Salvation Army is one of several food assistance programs in Sitka, with others being centered around local churches, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and Sitkans Against Family Violence. The Salvation Army will assist the Sitka Tlingít and Haida Community, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood to host the annual community Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 27, at ANB Founders Hall. Doors open at 1 p.m., and food will start being served at 2 p.m. until it runs out (probably about 4 p.m.). Volunteers are needed, and donations of side dishes and desserts are appreciated (call Rachel Moreno at 738-6595 for details on the dinner).

For more information about how to help with the Salvation Army food bank and soup kitchen, contact Maj. Turnie Wright at 738-5854.

• Former Sitka resident publishes book about food sovereignty

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Andrianna Natsoulas, who lived in Sitka from 2011-13 and also commercial fished in Southeast Alaska before that, recently published the book on food sovereignty, “Food Voices: Stories from the People Who Feed Us.”

In producing the book, Andrianna traveled to five countries where she interviewed more than 70 small-scale farmers and fishermen (including some from Sitka). During these interviews she learned about the struggles and solutions faced by small-scale food producers within the scope of food sovereignty. Food sovereignty asserts the rights of the people to define their own food systems, and says those who produce, distribute and consume food must be at the center of decisions on food systems and policies, rather than the corporations and market institutions that have come to dominate global food trade.

“It is essential that those who are in the trenches are heard,” Andrianna said. “They are the closest to the earth and hold the responsibility in their hands to provide healthy, wholesome, culturally relevant food to their communities now and into the future. They are the roots of the food sovereignty movement.”

To learn more about the project and to order books, go to the Food Voices website.

• Sitka Kitch, Sitka Conservation Society to host apple tree workshop on Nov. 18

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Sitka Kitch, in conjunction with the Sitka Conservation Society, will host an apple tree workshop at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Jud Kirkness will give us an introduction on the how-to’s of planting your own apple tree, and attendees will have the opportunity to place a tree order at the workshop. Let’s see if we can get 15 additional apple trees planted in Sitka.

This event is the final event of Applooza 2014, which also included the Sitka 4H club harvesting apples from local trees and making apple sauce for the Swan Lake Senior Center and Salvation Army. For more information, contact the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509.

• ‘Building Food Security in Alaska’ report released during Alaska Food Festival and Conference

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The release of a new report, “Building Food Security in Alaska,” was one of the highlights of the recent Alaska Food Festival and Conference (Nov. 7-9 at the University of Alaska Lucy Anchorage Cuddy Center). This is one of the first comprehensive statewide food security reports compiled for Alaska.

The report was written by Ken Meter and Megan Phillips Goldenberg of the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis, which has done six in-depth statewide food assessments over the past five years and 14 statewide food assessments overall. The report was commissioned by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, with collaboration from the Alaska Food Policy Council.

The Crossroads Resource Center website provides this summary of the report:

Like most other states, Alaska imports about 95 percent of the food it purchases. Yet this state is more distant from prevailing food production regions than other states. Alaskans feel a special sense of vulnerability. Despite a rich history in dairy and cattle production, most of these foods are now imported. Much of the arable farmland has been paved over by development. Moreover, Alaskans who wish to purchase some of the $3 billion of seafood harvested from its ocean waters typically have no choice but to buy through Seattle vendors.

Still, farms produce a rich variety of crops and livestock. Direct sales from farmers to household consumers run at 13 times the national average, amounting to one of every six dollars farmers earn selling food to humans. Lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers are available year-round from indoor farms. Chickens are grown inside greenhouses that rely upon surplus heat from nearby buildings.

In no other state is harvesting wild foods as important. Subsistence and personal use hunters bring in an estimated $900 million worth of salmon, caribou, moose, foraged greens and berries, and other foods. Yet even here, hunters and gatherers face special challenges: a decline of hunting skills, weakening ice, changing migrations, and radioactive fallout.

Our study, written by Ken Meter and Megan Phillips Goldenberg, offers practical steps for building a more reliable food supply by growing, storing, and marketing more Alaska-grown food to Alaskans. Commissioned by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Copies of the full 180-page report and a shorter executive summary and recommendations are linked below. In addition, most of the presentations and panel discussions from the Alaska Food Festival and Conference can be found here. This link includes a keynote presentation by Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart about the experience of compiling the Sitka Community Food Assessment, plus Sitka residents Keith Nyitray of the Sitka Food Co-op and Gordon Blue of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust participated in panel discussions about food cooperatives and community-based fisheries, respectively.

In addition, earlier this year two locally focussed food assessments were released. Copies of the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report (released in April 2014) and the Southeast Alaska Food System Assessment (released in February 2014) can be found in the Documents section of our website.

• Building Food Security in Alaska, Executive Summary and Recommendations, by Ken Meter and Megan Phillips Goldenberg (released November 2014)

• Building Food Security in Alaska, by Ken Meter and Megan Phillips Goldenberg (released November 2014)

• Sitka Local Foods Network launches crowd-funding project for St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

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StPetersSignWithToDoListSignOne of the key elements of the Sitka Local Foods Network’s efforts to bring more locally grown food to Sitka each year is the crops we grow at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, a communal garden behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church that produces food for the Sitka Farmers Market, local school lunch programs, and other venues. This month, the Sitka Local Foods Network is hosting a special projects fundraiser on the website Razoo.com to try and raise $1,200 to be used for improvements at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm.

“The SLFN is excited to launch our first foray into crowd sourcing,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Lisa Sadleir-Hart said. “We can’t think of a better way to raise funds for our successful St.Peter’s Fellowship Farm and our extension garden at Pat Arvin’s. Our lead gardener, Laura Schmidt, together with our local food interns, have continued to guide us towards increased food production which we’ve then moved into the community. Please help us support this deliciously nourishing project with a donation of $10 to $100 to $1,000 and keep food production growing in Sitka.”

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm was the brainchild Bonnie Elsensohn, the wife of the church’s former rector. The church had recently removed a large tree behind the See House, and Bonnie thought the open space would be the perfect spot for a communal garden. In the spring of 2008 she contacted Lisa Sadleir-Hart and Doug Osborne, who were board members of what became the Sitka Local Foods Network, suggesting they make a presentation to the church vestry asking that the site become a place to grow vegetables for the new Sitka Farmers Market.

Wood from the felled tree was used to make the first five garden beds, and enough crops were grown to support three Sitka Farmers Markets later that summer. Now St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is 1,600 square feet, and it produces enough produce for six Sitka Farmers Markets,a garden stand at the Chelan Produce events during summer, a garden stand at the annual Running of the Boots fundraiser, sales to school lunch programs, and more.

This is the first crowd-funding event hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, and we chose to use Razoo.com because it has tailored its program for nonprofit organizations. It is similar to other crowd-funding sites, such as Kickstarter.com, Indiegogo.com, or GoFundMe.com, but the service charges are lower on Razoo.com for organizations that have an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

The Sitka Local Foods Network is hoping to raise $1,200 in this campaign, which ends on Monday, Dec. 8. To learn more about the project and to contribute, click this link and follow the prompts on the page. You also can click on the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm photo in the right column of our main website page and it will take you directly to the fundraiser link.

All money raised by the Sitka Local Foods Network is used to fund Sitka Local Foods Network programs, such as the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, education programs, etc. All funds raised by the Sitka Local Foods Network is used according to our mission statement, which is to promote the growing, harvesting and eating of local food in Sitka and SE Alaska.

WhereOurFoodIsGrown