Hello and welcome to the Sitka Local Foods Network site. The Sitka Local Foods Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit group whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. This website will be used to keep people updated on what we’re doing and let people know how they can participate in this community effort.
The 2008 Sitka Health Summit planted the seeds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, as Sitka community members got together at the summit and chose two local-foods-oriented projects among their five community health priorities. The Sitka Health Summit participants wanted to start a public market so Sitka residents had easier access to local fish and produce, and the participants wanted to build a community greenhouse and expand the community garden programs so more local produce could be grown in Sitka. Since there were a lot of tie-ins between the two projects, the Sitka Local Foods Network was created to streamline the work efforts.
During the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, two new local food projects were chosen — to get more locally caught fish into school lunch menus and to plant 200 fruit trees in Sitka — and the Sitka Local Foods Network also is supporting those projects. Our community local food efforts from the 2011 Sitka Health Summit included getting more locally caught wild fish into school lunches (the Sitka Conservation Society took the lead on the Fish to Schools project) and launching the Sick-A-Waste community composting project, and in 2012 our food-related Sitka Health Summit project was to conduct a Sitka Community Food Assessment.
The Sitka Local Foods Network meets from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month, with a 30-minute budget meeting at 6 p.m., at the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church. Meeting times are subject to change so watch the site for schedule updates. Meetings are open to the public, and new volunteers are welcome.
Here is our address, if you need to send us regular mail:
Sitka Local Foods Network
408 Marine St., Box D
Sitka, Alaska 99835
The email address for the SLFN board is firstname.lastname@example.org. All board members have access to this address. The email address for board president/communications director Charles Bingham (for website comments or suggestions) is email@example.com.
The Sitka Local Foods Network has these major focus areas:
- Creating and operating the Sitka Farmers Market, where people can sell locally grown produce, locally harvested fish and locally produced arts and crafts. Produce grown at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden (by the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street), as well as produce grown in family backyard gardens, is sold at the Sitka Farmers Markets, at a farm stand during Chelan Produce weeks, and to school lunch programs in support Sitka Local Foods Network programming.
Expanding local community and family gardens, so more people in Sitka can grow their own fruits and vegetables. Sitka had the Blatchley Community Garden, where families and other groups can get their own garden plot, but the Sitka School District closed it in Fall 2016. We currently are looking for another location for a community garden. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is a cooperative communal garden with most of the food being sold at the farmers markets or used by non-profit groups. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s The People’s Garden program. The People’s Garden works across USDA and with partners to start and sustain school gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural and urban areas with the mission of growing healthy food, people and communities. We also partner with other groups working to promote local foods in Sitka and Southeast Alaska.
- Providing educational opportunities, technical expertise and encouragement so Sitka residents who want to build their own gardens have the knowledge and support they need to grow their own food. The education committee hosts a variety of gardening and food preservation classes throughout the year, and we also host a garden mentoring program that provides hands-on training to beginning gardeners. In addition, we host a variety of guest speakers such as Ciscoe Morris, Ed Hume and Shane Smith, and we used to host the Let’s Grow Sitka gardening show each spring. We try and work with a variety of partners, such as the Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and Sitka Kitch, to make gardening and food preservation resources available.
- Promoting the responsible and sustainable use of traditional foods (subsistence foods), such as local salmon, halibut, cod, herring eggs, deer, berries, seaweeds and other foods that were in the Tlingít, Haida and Tsimshian diets before non-Natives arrived in Sitka.
- Planning and building a Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, which can help extend Sitka’s short growing season and allow us to grow additional crops while also serving as an educational laboratory for local schoolchildren and adults who want to learn about gardening. (NOTE: This project currently is in hiatus due to a lack of affordable land availability and other issues.)