UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host Starting a Cottage Foods Business in Alaska as online webinar

Photo from Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation website page on Cottage Food Regulations, https://dec.alaska.gov/eh/fss/food/cottage-food/

Join Sarah Lewis of the Juneau District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service as she hosts a free webinar from her kitchen about the basics of starting a home-based, cottage foods business in Alaska. The class is from 2-3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, using Zoom online meetings.

This class includes an intro to Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation‘s cottage foods (aka, home-based foods) regulations and information about the “non-potentially hazardous” food preservation methods that are allowed: dehydration, boiling water-bath canning, and pickling. In addition, Sarah will emphasize the best food safety and sanitation methods to use in a cottage foods business, and how a cottage foods business can continue sales during this time of social distancing.

Upcoming online classes include:

Online registration is required for each class, and registration for the cottage foods business class can be accomplished by going to this link. For more information, contact the UAF Cooperative Extension Service in Juneau at (907) 523-3280 x1 or sarah.lewis@alaska.edu.

Alaska Sea Grant hosts program, COVID-19 Economic Relief for Alaska’s Small Seafood Businesses

The Alaska Sea Grant program will host a free online program, COVID-19 Economic Relief for Alaska’s Small Seafood Businesses, from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, April 24.

The CARES Act was created to provide economic relief to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In this webinar, we will cover provisions for small businesses through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and local unemployment offices, CARES Act tax provisions, and economic relief through the State of Alaska. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Alaska Sea Grant is a trusted source of information and assistance for Alaska fishermen and seafood businesses, through the FishBiz Project. Join us for a presentation and discussion on Zoom with our experts from around the state. Free online registration is required at this link.

Sitka Tribe of Alaska, USDA Forest Service Sitka Ranger Station will plant Tlingít potato garden on Earth Day

SITKA, Alaska – The USDA Forest-Service Sitka Ranger District and Sitka Tribe of Alaska will join forces for the fourth consecutive year to educate people about Tlingít potatoes (also called Maria’s potatoes) and plant a crop of potatoes. The community is invited to participate in a web-based educational program on April 22, 2020. USDA Forest Service staff, the tribe, and tribal citizens will share how to grow Tlingít potatoes, and share the biology, history, and cultural aspects of these interesting root vegetables.

Separate from the education event, Tongass National Forest employees will, this year, plant the potatoes themselves. Since 2017, the Sitka Ranger District has provided a sunny plot of land to serve as the shared potato garden and provided the seed potatoes to plant the garden. In previous years, the Sitka Tribe’s Traditional Foods Program, the gardening class from Pacific High School, and Sitka community volunteers have assisted on the project.

“Because of the limited window for planting and the need to keep people safe and healthy, we decided that a virtual event, followed by one or two employees planting the bed, was our best plan of action for 2020,” Sitka District Ranger Perry Edwards said. “By teaching people through a web-based event, even more people can learn how to grow and sustain an easily grown, very productive traditional food.”

The virtual educational event is happening from 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, which is Earth Day. Attendees should use a computer or tablet, and are encouraged to sign in a few minutes early using their full name. Organizers will use a Teams meeting at https://tinyurl.com/tlingitpotatoes for both video and audio. Organizers suggest using the button: “join in on the web instead” once they have connected to the Teams meeting. For more information, contact Michelle Putz at 907- 747-2708 or email michelle.putz@usda.gov.

Tlingít potatoes have been present in Tlingit gardens for more than 200 years. The potatoes originate from Mexico or Chile, and were a trade item in Southeast Alaska in the early 1800s.

Alaska Sea Grant to host class, Introduction to Starting and Operating a Seafood Direct Marketing Business 2020

The Alaska Sea Grant program is hosting Introduction to Starting and Operating a Seafood Direct Marketing Business, which is a five-session online workshop for those considering or currently involved in direct marketing of seafood in Alaska. Topics include:

  • regulations
  • marketing
  • business planning
  • quality
  • discussion with direct marketers

Presenters include seafood marketing and quality specialists, regulatory officials, and experienced direct marketers. The workshop, limited to 20 participants, will be conducted online via Zoom and take place over five sessions. Sessions will be held in the evenings of April 20, 22, 24, 27, and 29. Each 2–3 hour session will begin at 5:30pm, and will consist of lecture and discussion. Prior to each session, registrants will receive class materials and instructions to log in. The class will conclude on April 29 with an open discussion with invited direct marketers.

Due to the limited number of seats, priority will be given to residents of Alaska. If you live outside Alaska but wish to participate, instead of registering, please contact Gabe Dunham (at this link) to be added to the space-available interest list. The class costs $135.

The Garden Show returns to KCAW-Raven Radio spring programming lineup for 29th year

For 29 years, Mollie Kabler and Kitty LaBounty have taken to the KCAW-Raven Radio airwaves during the spring months to broadcast The Garden Show.

This year, with the coronavirus affecting shows, the Garden Show will have a regular 9:30-10 a.m. slot on Fridays, starting on Friday, April 10. Kitty has a regular music show (Hometown Brew) from 2-4 p.m. on Thursdays, and sometimes in the past the half-hour Garden Shows took place during her program.

Garden Show topics include timely tasks for gardening in Southeast Alaska, taking on-air questions, and themes around basic and more advanced gardening of vegetables, flowers, fruit, trees, etc. The station’s website has links to previous shows.

Mollie and Kitty each have been gardening in Sitka for more than 29 years, and they also have significant gardening experience from their childhoods in Wisconsin (Mollie) and Oregon (Kitty). They both are certified as Master Gardeners, after completing the class series offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. Kitty currently is helping teach an online Alaska Master Gardeners class in Sitka.

To call the show with gardening questions, call 747-5877 and ask to be connected to the show.

Southeast Alaska Gardener Conference goes online from April 15 through May 8

Registration is open for the 2020 Southeast Alaska Gardener Conference, which takes place online using Zoom meetings this year. The conference is co-hosted by Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners Association the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

This virtual conference brings together gardeners for two presentations by area garden experts on each of eight nights from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays from April 15 through May 8. For a schedule, click the link below or go to https://www.seak-mastergardeners.org/index.html. The conference is free, but registration is required by going to this link and filling out the form.

Presentation topics include:

  • Wednesday, April 15, 6-6:45 p.m. — Patterns on the Land: Sustainable Landscape Design for Southeast Alaska, David Lendrum and Margaret Tharp, owners of Landscape Alaska
  • Wednesday, April 15, 7-7:45 p.m. — Growing Fruit Trees in High Tunnels, Rob Bishop of Alaska Apple Trees
  • Friday, April 17, 6-6:45 p.m. — Raised Beds, Ed Buyarski owner of Ed’s Edible Landscapes
  • Friday, April 17, 7-7:45 p.m. — Unique and Flavorful Rhubarb: Preliminary Research Results, ​David Love
  • Wednesday, April 22, 6-6:45 p.m. (Earth Day) — Panel Discussion: Growing Produce for Juneau a Worthy Endeavor a Fool’s Errand, Joe Orsi owner of Orsi Organic Produce (moderator), Bob Trousil, Sharon Fleming, Joel Boss, John Kraypek, Colin Peacock, Sarah Lewis
  • Wednesday, April 22, 7-7:45 p.m. (Earth Day) — Panel Discussion: Growing Crops “Undercover”: High Tunnel and Greenhouse Experiences, Joe Orsi (Moderator), Ed Buyarski, David Love, Will Murray and Eli Wray
  • Friday, April 24, 6-6:45 p.m. — All About the Basil (and Other Fabulous Herbs), Sarah Lewis-UAF/CEST
  • Friday, April 24, 7-7:45 p.m. — Climate Trends Affecting Gardeners; The Science and Mystique of Weather Forecasting in Southeast Alaska, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE /NOAA
  • Wednesday, April 29, 6-6:45 p.m. — Integrated Weed Management for the Master Gardener, Geno Graziano
  • Wednesday, April 29, 7-7:45 p.m. — Yard and Garden Insects, Jessie Moan
  • Friday, May 1, 6-6:45 p.m. — Earth Worms-Garden Good Guys or Eco Invaders, Darren Snyder
  • Friday, May 1, 7-7:45 p.m. — Gardening for Pollinators-The Birds, The Bees and The Beetles, Deb Rudis
  • Wednesday, May 6, 6-6:45 p.m. — New and Exciting, Classic and Applicable, Fascinating Developments in the World of Horticulture, Dave Lendrum and Margaret Tharp, owners of Landscape Alaska
  • Wednesday, May 6, 7-7:45 p.m. — Exploring the World for Hardy Rhododendron, Steve Hootman
  • Friday, May 8, 6-6:45 p.m. — The Wow Factor; Beyond being Pretty! Growing and Using Edible Flowers, Patricia Hartman
  • Friday, May 8, 7-7:45 p.m. — Grow Your Own Soil, Samia Savell

Click below for a description of the presentations and presenter biographies.

• FINAL 2020 Southeast Alaska Gardener Conference presentations

Sitka-based community supported fisheries programs give back to the community

These are tough times, with an outbreak keeping people at home and closing many businesses. It’s also been a tough time for some fisheries, with unusual season closures and reduced catch limits.

Two community supported fisheries (CSF) programs based in Sitka — Alaskans Own Seafood and Sitka Salmon Shares — are doing what they can to give back to the community to try and help ease the strain. The Alaskans Own Seafood program is targeting struggling families, while Sitka Salmon Shares is looking to help struggling families and fishermen.

Similar to a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, where people buy shares from a local farmer to help forward-fund a season of crops and receive monthly boxes of produce in exchange, people sign up to buy subscription boxes from a CSF program so they receive a monthly box of selected fish based on what’s in season. The Alaskans Own program distributes its CSF boxes in Sitka, Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Seattle. The Sitka Salmon Shares program takes its CSF boxes to several Midwest states, such as Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and others.

The Alaskans Own Seafood program, operated by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, is partnering with Seafood Producers Cooperative so people can go to the Alaskans Own website for people to donate to cover a box of IQF (individually quick frozen) fillets delivered to the doors of Sitka’s families in need. Boxes are $30 and weigh approximately 10 pounds. Families will be identified through partnering Sitka wellness and aid programs. The donating person can specify a family to receive the box or allow families in need to be identified through mutual aid programs such as SAFV (Sitkans Against Family Violence) and other programs, such as the Sitka Mutual Aid — COVID-19 page on Facebook. The SAFV shelter is happy to take weekly donations.

ALFA and SPC are covering costs and will adjust as appropriate. Additional funding support for this program is welcomed.
“This past week we launched a seafood donation program.  We are delivering seafood to families in need every Thursday afternoon,” ALFA executive director Linda Behnken wrote in an email. “The three-dollar-per-pound contribution covers processing and door to door distribution — the fish is donated. Seafood is being delivered via an electric car.”

On Friday, April 10, Sitka Salmon Shares donated 100 pounds of salmon collars to the Salvation Army food bank and soup kitchen in Sitka and plans to donate a few hundred more pounds that we have in the freezer to them and other local causes over the coming weeks, Sitka Salmon Shares chief fisheries officer Kelly Harrell wrote in an email. “We are also going to make a cash contribution to Sitka Mutual Aid, and will provide free processing of fish for our fishermen who want to donate fish to local causes over the season.”

“In terms of support for our fleet, we have worked with our fishermen to set minimum prices for their harvest that the company will not go below this season, and will work to stay above those prices as much as possible,” Harrell added. “This provides our fleet with assurance that no matter how far the dock price dives due to the impacts of COVID-19, they will be paid a certain amount for what they deliver to the company. For our first loads of halibut this season, the price we are paying has been 33-42% above the prevailing Sitka dock price in the last few weeks. We’ve also recently launched the Sitka Salmon Shares Fishermen’s Fund which is a creative way to generate extra income for our fleet that is not tied to their harvest or dock prices.
“We are diverting a portion of the company’s 1 Percent to the Wild Fund (which provides contributions to small-scale fisheries and conservation causes) to the Fishermen Fund and are also generating revenue into the fund through the sales of “Alaska Fishermen Keep America Fed” t-shirts designed by local Sitka fleet member Allie Spurlock and through an online “Fisheries of the United States” course (taught by Sitka Salmon Shares co-founder and president Nic Mink) that we will offer to our members and the general public in May,” Harrell said. “All the proceeds from the fund will be evenly split across our 22 Sitka and Kodiak-based fleet members offering what we hope will be a meaningful bump in their season’s income.”