Sitka Kitch to host Cooking From Scratch: Simple Pasta Dishes class on June 13


kitch_logo_mainWant to expand your culinary offerings beyond the simple, packaged macaroni and cheese you buy from the grocery store (eg, avoid the chemical feast)?

Join us from 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (inside First Presbyterian Church, 505 Sawmill Creek Road) as Westmark Hotel/Totem Square Inn Executive Chef Kathy Jones and Sous Chef Barbara Palacios teach a variety of simple pasta dishes as part of the Cooking From Scratch class series. In this class students will learn how to macaroni and cheese without a boxed mix; linguine with clams, grape tomatoes and basil pesto; spaghetti alla carbonara (spaghetti, eggs, bacon, pepper); and meatballs.

20130730-one-pot-wonders-clam-tomato-pastaThe cost of the class is $20, plus a food fee shared among the registered participants (about $15). Email for more information.

To register, go to the Sitka Kitch online registration page, and sign up. Registration closes at noon on Saturday, June 11, so the instructors can purchase supplies. This site link is for registration only. You will pay with cash or check (made out to Sitka Conservation Society) at the class. Even though you pay at the class, we need people to register through the site so we know how many people will be at the class. Email with questions.

Also, watch out for upcoming classes from Chef Kathy and Chef Barbara in late July (tentative topic is rabbit), August (tentative topic is quail) and September (tentative topic is mystery basket, bring in items from your garden, pantry or freezer and create a dish). We’ll post more details (here and on the Sitka Kitch page on Facebook) when plans are finalized.

Sitka trollers launch quarterly Edible Alaska magazine


Mary Smith and David Whitmire, the co-owners of the recently launched Edible Alaska magazine, on board their 50-foot commercial troller, the F/V Virga, docked in Sitka’s Eliason Harbor.

EAK 1 Cover MED RezAs David Whitmire and Mary Smith ran their 50-foot commercial troller, the F/V Virga, outside of Sitka last summer, Mary spent her downtime reading some of the Edible Communities magazines (Edible Seattle, Edible Santa Barbara, Edible Cape Cod, etc.).

“She’s been reading them for quite a while,” David said. “I’d hear her say, ‘This will be a good article for Edible Alaska,’ or ‘I can’t believe there’s no Edible Alaska yet.’ Last year, while we were trolling for silvers, she said, ‘We’ve gotta do it.'”

The first 40-page issue of Edible Alaska was printed last week and will soon be in newsstands around the state. The magazine is free at local newsstands, or you can order a subscription to guarantee you get your copy. In addition to the quarterly printed version of the magazine, there will be regular website updates in between issues.

David is listed as the magazine’s publisher, while his wife, Mary, is listed as managing editor. They think they are the 79th, 80th or 81st magazine in the Edible Communities group of magazines for the United States and Canada, but aren’t sure which because Edible Asheville and Edible Bronx also launched about the same time.

When they finally called the Edible Communities group about starting Edible Alaska, David and Mary found out they hadn’t been the only ones with the idea. They were the third people to ask about starting Edible Alaska. One of them moved out of state shortly after asking about the magazine, and the other, Evie Witten, is now the creative director for Edible Alaska while she launches her Anchorage-based fermented foods business, Evie’s Brinery.

“We want to support the food system all across the state,” Mary said. “We don’t want to be just a foodie magazine. We want stories so good you’ll be hungry for more.”

Each issue will feature recipes, do-it-yourself guides, chef profiles, info about growing your own food, hunting and fishing, some food policy issues, and more. The first issue includes stories about Double Shovel Cider (Alaska’s first commercial hard cidery), food hubs in Alaska, Spring Creek Farm, Farragut Farm from outside Petersburg, the Sawmill Farm in Sitka, how to make salmon burgers, a back-of-the-house restaurant feature, a taste of Juneau, the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, and more.

“We’re celebrating innovation, like with Farragut Farm where they farm on an island and bring all their produce to town on a skiff,” Mary said. “We want to focus on opportunities, such as how people are getting past barriers to local food.”

While Edible Communities can be likened to a franchise operation, where the magazines follow a similar formula. Mary and David want Edible Alaska to stand out. They want to feature stories about the diverse cultural and community aspects of food in Alaska, and they want them to be authentic with Alaska writers and photographers telling the stories.

“I’m interested in food security,” David said. “For example, at the Alaska Food Policy Council conference in February, we met some guys who are growing greens through hydroponics. All of our schools have power throughout the year, so the kids could be growing their own salad greens.”

“We also learned about how elders can now get their traditional foods in their care facilities,” Mary said.

David and Mary spend about half of their year in Sitka, with the rest spent all over the state and in the Lower 48 where they market their fish through their company Springline Seafood. Their troller now is home-ported out of Sitka (though it says Hoonah on the boat). They used to home-port the boat in Homer, where they have a mailing service moving their mail around to their various ports of call.

David is a long-time commercial fisherman who has fished all over the state, and he also spends time working a gold mine in Nome. Before moving to Alaska to marry David and commercial fish, Mary was trained as a chef through Culinary Institutes of America and spent many years as marketing manager for seafood companies in Santa Monica, Calif., and Chicago.

“As word got out about Edible Alaska, the support has been overwhelming,” Mary said. “We see this as something that belongs to the whole state of Alaska.”

“This is going to be a fun project,” David added.

Second batch of classes set for 2016 Sitka Local Foods Network garden mentor program


DSCN0387The second batch of classes (Classes Three and Four) for the 2016 Sitka Local Foods Network garden mentor program are being set for our two participating first-year families and our three returning second-year families. The classes will be similar at each location, and they are open to the public.

Class Three is about garden maintenance, while Class Four is about early harvest. Class One focused on site selection, garden preparation, building planter beds, simple vegetables and soil preparation, while Class Two was about simple vegetables and planting. There are six classes in the series, with Class Five about the final harvest and Class Six about preparing the garden for winter.

Our first-year gardener families (Erin Mathes and Fran Baratki), learn how to grow four hardy crops for Sitka — kale, lettuce, potatoes and rhubarb. Our three returning families (A.J. Bastian, Rebecca Kubacki and Breezy) 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 the crops for our second-year students are more difficult to grow, many gardeners in Sitka still have good results with these vegetables. These classes are essentially the same, so feel free to attend the Class 3 or Class 4 that best fits your schedule.

The class schedule and location for the one first-year and three second-year families is (some classes still need to be scheduled and will be announced later):


  • ERIN MATTHES (first-year family), 716 Etolin Street — CLASS 3: 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 2; CLASS 2: 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21.
  • FRAN BARATKI (first-year family), 180 Price Street, No. 6 (purple trailer) — CLASS 3:  7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31; CLASS 4: TBA.
  • A.J. BASTIAN (second-year family), 207 Brady St. — CLASS 3: TBA; CLASS 4: TBA.
  • REBECCA KUBACKI (second-year family), 1202 Halibut Point Rd. — CLASS 3: 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1; CLASS 4: 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 22.
  • BREEZY (second-year family), 616 Sawmill Creek Rd. — CLASS 3: 5 p.m. on Monday, June 6; CLASS 4: 5 p.m. on Monday, June 27.

This is the third year of the garden mentor program, which provides one-to-one mentoring to families who are trying to garden for the first time. In order to reach more people, our participating families allow the classes to be made public. By teaching families the basics of gardening, we are helping them improve their family nutrition, extend their family food budget, and increase food security in Sitka.

Michelle Putz has been contracted to coordinate the program and design lesson plans. 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.

Harmful algal bloom warning listed for shellfish harvested at Sitka, Craig, Klawock and Petersburg

Clam diggers work the beach at Starrigavan in this file photo. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska is warning Sitkans against harvesting clams in the area due to a harmful algae detected Monday, June 8, 2015. (Daily Sitka Sentinel file photo by James Poulson)

Clam diggers work the beach at Starrigavan in this file photo. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska is warning Sitkans against harvesting clams in the area due to a harmful algae detected Tuesday, May 25, 2016. (Daily Sitka Sentinel file photo by James Poulson)

Seator-Logo-Best-June-30-2015-7pm-215x215The SouthEast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research (SEATOR) project coordinated by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska on Wednesday, May 26, issued a harmful algal bloom warning for shellfish harvested in four Southeast Alaska communities. The warning is for shellfish harvested on Starrigavan Beach in Sitka, Graveyard Beach in Craig, the Klawock Boat Launch, and Sandy Beach in Petersburg.

(Editor’s Note: On Thursday, June 2, SEATOR and the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Juneau announced a similar shellfish advisory for shellfish harvested on June 1 from several beaches in the Juneau area — Auke Bay, Point Louisa/Auke Rec, Amalga Harbor and Eagle Beach. For more information on Juneau, contact Elizabeth Tobin at 1-907-796- 5455 or or Chris Whitehead of SEATOR at On June 3, SEATOR added Cloud 9 Beach in Craig to the list of beaches affected by the shellfish advisory.)

“The Sitka Tribe of Alaska Environmental Research Lab (STAERL) has been collecting shellfish samples to test for biotoxins, specifically paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP),” STAERL announced in a press release. “Recent samples on May 25, 2016, confirm that clams at the following beaches have elevated levels of toxins above the FDA regulatory limit of 80µg/100g and should not be harvested at this time.”

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

SEATOR, the Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins (SEATT) partnership, and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska have been monitoring saxitoxin on Starrigavan Beach in Sitka and other beaches around Southeast Alaska since late 2014. Saxitoxin is produced by the phytoplankton Alexandrium and can get highly concentrated in shellfish, leading to paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), which can be fatal.

SEATOR posts updates and information to its website at, which can help provide Southeast Alaska residents with reliable information so they can choose whether or not to harvest shellfish. On May 6, SEATOR announced an advisory for shellfish harvest on Starrigavan Beach in Sitka, when it found Alexandrium in its weekly phytoplankton samples and high levels of saxitoxin in butter clams, littleneck clams, and blue mussels. Because of the high levels, SEATOR advised Sitka residents not to harvest shellfish at the time.

Since most beaches in Alaska aren’t tested for harmful algal blooms, SEATOR and the SEATT partnership were formed in October 2014 to train people to test beaches in Southeast Alaska. In April 2015, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska opened a regional lab on Katlian Street, so samples could be tested in Sitka without having to be sent to the Lower 48, which delayed results. By testing for harmful algal blooms, SEATOR and the SEATT partnership hope to be able to provide information so people can make informed choices whether or not to harvest or eat shellfish.

Harmful algal blooms, such as paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), typically have not been monitored in Southeast Alaska for subsistence and recreational harvesters of clams, mussels, oysters, cockles, and other bivalves (commercial harvests are tested). Even though many people in Southeast Alaska love to harvest shellfish, eating it comes with some risks. There have been several PSP outbreaks in recent years that sent people to the hospital, and in 2010 two deaths were attributed to PSP and other HABs, such as Alexandrium, Pseudo-nitzchia and Dinophysis.

To learn more about harmful algal blooms and how they can raise the risk for PSP and ASP (amnesic shellfish poisoning, which also can be fatal), go to SEATOR’s resources page. If you have shellfish you recently harvested and want to test it, click this link to learn what you need to do to have it tested by STAERL.

• Press release about shellfish advisory, May 26, 2016

• Joint SEATOR/UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Studies press release about Juneau shellfish advisory, June 2, 2016

• June 3, 2016, SEATOR press release updating the list of affected beaches

Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club to celebrate Arbor Day on May 20 with tree planting at Swan Lake

Arbor Day Flyer

Friday, May 20, is the 50th anniversary of Arbor Day in Alaska, and the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club will celebrate by planting a few trees from 3-5 p.m. at the Swan Lake recreation area (near the corner of Lake Street and DeGroff).

We will be planting maples, but giving away fruit trees for people to plant at home, said Molly Johnson, who helps coordinate the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club for the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office.

“4H is excited to host a celebration in honor of Alaska Arbor Day to celebrate how important trees are in our lives,” Molly said. “We see the significance of trees in the clean air and great habitat they provide whenever we explore the Tongass (National Forest). This will be a fun event to honor that significance closer in town. It is a great opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate trees!”

This event is co-sponsored by the Alaska Community Forestry Council, the USDA Forest Service, and the Alaska Division of Forestry. Because of its commitment to trees in town, the City and Borough of Sitka has been recognized as one of the Tree City USA award-winners from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Scenes from the Safe Home Food Preservation certification course May 14-15 in Sitka


Food preservation certificate flierIn an effort to train people to teach safe home food preservation classes in their Southeast Alaska communities, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service hosted a series of certification courses around the region in recent months. The Sitka class on May 14-15 at Blatchley Middle School wrapped up the series, which featured several online lessons followed by two-day hands-on classes in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka.

The Sitka class was taught by UAF Cooperative Extension Service Associate Director Roxie Rodgers Dinstel of Fairbanks and Sarah Lewis, a Family and Community Development faculty member from Juneau. In addition to several Sitka residents, there also were students from Haines, Petersburg and Juneau in the Sitka class. The series was funded by a grant from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).

During the class, the 10 students learned which foods need waterbath canning vs. pressure canning, had a lesson on fermenting, tested pressure canner gauges, dehydrated fruits and veggies, made jerky, and learned how to find reliable resources to make sure their home food preservation practices are safe.

In addition to teaching classes, some of the students will use their new skills for cottage food businesses and home canning projects. One of the purposes of the class was to certify people in a variety of Southeast Alaska communities on how to teach safe home food preservation classes, so they don’t have to wait for a UAF Cooperative Extension Service faculty member from Juneau, Anchorage or Fairbanks to come to town to teach.

A slideshow of scenes from the two-day hands-on classes is below.

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Like the Sitka Farmers Market? Now you can become a sponsor


The Sitka Local Foods Network is starting a sponsorship program for the Sitka Farmers Market, and Sitka businesses and individuals are welcome to join. The goal of the sponsorship program is to make the Sitka Farmers Market more sustainable.

“The Sitka Farmers Market is entering a new era of growth through selective partnerships and sponsorships,” Sitka Local Foods Network vice-president Matthew Jackson said. “Sponsors of the Sitka Farmers Market are working with an organization and a market that values local, fun, premium quality goods and experiences.”

This year there are seven Sitka Farmers Markets from July through September. The markets take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 2, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 20, Sept. 3, and Sept. 10, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

There are four levels of sponsorship available, and each has its own set of perks.

  • Grower ($2,500-plus) — We’ll hang your banner at ANB Hall, include your logo and company name prominently in our merchandise and advertisements, and thank you on our social media and web pages. If appropriate for the Sitka Farmers Market, you may set up a free promotional booth.
  • Harvester ($1,000-$2,499) — We’ll hang your banner at ANB Hall and include your logo and company name in our merchandise and advertisements.
  • Planter ($250-$999) — Your banner will be hung at ANB Hall.
  • Friend ($50-$249) — You are listed on our online sponsor page.

We have limited space for banners at the markets, so please contact us by June 1 to guarantee your spot. To learn more about the sponsorship program, click the link below for details and a registration form. For more information, contact Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or by email at, or email us at

• 2016 Sitka Farmers Market sponsorship program details and registration form