Sitka Kitch to host vegetarian Indian food buffet dinner and silent auction fundraiser on March 18

Join us for a special fundraising buffet dinner and silent auction for the Sitka Kitch from 5:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at Beak Restaurant.

This event will feature a variety of vegetarian Indian dishes cooked by Beak chef/owner Renée Jakaitis Trafton and her crew. In addition to the dinner, there will be a silent auction, door prizes, fun and games. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the silent auction closes at 7:30 p.m.

Seating is limited for this event, so register early. The cost is $40 per person, and the registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16. All proceeds benefit the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, which provides cooking and food preservation classes to Sitka residents. It also provides kitchen rentals on a limited basis for food businesses.

You can reserve your spot at this event with PayPal or a credit/debit card by going to our online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com, and clicking on the event title and following the instructions from there. If you prefer to use cash or check to reserve your spot, please call Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) or email chandler@sitkawild.org.

Sitka Local Foods Network to host annual meeting and potluck on Saturday, Feb. 15

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its annual meeting and potluck dinner from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (please use the back door, just before you reach St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm).

Participants are encouraged to bring a dish featuring local foods to share, and please bring your own utensils (note, this is a non-alcoholic event). This is a casual and social event that serves as a good time for people to learn more about the Sitka Local Foods Network and what we do around town.

Attendees will hear about project updates, plus the current board will vote on by-law changes. We will introduce our new board members for 2020, and we will confirm the election of our officers. We also have a couple of openings on our board. People wanting to learn more about joining can click this link for info and applications.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Sitka Local Foods Network can email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com to learn about our projects and volunteer opportunities.

Sitka Local Foods Network hosts third annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest

A sampling of food products grown, manufactured or processed in Sitka in recent years.

Do you think you have a great idea for a food business or product from Sitka? Do you grow food, fish for food, or cook food in Sitka? The Sitka Local Foods Network is hosting the third annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest in an effort to spark local food entrepreneurs so we can make more local food available to residents and visitors. The contest entry deadline is March 6.

This contest will provide two $1,500 kicker prizes — one for established food businesses and one for start-up businesses (no older than two years) — to help entrepreneurs launch or expand their food businesses. The contest is open to food businesses and individuals making and selling food products in Sitka, Alaska. All food business ideas must be geared toward getting more locally grown, harvested and/or produced food into the Sitka marketplace through sales in grocery stores, the Sitka Food Co-Op, the Sitka Farmers Market, restaurants, or individual marketing (such as a community supported agriculture/CSA or community supported fisheries/CSF program).

“The Sitka Local Foods Network’s mission is to get more locally harvested and produced food into the diets of Southeast Alaskans,” said Charles Bingham, Sitka Local Foods Network board president. “For the past decade we’ve offered a entrepreneurs a chance to sell their produce, bread and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market, grown produce to sell at the market through St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and provided a garden education program to residents. We think this contest is the next step toward getting more local food into the Sitka marketplace.”

Last year, we gave $1,500 prizes to Brittany Dumag of the Castaway food cart in the start-up business category and to Tamara Kyle of Sitka Sauers in the established business category. We also gave a special $250 award to 12-year-old Abigail Ward who entered her Sitka Seasonings business. Brittany made Cuban pork sandwiches (using pork from North Pole) and other food to sell at various places in Sitka, including the Sitka Farmers Market. Tamara planned to ramp up her fermented foods business, but she ended up having some health issues that prevented her from completing her project and she ended up refunding most of her prize money. Abby made spice blends for seafood and other meats, which she sold at the first two Sitka Farmers Markets and at other venues.

In our inaugural contest in 2018, we gave a $1,500 prize to Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals in the established business category. We had no entrants in the start-up business category, so no prize was awarded in 2018. Hope used her prize money to hire two interns to help her harvest seaweed and kelp and to help produce her products.

Participants in this contest are eligible and encouraged to enter other food business innovation contests, such as the Path To Prosperity or Symphony of Seafood contests. All participants retain the proprietary rights to their products and ideas. This contest is open to new and existing food businesses in Sitka. Student businesses (such as those fostered by Junior Achievement or similar programs) are welcome.

There is a small $25 entry fee for this contest. All participants (business and individual) must complete and submit our contest entry form by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 6, 2020 (by snail mail so it arrives before the deadline to Sitka Local Foods Network, Food Business Innovation Contest Entries, 408-D Marine Street, Sitka, Alaska, 99835, or by email with the Subject Line of “Food Business Innovation Contest Entries” to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com). Submitting a business plan (up to 20 pages) is recommended, but not required.

Our entry form will have room for you to describe your food business idea in a few paragraphs, but submitting a business plan will give you more room to outline your plans for funding and marketing the idea and will help your overall score. Judging will be based on how your food business idea provides new local food options in Sitka, how novel is your food business idea, how feasible is your food business (can it make a profit and be sustainable), and how professional is your presentation. At some time in late March or early April, the Sitka Local Foods Network may host a pitch presentation, where judges will interview the contest entrants and try samples of the food products. Our judging panel will score your presentation and entry form based on how your idea has a measurable impact on providing local food in Sitka (25%), has the potential for commercialization (25%), provides new employment in Sitka (25%) and fills a need in the Sitka marketplace (25%).

In 2020 we are making some changes to the rules. First, each entry now MUST include a sample, itemized budget showing how the business owner plans to use the prize money. Second, each prize winner will sign a winner’s agreement contract before receiving the prize money that lists a series of benchmarks toward getting the product/service to market that need to be met by a certain date or else all or part of the prize money will need to be refunded to the Sitka Local Foods Network.

If we find additional sponsors, we may add additional prizes and categories (such as fish or farm). Depending on the number of entries and interest of the participants, we may host a reception where contestants can demonstrate their products to Sitka residents. If the reception happens, there will be a chance for people to vote on their favorite products with the winner receiving the People’s Choice Award (this will be separate than the two main prizes selected by our judging panel). We are hoping to find a sponsor for the People’s Choice Award. Note, if our panel of judges determine there isn’t a worthy entrant in one or both categories, then the Sitka Local Foods Network reserves the right not to award a prize. Marijuana edibles are not eligible for the contest.

• Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest Entry Form 2020

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.

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

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will teach a certified food protection manager workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 18. This is an all-day statewide class that will be offered by videoconferencing to Fairbanks, Palmer, Juneau, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Valdez, 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 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with a half-hour lunch), and participants will take a computer-based exam at the end of the class. The reason the deadline is two weeks before the class is to guarantee course materials reach all the students in time for the class. The cost is $200, and the course will be taught by Julie Cascio of Palmer. Students can register here, and the registration deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 4.

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 ($75) 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 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.