• First classes set for second-year students in 2015 Sitka Local Foods Network garden mentor program

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ONeillAndPutzIt’s time to plant your vegetable garden along with the Sitka Local Foods Network’s two second-year garden mentor families.

These two families (Anna Bradley and Tami O’Neill) participated in the first year of the program last summer, and now they’re back for more. Our two returning families will be planting carrots, chard, green onions and peas this year.
These four crops are slightly more difficult crops to grow that our first-year plantings of kale, lettuce, potatoes and rhubarb. Even though this year’s crops are more difficult to grow, many gardeners in Sitka still have good results with these vegetables.
The classes at each location will be similar, and they are free and open to the public. The schedule is:
  • Anna Bradley, 4764 Halibut Point Road, 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 10 (EDITOR’S NOTE: This class was rescheduled from its original May 3 date due to illness).
  • Tami O’Neill, 2309 Merganser Drive, 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 23.
Don’t forget the schedule of third classes (garden maintenance) for our first-year garden mentoring families has been posted and these classes also are open to the public. The first two classes, which took place in April and early May, were about selecting the best garden site, building a raised garden bed, and planting.
Michelle Putz has been contracted to coordinate the program and design lesson plans, after the Sitka Local Foods Network received a community development grant from First Bank. We also have about a half-dozen experienced Sitka gardeners who serve as mentors for the program. For more information, please contact Michelle at 747-2708.
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• Sitka Farmers Market to host meeting June 2 for prospective and past vendors

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The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a meeting for prospective and past vendors of the Sitka Farmers Market from 5:45-7:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2, at the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street.

This is the eighth year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features six markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every other Saturday from July through September at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (this year’s dates are July 4, 18, August 1, 15, 29, and September 12). The Sitka Farmers Market was a community health initiative from the 2008 Sitka Health Summit.

The farmers markets feature booths from local farmers and gardeners, local fishermen, local bakers, and local artisans and craftspeople. Our emphasis is on local products from Sitka and Southeast Alaska. The farmers markets also are great Sitka gathering places.

A detailed description of the farmers markets and vendor forms can be found our websitehttp://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (scroll down or look in the right-hand column). If you have any questions, please email Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com.

• Sitka Food Co-op, Sitka Local Foods Network make plant starts available on co-op delivery days

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IMG_9869The Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Food Co-op are teaming up to make garden starts available for Sitka food gardeners.

Plant starts from Finn Island Farm and other Sitka gardeners will be available for sale or swap on the next two Sitka Food Co-op delivery days, from 4:30-7 p.m. on Monday, May 4 and May 18, at the Sitka First Presbyterian Church, 505 Sawmill Creek Road. (NOTE: Due to a late-arriving barge, the May 4 pick-up day has been postponed until May 5.)

Finn Island Farm will be bringing the following starts — red Romaine lettuce, Tuscan kale, snap peas, sweet bell pepper, basil, Waltham broccoli, dark green zucchini, English cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, dark red and bulls blood beets, tomatoes (a large variety), and more.

The sale of these plant starts helps benefit the Sitka Local Foods Network, and we thank the Sitka Food Co-op for the opportunity to sell them on their delivery pick-up days. The plant starts are from Sitka gardeners and are of plants that do well in Sitka’s climate.

For more information, contact Keith Nyitray of the Sitka Food Co-op at sitkafoodcoop@gmail.com or go to http://sitkafoodcoop.org/

• Check out the May 2015 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the May 2015 edition of its newly launched monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This edition of the newsletter has brief stories about how Sitka was Alaska’s original garden city back in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, an update on upcoming Sitka Local Foods Network education programs, an update on the Sitka Farmers Market’s new manager, and a reminder about the Plant a Row for the Hungry program. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the registration form image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will not share our email list with others to protect your privacy.

• Celebrate local farmers and gardeners on Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 5

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Alaskans will celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 5. On this day, Alaskans are encouraged to support local agriculture by seeking out and purchasing products produced in Alaska and educating youth about the vital role that agriculture plays in our economy.

Here are a few ideas from the Division of Agriculture on how to celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day:

  • Join the 34,278 people who “like” the Alaska Grown Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dnr.alaskagrown and learn about the exciting things Alaskans are producing around the state.
  • Contact your local agriculture groups/chapters (such as FFA, Farm Bureau, Agriculture in the Classroom etc.) to see if they are hosting an event in your area.
  • Sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at a local farm.
  • Buy and incorporate Alaska Grown products into your meals.
  • If you are a farmer, consider asking a local school if you can visit a classroom to educate children about your operation and Alaska agriculture.
  • Visit and thank a local farmer in person. To find a farm near you, check the Alaska Grown Source Book at http://dnr.alaska.gov/ag/sourcebook/sourcebookindex2014.html.

In Sitka, you can celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day by starting a food garden (even a couple of containers on your deck can provide you with potatoes, carrots or greens). Teachers are encouraged to offer a lesson plan or two about the importance of agriculture in Alaska and in Sitka (also, click here to listen to a Sitka History Minute feature about the potato in Sitka from KCAW-Raven Radio).

During the growing season, please support the Sitka farmers and production gardeners listed in the Alaska Grown Source Book (chief contact in parentheses) — Anam Cara Family Garden (Lisa Sadleir-Hart), Blatchley Community Gardens (David Nuetzel), Down To Earth U-Pick Garden (Lori Adams), Finn Island Farm (Keith Nyitray), Sprucecot Gardens (Judy Johnstone), and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (Lisa Sadleir-Hart or Laura Schmidt). There also are a few Sitka farms and production gardens not listed in the Alaska Grown Source Book, such as Sea View Garden (Linda Wilson), The Sawmill Farm (Bobbi Daniels) and Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Garden (Florence Welsh). Many of these farms and gardens will be vendors during the Sitka Farmers Markets, which start on July 4 this summer.