Check out the January 2020 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

Happy New Year. The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the January 2020 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short articles about the Pick.Click.Give. program opening on Wednesday, hiring a new Sitka Farmers Market manager for the 2020 summer, a new fundraiser to help build a high tunnel at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, an invitation to join our board of directors, and an update about our 2020 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).

Wednesday’s the day to start filing your 2020 PFD applications with Pick.Click.Give. donations

As 2019 draws to a close, many Alaskans already are thinking about applying for their 2020 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check in January. As usual, Alaskans can share their wealth with a variety of Alaska nonprofits, including the Sitka Local Foods Network, through the PFD’s Pick.Click.Give. program.

This is the sixth year the Sitka Local Foods Network will participate in the Pick.Click.Give. program, which allows people to donate in $25 increments to their favorite statewide and local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations when they file their PFD applications from Jan. 1 through March 31.

When you choose to donate part of your PFD to the Sitka Local Foods Network, you support the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, education programs about growing and preserving food, the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, Sitka Community Gardens, matching dollars at the Sitka Farmers Market for SNAP/WIC beneficiaries, the sustainable use of traditional foods, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, the Sitka Food Summit, and a variety of other projects designed to increase access to healthy local foods in Sitka. We recently launched the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest to try and inspire entrepreneurs in Sitka to work more with local foods.

In 2019 Alaskans contributed $2.9 million to 627 Alaska nonprofit organizations, and more than $24.0 million has been donated since the program started in 2009. Some Alaskans choose to donate to just one group, while others may spread several donations around to many groups. There now are  622 total 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations participating in Pick.Click.Give. for 2020 (including multi-location nonprofits), including 20 from Sitka. In 2019, Alaskans donated $39,800 to Sitka-based nonprofits, up from $33,925 in 2018.

So how do you make a donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network through the Pick.Click.Give. program? First, starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1, go fill out your Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application at http://pfd.alaska.gov/. When you get to the section of the application asking if you want to participate in Pick.Click.Give. Charitable Contributions program, click on the PCG link and search for the Sitka Local Foods Network. You also can look for us by using the town search for Sitka.

The Pick.Click.Give. program is available only to people who file their PFD applications online, and not to those who file by mail. Even though you can’t file a new PFD application after March 31, you can go back into your application and update your Pick.Click.Give. donations through Aug. 31 each year.

You still can donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network if you aren’t from Alaska or aren’t eligible for a 2020 PFD. To donate, send your check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408-D Marine St., Sitka, Alaska, 99835. You also can donate online by going to our online fundraising page on MightyCause.com, and clicking the Donate button to make an online contribution. You also can send in a check or make an online donation if you are trying to make nonprofit donations before the end of the 2019 tax year. We also have an end-of-2019 fundraiser on Facebook, and we just launched a GoFundMe Charity fundraiser to pay for a new high tunnel so we can grow more fresh, local produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm to sell at the Sitka Farmers Market and other events. Please let us know if you need a receipt for tax purposes. For more information about donating, you can send an email to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Thank you for supporting our mission of promoting and encouraging the growing, harvesting and eating of local foods in Sitka and Southeast Alaska.

Help the Sitka Local Foods Network build a new high tunnel at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

Since 2008, the Sitka Local Foods Network has been growing fresh, local produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm to sell at the Sitka Farmers Markets each summer.

In 2019, we decided to add a high tunnel, aka a hoop house, to St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm to see if that helped us increase production. It worked wonderfully, so in 2020 we want to add a second high tunnel to the property to make more produce available for the Sitka Farmers Markets. Now we need your help. This new high tunnel will cost us about $3,500, so we have a GoFundMe Charity fundraiser to try and help pay for it.

For those not familiar with high tunnels, they can extend the gardening season by warming up the soil and keeping some of the inclement weather off the plants, but they don’t have all the heating and electricity needs of a greenhouse. They also are easy to vent, so you can lower the temperature on the really hot days.

By adding a second high tunnel to St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, we expect to increase our produce production, and the produce will be available for sale at the Sitka Farmers Markets and when Chelan Produce is in town. We also have a few restaurants and catering companies that buy produce from us. At the Sitka Farmers Markets, we match the first $20 of SNAP and WIC benefits, which means we’re able to get more local produce into the diets of lower-income Sitka residents.

The produce grown at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and sold at the Sitka Farmers Market has a Certified Naturally Grown designation, which is a national program encouraging sustainable agriculture.

The mission of the Sitka Local Foods Network is to increase the amount of locally harvested and produced foods in the diets of Southeast Alaskans, so this project fits in our mission. For more details, please go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com, or call SLFN board president Charles Bingham at 623-7660.

Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and partners to host seaweed farm training in Sitka, Ketchikan and Kodiak

The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) and partners, including Alaska Sea Grant, are excited to announce a new training program for people interested in starting a seaweed farm. The program will be held in Kodiak, Ketchikan and Sitka in February 2020.

Applications are due by Dec. 20, 2019. The seaweed farm workshops take place Feb. 13-14, 2020, in Kodiak; Feb. 17-18 in Ketchikan; and Feb. 20-21 in Sitka.

The training is part of the Alaska Mariculture Initiative and is intended to provide tools and knowledge to anyone planning to farm seaweed commercially in Alaska. The program is targeted toward commercial fishermen, tribes, coastal residents and others. The program will consist of:

  1. an online webinar
  2. a two-day in-person workshop
  3. one-on-one mentoring for high-performing participants

Participants will be required to attend the webinar and one of the in-person workshops to be held in Kodiak, Ketchikan or Sitka. If the participant does not live in one of those communities, they will be responsible for paying all travel and lodging costsTopics covered will include identification of seaweed species, lifecycles of seaweed, the hatchery process, site selection, use of the Alaska Ocean Observing System Mariculture Map, farm gear and equipment, business plan development, farm loans, state lease application process, gear deployment, seeding and harvesting techniques, quality handling, and safety considerations.

Information and instruction will be provided by GreenWave, Alaska Sea Grant, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Blue Evolution, OceansAlaska, AFDF, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, and others. Materials and food during the workshops will be provided.

While the training is free for those selected for the program, participants will be expected to attend and complete work products in order to continue in the program. Space will be limited to ten participants per workshop, and six participants overall will be selected for one-on-one mentoring.

Apply online or download and fill out a PDF application, and email it to Riley Smith at rsmith@afdf.org. For more information about the workshops, click this link for a story from KFSK-FM radio in Petersburg.

Check out the December 2019 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

Happy holidays. The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the December 2019 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short articles about hiring a new Sitka Farmers Market manager for the 2020 summer, how to join our board of directors, about our 2020 sponsorship program, about #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3, and about some December cooking classes at the Sitka Kitch. 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).

Sitka Local Foods Network seeks manager for 2020 Sitka Farmers Markets (application date extended to Jan. 15)

The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking a manager to coordinate the 2020 Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. This is a contract position, and the manager receives a small compensation, depending on experience, for his or her work organizing the farmers markets this summer. The manager receives a monthly check for the five months from May through September.

We’ve been lucky to have the same market manager, Nina Vizcarrondo, for the past three summers. But U.S. Coast Guard relocation is taking her away from us. We hope to have the new manager hired in time to do some training with Nina (and assistant manager Charles Bingham, who is staying) before Nina and her family leave Sitka this spring. We thank Nina and her family for their help rebuilding our market.

This will be the 13th year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features 6-8 markets during the summer from July through September, plus the annual farm stand at the Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser in late September. Market dates for 2020 haven’t been confirmed yet, but they usually run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on selected Saturdays at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

The farmers markets feature booths from local farmers/gardeners, local fishermen, and artisans and craftspeople. These events are great Sitka gathering places, and we promote local foods and other local goods at the markets.

In recent years we made some changes to the market, and those have helped it grow into one of the top markets in the state. We have an experienced assistant manager, who will help ease the load for the manager. The manager needs to be able to commit to being available for all of the markets this summer. In addition, the market manager needs access to a vehicle with a trailer hitch (we keep our market supplies in a construction trailer) and to the Internet.

The manager’s main duties include recruiting and organizing the vendors for each market, hiring musicians and other entertainment, setting up and taking down the market tents and tables, managing the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, recruiting volunteers to help sell produce at the SLFN farm stand, helping the assistant manager make deposits and keep track of WIC/SNAP benefit matches, etc. The assistant manager handles market publicity, helps with set up and take down, helps sell produce, takes photos of people and vendors at the market, makes bank deposits, purchases Alaska Grown products to sell at the market (under consultation with the SLFN board of directors), etc. A detailed description of the market manager duties can be found at the link below. The farmers market manager has been a member of the SLFN board in recent years.

Applications should include a cover letter, resumé and three recommendations, and they are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15 (this is an extension from the Jan. 8 original deadline). The market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market is a seasonal contract position that reports to the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors via a board liaison (Amanda Anjum). For more information or to submit applications, contact SLFN board president Charles Bingham at 1-907-623-7660, or you can email the SLFN Board at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com (please put “Sitka Farmers Market Manager” in the subject line).

Once we sign a contract with our market manager, we will announce a couple of meetings for potential vendors. We also will announce in the next few days a spring class on cottage food business basics (in partnership with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service) for those thinking about starting a home-based food business, and students taking that class will receive a reduction on their first table fee from the Sitka Farmers Market in 2020.

• Description of duties for market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market Manager (2020)

Did you have a good year hunting or fishing? You can share your traditional foods with food programs

This is the time of year when a lot of Sitkans have been out deer hunting, or they have a freezer full of fish caught in the summer.

Did you know recent changes to state and federal laws mean you can share your traditional foods with food service programs, hospitals, schools, senior meal programs, food banks, and more. Getting these traditional foods into food service programs is important, as it helps in the healing of sick or isolated elders and it helps connect young people to their local foods. But not all traditional fish and game can be donated due to health risks, so here are a few guidelines to follow from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Food Safety and Sanitation Program.

First, know what foods you can donate and which you can’t, and in what forms they need to be in for donation. You can donate most wild game meats, finfish, seafood except molluscan shellfish (eg, clams, oysters, cockles, scallops, etc.), marine mammal meat and fat (eg, maktak and seal meat), plants including fiddleheads and sourdock, berries, mushrooms, and eggs (whole, intact and raw).

You are not allowed to donate, due to high health risks, these items — fox, polar bear, bear and walrus meat; seal oil or whale oil, with or without meat; fermented game meat (beaver tail, whale flipper, seal flipper, maktak, and walrus); homemade canned or vacuum-sealed foods; smoked or dried seafood products, unless those products are prepared in a seafood processing facility permitted under 18 AAC 34; fermented seafood products (salmon eggs, fish heads, etc.); and molluscan shellfish.

When donating meats, the meat can be whole, quartered or in roasts. Donated fish should be gutted and gilled, with or without heads. Plants should be whole, fresh or frozen. The food service program accepting the donation needs to make sure the hunter/fisher knows if the animal was diseased, that butchering and other processing was done in a healthy manner, and the food will not cause a health hazard or significant health risk. When donating meat, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game requires a completed transfer of possession form.

There are a variety of additional rules regarding preparation, food storage and processing, and you can read all about them in the links below.

• Donated traditional foods poster

• Donated traditional foods tool kit

• ADF&G Wild Game Transfer Of Possession Form