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

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

This month’s newsletter includes short stories wrapping up the 2021 Sitka Farmers Market season, information about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, an announcement about a series of online food preservation workshops from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, an invitation to join our board of directors, and information about our 2021-22 sponsorship programs. 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).

Like what we do? Please join our board of directors or volunteer with us

The 2019 Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors, from left, Amanda Anjum, Charles Bingham, Nina Vizcarrondo, Laura Schmidt, Stanley Lopata. We are recruiting new board members for 2021.

Did you enjoy the fresh local veggies at the Sitka Farmers Market this summer? Did you take any of our garden education classes this spring? Are you concerned about increasing access to local food for all Sitka residents?

The Sitka Local Foods Network is holding an open house for potential board members and volunteers from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6. Due to COVID-19 coronavirus health concerns and the need to social-distance, we will meet using Zoom online meetings (a meeting link will be sent by email if you contact Charles Bingham at the email address below). This is a good time to learn about what we’re doing and how you can help.

Please consider joining the board of directors for the Sitka Local Foods Network to help us pursue our mission to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. We need more board members in order to keep running our programs.

Board members help direct the Sitka Local Foods Network, a non-profit that promotes the harvest and use of local food in Sitka. In addition to setting the focus of the group during our monthly meetings, board members also serve on at least one committee supporting at our three main projects of the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and garden education. In 2018, we launched the annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest to encourage food entrepreneurs in Sitka.

We also hope to help with the Sitka Community Gardens project as we look for a new location now that Blatchley Community Garden has been closed. In addition, some board members have supported other local foods projects in Sitka, such as the Sitka Kitch, Let’s Grow Sitka, the Sick-A-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment project, Sitka Fish-To-Schools, other school education projects and more.

To apply for a spot on the board, please fill out the application linked below and submit it to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.org. For more information, please email us. Please note this is a working board, and our group is evolving and maturing as we try to raise funds to hire staff. Board terms are for three years, with seats up for reapplication each winter.

We also are looking to increase our pool of volunteers who will help out during the various projects hosted by the network each year (no formal application needed, just send us your name/contact info and what types of projects you enjoy). We need volunteers to help with the upcoming Sitka Farmers Markets, helpers for our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and people to teach gardening classes.

The next regular Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting is from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6, using Zoom online meetings (email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com to get a link to join our meeting). The board usually meets once every 4-6 weeks. Please note, we will sometimes move our meetings to avoid conflicts with board member schedules, venue schedules and to ensure a quorum. All of our board meetings are open to the public.

Click here for a copy of the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors job description. Click here for a copy of the board application.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service offers Certified Food Protection Manager class by videoconference Oct. 26-27 in Sitka

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will teach a certified food protection manager workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 26-27. This is a two-day statewide class that will be offered by videoconferencing to Fairbanks, Palmer, Juneau, Unalaska, and Sitka, plus other locations that may arrange for the class.

A 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 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and participants will take a proctored computer-based exam at the end of the second day of 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, Oct. 11.

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 jmcascio@alaska.edu. 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.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host online food preservation workshops

Winter Is Coming, which means it’s time for another series of classes from the Extension Kitchen.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service is offering a series of nine Food Preservation Workshops during the months of October and November by Zoom. The classes will be taught from the home of Home, Health, and Family Development Extension Agent Sarah Lewis from the Juneau District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, and the classes are available to anybody with an online connection (but they are targeted toward people in Alaska). Even though she’s based in Juneau, Sarah is on the Sitka Kitch advisory team.

The classes are from 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesdays, starting Oct. 5. They cost $10 each, and at the end of each class one participating student will win a $20 gift certificate to a local store that sells canning equipment, plus one student will win a free entry into another class in the series. Students can register for the individual classes in the series at this link, http://bit.ly/extensionworkshops.

The class dates and topics are:

  • Oct. 5 — Create a food secure pantry
  • Oct. 12 — Canning fruits and berries
  • Oct. 19 — Preserving herbs
  • Oct. 26 — Dehydrating vegetables
  • Nov. 2 — Cooking mixes and sourdough starter
  • Nov. 9 — Making and canning pickles
  • Nov. 16 — Canning meat and vegetables
  • Nov. 23 — Making jerky
  • Nov. 30 (bonus class) — Pressure canning spaghetti sauce

For more information, contact Sarah at sarah.lewis@alaska.edu or 1-907-523-3280, Ext. 1. You also can contact the UAF Cooperative Extension Service in Fairbanks toll-free at 1-877-520-5211.

Sitka wins top market in Alaska honors for fifth straight year in America’s Farmers Market Celebration

The Sitka Farmers Market ranked as the top market in Alaska, 15th in the Pacific region and 113th nationally during the America’s Farmers Market Celebration voting that ended earlier this week. This was the 13th year of the contest, which this year was co-sponsored by the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition.

This is the fifth straight year the Sitka Farmers Market has been the top market in Alaska, and seventh time in eight 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 and ended Sept. 19. The Sitka Farmers Market picked up 81 online votes, its highest total ever.

“This was the second year we had to make adjustments due to Covid-19, but we were more like a normal market this summer than last. Last year we stripped it down to just produce vendors and had an online ordering system with weekly pick-ups at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. This year we were able to add other vendors and hold an outdoor market at Harrigan Centennial Hall, and I think the community was glad to see produce, mushrooms, arts and crafts, and more this year,” said Charles Bingham, board president of the Sitka Local Foods Network, which sponsors the Sitka Farmers Market. “Our main goal was to safely distribute locally grown produce without spreading the coronavirus. I’m glad we were able to do that.”

This year’s People’s Choice Award, for the top market nationally, went to the Columbia (Mo.) Farmers Market earning the market a $2,500 prize. Second place and $1,500 went to the Oxford (Miss.) Community Market, while third place and $1,000 went to the Monroe (Conn.) Farmers Market. Rounding out the top-five markets in the standings were the Snellville (Ga.) Farmers Market in fourth place, and the Durham (N.C.) Farmers Market in fifth place. Last year’s People’s Choice Award went to the Clarksville (Tenn.) Downtown Farmers Market, which finished 47th nationally this summer.

The top market in the Pacific region was the Napa (Calif.) Farmers Market; followed by the Moscow (Idaho) Farmers Market; the Orange (Calif.) Home Grown Farmers and Artisans Market in third place; Midtown Farmers Market of Sacramento, Calif., in fourth place; and the Boise (Idaho) Farmers Market in fifth place (last year’s Pacific region winner).

The other regional winners included the Columbia (Mo.) Farmers Market in the Midwest; the Monroe (Conn.) Farmers Market in the Northeast; the Oxford (Miss.) Community Market in the Southeast; and the Dripping Springs (Texas) Farmers Market in the Southwest.

There wasn’t a list of Alaska standings posted, but checking individual market pages showed the Sitka Farmers Market in first place for the state with 81 votes, the Tanana Valley Farmers Market of Fairbanks in second place with 27 votes, and the Soldotna Saturday Farmers Market in third place with six votes. More than 2,000 markets across the country received votes.

“We have a small market compared to others around the country, but I’m happy the people who visit our market think enough of it to recommend it in this contest,” Bingham said. “We thank everybody who came to one of our markets this summer and supported more local food in Sitka and Southeast Alaska.”

The Sitka Farmers Market also was listed on the Guide To Exceptional Markets from the Certified Naturally Grown program for the third year this summer.

This year, the Sitka Local Foods Network hosted eight farmers markets on various Saturdays from July 3 to Sept. 18 on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. Due to COVID-19, the 26th annual Running of the Boots fun run fundraiser won’t take place in late September (we usually had a farm stand at that event, which raised money for the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka last year).

The Sitka Local Foods Network hopes to be able to return to a full market next summer, hopefully at a venue where we can have both inside and outside booths. The Sitka Farmers Market was a community wellness project from the 2008 Sitka Health Summit, and now serves as a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. This was the 14th year of the markets.

“I’m glad we were able to regain some of the feel of a real community gathering this year, instead of it just a quick pick-up of your produce order,” Bingham said. “One of the nice things about hosting the farmers market is it serves as a business incubator for smaller cottage foods and arts/crafts businesses, and those businesses lost one of their marketplaces last summer.”

Scenes from the eighth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2021 summer

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK

TABLE OF THE DAY WINNERS — Kathy Branch, left, and Meggan Turner, center, receive the Table of the Day Award from Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham during the Sept. 18 Sitka Farmers Market. Kathy and Meggan sold garden plants, flower bulbs, and decorative plants. They received a certificate, a tote bag, a bottle of Bearinade BBQ/marinade sauce, a bottle of Moosetard mustard, a bag of Alaska Flour Company barley couscous, a jar of Foraged & Found kelp pickles, and a Sitka Farmers Market special label Theobroma chocolate bar. This was the last Sitka Farmers Market of the summer. We expect to start next year’s market season in July. More details about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

There weren’t the torrential downpours of the two previous markets, but it still was damp when we gathered for our eighth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the season Saturday, Sept. 18, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. Despite the sprinkles, we closed out the market season in fine style with several vendors selling out of product.

We appreciate everybody who made this market season a success, especially all of our vendors, volunteers, and our customers who wore masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The markets were held outside this year to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We didn’t have as many booths as in previous years, but the smaller markets seemed to have worked. We still had fresh local produce, as well as a variety of Alaska Grown value-added products, local eggs, mushrooms, and arts and crafts.

The market now will go on hiatus until next summer. We usually hold markets on selected Saturdays from July through September, and hopefully next year we’ll be back in a location that will allow us to have both inside and outside booths. When we have dates for the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market season we’ll start recruiting new vendors using our online registration page, and potential vendors can register and pay their vendor fees by going to https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com. More information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

A slideshow of scenes from the eighth market of the summer is posted below.

Tlingít potato harvest Friday honors American Indian Heritage Day and National Public Lands Day

Michelle Putz harvests Tlingít potatoes in 2020.

A short but exciting hands-on celebration will be happening at the Sitka Ranger District Office on Friday, Sept. 24.  The Sitka Ranger District, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and Pacific High School gardening class will celebrate American Indian Heritage Day (Sept. 24) and National Public Lands Day (Sept 25) by following a time-honored tradition in Sitka – the annual harvest of Tlingít (Maria’s) potatoes.

Forest Service employees, Sitka Tribe employees and volunteers, and student volunteers will get their hands dirty at the USDA Forest Service office as they harvest the potatoes they lovingly planted on Earth Day, April 22. Story-tellers will talk about the traditions behind potatoes and gardening and others will share information on how to care for Tlingít potatoes, as well as their biology, history, and cultural aspects. Participants will also say goodbye to long-time Tongass NEPA Planner and “potato lady,” Michelle Putz, as she assists with her last harvest.

“It could not be more appropriate or humbling than to commemorate these two specific days, meant to honor Native American heritage and volunteerism, with these much-appreciated partners through harvesting a locally important and traditional food,” said Sitka District Ranger, Perry Edwards.

We look forward to holding a planting event next spring that is open to the community. To limit the spread of COVID-19, this year’s celebration will not be open to the public.  In the meantime, those interested in learning more about these interesting potatoes can view the Forest Service video: Tlingit Potato Garden – Culture, Horticulture, Stories, History at https://vimeo.com/416075040.

Eat Local Challenge encourages Southeast Alaskans to do more with local foods

The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition (SAWC), in partnership with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, announces this year’s Eat Local Challenge.

The seven-day challenge starts Monday and runs from Sept. 20-26, encouraging Southeast Alaskans to increase their involvement with the local food system in their community by including as many locally grown, harvested, or foraged ingredients in their daily meals as possible.

This means purchasing local seafood, vegetables, and cottage food products directly from local food producers, farmer’s markets, and retailers that carry local items. Participants also can celebrate the bounty of the region’s wild foods by including foods that they hunted, foraged, fished, or grew themselves. Be sure to shop the local farmers markets and local retailers this weekend. (NOTE: The last Sitka Farmers Market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall.)

The goal during this seven-day challenge is for participants to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the local food system in their community. Participants are encouraged to share their skills and knowledge with others cultivating a practice of gratitude around local food.  For more details, check out the Local Foods Challenge page on the Salt & Soil Marketplace website, https://www.saltandsoilmarketplace.com/eatlocalchallenge.

Anyone can participate by following the Salt and Soil Marketplace’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SaltandSoilMarketplace/) or the Southeast Alaska Local Foods Challenge Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LocalFoodSEAK/) for the Challenge Question of the Day. Participants submit their answer and photo of their local food meal either directly on Facebook or via email (localfoodschallenge.seak@gmail.com). The challenge includes daily giveaways and a grand prize for those who complete the challenge by participating all seven days.    

The Eat Local Challenge is the culminating event of the season long Southeast Local Foods Challenge in which participants have been encouraged to increase their participation in their local food systems through five main categories: Harvest & Stewardship, Eat, Reduce Food Waste, Celebrate & Gratitude, and Buy Local. Organizers aim for the challenge to foster a network of local eaters to support each other and their local food producers during a time when food security is increasingly important.

 “The Challenge is for everyone to do a little more to strengthen the local foods system,” said Jennifer Nu, SAWC Local Foods Program director. “The process of learning is never-ending. When we practice and master these skills, we can share what we know with others. Collectively all of these actions contribute to strengthening our food system and our region.”

The 2021 Local Food Challenge partners include the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, and other partners around Southeast Alaska. More details can be found on the Salt and Soil Marketplace website, https://www.saltandsoilmarketplace.com/localfoodchallenge-welcome

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Follow @saltandsoilmarketplace on Instagram and Facebook
  2. Check the SEAK Local Food Facebook page each day and post or email a photo of your local meal AND answer the daily challenge question. Submissions can be posted directly on the Facebook page or emailed to localfoodschallenge.seak@gmail.com.
  3. One winner will be randomly selected each day to receive a gift from Salt and Soil Marketplace in the mail.
  4. Participate all seven days to be eligible for a $50 gift card from Salt and Soil Marketplace to be randomly selected at the end of the challenge.
  5. Use the hashtag #locafoodschallengeseak and spread the word.

Scenes from the seventh Sitka Farmers Market of the 2021 summer

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK

TABLE OF THE DAY — Hillary Hoepfner, left, of the Hog Hole receives the Table of the Day Award from Sitka Farmers Market manager Nalani James during the Sept. 11 market. Hillary sold hot dogs, sausages, and drinks. She received a certificate, a tote bag, a t-shirt, a bottle of Bearinade BBQ/marinade sauce, a bottle of Moosetard mustard, a bag of Alaska Flour Company barley cereal, and a Sitka Farmers Market special label Theobroma chocolate bar. The last Sitka Farmers Market of the summer is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. Vendors can register online (by Thursday before each market) at https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com. More details about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

We had torrential downpours at times, but we still gathered for a wet seventh Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Saturday, Sept. 11. We are winding down our market season, and have just one market left this summer.

Due to a growing COVID-19 count, we instituted a face mask policy this summer to try and protect our customers and vendors from the coronavirus. That face mask policy will be in force when we hold our eighth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the summer from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept 18, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. We ask all customers and vendors to wear masks.

The markets are being held outside this year to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We haven’t had as many booths as in previous years, but the smaller market seems to be working. We still have fresh local produce, as well as a variety of Alaska Grown value-added products, local eggs, mushrooms, and arts and crafts. We should have some cooked food at Saturday’s market. We do have a couple of new vendors registered for this market, and we’d love to see a fish vendor or a baked goods vendor, too.

The Sitka Local Foods Network needs a volunteer or two to help set up the market, sell produce during the market, and take down the market after it’s over. If you’re interested in helping us with the market, contact Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or Nalani James at (808) 778-9888.

By the way, Sitka Farmers Market manager Nalani James will teach a Sitka Kitch class a few hours after the market ends on Sept. 18 about how to make Zuppa Toscana. One of the ingredients in Zuppa Toscana is kale, and the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand will offer one bundle of kale at half price to students registered in the class. You can learn more and register for the class by going to http://sitkakitch.evertsmart.com.

We also are recruiting new vendors, and they can register and pay their vendor fees by going to https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com. More information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

The Sitka Local Foods Network does take WIC farmers market coupons and Alaska Quest SNAP EBT cards, and offers a matching program for produce purchased at the SLFN farm stand (if you buy $5 of produce, you will receive $10 worth).

A slideshow of scenes from the seventh market of the summer is posted below.

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

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

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the last two markets of the 2021 Sitka Farmers Market season, information about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, an update on new high tunnels at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm where we grow our produce, 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).