Scenes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer

Table of the Day: Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, left, and Sitka Local Foods Network Bulldog On Baranof intern Al Simon, second from left, present the Table of the Day award to Ariane Martin Goudeau (holding baby Elodie Goudeau) and Geoffrey Goudeau of Goudeau’s Good-Doughs during the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer, held Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Ariane and Geoffrey sold cookies, bread, and a variety of other baked goods. They received a Sitka Local Foods Network apron loaded with some rhubarb, beets, a Sitka Local Foods Network t-shirt, and an Alaska Grown sticker.

It rained when we held our fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer season on Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), so we moved most of our booths indoors. It also was National Farmers Markets Week, so we had a decent crowd despite some competition from the Sitka Seafood Festival.

While our cold weather this spring means we don’t have as much produce as we like, we still had several local produce vendors at the market (did you see the size of those zucchinis at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand?). We also had about three dozen vendors at the market (between those inside ANB Founders Hall and those outside in the Baranof Island Housing Authority parking lot) so there was a nice variety of items being sold. Vendors sold harvested foods (such as chaga tea and traditional medicinal tinctures), homemade baked goods, banana-Nutella crepes, hot seafood dishes, fresh smoothies, reindeer hot dogs, blackcod tips, arts and crafts, and home-baked bread. We also had an expanded selection of Alaska Grown products at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, at the ANB Founders Hall. There also are markets scheduled for Sept. 2, and Sept. 9. To learn how to be a vendor at the market, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 (new number) or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a new kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our new Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

A slideshow of scenes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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Fish to Schools program launches coho salmon donation drive for commercial fishermen

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 2017-18 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 Wednesday. Aug. 16, through Thursday, 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. Sign-up sheets will be posted at the scale shacks and in the main offices. Only coho salmon will be accepted.

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 SchoolKeet Gooshi Heen Elementary SchoolBlatchley Middle SchoolSitka High SchoolPacific High School (where the alternative high school students cook the meals themselves), the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School.

In 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 at 747-7509 or email sophie@sitkawild.org. If you would like to donate FAS (frozen at sea) fish, please call or text Lexi Fish Hackett at 738-5684.

Do you like zucchini? We have lots of fresh local zucchini for sale

While our cold, wet summer hampered the growth of some of our veggies, zucchini has been our bumper crop of the season at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden. We’re harvesting about 70 pounds a week right now. We tried a new type of zucchini seed from FoundRoot seed company in Haines, and it really does well in Sitka.

So if you need any zucchini, please give St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt a call at 738-7009. We also will have zucchini for sale at the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (and again on Aug. 19, and possibly on Sept. 2 and Sept. 9).

Don’t know how to use zucchini? The UAF Cooperative Extension Service has this free publication that has all kinds of information about zucchini and several recipes. Zucchini is very versatile and can be used in main dishes, side dishes, pickles, breads, salads, and desserts.

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 12

The 18th annual National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 6-12 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Market to join the celebration, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. This is the 10th season of Sitka Farmers Markets.

The annual National Farmers Market Week celebration is the first full week of August, when growing season is peaking around the country. Click here to read this year’s National Farmers Market Week proclamation from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

The number of farmers markets in the country has more than tripled since 1996, growing from 2,410 markets in 1996 to 8,675 in 2016. There has been similar growth in Alaska, and now markets can be found in many Bush communities from Bethel to Thorne Bay. This growth has improved Alaska’s food security while also serving as an incubator for new businesses.

According to the Farmers Market Coalition, farmers markets …

  • Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.
  • Stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those growers that do not sell locally create three jobs.
  • Increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several  studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52 percent more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011. The Sitka Farmers Market was the first market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP and WIC benefits, and we have a matching program for SNAP and WIC beneficiaries.
  • Support healthy communities. Farmers market vendors educate their shoppers. Four out of five farmers selling at markets discuss farming practices with their customers, and three in five discuss nutrition and how to prepare food.
  • Promote sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.

Sitka Seafood Festival returns Aug. 10-19 after spending a year in hiatus

After spending a year in hiatus, the Sitka Seafood Festival returns Aug. 10-19 with a wide variety of events as Sitka celebrates its local seafood culture.

“Southeast Alaska is an amazing place, and the Sitka Seafood Festival is going to be a great opportunity to bring our community together to celebrate it,” Sitka Seafood Festival coordinator Emma Edson said. “There are a lot of great minds coming together to make it happen. It’ll be a lot of fun, and it’s all for a good cause.”

The Sitka Seafood Festival began in 2009 through the work of volunteers, and became its own nonprofit in 2012. But in 2016, organizers decided they needed to take a break.

The rekindled Sitka Seafood Festival now is sponsored by the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. The proceeds from the festival will benefit the Young Fishermen’s Initiative, which helps young Alaskans get into the fishing industry with financing for permits and boats, deck hand apprenticeships, and policy programs.

“Central to the mission of the Sitka Seafood Festival (SSF), as well as the mission of Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, is the belief that Alaska needs a vibrant and sustainable fishing industry supporting economically empowered and self-sufficient Alaska communities,” said Willow Moore, ASFT’s executive director. “Also, no one knows good seafood (and where to find it) like Alaskans. The Sitka Seafood Festival celebrates the fishing culture and heritage that local economies (and plates and palates) depend on, and the unique ecosystems of Southeast Alaska that sustain our local fish and families as they grow.”

In addition to the two host organizations, there are several partner groups hosting activities, such as ArtChange Inc., the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society, Sitka Film Society, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Sitka Local Foods Network, the Sitka Kitch, and Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

The main festival day is Saturday, Aug. 12, when there are vendor and food booths plus a variety of fun and games events at Crescent Harbor Shelter. Knot-tying games open the event at 9 a.m., followed by kids games at 10 a.m., the vendor market from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., older kids games from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a dock walk from noon to 1 p.m., tote races at 1 p.m., and the wild fishermen’s triathlon (which includes fish tote races and other obstacles) at 3 p.m.

Other highlights from this year’s event schedule include a pre-festival screening of the movie “Jaws” on Aug. 6 at the Coliseum Theater; Sitka Tells Tales hosting “Wet Feet: Stories On, In, Under, or Of the Sea” on Aug. 10 at the Beak Restaurant; seafood trivia on Aug. 11 at the Mean Queen; a lecture by Iñupiaq mask carver Erin Katherine Gingrich on Aug. 12 at the Sheldon Jackson Museum; a screening of the film “The Salmon Forest” on Aug. 14 at the Mean Queen; a class on filleting salmon on Aug. 15 at the Sitka Kitch; a class on canning salmon on Aug. 16 at the Sitka Kitch; a film screening of an ocean and fisheries documentary TBA on Aug. 17 at the Coliseum Theater; a “Coming to America: Invasive Species, Ocean Rafting, and Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris” lecture on Aug. a8 at the Sitka Sound Science Center; a walk about the docks on Aug. 19; an ocean treasures family day Aug. 19 at the Japonski Island Boat House; and a fish skin sewing class taught by Joel Isaak from Aug. 22-30 at the Sheldon Jackson Museum.

Don’t forget the Sitka Local Foods Network is hosting a Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 12 at the ANB Founders Hall, and another one at the same time on Aug. 19. So make time to attend both events.

The 2017 Sitka Seafood Festival grand finale will come with the Young Fishermen’s Expo and Season’s End Banquet, taking place in early November at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

For more information about the Sitka Seafood Festival, go to http://www.sitkaseafoodfestival.com, or call 747-3400.

Sitka Kitch to offer two classes in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival

Sitkans love their seafood, and the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen is offering two great classes in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood FestivalHow to Fillet a Salmon and How to Can Salmon.

In the first class, held from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 15, at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church), local chef Renée Jakaitis Trafton of the Beak Restaurant will teach students how to fillet a salmon. This includes lessons on how to remove the pinbones from the salmon and how to remove the skin. Participants must bring a fillet knife or let the instructor know they need one in advance. Knives can be made available for $15 for those who need them. This class costs $15.

In the second class, held from 5-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at the Sitka Kitch, Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service‘s Sitka District Office will teach students how to can the salmon (using the filleted salmon from Tuesday’s class). In addition, she will teach students how to make a simple berry jam while the class waits for the salmon to process in the canner. This class costs $27.50.

As a special deal, the Sitka Kitch has a $35 fee for students registering for both classes. The Sitka Seafood Festival is providing fish and jars for the classes, so there should be little or no food/supply fee.

The registration deadline is 6:55 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14. Registration is capped at 10 students so sign up early to secure your space in these classes.

Register online at our EventSmart page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on class title, there is a separate class title to register for both classes and get the discount), using a debit or credit card or PayPal account. You also can call Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange payment by cash or check. For more information about the two classes, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.