• Sitka Local Foods Network launches its first #GivingTuesdayAK online fundraiser (FUNDRAISER EXTENDED TO DEC. 31)


Most people have heard about Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, three consumer-oriented days geared toward shopping for the holidays. But have you heard about Giving Tuesday, which takes place on Dec. 1 this year?

Giving Tuesday, also listed at #GivingTuesday (and known as #GivingTuesdayAK in Alaska), is a day for people to celebrate generosity and give to worthy nonprofits who support the local community. This year, the Sitka Local Foods Network is launching its own Giving Tuesday online fundraiser to help us meet our mission of increasing the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans.

(NOTICE: Since our online donation site, Razoo.com, recently announced it is waiving transaction fees through the end of the year, we are extending our #GivingTuesday campaign through Dec. 31. If you decide to donate, please use our #GivingTuesday page to help us avoid the transaction fees. We appreciate your support.)

When you donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network you support us as we host the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer, grow food at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and teach people about gardening and food preservation through our education program (which includes a garden mentor program for beginning gardeners). We also help with other local-food-related projects in town, such as Fish To Schools (which puts more locally caught seafood in school meals), our fruit tree project (where we got more community apple and cherry trees in town) or the Sitka Community Food Assessment (which gave us baseline data on food security issues in Sitka).

It’s easy to donate to our Giving Tuesday fundraiser through our secure donation page hosted by Razoo.com (an online site that collects donations for nonprofit organizations). The minimum donation through this site is $10, but we appreciate whatever you can give. A donation of $1,000 will provide all the materials, lessons and mentoring needed for a summer with one of our garden mentoring families (we usually add three new families each year, and we offer the families two years in the program).

For those who prefer to donate the old-fashioned way, you can send a check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408 Marine Street, Suite D, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. For those looking for end-of-the-year tax deductions, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and our EIN is 26-4629930. Please let us know if you need a receipt.

We thank you for supporting local foods in Sitka, Alaska. Your donation is greatly appreciated. If you need more information about our organization or a receipt for tax purposes, you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• Sitka Local Foods Network to host education brainstorming session on Dec. 3


Are you an experienced gardener who might be willing to help teach a class about growing food in Sitka? Maybe you’ll let people tour your garden? We might even start a Sitka Garden Club.

Join the Sitka Local Foods Network education committee for a brainstorming session as we try and come up with education activities for the upcoming year. We’ll meet from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street).

For more information, contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520.

• Three community wellness projects receive MAPP Tier 2 grant funding from SEARHC

Three Sitka community wellness projects will each receive $10,000 in funding through the MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) Tier 2 grants from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).

SEARHC-logo-rgb-150-web“Fostering health and wellness in a community is complex and multifaceted,” SEARHC Health Educator Lauren Hughey said. “We are pleased to support these three projects with MAPP Teir 2 funding because while each project has a different approach. All will make Sitka a healthier place to live.”

Earlier this year, the Sitka Health Summit collected MAPP data about community health issues in Sitka, identifying healthy weight as a key focus area. In order to help more Sitkans achieve a healthy weight, SEARHC and the Sitka Health Summit requested project proposals that addressed this key area using the identified strategies that also address the health status of Alaska Native people.

Projects must use one of these strategies and plan an intervention based on evidence-based policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes. PSE changes will increase access to and use of traditional and other healthy foods or increase health literacy by making them more readily available at home, work, and in the community. PSE changes are long term changes and reach a large proportion of the population. PSE changes can occur in the community, tribal organizations, schools, healthcare systems, childcare facilities, worksites, or in families.

Here are brief descriptions about the three projects to receive MAPP Tier 2 grant funding:

  • Sitka Seedling Farms (project info provided by Matthew Jackson) — Sitka Seedling Farms is an initiative to meet Sitka’s food system needs in a thought-out, comprehensive way. Many food-related initiatives have been proposed over the last several years, but most have stalled for lack of space. Sitka Seedling Farms, which is a finalist in the Paths to Prosperity economic development contest for Southeast Alaska, will solve this problem by exploring innovative land relationships with major landowners in our community to develop the resources Sitka’s food system needs to thrive, such as production space for food entrepreneurs, community greenhouses, food storage and processing facilities and more. Sitka Seedling Farms is currently in the land exploration phase. Please contact Matthew Jackson with questions or comments at 907-821-1412.
  • Sitka Community Playground (project info provided by Lynne Brandon) — The grant award is to assist with the Sitka Community Playground Project Phase II, the design process. The design will help with the subsequent fundraising effort. The Phase III goal is to construct the new playground during the summer of 2017. Phase I was establishing a steering committee with volunteers, getting Assembly approval for the playground location at Crescent Harbor Park playground incorporating one of the three tennis courts, creating a funding plan and a timeline with tasks. The Sitka Community Playground project also is a 2015 Sitka Health Summit community wellness project.
  • Hames Center Elder Connect project (project info provided by Caitlin Blaisdell) — The Hames Center‘s Tier 2 grant will be used to create delegated senior hours for everyone older than age 65 and their caregivers to use our gym floor free of cost. These hours will incorporate group fitness activities, serve as an indoor walking space, create senior service information dissemination, and spark active, social groups for our growing senior demographic. Through bringing seniors together at the Hames Center with transportation assistance, we aim to remove many of the obstacles, such as social isolation, transportation limitations, and fixed income restrictions, that seniors may face in maintaining their physical and mental well-being all year round. The Hames Center Elder Connect project also is a 2015 Sitka Health Summit community wellness project.

Selected projects are awarded up to $10,000 for the project period of Nov. 1, 2015, through Oct. 31, 2016. For more information about the MAPP Tier 2 grant program, please contact Lauren Hughey at 966-8797 or lauren.hughey@searhc.org.


• Scenes from the third class in the Sitka Kitch’s Cooking From Scratch series — Gluten-Free Holiday Baking


kitch_logo_mainThe third of four classes in the Sitka Kitch‘s Cooking From Scratch lesson series — Gluten-Free Holiday Baking — was held on Monday, Nov. 2, at the Sitka Kitch. In this class, taught by Bridget Kauffman, students learned about baking a variety of gluten-free holiday treats and then made a cinnamon coffee cake.

The class series is coordinated by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, a registered dietitian and certified health educator. She will teach three of the four classes (the first two classes were Beans 101 and Baking Whole-Grain Bread), with Bridget Kauffman teaching the other. All classes will take place at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (link opens Facebook page) located at the First Presbyterian Church, 505 Sawmill Creek Road. The last class in the series is:

The Cooking from Scratch series goal is to teach basic cooking skills using high-quality ingredients, and to help Sitkans take back their kitchens and reduce their food budgets. Interested individuals can register at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on the event title to register, and pay when you attend the class).

Each class is $20, plus a food cost that will be split between all the students in the class. People should pre-register by 8 a.m. on the Saturday before the scheduled class. We need at least six people registered so we can guarantee the class will happen. Since space is limited, if you register and can’t make it, please contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 so someone from the waiting list can be invited to the class.

Also, watch for a variety of new classes coming this spring.

Here is a slideshow of several photos from the third class in the series, Gluten-Free Holiday Baking.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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


For a third straight 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, green onions, chard and peas.

IMG_0022Workshops may start as early as this fall or winter with selecting the garden 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 in the 2016 program should contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708 before Jan. 15, and provide a name, address, and contact phone number.

A slideshow of scenes from our first two years of the family garden mentoring program is posted below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

• Scenes from the Sitka Kitch venison class hosted by UAF Cooperative Extension, SEARHC


kitch_logo_mainSitka residents love their venison, so the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program hosted a free class on canning, smoking, and making deer jerky on Oct. 30 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Oct. 30 class featured lessons on how to can venison in jars, taught by Ellen Ruhle, as well as info about how to prepare deer jerky and how to smoke venison roasts, taught by Jud Kirkness. Due to the popularity of the class, the Sitka Kitch is hoping to schedule a second class on deer/venison in the near future.

Below is a slideshow of photos taken during the class by Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



• Sitka rooftop greenhouse project to meet on Tuesday, Nov. 17

Rooftop greenhouses, such as this one on top of a parking garage in Vancouver, British Columbia, are becoming more popular around the world. The rooftop greenhouse project from the 2015 Sitka Health Summit is hoping this might be an option for Sitka, where land is at a premium. (Photo from http://www.cityfarmer.info/)

Rooftop greenhouses, such as this one on top of a parking garage in Vancouver, British Columbia, are becoming more popular around the world. The rooftop greenhouse project from the 2015 Sitka Health Summit is hoping this might be an option for Sitka, where land is at a premium. (Photo from http://www.cityfarmer.info/)

The rooftop greenhouse project from the 2015 Sitka Health Summit will meet from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the Sitka Pioneers’ Home manager’s house/Brave Heart Volunteers office.

Sitka's city-owned cold storage plant on Katlian Street is one place that has been suggested for a possible rooftop greenhouse.

Sitka’s city-owned cold storage plant on Katlian Street is one place that has been suggested for a possible rooftop greenhouse.

After several years of running into problems finding useable land for a Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center that didn’t require large investments in remediation, the group hopes a rooftop greenhouse on a flat-roofed building, such as the city’s cold storage plant on Katlian Street, might be the solution. Not only would wasted heat be recaptured for the greenhouse, but moving it onto the roof will provide better sun exposure and fewer garden pests (such as snails and deer).

Rooftop greenhouses of all sizes are becoming more popular around the world, and there have been several large ones pop up in New York City, Chicago, Montréal, Berlin, and other communities. Come join us as we see if this option is possible for Sitka. For more information, please contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com