Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit seeks speakers for February 2019 event in Sitka

(Passing on an email from the Salt and Soil Marketplace regional food hub out of Juneau).

Hello Southeast Alaska farmers,

The 2019 SEAK Farmers Summit is right around the corner (February in Sitka) and in the spirit of the event, we are looking to include a few “cooperative farmer presentations” this year. The idea being that 2-4 farmers/growers team up to create a presentation that addresses (from a personal experience perspective) a topic that was requested on evaluations from the last summit in Haines. What follows is a list of the  requested topics/ideas:

  • Irrigation Systems
  • Pest/Disease Management
  • Greenhouse Growing/Supplemental Lighting
  • Packaging & Distribution
  • Specific Crop Information (exactly how YOU grow it)
  • “Worst mistakes you’ve ever made”
  • Growing Berries in SEAK
  • Methods for Seed Starting
  • Weed Suppression Techniques
  • Root Cellars

If you feel you have anything to contribute (even just a couple minutes worth) to sharing experience/knowledge related to any of these topics and would like to be included as a presenter for one of these cooperative presentations, please email Marja Smets of Farragut Farm for more information (farragutfarm@gmail.com). She will be coordinating this part of the agenda. We are looking for folks to prepare a 2-10 minute presentation (hopefully with pictures, but it is not required) and be willing to answer questions from the audience. Again, the idea is to foster conversation and the exchange of ideas among participating farmers/farmers-to-be.

Thanks and looking forward to seeing you all in February 2019.

Lia G. Heifetz
Director, Grow Southeast
1107 W. 8th Street, Suite 234
Juneau, Alaska 99801
321.5425

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Scenes from the community conversation about our food with food systems expert/author Mark Winne

This past week, noted food systems/food policy expert and author Mark Winne was in Sitka to research his new book, tentatively called “Food Town, USA,” about the local food systems of seven communities around the country.

During his time in Sitka, Mark visited the Sitka Farmers Market, the Sitka Food Co-op, the Sitka Kitch, and several food businesses around town. He also helped lead a community conversation about our food on Wednesday, July 11, at the Sitka Public Library, a free event co-sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Food Co-op.

This event was moderated by Doug Osborne, health promotion director at Sitka Community Hospital and a former Sitka Local Foods Network board member. It also featured a brief history of Sitka’s food system from current Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham and an introduction to the Sitka Food Co-op by manager Keith Nyitray.

Those in attendance then had a chance to discuss Sitka’s food system, to find strengths and weaknesses. They also broke into small groups to discuss where they wanted for Sitka’s food system in the future.

A slideshow of scenes from the event is posted below. A PDF version of the brief history of Sitka’s food system also is posted below.

• A Story About Food In Sitka (opens as 13.5 MB PDF file, originally a much larger PowerPoint presentation)

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Sitka Kitch to host class on how to fillet a salmon Aug. 4 for Sitka Seafood Festival

Sitkans love their seafood, and the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen is offering a great class in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival.

From 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church), local chef Renée Jakaitis Trafton of Beak Restaurant will teach students how to fillet a salmon. This includes lessons on how to remove the pinbones from the salmon and how to remove the skin.

The Sitka Seafood Festival is providing fish and jars for the classes, so there should be no food/supply fee. The class costs $30, which includes a new fillet knife for every student. There is no food/supply fee for the class

The registration deadline is 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4. Registration is capped at 10 students so sign up early to secure your space in this class. Register online here using a debit or credit card or PayPal account, or call Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange the drop-off of a cash or check payment. For more information about the two classes, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

Scenes from the Sitka Kitch ‘Baking With Betsy: Sweet Breads’ class on July 10

Students learned how to bake brioche, pulla (a Swedish cardamom braid) and cinnamon rolls during the Sweet Breads class, the first class in the Sitka Kitch’s three-course Baking With Betsy series, held July 10 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Sitka Kitch class series is being taught by professional baker and culinary skills instructor Betsy Peterson Sanchez of St. Charles, Ill.

In addition to the Sweet Breads class, the other two classes are :

Betsy comes from a long line of people who love to cook and that passion has been passed down to her. Although Betsy considered a career in music, she happily decided to go into what she loved the most, baking and cooking.

Betsy headed for New York and attended the Culinary Institute of America, receiving a degree in culinary arts.  Then it was off to Chicago to work as a pastry chef  in several different establishments.  Baking is Betsy’s first love, particularly yeast breads.

After a career as a pastry chef and raising her family, she went back to school. Betsy attended The French Pastry School in Chicago for a certificate in French Pastry as well as a continuing education course in Artisan Breads. Currently, Betsy teaches in a Culinary Program at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill. She is a member of The Baker’s Guild and a Chef Mentor for Fox Valley Food For Health, a non-profit providing healthy meals for families going through devastating illnesses.

Betsy is so excited to be spending part of the summer in Sitka, where she plans to spend as much time as possible with her daughter, Claire Sanchez, and enjoy the beauty of Alaska.

Classes in this series had a reduced food/supply fee thanks to a donation from Sea Mart Quality Foods.

A slideshow of scenes from the sweet breads class is posted below.

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Scenes from the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz held July 9 at the Sitka Kitch

Students learned how to make sauerkraut using a variety of fresh vegetables during the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz held Monday, July 9, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, is a nationally recognized food writer and fermentation guru. He has been traveling through Southeast Alaska (Sitka, Juneau, Haines, and Gustavus) to offer community education and workshops about the fermentation of vegetables. The trip was coordinated by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), which offered a reduced fee to the class (the workshop sold out within a couple of days of it being offered, even though the class size was nearly double the usual size of a Sitka Kitch class).

The workshop included:
  • a discussion of “what is fermentation?”
  • why fermentation is practiced worldwide
  • the many practical benefits of fermentation
  • functional concepts about fermentation
  • instruction on how to make sauerkraut with a variety of vegetables
  • information about what to do with sauerkraut at home and how long to store it
  • troubleshooting any problems with home fermentation

Students left with their own jar of kraut, plus a wealth of knowledge on safe home fermentation practices.

A slideshow of scenes from the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz is posted below.

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Sitka Conservation Society, 4-H host summer bounty snack share at Sitka Public Library

The Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club (aka, Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club) and Sitka Conservation Society will host a summer harvest camp from 1-3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at the Sitka Public Library.

The 4-H club members will be making kid-friendly snacks from ingredients collected from public lands or grown in Sitka soil. Participants will create a recipe booklet.

For more information, contact Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or claire@sitkawild.org

Scenes from the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, center, presents the Table of the Day Award to Rachel Henderson, left, and Liz Maric of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 Clam Chowder Booth during the first market of the summer held Saturday, July 7, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. ANS served bowls and cups of homemade clam chowder with pilot bread or crackers. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, Rachel and Liz received two Sitka Farmers Market t-shirts, some Evie’s Brinery fermented food, some birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, and a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub. The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We held our first Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, July 7, with a full slate of booths and a big crowd. The weather even cooperated, providing just a few light sprinkles even though the forecast was for rain showers.

We kept running out of fresh produce at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, even though our lead gardener made two extra runs back to the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden to restock our supplies. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale, including frozen fish and canned salmon (we’ve been without a regular fish vendor for a couple of years). We had vendors selling homemade clam chowder, home-baked bread, jams and jellies, sea veggies and teas, garlic scapes, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a couple of food trucks and a hot dog vendor outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, at the ANB Founders Hall. There also are markets scheduled for Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15. To learn how to be a vendor at the market or how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

Also, join the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Food Co-Op at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at the Sitka Public Library, as we host a free community conversation about our food and food systems with nationally known food policy/food systems expert and author Mark Winne. Mark is in town researching a book where he’s looking at the local food systems of 8-10 small communities around the country, and he chose Sitka. Healthy snacks will be provided.

A slideshow of scenes from the first Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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