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

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the September 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 the Sitka Sound Suppers fundraiser, the Sitka Local Foods Network recruiting new families for the garden mentor program, an update on the Sitka Farmers Markets, and information about saving seeds. 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 protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others.

• Scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer, and the Sitka Slug Races

Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Rock Peterson of Jam-N-Peppers at the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Peterson sells an apricot and pepper jam/glaze. He received a gift bag with fresh chard, kale, beets, and other veggies. The market also featured the inaugural Sitka Slug Races, won by Linda Wilson's slug Moses, with Sophie Nethercut and Maybelle Filler's slug Thug The Slug second, and Thomas Witherspoon's slug Slugzilla third. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The last market of the summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Rock Peterson of Jam-N-Peppers at the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Peterson sells an apricot and pepper jam/glaze. He received a gift bag with fresh chard, kale, beets, and other veggies. The market also featured the inaugural Sitka Slug Races, won by Linda Wilson’s slug Moses, with Sophie Nethercut and Maybelle Filler’s slug Thug The Slug second, and Thomas Witherspoon’s slug Slugzilla third. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The last market of the summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

For the first time this summer, we had a minimal amount of moisture at the Sitka Farmers Market, with a brief rain during our Aug. 29 market. But the slugs in the Sitka Slug Races love moisture.

The highlight of the Aug. 29 market was the inaugural Sitka Slug Races, which included a preliminary heat before the main event. The top finisher was Moses, handled by Linda Wilson. In second place was Thug The Slug, handled by Sophie Nethercut and Maybelle Filler. In third place was Slugzilla, trained by Thomas Witherspoon.

The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the ANB Founders Hall. This will be our last market of the summer.

A reminder, due to health codes we can’t allow any pets in the ANB Founders Hall or the parking lot other than service dogs. We also don’t allow tobacco (smoking or chewing) at the Sitka Farmers Market because this is a health event (our event started out as a Sitka Health Summit project).

Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to be a vendor you can learn more by clicking this link or sending an email to sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We always need new vendors, especially those selling produce from their home gardens, commercially caught fish or locally baked bread.

A slideshow from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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• Sitka Local Foods Network education committee seeks new families for garden mentor program

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DasallaAndPutzFor a third year (2015-16), the Sitka Local Foods Network (SLFN) education committee wants to help families in Sitka learn how easy it can be to grow some of their own food. We are looking for up to three families who would like to learn about and try vegetable gardening in their own backyard through our Family Garden Mentor project.

Through a series of six workshops to be held at the families’ homes, Sitka Local Foods Network education committee volunteers will help the families:

  • Choose a location for a vegetable bed (learning about sun, drainage, etc.),
  • Build (or find) a planter/container or raised bed, and acquire soil and soil amendments,
  • Learn about soil and prepare the soil for planting,
  • Plant 2-4 easy-to-grow plants — specifically potatoes, lettuce, kale, and maybe a perennial edible such as rhubarb or fruit bushes,
  • Learn to take care of their plants over the summer — teaching how to care for and pick the vegetables (without killing the plant),
  • Harvest potatoes, and
  • Cook a meal using the vegetables they have grown.

IMG_0005The Sitka Local Foods Network will provide all materials — soil, lumber, seeds, etc. — free to the participating families. Families will be expected to provide the labor, enthusiasm for gardening, and healthy appetites to eat the vegetables they grow.

The requirement to own your property or home was dropped in 2015, and people who rent now are participating through container gardening. Interested families must meet only three requirements:

  1. They must be first-time vegetable gardeners (this project is meant to help people who are just starting to garden, not people with previous experience, even if it was not in Alaska),
  2. They must want to try vegetable gardening and be committed to participating throughout the summer, and
  3. They must agree to let others come and attend classes at their property.

Other criteria, such as availability and interest in a second year of mentoring, will also be used to help select the final three families. Families that are not selected will be placed on a waiting list in the hope of future continuation and expansion of this project.

IMG_0751The Sitka Local Foods Network has expanded the program this year to include more families and to include at least two households living in rental housing that will garden in portable containers or planters appropriately sized for their space (in case moving is necessary). We also will offer a second year of mentoring to previous participants, so families can expand their knowledge and try growing more “difficult” vegetables such as carrots and green onions.

IMG_0022Workshops may start as early as this fall or winter with selecting the site, ramp up in the spring of 2016 and run through September’s late harvest. First-year classes will focus on the easiest-to-grow vegetables (and fruit) in Sitka — potatoes, lettuce, kale, and rhubarb.

Families interested in participating should contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708, and provide a name, address, and contact phone number.

• How does your garden grow? For some in Sitka, quite well, thank you

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(This photo appeared on Page 3 of the Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel, and is used here with permission.)

MASTER GARDENER — Gerry Fleming holds up a giant Kohlrabi he grew in his Dodge Circle garden recently. The vegetable weighed nearly six pounds. He also grew a summer squash that weighed more than six pounds, which donated to the Sitka Farmers Market. He said his secret to growing giant vegetables, something he’s done for years, is to talk to the veggies. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo By James Poulson)

• Help the Sitka Local Foods Network education committee brainstorm ideas for a 2016 Sitka garden tour

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St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt, right, shows off the garden to members of the International Master Gardeners Conference cruise that toured Sitka in September 2013.

Do you have a food garden in Sitka you love to show off? Do you have a friend or neighbor who always seems to be growing lots of fresh veggies and fruit?

The Sitka Local Foods Network education committee invites you to a meeting to brainstorm ideas for a possible food garden tour of Sitka in the summer of 2016 or 2017. The meeting will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street).

Bring your ideas and help us come up with a plan for a garden tour. For more information, contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520.

• Experience the best of Sitka’s local food scene with our updated Sitka Sound Suppers fundraiser

SitkaSoundSuppersLogoEating local in Sitka can be an amazing experience. We have wide variety of high-quality seafood, including five types of salmon, halibut, blackcod, dozens of varieties of rockfish, ling cod, Alaska king crab, Dungeness crab, scallops, spot prawns, yum. There also is Sitka black-tailed deer and other wild game. And there’s nothing like the taste of fresh produce from the garden, and our berries are exquisite.

Now you can experience the best of Sitka’s local food scene with Sitka Sound Suppers: A Chef-To-Table Experience, a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. (NOTE: Please see the update below.)

Three Sitka chefs — Kathy Jones (Westmark/Dock Shack), Edith Johnson (Fly-In Fish Inn), and Jackie Barmoy (former owner of Loaves and Fishes in Seattle) — have volunteered their talents to prepare a totally local meal that will be brought to your Sitka home for you to enjoy.

  • Donate at the $500 level and you receive a local Sitka dinner for two people.
  • Donate at the $1,000 level and you receive a local Sitka dinner for four people.
  • Donate at the $2,000 level and you receive a local Sitka dinner for eight people.

We are planning on preparing just one special dinner at each donation level, so get in on the promotion early. (UPDATE: We have decided to allow multiple dinners for each donation level instead of a single dinner. We didn’t know how many people would respond, so didn’t want to overtask our chefs, who are donating their time and talents to this promotion. So, even though we already have a donor at the $500 level, we can accommodate a second and/or third donor at that level.)

The Sitka Sound Suppers fundraiser launched on July 16 and ends after our final Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Sept. 12. The winners of our meals will be connected to our chefs, so they can agree on a menu and date for the meal during the Fall 2015 harvest season (late September to November). All meals will be prepared and served in Sitka, Alaska. You can learn more about the Sitka Sound Suppers fundraiser by watching this video.

The funds raised by this promotion will help the Sitka Local Foods Network continue its work promoting local foods in Sitka and Southeast Alaska through the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and our education programs. As the organization has grown and matured, we’ve reached a point where we need to hire a part-time staff person to handle some of the daily duties of our organization. Your donations will go into a fund to help us eventually be able to hire that staff person.

Your support for the Sitka Local Foods Network is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

By the way, if you want to contribute to the Sitka Local Foods Network but not receive one of the Sitka Sound Suppers, you can go to our main fundraising page on Razoo.com (a fundraising/crowdfunding site for nonprofit organizations) and donate in any amount over $10 there. Your online donation is secure and tax-deductible (we have federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status). Thanks again.

• Sitka Sound Suppers information flier (opens as PDF file)

• Fish to Schools program seeks donations of coho salmon, photos from commercial fishermen

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The Fish to Schools program needs help from Sitka’s commercial fishermen. The program needs a few hundred pounds of coho salmon to help make Fish to Schools meals for Sitka students during the upcoming 2015-16 school year. The program also is seeking photos of commercial fishermen at work, which can be used to teach the students more about how the fish got to their plates.

The coho salmon donation period is Monday. Aug. 24, through Monday, Aug. 31. To donate, commercial fishermen can sign up and indicate how many pounds they want to donate when they offload at Seafood Producers Cooperative or Sitka Sound Seafoods during the donation period. The program can only accept commercially caught fish (no sport or subsistence fish). The hope is to get enough coho donated that locally caught salmon can be offered to students at least once a week.

The Sitka Fish To Schools project (click here to see short video) got its start as a community wellness project at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, and now is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society. It started by providing a monthly fish dish as part of the school lunch as Blatchley Middle School, and since then has grown to feature regular fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary SchoolBlatchley Middle School, Sitka High SchoolPacific High School (where the alternative high school students cook the meals themselves), the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School.

FishtoSchool2In addition to serving locally caught fish meals as part of the school lunch program, the Fish To Schools program also brings local fishermen, fisheries biologists and chefs to the classroom to teach the kids about the importance of locally caught fish in Sitka. The program received an innovation award from the Alaska Farm To Schools program during a community celebration dinner in May 2012, and now serves as a model for other school districts from coastal fishing communities. In May 2014, the Fish to Schools program released a guidebook so other school districts in Alaska could create similar programs.

For more information, contact Sophie Nethercut of the Sitka Conservation Society, sophie@sitkawild.org or 747-7509. You also can contact Beth Short-Rhoads at 738-9942 or elianise@yahoo.com. Photos and captions of commercial fishermen working out on the water should be sent to Sophie.