Help us keep the Running of the Boots event going for a 24th year

For nearly a quarter of a century, the Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser has been a Sitka institution. But unless the Sitka Local Foods Network can find a partner organization or a big crew of volunteers, the race may not happen this year. Please help us keep the event going.

For those not familiar with the event, the Running of the Boots is a short costumed fun run in downtown Sitka where people run a short course wearing costumes and XtraTuf boots (optional). Usually the course isn’t much longer than running from the Totem Square end of Lincoln Street to the stoplight and back. Money is raised through an entry fee, and the Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted a small farm stand with late-season fresh local produce.

The Sitka Local Foods Network has coordinated the race for 11 years, but this year we just don’t have the board strength to get the event organized. Last year, to keep the event going, we partnered with the Sitka office of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, splitting proceeds. But the Sitka office of BBBS was closed earlier this year. This year we have two board members going on an extended honeymoon, another board member out of state at a conference the week of the event, and another board member who is pregnant and nearing her due date, so we need someone to step in and coordinate the event this year, and we’ll let you keep most of the proceeds from the race (if we can get our usual farm stand going, we’d keep the money earned from that).

The Running of the Boots has been part of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce’s End-Of-Season Celebration the last several years, and this year that event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 22. It usually starts about 11 a.m. (with registration open at 10 a.m. and costume judging about 10:30 a.m.). The race is over by about 11:30 a.m., with awards taking until noon or so. There is some set-up and take-down time involved, and there is prep time leading up to the event where the coordinator meets with the Chamber to make sure all the arrangements are worked out and also contacting merchants to get door prizes.

We’d love to find a kid-friendly group to help share this event, and SLFN board president Charles Bingham will help with media and other promotion even though he will be out of town until the week of the event (he gets back Friday night before the race). If your group is interested, please contact Charles at 623-7660 or Let’s keep this fun event going.

Scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, left, presents the Table of the Day Award to Ashley Moore McNamee, center, and Kailee McNamee during the second market of the summer held Saturday, July21, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Ashmo’s is a seafood truck that serves salmon mac and cheese, rockfish tacos, blackcod tips, fish and chips, ling cod sandwiches, and more. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, Ashley and Kailee received two Sitka Farmers Market t-shirts, some birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, and a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub. The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), with other markets scheduled for Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website,, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We held our second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, July 21, with a full slate of booths and a big crowd. The weather even cooperated, clearing up to blue skies after a morning of clouds.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling homemade clam chowder, home-baked bread, jams and jellies, sea veggies and teas, garlic scapes, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a couple of food trucks and a hot dog vendor outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, at the ANB Founders Hall. There also are markets scheduled for Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15. To learn how to be a vendor at the marketor how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

A slideshow of scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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John Sledd to discuss Washington fishing treaties during July 23 presentation at Sitka Public Library

Outer Coast, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and Sitka Conservation Society present a conversation with John Sledd, Seattle attorney representing Western Washington tribes in litigation over state culvert placement. The case is a culmination of a protracted legal battle between Western Washington tribes and the state of Washington over the violation of treaty-based duties to preserve fish runs and habitat.

This presentation takes place from 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 23, at the Sitka Public Library.

Sledd will discuss the Tribes’ long struggle to protect their fishing rights, the recent US Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Tribes, and the lessons Washington vs. United States may hold for Alaska. Join us for a night of enlightenment and discussion.

Scenes from the Sitka Kitch ‘Baking With Betsy: Alternative Sweeteners’ class on July 17

Students learned how to bake a triple chocolate date torte, a lemon polenta cake, almond chocolate chip cookies, and ginger snap cookies with pecans during the Alternative Sweeteners class, the third class in the Sitka Kitch’s three-course Baking With Betsy series, held July 17 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Sitka Kitch class series is being taught by professional baker and culinary skills instructor Betsy Peterson Sanchez of St. Charles, Ill.

In addition to the Sweet Breads class, the other two classes were :

Betsy comes from a long line of people who love to cook and that passion has been passed down to her. Although Betsy considered a career in music, she happily decided to go into what she loved the most, baking and cooking.

Betsy headed for New York and attended the Culinary Institute of America, receiving a degree in culinary arts.  Then it was off to Chicago to work as a pastry chef  in several different establishments.  Baking is Betsy’s first love, particularly yeast breads.

After a career as a pastry chef and raising her family, she went back to school. Betsy attended The French Pastry School in Chicago for a certificate in French Pastry as well as a continuing education course in Artisan Breads. Currently, Betsy teaches in a Culinary Program at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill. She is a member of The Baker’s Guild and a Chef Mentor for Fox Valley Food For Health, a non-profit providing healthy meals for families going through devastating illnesses.

Betsy is so excited to be spending part of the summer in Sitka, where she plans to spend as much time as possible with her daughter, Claire Sanchez, and enjoy the beauty of Alaska.

Classes in this series had a reduced food/supply fee thanks to a donation from Sea Mart Quality Foods.

The next Sitka Kitch class is being held from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival, when Beak Restaurant owner-chef Renée Jakaitis Trafton will teach people how to fillet a salmon. This class costs $30 (no food/supply fee), and each student will receive a new fillet knife.

A slideshow of scenes from the alternative sweeteners class is posted below.



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Two Sitka businesses among finalists in 2018 Path To Prosperity contest

Iris Nash works with a customer during a 2017 Sitka Farmers Market.

The Path to Prosperity (P2P) business development competition has selected 12 finalists to advance to the second round of the 2018 program. P2P aims to identify and support new and growing small businesses in Southeast Alaska, especially those implementing sustainable practices into their business models.

After limiting the contest to food businesses only in 2017, P2P returned to its roots and reopened it to businesses of all types this year, which is the way it was the first four years. The two Sitka businesses to make the finals are both non-food businesses — Timberworks owned by Zach LaPerriere and Ebb & Flow owned by Iris A.B. Nash. Several of the finalists are food businesses, but not the two from Sitka.

Zach LaPerriere with some of his wooden bowls

“I make wood bowls and vessels to showcase the outstanding old growth forests of Southeast Alaska,” LaPerriere said. “Every bowl tells a story of the life and growth of an ancient tree. Because I work in woods that average 100 to 500 years old, I take extra time to shape each bowl to show what is most unique about the tree it came from. Because my work blurs the line between a functional wood bowl and art, about half my bowls are in daily use and the other half are displayed as art pieces around the world.”

“Ebb and Flow will be a design and sewn product manufacturing company in Sitka, offering high-function attire for the climate specific to Southeast Alaska,” Nash said. “Morally focused on cultivating conversation on conservation, we aim to tread lightly by utilizing earth friendly fabrics and processes.”

P2P is in its sixth year, and is a partnership between Spruce Root, Inc. and The Nature Conservancy. Since 2013, the P2P program has helped develop local companies that are focused on increasing profitability and local employment, while also having a positive socioeconomic impact on their communities, promoting sustainable use of local resources, and magnifying entrepreneurial capacity in Southeast Alaska.

All 12 finalists will participate in a three-day business boot camp Sept. 28-30 in Juneau. All expenses including airfare and lodging will be covered by P2P for the businesses. The intense weekend of workshops covers topics such as business plan writing, sustainable business practices, and accessing financial capital.

“I’ve been largely self-employed for 25 years and just learned along the way, but never taken the time to step back and write a business plan,” LaPerriere said. “I welcome the business boot camp because it will help me give more structure and planning to what I do. When do I hire professionals to help? How do I evaluate when to seek financing? These aren’t easy questions for a solopreneur artist. Spruce Root is an amazing organization, and it’s an honor to work with and learn from them.”

Nash said her family is out commercial fishing right now, so it will be a month or two before her new business takes shape. But she welcomes the competition as a good starting point.

2018 P2P Finalists

Here are this year’s twelve finalists, ordered by city and announced by business name and applicant:

  • Beaver Brothers Trading Co., Quinn Aboudara, Craig
  • Mud Bay Lumber Company, Sylvia Heinz, Haines
  • Juneau Composts!, Lisa Daugherty, Juneau
  • The Farm, Bridget LaPenter, Juneau
  • Exiting Eden Tannery, Richard Harney, Ketchikan
  • Blue Drum Farm, Marja Smets, Petersburg
  • Petersburg Marine, John Murgas, Petersburg
  • Timberworks, Zach LaPerriere, Sitka
  • Ebb & Flow, Iris A.B. Nash, Sitka
  • Tenakee Logging Company, Gordon W. Chew, Tenakee
  • Gathered & Grown Botanicals, Angie Flickinger, Wrangell
  • Yakutat Sustainable, Nathan Moulton, Yakutat

Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit seeks speakers for February 2019 event in Sitka

(Passing on an email from the Salt and Soil Marketplace regional food hub out of Juneau).

Hello Southeast Alaska farmers,

The 2019 SEAK Farmers Summit is right around the corner (February in Sitka) and in the spirit of the event, we are looking to include a few “cooperative farmer presentations” this year. The idea being that 2-4 farmers/growers team up to create a presentation that addresses (from a personal experience perspective) a topic that was requested on evaluations from the last summit in Haines. What follows is a list of the  requested topics/ideas:

  • Irrigation Systems
  • Pest/Disease Management
  • Greenhouse Growing/Supplemental Lighting
  • Packaging & Distribution
  • Specific Crop Information (exactly how YOU grow it)
  • “Worst mistakes you’ve ever made”
  • Growing Berries in SEAK
  • Methods for Seed Starting
  • Weed Suppression Techniques
  • Root Cellars

If you feel you have anything to contribute (even just a couple minutes worth) to sharing experience/knowledge related to any of these topics and would like to be included as a presenter for one of these cooperative presentations, please email Marja Smets of Farragut Farm for more information ( She will be coordinating this part of the agenda. We are looking for folks to prepare a 2-10 minute presentation (hopefully with pictures, but it is not required) and be willing to answer questions from the audience. Again, the idea is to foster conversation and the exchange of ideas among participating farmers/farmers-to-be.

Thanks and looking forward to seeing you all in February 2019.

Lia G. Heifetz
Director, Grow Southeast
1107 W. 8th Street, Suite 234
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Scenes from the community conversation about our food with food systems expert/author Mark Winne

This past week, noted food systems/food policy expert and author Mark Winne was in Sitka to research his new book, tentatively called “Food Town, USA,” about the local food systems of seven communities around the country.

During his time in Sitka, Mark visited the Sitka Farmers Market, the Sitka Food Co-op, the Sitka Kitch, and several food businesses around town. He also helped lead a community conversation about our food on Wednesday, July 11, at the Sitka Public Library, a free event co-sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Food Co-op.

This event was moderated by Doug Osborne, health promotion director at Sitka Community Hospital and a former Sitka Local Foods Network board member. It also featured a brief history of Sitka’s food system from current Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham and an introduction to the Sitka Food Co-op by manager Keith Nyitray.

Those in attendance then had a chance to discuss Sitka’s food system, to find strengths and weaknesses. They also broke into small groups to discuss where they wanted for Sitka’s food system in the future.

A slideshow of scenes from the event is posted below. A PDF version of the brief history of Sitka’s food system also is posted below.

• A Story About Food In Sitka (opens as 13.5 MB PDF file, originally a much larger PowerPoint presentation)

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