UAF Cooperative Extension Service to offer statewide online Alaska Master Gardener class

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Are you interested in earning an Alaska Master Gardener certification? The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service is offering a statewide summer online Master Gardener class from May 23 through Aug. 12.

The Alaska Master Gardener online course is an intensive, sustainable gardening class specific to Alaska growing conditions. This is a non-credit, self-paced, online course offered through UAF eLearning using Blackboard Learn. The course fee is $375. Register here for the Summer 2016 Alaska Master Gardener online course — Course Number: ED F595P (50942) or NRM F595P (51014), choose either one when registering.

This curriculum for this online course includes lessons on botany, starting plants, soil, composting, season extension, greenhouses, landscaping, house plants, entomology, pest management, plant disease diagnostics and sustainable gardening. The course also covers growing vegetables, fruits, berries and flowers. The text for the course is Sustainable Gardening: Alaska Master Gardener Manual, which can be purchased for $50 a copy from this link. The text is optional for the course, but it is a good resource for any Alaska gardener even if you’re not taking the course.

Students complete 12 self-paced lessons and quizzes, a book report, participate in ongoing discussions, and complete a final exam. On average, the course takes students approximately three hours per week to complete. The course is pass/fail and the summer course is not for credit.

In addition to the coursework, students also pledge to volunteer at least 40 hours teaching what they’ve learned in their communities. Examples of how students can volunteer include helping with local school garden programs or 4H clubs, working with local foods groups, writing gardening blogs, and more.

The classroom-based Alaska Master Gardener course hasn’t been offered in Sitka for about three years, so the statewide online course is the only way Sitka gardeners can obtain the training until a new Cooperative Extension Service agent is hired in Sitka. Gardeners from Sitka can contact Jasmine Shaw at the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service (jdshaw2@alaska.edu or 747-9440) to see if there will be a local classroom at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus for the online course, otherwise they will need to take it from home.

For more information about the statewide online Alaska Master Gardener course, contact instructor Heidi Rader in Fairbanks at 907-452-8251, Ext. 3477, or by email at master.gardener@alaska.edu

Sitka Local Foods Network seeks two coordinators for our garden mentoring education program

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IMG_0004The Sitka Local Foods Network is looking to contract with two Sitka residents to coordinate our garden mentoring education program. This year we’re splitting up the duties, so one of the coordinators will work with our returning families and the other will work with our new families (and be paid slightly more).

These contracts run from spring through fall 2016, and the coordinators 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.

100_8734BastianKidsThe 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 was expanded 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 to grow plants that are a bit more difficult for Sitka (carrots, peas, chard, green onions).

There are six classes with each family, and they usually are open to the public. In 2016, we expect three returning families and three new families (one of our first-year families from last year asked to repeat as a first-year family this year).

Applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 8, to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Please put “Garden Mentor Coordinator” in your email subject line. The contracts pay in three installments over the summer. Questions about the contracts can be directed to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2016 SLFN garden mentoring coordinator contract information

Sitka Farmers Market vendor registration information for 2016 now available

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Registration for the 2016 Sitka Farmers Markets is open, and vendors looking to sell local food, arts and crafts, and other items at the markets can find all the vendor forms, information sheets, rules and regulations for this year by going to the Documents page on this site, or look at the bottom of this post for the documents. The forms include information about how to register your table for this year’s markets.

The 2016 Sitka Farmers Market manager will be hired soon, and he/she can be reached at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or 738-8683 during the market season. The tentative dates for our 2016 Sitka Farmers Markets will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 2, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 20, Sept. 3, and Sept. 10 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall at 235 Katlian Street.

The Sitka Local Foods Network already held two pre-market meetings to discuss market changes for potential vendors, and we may hold additional meetings as we get closer to the market season. Most of the info about changes is in the 2016 Vendor Rules and Responsibilities document. This document also includes information about commercial kitchens in Sitka and other helpful hints to make your booth more successful, plus it has your registration form for this year.

Sitka Local Foods Network board liaison Matthew Jackson is available to answer questions and to make suggestions that will help new and returning vendors adjust to any food regulation changes from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, updates to the Alaska Quest electronic benefits program, etc.

There are several changes to the 2016 rules and responsibilities, so please read them carefully. For more information, contact Sitka Farmers Market board liaison Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or jackson.mw08@gmail.com, or you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Sitka Farmers Market vendor forms

• 2016 Vendor Rules and Responsibilities (with Registration Form, updated March 30, 2016)

• Link to 2015 Farmers Market Resource Fact Sheets from Alaska Division of Agriculture

• 2015 City and Borough of Sitka Sales Tax Form for Sitka Farmers Market Vendors

• Cottage Food Fact Sheet — “Understanding Alaska’s Cottage Food Exemptions”

• Cottage Food Exemptions

• Washington Farmers Market Vendor Marketing Guide (March 2014)

• Guide to Operating a Successful Home-Based Food Business (March 2014 document from UAF Cooperative Extension Service and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation includes Alaska food safety information and regulations for farmers markets and other food sales)