Check out the April 2023 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the April 2023 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about an effort to build two new community gardens in Sitka, our search for a 2023 Sitka Farmers Market manager, the upcoming deadline of the 2023 Pick.Click.Give. donation period, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2023 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our board of directors. 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).

Defenders of Wildlife offers electric fence incentive in Southeast Alaska

An electric fence around a Sitka chicken coop.

Most people who garden in Southeast Alaska, or raise chickens, have run into problems with bears, or deer, or even the little critters such as mink or ermine, getting into the garden or coop.

One remedy is an electric fence, and the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife has a program for people in Southeast Alaska and on the Kenai Peninsula that reimburses residents and property owners for 50 percent of the total electric fence installation cost (up to $500).

“Electric fencing is a safe and effective way to prevent conflict with bears over common attractants like gardens, fruit trees, beehives, chicken coops, compost piles, etc.,” program manager Isabel Grant said. The program is designed to help promote the coexistence of people and natural wildlife in communities.

An application and brochure about the program can be found here, You also can email Isabel at

Transition Sitka, Sitka Local Foods Network work to bring community gardens back to Sitka

In the spring of 2016, Sitka’s main community garden, Blatchley Community Garden was closed. Since then, Sitka hasn’t had a true community garden. But that soon might change.

Joel Hanson, who is part of the community sustainability group Transition Sitka and recently joined the board of the Sitka Local Foods Network, has been working on a proposal to create two community gardens. Both are about half an acre with 50 or more 10-foot-by-20-foot garden plots each, and located on city property. One is located off Osprey Street, next to the Vilandre baseball field next to Blatchley Middle School. The other is located near the top of Jarvis Street, near where the Sitka Homeless Coalition is building a new tiny house community for the unhoused.

More details, including maps, are included in the two linked handouts at the bottom of this story.

“Community gardens plant the seeds for a solution to community food security,” Hanson said. “They create a sense of place and cooperative engagement. They promote health, advance equity, encourage inclusion and foster resiliency. They are for people of all ages.”

“Rebuilding a community garden in Sitka has been a major need as far as food security in the years since Blatchley Community Garden was closed,” Sitka Local Foods Network president Charles Bingham said. “We have a lot of people in town who want to grow their own food, but they live in an apartment or on a boat and don’t have the space to garden. This gives them a place to grow their own produce. When Blatchley Community Garden was closed, all of the spaces were being used and there was a waiting list. This proposal fills that need and allows space for expansion.”

Over the past few months, Hanson has been meeting with city officials and committees/commissions, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, and other organizations to develop the proposal linked below. These community gardens still need approval before they can be developed. Once approved, we will need to raise money for supplies, recruit volunteers or hire workers to develop the land (which may involve cutting trees and leveling off soil), and more.

If you are interested in volunteering, helping raise money to build the gardens, having a plot in one of the gardens, or just staying in touch with what’s happening, please click this link and complete the short survey, For more details, contact Joel Hanson at 907-747-9834 or email

• Sitka community gardens project prospectus (with maps of both locations)

• Two-page Q&A sheet with more information

Learn how to graft apple trees with Brad Smith

Some Sitka residents may remember a Sitka Health Summit project from 2010 to plant dozens of apple, crabapple, and cherry trees around town. One learning experience from that project is it takes a bit of work to make these trees produce fruit.

Brad Smith will host an apple-tree grafting workshop from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, in the smokestack building on the Sitka Fine Arts Camp campus.

The class requires an RSVP, and is by donation. Half of any proceeds go to Sitka Fine Arts Camp. It’s an introductory class. If there is enough interest, Brad will host another class later in the week.

Participants will learn about rootstock, scion, how to practice at grafting, and if you have a good place for it, you can take home a baby apple tree.

Also I will have scion wood available the rest of that week for free to take. There will be a few different varieties of apple and pear. I want to encourage you to graft apple varieties onto local crabapples, and try putting pear wood onto mountain ash. If you are interested in any of this, email Brad Smith at

The class is brought to you by the Agrarian Sharing Network, an Oregon-based group focused on hosting events to distribute high-quality and rare fruit-tree genetics and seeds freely to the public.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service offers Certified Food Protection Manager class by videoconference April 17 to Sitka

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will teach a certified food protection manager workshop on Monday, April 17. This is a one-day statewide class that will be offered by videoconferencing to Fairbanks, Glennallen, Haines, Homer, Juneau, Klawock, Palmer, Sitka, Skagway, Soldotna, Talkeetna, Tok, Unalaska, and Valdez, plus other locations that may arrange for the class.

certified food protection manager (CFPM) is responsible for monitoring and managing all food establishment operations to ensure that the facility is operating in compliance with food establishment regulations.

A CFPM is knowledgeable about food safety practices and uses this knowledge to provide consumers with safe food, protect public health and prevent food-borne illnesses. Alaska regulations require food establishments to have at least one CFPM on staff.

This course takes place from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and participants will take a proctored computer-based exam at the end of the class. The reason the registration deadline is two weeks before the class is to guarantee course materials reach all the students in time. The cost is $200, and the course will be taught by Julie Cascio of Palmer. Students can register here, and the registration deadline is Monday, April 3 (note, if anybody in Sitka wants to take the class and it’s past the deadline, contact Jasmine Shaw at the number below).

The Sitka videoconference for the class will take place in a room TBA at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. To learn more, contact Jasmine Shaw at the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440, or contact Julie Cascio at (907) 745-3677 (Palmer number) or Note, this class is taught in English but textbooks are available in Korean, Chinese and Spanish, just contact Julie at least three weeks before the class.

Also, the ServSafe book ($70) and certification exam ($85) now are available online, if people want to order the book and study independently without taking the class. Just go to this website and purchase the book and exam items.

In order to receive your CFPM, you are only required to pass the exam. Taking the training course is optional. If you have previously taken the course and passed the exam, you may wish to only schedule an exam. The UAF Cooperative Extension Service is working to create a network of exam proctors throughout Alaska.

Alaska Farmers Markets Association hosts annual meeting and summit online on March 24

The Alaska Farmers Markets Association will host its annual meeting and summit on Friday, March 24, online using Zoom. The meeting takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the theme is Growing Strong(er) Markets.

This year’s keynote speaker is Ziona Brownlow from the nonprofit Food For Thought Alaska. Guest speakers include Sara Dylan Jensen, who has been the manager of the Snohomish Farmers Market and also is a leader in social media; and Ben Feldman, the outgoing executive director of the national Farmers Market Coalition.

There also will be a guest panel about value-added products featuring representatives from Gustavus Grown/Stellar Botanicals, Tundra Tonics, and Wildland Chocolate.

Before the annual meeting and summit, there will be a pre-summit screening from 6-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, of Rhythms of the Land, an ode to Black farmers in the USA.

Registration for this event is free, but it is required to participate. To register, go to

Produce Safety Alliance Grower training scheduled for March 29-30

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extensive Service are planning a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training in late March.

This free training takes place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, March 29-30, using Zoom. Registration closes on Monday, March 20.

This Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved course will satisfy the grower training curriculum requirements under the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule. There is no charge for class participants. Funding is provided by a FDA-State of Alaska Cooperative Agreement. Growers who attend all seven modules of the course will receive a FREE Certificate of Course Completion. The workshop is open to all interested growers. Please see the attached flyer for more information. Space will be limited, so pre-registration is required. Contact Dena at to register.

NOTE: This training will be held remotely using videoconferencing software (e.g. Zoom). Participants must have a computer or mobile device with audio and video capabilities, as well as access to a strong internet connection and adequate bandwidth. Attendees who wish to receive a Certificate of Course Completion will be required to use the web camera to ensure participation.

For more information, or if you require accommodation for a disability, please contact Dena Cologgi at or (907) 375-8212.