• Scenes from the Sitka Local Foods Network’s annual meeting and potluck dinner

Thanks to those who attended the Sitka Local Foods Network’s annual meeting and potluck on Jan. 24 at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall. We ate some good food, elected board officers, and received an update on the past year’s activities and plans for this year. Here are a few scenes from the event.

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• UAF Cooperative Extension Service publishes ‘An Alaska Herb Garden’


The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service has published a comprehensive Alaska guide for herb enthusiasts.

“An Alaska Herb Garden” features information about cultivating, harvesting, storing and using herbs. The 74-page guide includes color illustrations, recipes and detailed information on 25 herbs and general information on nearly 40 more.

The guide is a collaboration between the UAF Cooperative Extension Service and the Georgeson Botanical Garden. The garden’s director, professor Pat Holloway, wrote the section about cultivating herbs, which includes research conducted by the garden and by volunteers.

The publication is dedicated to Barbara Fay, a longtime gardener who taught community herb classes in Fairbanks for more than 20 years. She worked with Holloway on herb research at the garden and enlisted other gardeners to join her and tend the herb beds.

Fay’s notes and class materials formed the guide’s framework. Extension home economist Roxie Dinstel and two of Fay’s fellow herb enthusiasts, Virginia Damron and Marsha Munsell, provided information on preserving and storing herbs, edited the guide and tested recipes.

Holloway said the guide will be a great asset to gardeners and others interested in growing and using the herbs. She credits Fay.

“This is her idea, her baby,” she said. “She is the one who got us all riled up about herbs.”

Copies are $15 and available online at the UAF Cooperative Extension Service website, at local UAF Cooperative Extension Service district offices, or by calling (toll-free in Alaska) 1-877-520-5211. The Sitka District Office is on the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, and it can be reached at 747-9440.

• Sitka Local Foods Network seeks a coordinator for our garden mentoring education program


The Sitka Local Foods Network is looking to contract with a Sitka resident to coordinate our garden mentoring education program.

This contract run from spring through fall 2015, and the coordinator will be in charge of developing curricula, teaching classes, obtaining supplies, and providing evaluation of the program. A full list of job duties and expectations can be found in the linked document at the bottom of this article.

Applicants should have at least 3-5 years of varied vegetable gardening experience, preferably in Southeast Alaska. They also should have 3-5 years of project coordination experience, as well as demonstrated communication, organizational, and teaching/mentoring skills.

The garden mentoring project began in 2014 when two families of first-time gardeners were chosen to receive help planning and building a simple garden to grow four relatively easy plants for Sitka (kale, rhubarb, potatoes, lettuce). In 2015 the program is expanding to provide mentoring service to four new first-time gardening families, plus the two families from 2014 will receive a second year of mentoring as they learn a few more difficult to grow plants (such as carrots). There are six classes with each family, and they usually are open to the public.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume by Wednesday, Jan. 28, to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Please put “Garden Mentor Coordinator” in your email subject line. The contract pays $1,500 in three installments of $500 each over the summer. Questions about the contract can be directed to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• SLFN garden mentoring coordinator contract information


• Sitka Local Foods Network elects officers, installs new board members at January meeting

The 2015 Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors. Front row, from left, Alli Gabbert, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, and Jennifer Carter. Middle row, from left, Maybelle Filler and Michelle Putz. Back row, from left, Charles Bingham, Brandie Chastain, Matthew Jackson, and Beth Kindig.

The 2015 Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors. Front row, from left, Alli Gabbert, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, and Jennifer Carter. Middle row, from left, Maybelle Filler and Michelle Putz. Back row, from left, Charles Bingham, Brandie Cheatham, Matthew Jackson, and Beth Kindig.

The Sitka Local Foods Network elected officers and welcomed three new board members at its monthly board meeting on Jan. 12.

President Lisa Sadleir-Hart and treasurer Maybelle Filler retained their elected offices, while Matthew “Jackson” Jackson was elected vice president and Alli Gabbert was elected secretary. Charles Bingham remains communications director.

In addition, Alli Gabbert, Jennifer Carter and Brandie Cheatham officially became board members in January (at our annual board retreat on Jan. 10). They were selected to join the board in December, but weren’t able to vote until January.

The 2015 board members are (terms end in December):

  • Lisa Sadleir-Hart, president, board term ends 2015
  • Matthew Jackson, vice president, board term ends 2016
  • Alli Gabbert, secretary, board term ends 2015
  • Maybelle Filler, treasurer, board term ends 2015
  • Charles Bingham, communications director, board term ends 2017
  • Jennifer Carter, board term ends 2017
  • Michelle Putz, board term ends 2016
  • Beth Kindig, board term ends 2016
  • Brandie Cheatham, board term ends 2017

The Sitka Local Foods Network meets from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, with a 30-minute budget meeting at 6 p.m., at the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (usually in the upstairs classroom). However, in February we will meet on the third Monday (Feb. 16) to avoid a couple of board member conflicts.

Our board usually doesn’t meet during the summer (June, July, August), when the Sitka Farmers Market is in session and most people are gardening or fishing. Meeting times are subject to change so watch the website calendar for schedule updates. Meetings are open to the public, and new volunteers are welcome. We usually select new board members in December and elect officers in January.

• It’s time to … mark your calendars and get ready for spring with these garden education classes (UPDATED)


Winter blahs got you down? Thinking about your garden, especially with our warm winter? It’s time to mark your calendars with several upcoming Spring 2015 garden classes offered by the Sitka Local Foods Network Education Committee.

GreensInHoopHouseStPetersThese free classes will cover a variety of topics, from gardening basics and choosing what veggies to grow in Sitka to learning about fruit tree pruning, composting and seed-starting. Some of the classes have limited space and require preregistration, so sign up early. Also, we may be adding more classes to this list as they become available, so check the website for updates. We plan to post individual class announcements as we get closer to the actual class dates. (NOTE: The list of classes was updated on Jan. 21.)

And now, here’s the list of classes so far:

  • Vegetable Gardening 101 — 6:30-8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 27, Harrigan Centennial Hall, teachers Michelle Putz and Linda Wilson, class tailored for beginners, no preregistration required.
  • Choosing What Veggies to Grow in Sitka — 6:30-8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3, Harrigan Centennial Hall, teachers Lisa Sadleir-Hart and Maybelle Filler, class tailored for beginners, no preregistration required.
  • Everyone Can Compost — 6:30-8 p.m., Wednesday, March 4, Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street), teacher Jennifer Carter, no preregistration required.
  • Fruit Tree Pruning Basics Workshop — 10 a.m., Saturday, March 7, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church), teacher Jud Kirkness, no preregistration required.
  • Growing and Fertilizing Rhubarb — 11 a.m., Saturday, March 14, at the home of Perry Edwards/Michelle Putz (131 Shelikof), teachers Perry Edwards and Michelle Putz, no preregistration required.
  • Starting Vegetable Seedlings Workshop — 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, Harrigan Centennial Hall, teacher Jennifer Carter, learn how to start seedlings and go home with a tray of planted seeds, class limited to 15 people, preregistration required.
  • Seed-Starting Basics — 2 p.m., Saturday, April 11, call for location (Michelle Putz, 747-2708), teacher Linda Wilson, class limited to 8-10 people, preregistration required.

These classes will kick off a year-long series of education classes on a variety of topics related to vegetable gardening in Sitka. Our garden mentor program classes also will be open to the public. For more information or to sign up for classes requiring preregistration, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708.

In addition, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service teaches several classes that can be accessed from Sitka. The UAF Cooperative Extension Service is hosting a five-session class on Feb. 3, 5, 10, 12, and 17 on starting and operating a specialty food business in Alaska, and it will host an online Alaska Master Gardener course from Feb. 17 through May 18. These also will be announced on our website when they become available.

• Winter/Spring 2015 garden education classes from the Sitka Local Foods Network (opens as PDF)

• Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference to take place Feb. 27-March 1 in Petersburg


Bo Varsano and Marja Smets of Farragut Farm in Petersburg will host the inaugural Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference from Feb. 27 through March 1 in Petersburg. This conference is made possible by the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Petersburg Economic Development Council.

FarragutFarmProduceStandatIngas“The Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference is an opportunity for the commercial vegetable and flower producers of Southeast Alaska to get together and exchange ideas and techniques, with the purpose of improving and expanding local agricultural production,” Bo Varsano said. “Commercial agriculture in Southeast Alaska is still minimal, but is rapidly expanding with new growers starting up every year. While there are many uniquely specific challenges to growing in our region, few fully developed and publicized strategies currently exist for the new grower to follow. In light of this, gathering with other growers to share our experiences and ideas may be the best way to aid the growing agricultural movement in Southeast Alaska.”

FarragutFarmMarjaInGreenhouseIt’s not too late to sign up to participate, so please take a look and let us know if you have any questions or if you are interested in joining the fun. If the travel and lodging costs are dissuading you from participating, please remember that we can arrange a home-stay for anyone (contact us by Jan. 18 to arrange home-stays) and we still have one travel stipend ($200) to hand out to someone in need.

A few things to consider:

  • This conference is open to commercial farmers, aspiring farmers, as well as anyone in the general public who is interested in the local agriculture industry.
  • Participants are responsible for their own breakfasts and lunches.
  • Friday’s dinner will be prepared by KFSK, our local radio station. This meal is a fundraising event for the station, and a suggested donation will be requested.
  • Saturday’s dinner will be a communal dinner, jointly prepared for and shared by all conference participants at the venue.
  • There is no fee to attend, however, we will be asking for a minimal donation from each participant to cover the cost of venue rental and Saturday evening’s dinner.

Several regional farmers and industry specialists have volunteered to give presentations relevant to the issues and challenges faced by Southeast Alaska growers.  The following topics will be addressed:

We will begin the conference with a brief “show and tell” session. All conference participants will be asked to give a short (under 10 minutes) introduction including a description of their farm, their farming aspirations, or their involvement in the farming industry.

We especially encourage sharing photos of your operation. If you choose to do so, please bring those photos on a memory stick in JPEG format (in the largest original format). That is the ONLY photo format that we can guarantee will work with our computer.

We hope to see you all in February, and again, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. The best way to reach us is by email, at farragutfarm@gmail.com.

Please print up the attached documents (which include a conference agenda and a map of Petersburg showing the locations for the conference) and bring them with you when you come.

• 2015 Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference Agenda

• Map of Petersburg

• Sitka Local Foods Network to host annual meeting and potluck on Saturday, Jan. 24


The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its annual meeting and potluck dinner from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine St., parking off of Spruce Street).

Participants are encouraged to bring a dish featuring local foods to share, and please bring your own utensils (note, this is a non-alcoholic event). This event is a good event to attend for people who want to learn more about the Sitka Local Foods Network and what we do around town.

“Attendees will hear about project updates, plus the current board will vote on by-law changes,” Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart said. “We will introduce our new board members for 2015, and we will elect officers.”

Individuals interested in learning more about the Sitka Local Foods Network can email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com to learn about our projects and volunteer opportunities. For more information, call Lisa at 747-5985.