New high tunnels help grow more produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

Since its origin as a small communal garden located in space behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church in April 2008, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm has grown much of the produce sold at the Sitka Farmers Market.

Coordinated by the Sitka Local Foods Network, with Laura Schmidt serving as lead gardener for the past decade, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm has grown in efficiency and production so there are more fresh veggies available for Sitka residents.

In recent years, that means the addition of high tunnels, also called hoop houses. High tunnels look like greenhouses, but don’t have the heaters, powered ventilation systems or evaporative coolers commonly found in greenhouses. Even without those extras, high tunnels can extend the growing season and even counter the effects of a cold, wet summer such as the one we had in 2020 when it seemed like it rained just about all the time.

It started with a small, used high tunnel a former Sitka Local Foods Network board member donated to the group when she moved out of town. That small high tunnel, which still is in use at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, has been at the communal garden for about 5-6 years now. It was first used as a place to start seedlings and now has chard and kale growing in it.

In the spring of 2020, the Sitka Local Foods Network board approved the purchase of a 16×28 quonset hut-style high tunnel, manufactured by Oregon Valley Greenhouses and sold locally through Spenard Builder’s Supply. This high tunnel was constructed by a volunteer crew coordinated by Laura Schmidt, and was planted in time for the 2020 summer.

That high tunnel saved our 2020 Sitka Farmers Market season, as it helped protect some of the more fragile plants from the extreme cold and rain we had that year. That prompted the Sitka Local Foods Network to buy another 16×28 high tunnel of the same make and model, plus we added an automated venting system and fan to both of the new high tunnels.

Despite the nice weather last week, the 2021 spring has been cold and wet so the produce still needs better weather to kick into gear. But the new high tunnels will greatly help us keep Sitka in produce this summer.

Click this link, if you want to support the Sitka Local Foods Network’s efforts to grow more healthy produce for Sitka residents. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm holds a Certified Naturally Grown farm designation, which shows the Sitka Local Foods Network’s commitment to growing produce in a sustainable manner with the minimal use of chemical fertilizers.

Voting open in 13th annual America’s Farmers Market Celebration

The voting period for the 13th annual America’s Farmers Market Celebration is open and people can go online and support their favorite farmers markets through Sept. 19. After being sponsored under various names by the American Farmland Trust during its early years, this year the Trust is teaming up with the Farmers Market Coalition to host the contest. They also have added prize money, with the top farmers market winning $2,500, second place receiving $1,500, and third place $1,000.

Last year, the Sitka Farmers Market was the top market in Alaska again. The Sitka Farmers Market has been the top vote-getter in Alaska for the past four years, and six of the past seven years. The contest uses online voting, but each email address is only allowed to vote once so people can’t stuff the ballot box. Voting opened on June 21 this year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we made several major changes to the Sitka Farmers Markets in 2020 and some of those are carrying forward into 2021. In 2020, we had a greatly scaled back market, a switch to an online ordering system, a new pick-up event location, and new health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While we are reopening to a fuller market this year (last year we only had produce vendors), the markets will be outside and people still are encouraged to wear face masks. Even though most Sitka residents have been vaccinated, COVID-19 remains present and there are many variants.

This year we plan eight full markets, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 3, 17, 31, Aug. 7, 21, 28, Sept. 11, and 18, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall (museum/harbor end of the building). Nalani James, who served as co-market manager last year, will manage the markets this year, with Charles Bingham assisting. At the markets, depending on which vendors register, we plan to have fresh local produce, fish, cottage foods, homemade baked goods, hot food, food trucks, arts and crafts, live music, and more. We added a new online vendor registration website this year, We also still have our youth vendor program.

Last year, we had people create Sitka accounts using the Salt and Soil Marketplace online portal,, and order their produce from 5 p.m. on Tuesday through 8 p.m. on Thursday each week from July through September. We then had a weekly pick-up event (with Middle Island Gardens) from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, 611 Lincoln Street). This year we still plan to use Salt and Soil Marketplace and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm for our non-market weeks (July 10, 24, Aug. 14, Sept. 4), and for some of our market weeks with produce pick-up at the market. This will depend on produce availability.

Barring the end of the pandemic, all of our volunteers will be wearing masks and gloves to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We ask our customers to wear masks and give people space during the market. We want to encourage community connection and small businesses at the markets, but we also don’t want to spread the coronavirus.

Sitka Kitch and UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host all-day Salmonganza classes July 17 at Halibut Point Recreation Area

The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, will host Salmonganza from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, at the main shelter at Halibut Point Recreation Area.

(Click image to enlarge)

This will be a day focused on salmon, with classes on preparing salmon, pressure canning salmon, smoking salmon, making salmon sausage and jerky, and even preparing condiments for the salmon using salmonberries. In addition, there will be free pressure canner gauge testing from noon until 1 p.m.

The classes will be taught by Sarah Lewis from the Juneau District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service. As part of her Maritime Extension Program, Sarah is traveling via the JunieBell to communities around Southeast Alaska to teach family and community resilience workshops.

This class is for all experience levels, ages 16 and older. No pets, please. Students should bring: a cooking knife, apron, dish towel, six wide-mouth half-pint canning jars with new lids, and your pressure canner’s dial gauge (with or without lid), if you would like it tested.

The class costs $40, which is part of our all-inclusive fee system (you no longer have to pay a class fee to register, then a separate food/supply fee). The Sitka Kitch will supply all of the food supplies for this class, but students will need to bring certain cooking items from a list provided before the class. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the class will be limited to 10 students, face masks must be worn, and social distancing must be observed.

The registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 15. Space is limited, so register early at (click class title) to secure your place in the class. We need at least eight students to register and pre-pay to make this class happen.

Current (paid) members of the Sitka Food Co-Op are now able to attend the classes for $30 each (the co-op will cover the other $10 of your class fee). Please use the Sitka Food Co-Op ticket when you register and send an email to letting them know you’re in the class. (NOTE, Only one person per Co-op household may use the Co-op discount per class. Please name that person when you register so the name can be checked against the Co-op membership list.)

You can register and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal on our EventSmart page, (click on class title). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment. Please note there is a $5 charge for parking at Halibut Point Rec, which is payable to the State of Alaska.

For more information about the class, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440. We do offer one potential scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, so long as we have enough students registered to make the class happen. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Sitka Kitch also has a new class cancelation policy. If you register for a class, then find out you can’t attend, please email us at and we may be able to help fill your slot through our waiting list. If you cancel from the class at least five days in advance (eg, by Wednesday the week before for a Monday class), you are eligible for a partial refund of your class fee, minus $5 for processing (in this case, $35). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host ‘Starting a Cottage Foods Business’ as online webinar

Photo from Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation website page on Cottage Food Regulations

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 noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22, 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.

This class is being offered in preparation for the 2021 season of Sitka Farmers Markets, which take place on eight Saturdays this summer. This is a good way for new and past vendors to familiarize themselves with the current cottage food business regulations in Alaska.

To register, contact Jasmine Shaw of the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440 or Please register by Monday, so you can receive the Zoom link in time.

Check out the June 2021 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the June 2021 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about an update on plans for the 2021 Sitka Farmers Market, an invitation to join our board of directors, and information about our 2021 sponsorship program. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Vendor registration open for 2021 Sitka Farmers Markets

Vendor registration is finally open for the 2021 Sitka Farmers Markets. This 14th annual event is hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit working to improve Sitka’s food security. The new online vendor registration page,, is live and ready for vendors to sign up and pre-pay for their spots.

This summer there are eight Sitka Farmers Markets, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 3, July 17, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 21, Aug. 28, Sept. 11, and Sept. 18, at the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. In addition to table space under the building overhang and on the plaza, there are parking spots for food trucks and food carts.

All vendors will pay $40 per market, regardless of whether you have a table or a food truck. We have a special rate of $280 for vendors who register for all eight markets, which means you get one market free. Vendors can register for one or two markets, or all eight. We also have youth vendor program for ages 14 and younger, which is $20 for all eight markets. Vendors will need to supply their own tables (preferably 30×72-inch banquet tables, please no tables longer than eight feet), and in some cases their own 10×10-foot tents.

The Sitka Farmers Market is a community event hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. Our focus is on local — fresh produce, fish, baked goods, prepared foods, cottage foods, arts and crafts — and all products must be made in Alaska (preferably in Sitka or Southeast Alaska, cooked foods may use non-local foods so long as the food is cooked on site).

We are holding the market entirely outside this year to help protect against the spread of COVID-19. While most people now are vaccinated against the coronavirus, there still are people who aren’t vaccinated and there are periodic hot spots where the illness flares up. We don’t want the market to be one of them. We encourage vendors and customers to wear masks, to use hand sanitizer, and to avoid bunching up while giving others six feet of space.

Vendors can pay using PayPal or credit/debit card. When you get to the Payment options, click PayPal and it should give you the option of using a PayPal account or four different types of cards (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover). If you prefer to pay by cash or check, contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660.

Nalani James is the Sitka Farmers Market manager this summer (she’s on the right in the photo above). Laura Schmidt (left in photo) is our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, where the Sitka Local Foods Network grows most of the produce it sells at the market. Charles Bingham is the assistant market manager.

For questions about the market, email us at or call the market phone at (907) 738-7310. More details about the market will be posted on the Sitka Local Foods Network website,, and shared on its Facebook pages — and — and on Twitter,

• 2021 Sitka Farmers Market Vendor Rules and Responsibilities