ALFA wins major grant to improve, expand electronic monitoring on fishing boats

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association executive director Linda Behnken’s longliner, the Woodstock (Photo Copyright Josh Roper)

A photo taken from electronic monitoring camera

The Sitka-based Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) has been awarded a major grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to improve at-sea monitoring of Alaska’s longline fisheries through the use of electronic monitoring technologies.

At-sea electronic monitoring (EM) technology uses video cameras aboard fishing vessels to monitor catch and bycatch in lieu of a human observer.  Since many small boats do not have the capacity to take an additional person aboard during fishing trips, EM can be more operationally compatible for the vessel, and potentially more cost effective. After several years of research and pre-implementation, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved electronic monitoring as an option for small fixed-gear vessels in the partial coverage sector of the Observer Program in 2016. The grant — awarded by NFWF with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Kingfisher Foundation — will provide ALFA $577,959 to improve Alaska’s longline electronic monitoring program for vessels participating in sablefish, halibut and Pacific cod fixed-gear fisheries.

With this support, ALFA will assist the National Marine Fisheries Service’s work to provide electronic monitoring hardware and field service support for vessels joining the EM program, and also support stakeholder engagement in the program’s development. The project will result in electronic monitoring of up to 120 hook and line vessels and will improve the utility of electronic monitoring data for fishermen and fishery managers alike.

“In Alaska, fishermen pay a large part of the at-sea monitoring costs needed to support our fisheries. By offsetting start-up costs and helping fishermen equip their vessels with EM systems, we can meet at-sea monitoring needs in a way that is more compatible with small vessels and improve cost effectiveness,” says Dan Falvey, Program Director at ALFA.

This is the second NFWF grant that ALFA has received to assist with EM implementation, which will help provide the equipment and field services needed to expand the program to the new vessels.

Over the next two years, 120 longline vessels in Alaska will use electronic monitoring while fishing.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundations’ Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program seeks to catalyze the implementation of electronic technologies in U.S. fisheries in order to systematically integrate technology into fisheries data collection and modernized data management systems for improved fisheries management. This year, it awarded a total of more than $3.59 million in grants. The 12 national awards announced generated $3.15 million in match from the grantees, providing a total conservation impact of more than $6.75 million. 

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Mighty Bear Roots, Game Creek Family Orchards win 2017 Path to Prosperity contest

Rob Bishop of Game Creek Family Orchards in Hoonah poses with some of his fruit trees. Game Creek Family Orchards supplies fruit trees, tree maintenance and support services, and fresh, locally grown apples to and Southeast Alaska. After years of experimenting with local and disease resistant rootstocks, Game Creek Family Orchards has developed a reputation for producing apple trees uniquely crafted to thrive in Southeast Alaska.

Two Southeast Alaska businesses have won a contest for innovative entrepreneurs. Mighty Bear Roots in Wrangell and Hoonah’s Game Creek Family Orchards will each receive prizes of $25,000 for winning top honors in the Path to Prosperity business competition. Winners were presented with their awards on Thursday evening (Feb. 23) at the annual Innovation Summit in Juneau.

Path to Prosperity, or P2P, is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and Spruce Root Inc.  This sustainable business development competition grows entrepreneurs whose businesses will have a positive economic, social and environmental impact on communities all across Southeast Alaska. In 2017, the contest focused on food security and food businesses. In 2018, the contest will be open to a variety of business types when it opens in April.

Dixie and Chris Booker of Mighty Bear Roots of Wrangell. Mighty Bear Roots is an aeroponic greenhouse start-up that will provide the community of Wrangell with a local source of fresh healthy produce. The clean and green operation will utilize energy efficient full spectrum LED lighting, solar panels, rain catch and ground-to-air heat transfer systems to reduce its ecological footprint while growing delicious, healthy food that doesn’t need to be barged in.

Mighty Bear Roots is an aeroponic greenhouse start-up that will provide the community of Wrangell with a local source of fresh healthy produce.

“The Path to Prosperity has really helped us organize our thinking around our business” says Dixie Booker, the company’s co-founder. “We are excited for the potential to enhance our community’s food security and bring fresh produce to Wrangell. I highly recommend P2P for anyone who wants to start or further a small business.”

Game Creek Family Orchards supplies fruit trees, tree maintenance and support services, and fresh, locally grown apples to and Southeast Alaska.  After years of experimenting with local and disease resistant rootstocks, Game Creek Family Orchards has developed a reputation for producing apple trees uniquely crafted to thrive in Southeast Alaska.

Over the past four years, P2P has received 197 applications from 24 Southeast Alaska communities representing 12 different industries. In addition, 60 entrepreneurs have participated in P2P’s intensive Business Boot Camp workshops. There are now 11 Path to Prosperity winners in Southeast Alaska, all of whom continue to grow and build their businesses in ways that contribute to the community, are environmentally sustainable and are profitable.

“We’re very excited about not only this year’s winners but the entire group of 12 finalists we brought to our Business Boot Camp in September,” says Paul Hackenmueller, Spruce Root program manager and P2P administrator. “Each year the competition has grown more competitive. You can see the impact the program and, more importantly, our contestants are having on their local communities and the region.”

There are more and more signs that P2P, which began as a unique experiment in 2013, has proven itself as a dynamic program that’s making a difference in Southeast Alaska.

“These food businesses don’t only create local jobs; they also decrease the environmental impacts of shipping and transport, and provide food security and healthy food choices in our communities,” says Christine Woll, who directs Southeast Alaska programs for The Nature Conservancy. “These types of businesses are key to building a prosperous triple-bottom-line future for Southeast Alaska.”

Continued Growth
After focusing on food, the 2018 competition will once again be open to sustainable businesses from any industry. “Strengthening local food systems in Southeast Alaska is important to The Nature Conservancy and Spruce Root, but we know there are businesses of all stripes that can benefit from the P2P experience,” Hackenmueller says. “We’ve already seen a lot of interest in the 2018 competition, so I anticipate we’ll see another group of passionate, motivated entrepreneurs for out next Boot Camp in the fall.”

About Spruce Root
Our goal is to build community resiliency. We believe a strong locally controlled economy creates the foundation for a healthy and thriving community. Spruce Root promotes economic development and job creation in Southeast Alaska by providing access to small business loans and business advisory services. Spruce Root is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.

Spruce Root was founded by Haa Aaní LLC in 2012 under Haa Aaní Community Development Fund Inc. with the goal of improving access to capital for entrepreneurs in Southeast Alaska.

Learn more at www.spruceroot.org | 907.586.9251 |  grow@spruceroot.org

About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy envisions a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives. As a non-profit conservation organization, the Conservancy is committed to solving big challenges to nature and human well-being. For nearly 30 years, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has crafted lasting science-based conservation solutions with diverse partners all across the state. Learn more at www.nature.org/alaska.

Don’t forget to file your PFD applications with Pick.Click.Give. donations

Where has the time gone? We’re already almost into March 2018, and March is the last month for people to apply for their 2018 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. As usual, Alaskans can share their wealth with a variety of Alaska nonprofits, including the Sitka Local Foods Network, through the PFD’s Pick.Click.Give. program.

This is the fourth year the Sitka Local Foods Network will participate in the Pick.Click.Give. program, which allows people to donate in $25 increments to their favorite statewide and local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations when they file their PFD applications from Jan. 1 through March 31. We missed 2017 due to a clerical snafu, but we’re back in the program for 2018.

When you choose to donate part of your PFD to the Sitka Local Foods Network, you support the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, education programs about growing and preserving food, the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, Sitka Community Gardens, matching dollars at the Sitka Farmers Market for SNAP/WIC beneficiaries, the sustainable use of traditional foods, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, the Sitka Food Summit, and a variety of other projects designed to increase access to healthy local foods in Sitka.

Did you forget to make your Pick.Click.Give. donations when you filed for your PFD this year? Don’t worry, you can still add or change your Pick.Click.Give. donations through Aug. 31 when you go back into your online application (you will need to have your My.Alaska.gov information handy to log into the application). You can’t file your PFD application after the March 31 deadline, but if you filed for your PFD before the deadline you have until Aug. 31 to modify your Pick.Click.Give. donations.

In 2017 Alaskans contributed $2.7 million to 668 Alaska nonprofit organizations, and more than $18.5 million has been donated since the program started in 2009. Some Alaskans choose to donate to just one group, while others may spread several donations around to many groups. There now are more than 600 total 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations participating in Pick.Click.Give. for 2017 (including multi-location nonprofits), including 23 from Sitka. In 2017, Alaskans donated $100,500 to Sitka-based nonprofits.

To encourage more Alaskans to donate through the Pick.Click.Give. program, the Double Your Dividend contest has been revised to encourage philanthropy. Anybody who makes a non-anonymous Pick.Click.Give. donation to at least one of the registered nonprofits will be entered into a contest where five lucky Alaskans will win a second PFD check for their favorite participating Pick.Click.Give. nonprofit (or it can be split between a couple of nonprofits). The winners no longer receive a second PFD for themselves, just one to donate to an organization. The winners will be announced in October, about the time the PFDs start hitting bank accounts.

So how do you make a donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network through the Pick.Click.Give. program? First, go fill out your Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application at http://pfd.alaska.gov/. When you get to the section of the application asking if you want to participate in Pick.Click.Give. Charitable Contributions program, click on the PCG link and search for the Sitka Local Foods Network. You also can look for us by using the town search for Sitka.

The Pick.Click.Give. program is available only to people who file their PFD applications online, and not to those who file by mail. Even though you can’t file a new PFD application after March 31, you can go back into your application and update your Pick.Click.Give. donations through Aug. 31 each year.

You still can donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network if you aren’t from Alaska or aren’t eligible for a 2018 PFD. To donate, send your check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408D Marine St., Sitka, Alaska, 99835. You also can donate online by going to our online fundraising page on Razoo.com, and clicking the Donate button to make an online contribution. Please let us know if you need a receipt for tax purposes. For more information about donating, you can send an email to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Thank you for supporting our mission of promoting and encouraging the growing, harvesting and eating of local foods in Sitka and Southeast Alaska.

Sitka Kitch to host Seasonal Cooking class series in Winter and Spring 2018

Learn a variety of cooking techniques during the new Seasonal Cooking class series, which will be hosted by the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen in Winter and Spring 2018.

All classes in this series take place at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church). Two of the classes already have taken place, as we delayed the announcement of the complete series while waiting for some dates to finalize.

Here is the list of classes (click on the class title for a direct link to the online registration page, link will open when registration page is available).

  • Cooking With Hank Moore 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 16, In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, make blackcod, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and brown rice.
  • Spice It Up With Lexie Smith 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 12, Make a Valentine’s Day dinner of baked coho salmon with an apricot glaze, curried butternut squash, couscous, and a marinaded salad with arugula, baby tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers and watermelon, with pistachios, limes and Greek yogurt as a topping. Lexie is the NMS chef manager at the Island Skillet at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital.
  • Pakistani Cooking With AFS Exchange Student Shanzila Ahmed 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 27, Learn how to make biryani (rice, chicken and a variety of spices).
  • National Nutrition Month Healthy Cooking Demonstration5:30-7 p.m., Tuesday, March 27, Free event with SEARHC health educator Heleena Van Veen, health educator Holly Marban, registered dietitian Jessica Holland and diabetes nurse Kelly Lakin. This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is “Go Further With Food,” so students will learn creative ways to use leftovers and how to store food so it doesn’t spoil.
  • Herring Appreciation With Renee Trafton (Beak Restaurant) 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 3 (alternate date is April 10 if herring running late), Celebrate the return of herring to Sitka by making herring egg salad and sushi.
  • Naturally Clean Home Products1-3 p.m., Saturday, April 7, Videoconference with Sarah Lewis of Juneau office of UAF Cooperative Extension Service. This class will teach you how to reduce your use of harsh, chemical cleaners but still be able to do deep cleaning. Students need to bring five 32-ounce spray bottles and a 20-ounce jar with lid (or six quart canning jars to store products to take home and then transfer to spray bottles). Class fee is $20, no supply fee.
  • Starting A Cottage Foods Business1-3 p.m., Saturday, April 14, Videoconference
    with Sarah Lewis of Juneau office of UAF Cooperative Extension Service. Learn about state laws regarding home food businesses, and get ideas for businesses you might take to the Sitka Farmers Market or local trade shows. Tours of the Sitka Kitch and rental information will be available. Class fee is $10, no supply fee. The Sitka Local Foods Network offers class participants half-off the registration fee for their first Sitka Farmers Market in 2018.
  • Puerto Rican Cooking With Nina Vizcarrondo 6-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 2, Learn how to cook sofrito with recao, empanadas or pastelon, and arroz con gandules from Nina, a former U.S. Coast Guard chef and the current Sitka Farmers Market manager.

Class space is limited, so register early. Unless noted, all Seasonal Cooking classes cost $27.50 per person, plus a food/supply fee split between the registered students. The registration deadline for Shanzila’s class is 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, and other registration deadlines are two nights before the class so instructors have time to buy supplies.

Register online at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on class title) and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal. To pre-pay by cash or check, contact Chandler, Claire, or Clarice at 747-7509 to arrange payment. For more information about the class series, contact Jasmine at 747-9440.

White E awards Sitka Local Foods Network grant to match SNAP/WIC produce sales

Sitka White Elephant Shop (aka, the White E) volunteer Samantha Skultka, center, presents grant checks on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, to Sitka Historical Society executive director Hal Spackman, left, and Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham. (Photo by Susan Brown)

The Sitka White Elephant Shop (aka, the White E) awarded the Sitka Local Foods Network with a $1,000 grant during its 2018 grant cycle.

The grant will be used to provide matching funds for SNAP and WIC beneficiaries who purchase produce at the Sitka Farmers Market and other events where the SLFN sells produce, such as at the Running of the Boots or at our table on Chelan Produce weeks. The Sitka Local Foods Network began providing SNAP matching dollars for the first $20 of produce purchases at the markets a few years ago when there was a state grant, but last year those grant funds ran out and we used our general fund to match the produce purchases. We also started matching the $5 WIC farmers market produce coupons last year, using our general fund. We grow most of the produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and our satellite gardens around town. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is part of the USDA’s The People’s Garden program.

“Our mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans, but buying local produce can be difficult for people on food assistance programs,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “Our matching funds help get more healthy local produce into the diets of lower-income residents of Sitka. A lot of people don’t realize how much income inequality there is in Sitka, and according to the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report released in 2014, there were 1,410 people and 766 families receiving SNAP benefits in Sitka during 2013. That’s about one out of six Sitka residents who need extra access to this healthy local produce.”

The White E made several grants during the 2018 grant cycle, but a complete list wasn’t available. The Sitka Local Foods Network thanks the White E for its support.

Scenes from the second Seasonal Cooking class: Spice It Up With Lexie Smith at the Sitka Kitch

Students learned how to make a Valentine’s Day dinner during the Spice It Up With Lexie Smith class on Monday, Feb. 12, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen. This was the second class of the Seasonal Cooking class series at the Sitka Kitch.

Lexie Smith, the NMS chef manager at the Island Skillet at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, taught students how to make baked coho salmon with an apricot glaze, curried butternut squash, couscous, a marinated salad with arugula, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon and cucumbers, with yogurt and limes for a garnish.

The next class in the Seasonal Cooking series is Pakistani Cooking with AFS exchange student Shanzila Ahmed, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Sitka Kitch. Shanzila will teach students how to make a very famous Pakistani dish called biryani, which features rice, chicken and a lot of different spices.

Other classes in the Seasonal Cooking class series will be announced soon, but topics include healthy cooking for National Nutrition Month, herring appreciation, and Puerto Rican food. There also will be videoconference classes on earth-friendly cleaning products and how to start a cottage foods business.

Class space is limited, so register early. Unless noted, the Seasonal Cooking classes cost $27.50 per person, plus a food/supply fee split between the registered students. The registration deadline for Shanzila’s class is 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Register online at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on class title) and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal. To pre-pay by cash or check, contact Chandler, Claire, or Clarice at 747-7509 to arrange payment. For more information about the class series, contact Jasmine at 747-9440.

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Sitka Kitch to offer Seasonal Cooking: Spice It Up With Lexie Smith class on Feb. 12

NMS Chef Manager Lexie Smith holds deer hind quarters before preparing them for Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital patients as part of the hospital’s new traditional food options

Lexie Smith, the NMS chef manager at the Island Skillet at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, will teach the second class in the Sitka Kitch‘s new class series, Seasonal Cooking, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen. The class is called Spice It Up With Lexie Smith.

Lexie and her students will cook a Valentine’s Day dinner of baked salmon, curried butternut squash, cous cous, marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, with yogurt.

Other classes in the Seasonal Cooking class series will be announced soon, but topics include Pakistani cooking, healthy nutrition cooking, herring appreciation, canning beans and salsa, and Puerto Rican food. There also will be a class on earth-friendly cleaning products.

Class space is limited, so register early. This class costs $27.50 per person, plus a food/supply fee split between the registered students. The registration deadline is 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Register online at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on class title) and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal. To pre-pay by cash or check, contact Chandler, Claire, or Clarice at 747-7509 to arrange payment. For more information about the class series, contact Jasmine at 747-9440.