City and Borough of Sitka makes free garden soil available

Surplus soil material is being offered to community members starting May 9 in the back parking area of Kimsham Athletic Fields, follow to the end of Kashevaroff Street.

It is a product of seasonal grounds maintenance operations. The soil pile is marked with signage and is self-serve. Tools and equipment for loading the soil are not provided.

Check out the April 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the April 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the about the deadline of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application period (and Pick.Click.Give. application) on March 31, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, 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 Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Agenda released for the Alaska Food Festival and Conference scheduled for March 17-19

HOMER, Alaska (March 10, 2022) — The agenda has been released for the 2022 Alaska Food Festival and Conference, which is going virtual on Thursday through Saturday, March 17-19, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s theme is “Everybody Eats: Nourishing Our Culture, Our Health, Our Future.”

This year’s agenda includes a variety of presentation topics, including a tribal youth track, a legislative update, the American Indian foods program, seaweed mariculture and wild harvest, sustaining traditional foods with science and technology, navigating the USDA for tribes, the Micro-Grants for Food Security program, and many others. These are just a small portion of the scheduled presentations, and the full agenda can be found at this link, https://whova.com/embedded/event/afpc_202203/?utc_source=ems.

Hosted by the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC), the Alaska Food Festival and Conference previously took place in Anchorage in 2014 and 2016, in Fairbanks in 2017, in Homer in 2019, and was virtual in 2020. This year, as in 2020, the conference was scheduled for Anchorage before going virtual due to COVID-19. The event takes place every 18 months.

In addition to the Alaska Food Policy Council, this event is co-sponsored by the Intertribal Agriculture Council and the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Dietetics and Nutrition Program.

The four focus areas of this year’s conference are: Policy and Education, Production and Harvest, Culture and Community, and Business and Industry.

The goals of the conference and festival are to:

  1. increase awareness of Alaska food issues among the general population;
  2. provide training, resources, and networking opportunities to increase involvement in local food issues by community members and decision makers; and
  3. increase connections and build community between the public, Alaska food businesses, NGOs, governmental entities, tribal entities, and others to support local economic development and innovative solutions.

Past conferences have included presentations on food systems in Alaska, food security/insecurity, traditional foods, farmers markets, agriculture in Alaska, fisheries, food policy, food waste reduction, and more. The event opens with a movie, a tribal youth track for ages 10 through college (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2022-festival-conference, scroll down for info), and a pre-conference workshop with Alaska Village Initiatives on working with Alaska Native groups on collaborations (this workshop is free but pre-registration is required by going to this link, https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYlce2trjIqGdPZ9XNt1x53SRm6jd3gQmRe). Other plans include holding an online auction (https://www.32auctions.com/AFPC2022) and a conference online swag shop (https://www.bonfire.com/store/alaska-food-policy-council/).

Before the conference, the movie “Food for the Rest of Us” will be shown at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, using Zoom. The screening and post-screening panel discussion are free, but registration is required by going to this link, https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qdeChrT0tG9DzyKsjJA5NKuE49P3Rpzjb.

“Food for the Rest of Us”, https://www.foodfortherestofus.org/, is a feature film that presents four stories of people living life on their own terms, serving as leaders who are lending their voice to the underdog and leading a revolution to a better world, from the ground up. An Indigenous-owned, youth-run organic farm in Hawai’i, a Black urban grower in Kansas City who runs a land-farm at East High School, a female Kosher butcher in Colorado working with the queer community, and an Inuit community on the Arctic Coast that is adapting to climate change with a community garden in a small geodesic dome. A panel discussion with the director and producer will follow the film.

This year’s confirmed keynote speakers and featured guests include:

  • Janie Simms Hipp, USDA general counsel
  • Eva Dawn Burke, University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Rural and Community Development and The Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy
  • Helga Garcia-Garza, executive director of Agri-Cultura Network and La Cosecha CSA
  • Caroline Cox (director) and Tiffany Ayalik (producer), Film: “Food for the Rest of Us” (special guests)
  • Iris Sutton, Ice Wedge Art and Farm (conference artist)

In addition, the three Alaska Food Hero Awards will be presented during the conference. A list of past Alaska Food Hero Award winners can be found at, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/akfoodheroes.

Registration costs $40-$150, depending on the package, and you can register at this link, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2022-alaska-food-festival-conference-tickets-232976558157. You also can purchase an Alaska Food Policy Council membership at that link. Thanks to the generosity of the Intertribal Agriculture Council and the Alaska Farmers Market Association, a limited number of registration fee scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can apply (by March 13) at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7U8nZPRg9zyK9TWGDOahsMgT2Cc58tEG4WrPDO64NMxTmrw/viewform.

More details about the 2022 Alaska Food Festival and Conference are available at this link, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2022-festival-conference.

For more information about the conference and the Alaska Food Policy Council (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/), contact Robbi Mixon at (907) 235-4068, Ext. 23, or director@alaskafoodpolicycouncil.org.

###

The Alaska Food Policy Council (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/) is a nonprofit organization whose diverse membership works to engage Alaskans to make positive changes for the state’s food system, and to create a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future for all.

The Intertribal Agriculture Council (https://www.indianag.org/) was founded in 1987 to pursue and promote the conservation, development and use of our agricultural resources for the betterment of our people. Land-based agricultural resources are vital to the economic and social welfare of many Native American and Alaskan Tribes. The harmonies of man, soil, water, air, vegetation and wildlife that collectively make-up the American Indian agriculture community, influence our emotional and spiritual well-being. The IAC has, over the last three decades, become recognized as the most respected voice within the Indian community and government circles on agricultural policies and programs in Indian country.

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Dietetics and Nutrition Program (https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/academics/college-of-health/departments/school-of-allied-health/academics/dietetics-nutrition/) is a statewide education program that meets the growing needs of the dietetics and nutrition industry. This nationally accredited program trains entry-level, registered dietitian nutritionists, and community nutrition and nutrition science professionals throughout Alaska. Using an array of online and campus-based courses, the UAA Dietetics and nutrition program offers a minor in Nutrition, a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, and a Master of Science in Dietetics.

Check out the March 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the March 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the upcoming Alaska Food Festival and Conference on March 17-19, an update on the launch of the 2022 Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest, an item about the opening of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application period (and Pick.Click.Give. application) on Jan. 1, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, 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 Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Thanks to all who participated in the Sitka community food asset-mapping workshop

The Sitka Local Foods Network wants to thank everybody who participated in the Sitka community food system asset-mapping workshop held Saturday afternoon (Feb. 19).

Thanks to Lisa Trocchia for facilitating the workshop, as well as the other local/regional asset-mapping sessions taking place this winter across Alaska. This is part of an 18-month USDA Regional Food System Partnership planning grant coordinated by the Alaska Food Policy Council. The next step will be part of an implementation grant to take the results of all of of the local/regional asset-mapping sessions and use them to build a 10-year state food security plan.

In Sitka, we hope to use some of the information and connections gathered in today’s workshop to improve our local food security. We also hope to use the information to possibly update the 2014 Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report, which gave us a lot of baseline planning data that now is nearly a decade old.

For those who weren’t able to attend, please watch for a survey link that will be posted in the next few weeks to gather more information. Also, the recorded Zoom meeting and the asset-mapping Google document are linked in the Documents section of this website, under food security.

If you are interested in helping improve Sitka’s food security, contact Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com or 907-623-7660. The next SLFN board meeting is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, by Zoom, and these meetings are open to the public.

Division of Agriculture offers micro-grants to improve food security in Alaska

PALMER, Alaska – As part of a continuing effort to improve food security for Alaskans, the Alaska Division of Agriculture is offering $2 million in micro-grants to individuals and organizations who want to grow and preserve their own food.

The grants are being offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Micro-Grants for Food Security Program (MGFSP). This is the second year the grants have been offered in Alaska. In 2021, the Division of Agriculture received more than 1,000 proposals for funding and awarded more than $1.6 million to 234 grantees (Including several in Sitka). 

“The last two years have taught Alaskans the importance of increasing local production of food and storage capabilities,” Alaska Division of Agriculture Director David W. Schade said, referring to supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are fortunate to offer another opportunity to apply for the micro-grants in 2022. We have worked with USDA to simplify the process and expand the opportunity for more Alaskans to receive funding.” 

The grant application period opened on Monday, Feb. 14, and closes at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30. 

Individuals can apply for up to $5,000 and qualifying organizations can apply for up to $10,000. The grants are for one year and can be for anything from building a greenhouse to growing a garden to buying a freezer to fencing in livestock. Preference is given to individuals and groups in Alaska’s most vulnerable areas in terms of food security. 

“We will prioritize funding of grants for projects that affect our most food-insecure areas and increase local food production and storage.” Schade said. 

The Micro-Grants for Food Security program is part of the 2018 Farm Bill that created a special program for Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. Territories for improvements to food security. The program helps individuals and organizations increase the quantity and quality of locally grown food in food insecure communities through small-scale, agricultural-related projects. Qualifying projects may include small-scale gardening, small-scale herding and livestock operations, and/or expanding access to food, safe food storage, and knowledge of food security. 

The program has undergone several changes, which will increase the opportunities for more Alaskans to participate and reduce the challenges of the reimbursement process and reporting for those receiving grants. 

“I am pleased that the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service has approved Alaska’s new streamlined, simple process for grant projects, as many grant programs are difficult for many of our rural residents to use,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said. “Food security is a high priority of my administration and support of this program continues my administration’s efforts to move Alaska toward greater food independence”. 

More detailed information on the micro-grants can be accessed at the Division of Agriculture website. For questions not addressed on the website refer to the Alaska Grown Facebook LIve events. You may also submit questions with Micro-grants 2022 in the subject line to dnr.ag.grants@Alaska.gov. 

Applications must be submitted electronically via the Division of Agriculture SmartSimple application portal. Instructional videos for how to submit the application can be found at Alaska Grown – YouTube

Check out the February 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the February 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about an upcoming local food system asset-mapping workshop on Feb. 19, an update on the launch of the 2022 Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest, an item about the opening of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application period (and Pick.Click.Give. application) on Jan. 1, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, 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 Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

RurAL Cap to host series of GROW program lectures about community gardens in rural Alaska

The Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc. (RurAL CAP), is hosting the GROW (Growing Rural Opportunities for Wellness) Program: Conversations About Gardening in Rural Alaska with a series of lunch-and-learns at noon on alternate Tuesdays from Jan. 18 through May 10 using Zoom.

Join a panel of experienced gardeners to listen, learn, and ask questions about growing your own food. Our focus will be issues faced by rural gardeners, but we welcome one and all.

This free, virtual series is brought to you in partnership with RurAL CAP and the UAF Cooperative Extension Service.

Event schedule:

  • Jan. 18 — Building Soil on the Cheap
  • Feb. 1 — Coordinating a Community Garden
  • Feb. 15 — Composting in Rural Alaska
  • March 1 — How to Apply for High Tunnel Funding
  • March 15 — Hosting a Seed-Starting Workshop for your Community
  • March 29 — Incorporating a Community Garden into Your Food Pantry
  • April 12 — Forming a Food Security Task Force
  • April 26 — Pro-tips for Running a Greenhouse
  • May 10 — Responsible Foraging

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

This project was made possible by funding provided by a Community Service Block Grant awarded to Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc., through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made five business days in advance to Gina Dionne at gddionne@alaska.edu or 907-786-6313.

Register now for the 2022 Alaska Food Festival and Conference

Registration is open for the 2022 Alaska Food Festival and Conference, which is going virtual on Friday and Saturday, March 18-19, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It opens with a pre-conference movie on Thursday, March 17. This year’s theme is “Everybody Eats: Nourishing Our Culture, Our Health, Our Future.”

Hosted by the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC), the Alaska Food Festival and Conference previously took place in Anchorage in 2014 and 2016, in Fairbanks in 2017, in Homer in 2019, and was virtual in 2020. This year, as in 2020, the conference was scheduled for Anchorage before going virtual due to COVID-19. The event takes place every 18 months.

In addition to the Alaska Food Policy Council, this event is co-sponsored by the Intertribal Agriculture Council and the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Dietetics and Nutrition Program.

The four focus areas of this year’s conference are: Policy and Education, Production and Harvest, Culture and Community, and Business and Industry.

The goals of the conference and festival are to:

  1. increase awareness of Alaska food issues among the general population;
  2. provide training, resources, and networking opportunities to increase involvement in local food issues by community members and decision makers; and
  3. increase connections and build community between the public, Alaska food businesses, NGOs, governmental entities, tribal entities, and others to support local economic development and innovative solutions.

Details for the event are still in the planning stage. But past conferences have included presentations on food systems in Alaska, food security/insecurity, traditional foods, farmers markets, agriculture in Alaska, fisheries, food policy, food waste reduction, and more. Other plans include holding an online auction, a youth track, and a pre-conference workshop with Alaska Village Initiatives.

This year’s confirmed keynote speakers and featured guests include:

  • Janie Simms Hipp, USDA general counsel
  • Eva Dawn Burke, University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Rural and Community Development and The Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy
  • Helga Garcia-Garza, executive director of Agri-Cultura Network and La Cosecha CSA
  • Caroline Cox (director) and Tiffany Ayalik (producer), Film: “Food for the Rest of Us” (special guests)
  • Iris Sutton, Ice Wedge Art and Farm (conference artist)

Before the conference, the movie “Food for the Rest of Us” will be shown at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, using Zoom. The screening and post-screening panel discussion are free, but registration is required by going to this link, https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8huQr-GeR-W8UwCBXMhx7w.

“Food for the Rest of Us”, https://www.foodfortherestofus.org/, is a feature film that presents four stories of people living life on their own terms, serving as leaders who are lending their voice to the underdog and leading a revolution to a better world, from the ground up. An Indigenous-owned, youth-run organic farm in Hawai’i, a Black urban grower in Kansas City who runs a land-farm at East High School, a female Kosher butcher in Colorado working with the queer community, and an Inuit community on the Arctic Coast that is adapting to climate change with a community garden in a small geodesic dome. A panel discussion with the director and producer will follow the film.

In addition, the Alaska Food Hero Awards will be presented during the conference, and nominations are accepted at this link until Monday, Feb. 21, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScJaHS_okDTYOdZojViXm4gC9w7C_v1J4uIpn4D9rVk0q1CyQ/viewform. A list of past Alaska Food Hero Award winners can be found at, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/akfoodheroes.

People and organizations interested in presenting about Alaska food topics can submit presentation abstracts by Monday, Feb. 14, to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeompK0G3jpNNFOeL1NOduc8QKG9tFPzNGaIAf0-VA9X6CVRQ/viewform. Information about previous conferences and their agendas can be found in the left column of this link, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2022-festival-conference.

If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, you can go to this link for more details about our sponsorship tiers, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2022-conference-sponsors.  

Registration costs $40-$150, depending on the package, and you can register at this link, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2022-alaska-food-festival-conference-tickets-232976558157. Early bird registration and pricing ends on Monday, Jan. 31. You also can purchase an Alaska Food Policy Council membership at that link. Thanks to the generosity of the Intertribal Agriculture Council and the Alaska Farmers Market Association, a limited number of registration fee scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can apply at https://forms.gle/CPffkjzz3UuFWD7Y8.

A conference agenda will be available in late February. More details about the conference are available at this link, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2022-festival-conference.

For more information about the conference, contact Robbi Mixon at (907) 235-4068, Ext. 23, or director@alaskafoodpolicycouncil.org.

###

The Alaska Food Policy Council (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/) is a nonprofit organization whose diverse membership works to engage Alaskans to make positive changes for the state’s food system, and to create a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future for all.

The Intertribal Agriculture Council (https://www.indianag.org/) was founded in 1987 to pursue and promote the conservation, development and use of our agricultural resources for the betterment of our people. Land-based agricultural resources are vital to the economic and social welfare of many Native American and Alaskan Tribes. The harmonies of man, soil, water, air, vegetation and wildlife that collectively make-up the American Indian agriculture community, influence our emotional and spiritual well-being. The IAC has, over the last three decades, become recognized as the most respected voice within the Indian community and government circles on agricultural policies and programs in Indian country.

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Dietetics and Nutrition Program (https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/academics/college-of-health/departments/school-of-allied-health/academics/dietetics-nutrition/) is a statewide education program that meets the growing needs of the dietetics and nutrition industry. This nationally accredited program trains entry-level, registered dietitian nutritionists, and community nutrition and nutrition science professionals throughout Alaska. Using an array of online and campus-based courses, the UAA Dietetics and nutrition program offers a minor in Nutrition, a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, and a Master of Science in Dietetics.

Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit postponed until 2023 due to Covid-19

The 2022 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit, originally scheduled for Feb. 25-27 in Petersburg, has been postponed until the last weekend of February 2023 due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, organizers Bo Varsano and Marja Smets wrote in an email.

“This was an extremely difficult choice; we want nothing more than to gather and share with you all this winter, however, we feel that no matter what mitigation strategies we implement, a conference that brings together folks from around Southeast Alaska and beyond for a long weekend of indoor activities runs too great of a risk of becoming a super-spreader event,” wrote Varsano and Smets, who run Farragut Farm near Petersburg.

The Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit started in 2015 in Petersburg, and was followed by events in 2017 in Haines and 2019 in Sitka. The 2021 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit was postponed to 2022 because of Covid, and now it’s been postponed again to 2023.

People who already had registered for the 2022 summit will receive full refunds. They are asking 2022 sponsors if they can hold the donations for the 2023 rescheduled event.

“We feel strongly about the value of keeping this an in-person event, so we hope to reschedule the SEAK Farmers Summit for the last weekend in February in 2023, as long as our primary grant funding will allow for the extension. We will keep you all posted!” Varsano and Smets wrote. “In the meantime, we are working on pulling together a fun Zoom evening event to maintain connection within the community of growers and supporters, so keep your eye out for more details via email soon. … Sorry for the bad news, but you know what they say … ‘third time’s a charm!'”