Registration open for 2023 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit

Registration for the 2023 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit opened this week. The event takes place from Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 23-25, 2023, at Holy Cross House in Petersburg. This is the first in-person Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit since the 2019 event in Sitka. The plan was to hold one in Petersburg in 2022, but it was postponed (and converted to an online event) due to COVID-19.

To learn more and register for the summit, please visit the website at http://www.seakfarmerssummit.com. Space is limited so please reserve your spot ASAP. Travel scholarships are available for those in need of financial assistance, there is a low-cost bunkhouse lodging option, and meals are included in the registration package.

Also, we are working with partners to offer two informative pre-summit workshops, which will take place on Feb 21-22.  Learn important farm and food safety practices through the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course, offered by Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and be inspired to improve your sales strategies through the Farmers Marketing Workshop organized by Ecotrust. Both workshops are absolutely FREE and open to all Farmers Summit participants — you can register for one or both on the SEAK Farmers Summit website.

We hope to see you all in Petersburg this winter. Mark your calendars and reserve your spot today. For more information, email seakfarmerssummit@gmail.com.

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

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

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm being named a People’s Garden by the USDA, 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 2023 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).

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

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

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

This month’s newsletter includes short stories wrapping up the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market season, 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).

Scenes from the seventh and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2022 summer

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK
Sitka Farmers Market volunteer Derek James, and Sitka Farmers Market manager Nalani James, center, present the Table of the Day Award for Sept. 24 to Pauline Duncan of Grandfather’s Words. Pauline sold a variety of locally produced devil’s club salves and gift baskets, and more. She received a certificate, two Sitka Farmers Market special label chocolate bars, a bunch of carrots, some apples, a bunch of kale, Foraged & Found kelp salsa, a package of Alaska Flour Company barley pancake mix, a package of Alaska Flour Company couscous, a jar of Moosetard mustard, and other prizes. This was the last Sitka Farmers Market of the summer, and our next market will probably be in late June or early July 2023. More details about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

We closed out the season for the Sitka Farmers Markets this year when we hosted our seventh market on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. This was the last market of our 15th season of markets.

We appreciate everybody who made this market season a success, especially all of our vendors, volunteers, and customers who wore masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

We didn’t have as many booths as in previous years, we didn’t have half tables this year to spread out vendors to reduce Covid risk, but the smaller markets seemed to have worked. We still had fresh local produce, as well as a variety of Alaska Grown value-added products, local eggs, mushrooms, and arts and crafts. The Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand accepts and matches WIC coupons and SNAP EBT benefits.

More information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

A slideshow of scenes from the seventh and final market of the summer is posted below.

Thanks for a successful 15th season of the Sitka Farmers Market

The Sitka Local Foods Network just completed its 15th season of hosting the Sitka Farmers Market. We hope Sitka residents enjoyed the market, and we plan to be back next summer for a 16th season.

Over the last couple of years, we had to make some adjustments as we dealt with this Covid-19 pandemic thing, which meant relocating our market for two years and reformatting it in one of those years. This year we were able to return to our usual venue, the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, even though we still had to require masks when we had markets during high-Covid risk weeks. 

But we got through it and hope to have a better season next year.

The Sitka Local Foods Network couldn’t host the market without the support of a wide range of sponsors. We have a tiered sponsorship program with four levels — Grower ($2,500-plus), Harvester ($1,000-$2,499), Planter ($250-$999) and Friend ($50-$249). These are local businesses and individuals, and even a few not from Sitka, who are supporting our programs.

Our Grower Level sponsors in 2022 included the Alaska Cancer Partnership (a program of the Alaska Division of Public Health), The Alaska Community Foundation, and Alaska Food Policy Council.

Our Harvester Level sponsors were the Sitka Salmon Shares 1% For The Wild Fund, Sitka Legacy Foundation, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka White Elephant Shop (White E), the GCI Gives Fund, ALPS Federal Credit Union, and the Alaska Farmers Markets Association.

Our Planter Level sponsors were Harry Race Pharmacy/White’s Inc., Sea Mart, Market Center, Fish and Family Seafoods, the Sitka Employees of First National Bank Alaska, Sitka True Value, Linda Schmidt, Amanda Anjum, David and Margaret Steward, and Charles Bingham.

Our Friend Level sponsors included Beth Short-Rhoads, Patricia Atkinson, Guillermo Espinoza, Ehsan Espinoza, Robb Garni, Jud Kirkness, Catherine Allgood-Mellema, Joe Leghorn, Pat Hanson, Beth Kindig, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Jaime Zelhuber, Christina Kowalczewski, Traci Gale, Math Trafton, Zoe Trafton, Leah Mason, Moira McBride, Steve Paustian and Mary Beth Nelson, Aubrey Nelson, and Robin Sherman. 

We thank you for your support. We also appreciate everybody who came to one of our markets this summer to support the local businesses selling local food or arts and crafts. 

This brings us to our offseason, where we plan and raise funds for 2023. The Sitka Local Foods Network is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. In addition to the Sitka Farmers Market, we grow food at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, sponsor the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest, and connect residents to education opportunities for growing, cooking, and preserving local food. 

We always need new board members and volunteers. For more information, go to our website at www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org or contact SLFN Board President Charles Bingham at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2022 summer

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK
Sitka Farmers Market volunteer Shannon Cellan, and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt, center, present the Table of the Day Award for Sept. 10 to Leah Piera Murphy of Spinning Moon Apothecary. Leah sold a variety of locally blended teas, tinctures, salves, and more. She received a Sitka Local Foods Network tote bag, two Sitka Farmers Market special label chocolate bars, a bag of salad greens, Foraged & Found kelp salsa, Moosetard Lead Dog BBQ sauce, and other prizes. The last Sitka Farmers Market of the summer is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). We still have room for vendors, and vendors can register online (by Thursday morning on market week) at https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com
. More details about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

We are starting to wind down the season for the Sitka Farmers Markets this year, and we hosted our sixth market on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. This was the second to last market of our 15th season of markets.

We appreciate everybody who made this market season a success, especially all of our vendors, volunteers, and customers who wore masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. When the city’s Covid-19 risk level is high, we require masks inside ANB Hall. If the city’s Covid-19 risk drops to medium or low, we recommend people wear masks inside.

We didn’t have as many booths as in previous years, but the smaller markets seemed to have worked. We still had fresh local produce, as well as a variety of Alaska Grown value-added products, local eggs, mushrooms, and arts and crafts. The Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand accepts and matches WIC coupons and SNAP EBT benefits.

Our last market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, Sept. 24, at the ANB Founders Hall, 235 Katlian Street. Potential vendors can register and pay their vendor fees by going to https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com (please register by the Thursday morning of market week). More information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

A slideshow of scenes from the sixth market of the summer is posted below.

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).