Two Sitka businesses among finalists in 2018 Path To Prosperity contest

Iris Nash works with a customer during a 2017 Sitka Farmers Market.

The Path to Prosperity (P2P) business development competition has selected 12 finalists to advance to the second round of the 2018 program. P2P aims to identify and support new and growing small businesses in Southeast Alaska, especially those implementing sustainable practices into their business models.

After limiting the contest to food businesses only in 2017, P2P returned to its roots and reopened it to businesses of all types this year, which is the way it was the first four years. The two Sitka businesses to make the finals are both non-food businesses — Timberworks owned by Zach LaPerriere and Ebb & Flow owned by Iris A.B. Nash. Several of the finalists are food businesses, but not the two from Sitka.

Zach LaPerriere with some of his wooden bowls

“I make wood bowls and vessels to showcase the outstanding old growth forests of Southeast Alaska,” LaPerriere said. “Every bowl tells a story of the life and growth of an ancient tree. Because I work in woods that average 100 to 500 years old, I take extra time to shape each bowl to show what is most unique about the tree it came from. Because my work blurs the line between a functional wood bowl and art, about half my bowls are in daily use and the other half are displayed as art pieces around the world.”

“Ebb and Flow will be a design and sewn product manufacturing company in Sitka, offering high-function attire for the climate specific to Southeast Alaska,” Nash said. “Morally focused on cultivating conversation on conservation, we aim to tread lightly by utilizing earth friendly fabrics and processes.”

P2P is in its sixth year, and is a partnership between Spruce Root, Inc. and The Nature Conservancy. Since 2013, the P2P program has helped develop local companies that are focused on increasing profitability and local employment, while also having a positive socioeconomic impact on their communities, promoting sustainable use of local resources, and magnifying entrepreneurial capacity in Southeast Alaska.

All 12 finalists will participate in a three-day business boot camp Sept. 28-30 in Juneau. All expenses including airfare and lodging will be covered by P2P for the businesses. The intense weekend of workshops covers topics such as business plan writing, sustainable business practices, and accessing financial capital.

“I’ve been largely self-employed for 25 years and just learned along the way, but never taken the time to step back and write a business plan,” LaPerriere said. “I welcome the business boot camp because it will help me give more structure and planning to what I do. When do I hire professionals to help? How do I evaluate when to seek financing? These aren’t easy questions for a solopreneur artist. Spruce Root is an amazing organization, and it’s an honor to work with and learn from them.”

Nash said her family is out commercial fishing right now, so it will be a month or two before her new business takes shape. But she welcomes the competition as a good starting point.

2018 P2P Finalists

Here are this year’s twelve finalists, ordered by city and announced by business name and applicant:

  • Beaver Brothers Trading Co., Quinn Aboudara, Craig
  • Mud Bay Lumber Company, Sylvia Heinz, Haines
  • Juneau Composts!, Lisa Daugherty, Juneau
  • The Farm, Bridget LaPenter, Juneau
  • Exiting Eden Tannery, Richard Harney, Ketchikan
  • Blue Drum Farm, Marja Smets, Petersburg
  • Petersburg Marine, John Murgas, Petersburg
  • Timberworks, Zach LaPerriere, Sitka
  • Ebb & Flow, Iris A.B. Nash, Sitka
  • Tenakee Logging Company, Gordon W. Chew, Tenakee
  • Gathered & Grown Botanicals, Angie Flickinger, Wrangell
  • Yakutat Sustainable, Nathan Moulton, Yakutat
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Vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the 10th annual American Farmland Trust Farmers Market Celebration

Today, American Farmland Trust announces the launch of its 10th annual Farmers Market Celebration, set to run through Sept. 21. The Celebration is a national effort to promote the importance of family farmers and farmers’ markets, while also raising awareness about the loss of America’s farmland.

We encourage you to recommend the Sitka Farmers Market, which regularly ranks as one of Alaska’s top markets in this national contest. We finished first for Alaska in 2017 and second in 2016. The Sitka Farmers Market is a project of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

There is no better way to nourish ourselves and celebrate the people that nourish our communities than by supporting your local farmers market. That’s why for our 10th summer, AFT’s Farmers Market Celebration encourages market shoppers, family farmers, community activists, and anyone who believes in the power of local food to endorse their favorite market in four categories:

  • Focus on Farmers
  • Healthy Food for All
  • Pillar of the Community
  • Champion for the Environment

At the end of the Celebration, AFT will present awards to the top markets in each of the four categories above. AFT will also recognize a “People’s Choice” winner and the top three most recommended markets in each state. All summer long, farmers and shoppers are encouraged to use the hashtag #OnMyFork to show off the best of what their market has to offer and to highlight the importance of our food choices in supporting family farmers. We want to showcase the markets that make your community proud, so join the conversation and share your story with AFT on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

We ask people who post anything about the Sitka Farmers Market to please tag our Sitka Local Foods Network page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, tag our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaFarmersMarket, and/or share it on our Twitter page, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. Please use the hashtags #SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and #SitkaFarmersMarket if you share a photo.

Local food and local food producers are the foundation of local economies and communities. Farmers and consumers both benefit.  Studies show that producers that participate in farmers markets have a 10 percent greater chance of staying in business, and people who shop at the local markets save 25 percent a year in food costs.

To endorse your favorite farmers market, visit markets.farmland.org. The Celebration began at 8 a.m. Alaska Standard Time (noon EST) on June 21,  and closes at 8 p.m. AST (midnight EST) on Sept. 21.

ALFA wins major grant to improve, expand electronic monitoring on fishing boats

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association executive director Linda Behnken’s longliner, the Woodstock (Photo Copyright Josh Roper)

A photo taken from electronic monitoring camera

The Sitka-based Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) has been awarded a major grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to improve at-sea monitoring of Alaska’s longline fisheries through the use of electronic monitoring technologies.

At-sea electronic monitoring (EM) technology uses video cameras aboard fishing vessels to monitor catch and bycatch in lieu of a human observer.  Since many small boats do not have the capacity to take an additional person aboard during fishing trips, EM can be more operationally compatible for the vessel, and potentially more cost effective. After several years of research and pre-implementation, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved electronic monitoring as an option for small fixed-gear vessels in the partial coverage sector of the Observer Program in 2016. The grant — awarded by NFWF with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Kingfisher Foundation — will provide ALFA $577,959 to improve Alaska’s longline electronic monitoring program for vessels participating in sablefish, halibut and Pacific cod fixed-gear fisheries.

With this support, ALFA will assist the National Marine Fisheries Service’s work to provide electronic monitoring hardware and field service support for vessels joining the EM program, and also support stakeholder engagement in the program’s development. The project will result in electronic monitoring of up to 120 hook and line vessels and will improve the utility of electronic monitoring data for fishermen and fishery managers alike.

“In Alaska, fishermen pay a large part of the at-sea monitoring costs needed to support our fisheries. By offsetting start-up costs and helping fishermen equip their vessels with EM systems, we can meet at-sea monitoring needs in a way that is more compatible with small vessels and improve cost effectiveness,” says Dan Falvey, Program Director at ALFA.

This is the second NFWF grant that ALFA has received to assist with EM implementation, which will help provide the equipment and field services needed to expand the program to the new vessels.

Over the next two years, 120 longline vessels in Alaska will use electronic monitoring while fishing.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundations’ Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program seeks to catalyze the implementation of electronic technologies in U.S. fisheries in order to systematically integrate technology into fisheries data collection and modernized data management systems for improved fisheries management. This year, it awarded a total of more than $3.59 million in grants. The 12 national awards announced generated $3.15 million in match from the grantees, providing a total conservation impact of more than $6.75 million. 

Mighty Bear Roots, Game Creek Family Orchards win 2017 Path to Prosperity contest

Rob Bishop of Game Creek Family Orchards in Hoonah poses with some of his fruit trees. Game Creek Family Orchards supplies fruit trees, tree maintenance and support services, and fresh, locally grown apples to and Southeast Alaska. After years of experimenting with local and disease resistant rootstocks, Game Creek Family Orchards has developed a reputation for producing apple trees uniquely crafted to thrive in Southeast Alaska.

Two Southeast Alaska businesses have won a contest for innovative entrepreneurs. Mighty Bear Roots in Wrangell and Hoonah’s Game Creek Family Orchards will each receive prizes of $25,000 for winning top honors in the Path to Prosperity business competition. Winners were presented with their awards on Thursday evening (Feb. 23) at the annual Innovation Summit in Juneau.

Path to Prosperity, or P2P, is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and Spruce Root Inc.  This sustainable business development competition grows entrepreneurs whose businesses will have a positive economic, social and environmental impact on communities all across Southeast Alaska. In 2017, the contest focused on food security and food businesses. In 2018, the contest will be open to a variety of business types when it opens in April.

Dixie and Chris Booker of Mighty Bear Roots of Wrangell. Mighty Bear Roots is an aeroponic greenhouse start-up that will provide the community of Wrangell with a local source of fresh healthy produce. The clean and green operation will utilize energy efficient full spectrum LED lighting, solar panels, rain catch and ground-to-air heat transfer systems to reduce its ecological footprint while growing delicious, healthy food that doesn’t need to be barged in.

Mighty Bear Roots is an aeroponic greenhouse start-up that will provide the community of Wrangell with a local source of fresh healthy produce.

“The Path to Prosperity has really helped us organize our thinking around our business” says Dixie Booker, the company’s co-founder. “We are excited for the potential to enhance our community’s food security and bring fresh produce to Wrangell. I highly recommend P2P for anyone who wants to start or further a small business.”

Game Creek Family Orchards supplies fruit trees, tree maintenance and support services, and fresh, locally grown apples to and Southeast Alaska.  After years of experimenting with local and disease resistant rootstocks, Game Creek Family Orchards has developed a reputation for producing apple trees uniquely crafted to thrive in Southeast Alaska.

Over the past four years, P2P has received 197 applications from 24 Southeast Alaska communities representing 12 different industries. In addition, 60 entrepreneurs have participated in P2P’s intensive Business Boot Camp workshops. There are now 11 Path to Prosperity winners in Southeast Alaska, all of whom continue to grow and build their businesses in ways that contribute to the community, are environmentally sustainable and are profitable.

“We’re very excited about not only this year’s winners but the entire group of 12 finalists we brought to our Business Boot Camp in September,” says Paul Hackenmueller, Spruce Root program manager and P2P administrator. “Each year the competition has grown more competitive. You can see the impact the program and, more importantly, our contestants are having on their local communities and the region.”

There are more and more signs that P2P, which began as a unique experiment in 2013, has proven itself as a dynamic program that’s making a difference in Southeast Alaska.

“These food businesses don’t only create local jobs; they also decrease the environmental impacts of shipping and transport, and provide food security and healthy food choices in our communities,” says Christine Woll, who directs Southeast Alaska programs for The Nature Conservancy. “These types of businesses are key to building a prosperous triple-bottom-line future for Southeast Alaska.”

Continued Growth
After focusing on food, the 2018 competition will once again be open to sustainable businesses from any industry. “Strengthening local food systems in Southeast Alaska is important to The Nature Conservancy and Spruce Root, but we know there are businesses of all stripes that can benefit from the P2P experience,” Hackenmueller says. “We’ve already seen a lot of interest in the 2018 competition, so I anticipate we’ll see another group of passionate, motivated entrepreneurs for out next Boot Camp in the fall.”

About Spruce Root
Our goal is to build community resiliency. We believe a strong locally controlled economy creates the foundation for a healthy and thriving community. Spruce Root promotes economic development and job creation in Southeast Alaska by providing access to small business loans and business advisory services. Spruce Root is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.

Spruce Root was founded by Haa Aaní LLC in 2012 under Haa Aaní Community Development Fund Inc. with the goal of improving access to capital for entrepreneurs in Southeast Alaska.

Learn more at www.spruceroot.org | 907.586.9251 |  grow@spruceroot.org

About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy envisions a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives. As a non-profit conservation organization, the Conservancy is committed to solving big challenges to nature and human well-being. For nearly 30 years, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has crafted lasting science-based conservation solutions with diverse partners all across the state. Learn more at www.nature.org/alaska.

Check out the October 2017 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the October 2017 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes brief items about the Sitka Farmers Markets being named the top market in Alaska in online national voting, the Sitka Health Summit taking place on Oct. 11-13, 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 new Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

• Northwest Farm Credit Services awards grants to Alaskans Own and Sitka Kitch projects

From left, Linda Behnken of the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association and Anya Grenier of the Alaskans Own Seafood community supported fishery project receive a check for $4,500 from Michael Wittman of Northwest Farm Credit Services to help promote local seafood for Alaskans.

From left, Linda Behnken of the Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association and Anya Grenier of the Alaskans Own Seafood community supported fishery project receive a check for $4,500 from Michael Wittman of Northwest Farm Credit Services to help promote local seafood for Alaskans.

image003Northwest Farm Credit Services recently awarded two rural community grants to help fund a pair of local foods projects in Sitka. The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association received $4,500 for its Alaskans Own Seafood community supported fisheries program, and the Sitka Local Foods Network received $1,975 for a series of basic culinary skills classes to take place in March at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (which is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society with assistance from the Sitka Local Foods Network).

“The support of Northwest Farm Credit Services will allow ALFA to improve and expand Alaskans Own so we can provide premium seafood to more rural residents,” said Linda Behnken, ALFA’s executive director.  “We believe healthy fisheries and healthy fishing communities go together and with this grant support we will reinvest in both.”

Alaskans Own connects residents of Alaska’s rural communities with great Alaskan seafood through monthly subscriptions. Subscription sales support ALFA’s research and conservation work to promote sustainable fisheries and sustainable fishing communities. Click here for KCAW-Raven Radio’s coverage of the grant.

From left, Dorrie Farrell and Kristy Miller of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen advisory team and Sitka Local Foods Network president Lisa Sadleir-Hart receive a check for $1,975 from Michael Wittman of Northwest Farm Credit Services to support a Sitka Kitch project to teach basic culinary skills to people wanting to get jobs in the food/restaurant industry. The classes will take place in March.

From left, Dorrie Farrell and Kristy Miller of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen advisory team and former Sitka Local Foods Network president/interim Sitka Kitch project coordinator Lisa Sadleir-Hart receive a check for $1,975 from Michael Wittman of Northwest Farm Credit Services to support a Sitka Kitch project to teach basic culinary skills to people wanting to get jobs in the food/restaurant industry. The classes will take place in March.

“Sitka Kitch will use the resources to launch a basic culinary training series taught by Chef Kathy Jones (executive chef for the Westmark Sitka Hotel),” said Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Sitka Kitch interim coordinator and former Sitka Local Foods Network board president. “Chef Kathy will model the four-session training on a curriculum from Indianapolis. She sees it as a way to get local Sitkans trained on entry-level culinary skills that could land them jobs in one of Sitka’s many restaurants or food-related businesses.”

The Sitka Kitch basic culinary skills training series is modeled after a similar program designed to help give people work skills for the restaurant/catering industry offered by a hunger relief nonprofit called Second Helpings in Indianapolis. More details about the Sitka Kitch basic culinary skills program will be announced in the next week or so. The classes also will be open to Sitka residents wanting to improve their home culinary skills.

Sitka Kitch is a community wellness project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit designed to improve food security in Sitka. The different parts of the project include creating a community kitchen Sitka residents can rent to prepare food for their small businesses or to preserve their family harvest of fish, game, or garden veggies; expanding Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity; and providing education about cooking and preserving food and building family emergency food pantries.

Northwest Farm Credit Services is committed to helping rural communities succeed. In 2015, Northwest FCS awarded 62 rural grants totaling more than $134,000 to projects in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Since the program’s inception in 2007, the company has presented 464 rural grants totaling more than $948,000.

The next rural grant deadline is Feb. 1, with two other deadline cycles later in the year. If you think your rural project may be eligible for a grant, visit http://northwestfcs.com/Stewardship/Rural-Communities for more information and an application.

Northwest FCS is a financial cooperative providing financing and related services to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, commercial fishermen, timber producers, rural homeowners and crop insurance customers in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Northwest FCS provides approximately $13 billion in loans and is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions that provide approximately $221 billion in loans to rural America. For more information, go to http://northwestfcs.com.

• Check out the December 2015 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

SLFNDecember2015NewsletterScreenshot

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the December 2015 edition of its newly launched monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This edition of the newsletter has brief stories about how one 140-character tweet won the Sitka Local Foods Network $20,000 from Tom’s of Maine, how the opening of the new Sitka Biotoxin Lab on Katlian Street will mean safer shellfish in Southeast Alaska, and an appeal for new first-year gardening families for the garden mentor 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 registration form 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.