Sitka Conservation Society to host annual Wild Foods Potluck on Sunday, Nov. 13

The Sitka Conservation Society is thrilled to once again be able to invite the community to its Wild Foods Potluck.

Join us beginning at 5pm on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall for an evening celebrating the connections that bind us together: food, community, and this place we call home.

Please bring a dish featuring ingredients that were fished, foraged, hunted, or cultivated in Southeast Alaska. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and dinner will begin at 5:45 p.m.

This event is open to the entire community. Come celebrate Alaska’s wild food bounty. Prizes will be awarded for generosity, presentation, and tastiness. This event is open to the entire community.

The Sitka Conservation Society could never pull off an event this big without help from volunteers, members, and our community. Interested in volunteering at the potluck or want more information? Contact info@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Current members should be able to pick up their 2023 SCS calendar at the dinner.

Like what we do? Now you or your business can sponsor the Sitka Local Foods Network in 2023

The Sitka Local Foods Network in recent years created a sponsorship program to help promote our mission, and Sitka businesses and individuals are welcome to join for 2023. The goal of the sponsorship program is to make the projects we undertake (Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, gardening education, food business development, etc.) more sustainable.

“Sitka has a precarious position when it comes to food security, and the Sitka Local Foods Network is trying to improve our community food security through our mission to increase the amount of locally harvested and produced foods in the diets of Southeast Alaskans,” Sitka Local Foods Network president Charles Bingham said. “Sponsors of the Sitka Local Foods Network are working with an organization and a farmers market that places a high value on local food and businesses, fun, premium quality goods and experiences.”

In recent years, the Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted 7-8 Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer (from July to September). Due to COVID-19, we had to greatly scale back our 2020 Sitka Farmers Markets, focusing just on produce sales and using an online sales portal, but we did double our number of market weeks. In 2021, we hosted an outdoor-only market that brought back some of our vendors. In 2022, we returned to our usual venue of the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall after a two-year absence, and we almost had a normal market (with masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and no half-tables to spread out vendors). We haven’t set our 2023 market dates yet, but we anticipate we will have a more normal market experience this year.

In addition, we grow most of the local produce sold at the markets at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden and a couple of other locations in town. In March 2020 we built a new high tunnel at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and we were able to add another new high tunnel before the 2021 growing season. These high tunnels allowed us to extend our growing season and helped reduce the impact of our last couple of cold, wet summers. We usually offer a variety of garden education classes in the spring. And one way we ensured fresh, local produce is available to lower-income Sitkans is through our matching program for WIC and SNAP beneficiaries (the first $20 spent on produce at the market), courtesy of recent grants from the Sitka White Elephant Shop and the Sitka Legacy Foundation.

In 2018 we launched the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest to inspire food entrepreneurs in Sitka, and have continued the program with the expectation of hosting it again in 2023 (our 2022 winners were Gretchen Stelzenmuller of Enoki Eatery and the duo of Edith Johnson and Lexi Fish-Hackett of an unnamed fish broth project). We also have hosted the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser for more than a decade, with 2018 and 2019 in partnership with Youth Advocates of Sitka but canceled in 2020-22 due to COVID-19. In addition, we support other local food projects in Sitka, such as the Fish to Schools lunch program and the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

There are four levels of sponsorship available, and each has its own set of perks.

  • Grower ($2,500-plus) — We’ll hang your banner at ANB Hall during the Sitka Farmers Markets, include your logo and company name prominently in our merchandise and advertisements, and thank you on our social media and web pages. If appropriate for the Sitka Farmers Market, you may set up a free promotional booth.
  • Harvester ($1,000-$2,499) — We’ll hang your banner at ANB Hall during the Sitka Farmers Markets and include your logo and company name in our merchandise and advertisements.
  • Planter ($250-$999) — Your banner will hang at ANB Hall during the Sitka Farmers Markets.
  • Friend ($50-$249) — You are listed on our online sponsor page.

We have limited space for banners at the Sitka Farmers Markets, so please contact us before June 1 to guarantee your spot. To learn more about the sponsorship program, click the link below for details and a registration form. For more information, contact Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or by email at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2023 Sitka Local Foods Network sponsorship program details and registration form

Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way Of Life 4-H Club to host three-part Spectacular Salmon! series for ages 7-older

The Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way Of Life 4-H Club will host a three-part Spectacular Salmon! series for youth ages 7-older.

During this series, youth will learn the ecology of salmon, practice their filleting skills, create reflective art, and connect with local community members.

Sessions take place from 3-4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Oct. 12, 19, and 26, using Room 29 at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School as a home base (note, locations may change depending on the program for the day). Location changes will be announced at least two days in advance of the move. A 4-H volunteer will be available in Room 29 by 2:40 p.m. each session day.

The Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way Of Life 4-H Club charges a $20 per month supply fee, and scholarships are available. Participants must have an annual membership in 4-H to participate.

The Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way of Life 4-H program is co-sponsored by the Sitka Conservation Society and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. For more information, contact Anna Schumacher at 907-747-7509 or anna@sitkawild.org.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to offer online Welcoming Winter food preservation class series

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will offer the Welcoming Winter: Virtual Home Care and Food Preservation Workshops class series this fall.

Workshops will be taught by UAF Cooperative Extension Agent Sarah Lewis, from her home kitchen in Juneau, and Program Assistant Gina Dionne from her home kitchen in Anchorage. You can join them from your home kitchen anywhere in Alaska (or the world).

Sarah and Gina will offer resources, publications, and information for each class, but the real fun will happen on Zoom. You can watch or cook along in real time, or watch and cook along with the class recording at your own pace. Classes will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesdays via Zoom.

Prepare for Winter in September
Sept. 20: Create a Food Secure Pantry
Sept. 27: Winterizing Your Home and Garden
Make Sausage and Pickles in October
Oct. 11: Making Sauerkraut and Relish
Oct. 18: Making Wild Game Sausage
Focus on Holiday Food in November
Nov. 15: Canning Fruits and Berries: A Taste of Summer for the Holidays
Nov 29: Canning Holiday Leftovers

Each class requires separate registration and participants may register for one or all of the classes. Classes cost $12 each. The deadline for registering is at 5 p.m. on the day before each class. Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made five business days in advance to Sarah Lewis at 907-523-3280 x1 or sarah.lewis@alaska.edu.

Language access services, such as interpretation or translation of vital information, will be provided free of charge to limited English proficient individuals upon request. UAF is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer, educational institution and provider and prohibits illegal discrimination against
any individual: www.alaska.edu/nondiscrimination.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service offers Certified Food Protection Manager class by videoconference Oct. 17-18 in Sitka

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will teach a certified food protection manager workshop on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 17-18. This is a two-day statewide class that will be offered by videoconferencing to Fairbanks, Palmer, Juneau, 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 3 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. 3 (note, if anybody in Sitka wants to take the class and it’s past the deadline, contact Jasmine Shaw at the number below).

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.

Alaska Food Policy Council releases food system action plan

HOMER, Alaska (Sept. 12, 2022) — The Alaska Food Policy Council has released the results and food security action plan from a USDA Regional Food System Partnership program grant for Alaska received in 2020.

This two-year process involved local food system leaders in 13 regional nodes around the state, including one in Sitka hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The node leaders looked at their local and regional food systems, and how they connect with food systems in other parts of the state. The project also taught the node leaders how to develop and connect the people and companies within their local food systems to strengthen them.

Alaska has major food security issues, with an estimated 90-95 percent of all food coming to the state from somewhere else. One of the long-term goals of this project is to use the information gathered to create a 10-year statewide food security plan.

“This two-year project has engaged communities from around the state, bringing together Alaskans who care deeply about building a better food system,” Alaska Food Policy Council Executive Director Robbi Mixon said. “The resulting food security plan contains actionable ideas that can be implemented by communities in a way that makes sense for their own place-based needs and capacities.”

The three main objectives of this project are to improve the connection and collaboration of local and regional food systems around the state to improve Alaska’s food system; to identify food system assets, barriers, and capacities to help with the connection and collaboration; and to create a statewide food security plan that is informed by the regional nodes representing a variety of locations and stakeholder groups.

The next step is to apply for a USDA Rural Food System Partnership Implementation grant. This will allow state food system leaders to build on this groundwork and improve Alaska’s food security.

More information on the project and a link to the report can be found at https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/blog/2022/9/8/2022-regional-food-system-partnership-project-report-amp-food-security-action-plan-released

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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.

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

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the September 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 2022 Sitka Farmers Market, 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).

Sitka Conservation Society brings back Fish to Schools coho donation drive

The Sitka Conservation Society is excited to bring back its Fish to Schools coho donation drive after a couple-year hiatus due to the pandemic. This year’s drive is in full swing and will run through mid-late September. Thanks to the F/V Mindalina for its recent donation of 50 coho to the program.

To participate, simply tell your processor how many pounds or the number of coho you want to donate when you offload and they will record it. Yelloweye rockfish overage is also welcome. If you are a freezer-troller offloading at the Samson Tug and Barge Dock and would like to donate fish, look for the Fish to Schools tote or coordinate with Kurt Ainslie.

Thank you to all fishermen for their support of the Fish to Schools program year after year, helping increase access to healthy local seafood for youth in Sitka and ensuring the program remains a success.

Contact Kylee Jones at kylee@sitkawild.org or call 907-738-7232 with any questions or for more information.

Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way Of Life 4-H Club to offer Fall Wild Edibles Series in September

Join Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club for four sessions celebrating wild edibles through identifying, harvesting, and processing from 3:30-5 p.m. on Wednesdays Sept. 7, 14, 21, and 28.

All ages are invited to learn more about local mushroom, bog, berry, and salmon species. There is a supply fee of $10. Scholarships are available.

The Sitka 4-H club is supported through a partnership between the Sitka Conservation Society and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

The first step is to register for 4-H at http://4h.zsuite.org/ (all participants must be registered with 4-H to be on the organization’s insurance policy). 

Contact emily@sitkawild.org for more information.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to offer pressure canner gauge testing at Sitka Farmers Market

Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service watches a pressure canner gauge at a Sitka Kitch class on home food preservation. Jasmine will be at the Sitka Farmers Market on Saturday to test pressure canner gauges.

Jasmine Shaw from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka Outreach Center will do pressure gauge testing at the Sitka Farmers Market, from 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 30, at ANB Founders Hall. She will be at the Transition Sitka booth with Barbara Bingham for the first half of the market (usually back by the stage).

It is recommended to check dial gauges for accuracy before use each year. Gauges that read high cause underprocessing and may result in unsafe food. Low readings cause overprocessing and may indicate that the accuracy of the gauge is unpredictable. Bring in the lid for your canner for a free test. In just a few minutes, you can make sure your dial gauge is accurate and functioning properly.

Jasmine also can provide pressure canner gauge testing at her office at UAS Sitka Campus, and she can be reached at 907-747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu to set up an appointment.