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Archive for the ‘Food choices’ Category

There is one spring garden class left on this year’s schedule, but the date has been changed. The “Everything You Need To Know About Trees” class taught by Jud Kirkness now will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Friday, May 26, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street).

The class is free, but donations to the Sitka Local Foods Network will be accepted.

For more information about the class, contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520. Other classes may be added at a later date if we find volunteers to teach them.

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The Sustainable Southeast Partnership and Spruce Root Inc. have officially released a report, “Current and Potential Economic Impacts of Locally Grown Produce in Southeast Alaska.” The report, which was first presented at the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit held in February in Haines, was written by the McDowell Group.

“This study is the first to measure the amount of produce grown in Southeast Alaska,” said Dan Lesh, a research analyst with the McDowell Group. “Even though I’m an avid gardener and lifelong Southeast Alaskan, I was surprised at the high level of gardening we found through the survey. It was also interesting to see what crops people are growing and which are the most productive.”

The 47-page study surveyed residents of several Southeast Alaska communities to try and find out how much food they grew locally, and how much was imported. For example, even though 38 percent of Southeast Alaskans garden, only 4.4 percent of the vegetables eaten in the region were produced locally (and 95.6 percent were imported from the Lower 48 or overseas).

Southeast Alaskans spent $19 million on imported veggies in 2016, and many of those veggies can be grown here in the region. While commercial growers in Southeast Alaska only sold about $180,000 in locally grown produce, gardeners and commercial growers spent about $1.8 million to support growing food in the region. Money spent on locally grown produce tends to circulate within the region instead of going elsewhere.

“There is tremendous opportunity to expand commercial and home-scale food production in Southeast Alaska,” said Lia Heifetz, food security regional catalyst for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. “This contributes to community and regional food security. There is also significant opportunity to create economic activity through support services — like the local production of seeds and soil, or local sources of agriculture infrastructure and tools — as well as adding value to raw agricultural products. In addition to supporting services, either growing your own food or supporting our region’s food producers through farmers markets, or online farmers markets, like the Salt & Soil Marketplace, is a great way to contribute to localizing our food system.”

The report includes a breakdown of what veggies commercial growers in the region are growing, and what they’re selling for. It also includes a breakdown of what households are growing and consuming. There are charts showing food purchases over the years, and vegetable consumption.

There also is information on trends within the region when it comes to growing veggies, and how that impacts the economy. It details some of the challenges for the region, and what’s being done to meet those challenges. In addition, the report touches on the food security of the region.

“The commercial agriculture industry in Southeast Alaska is clearly at a small scale right now, but there is room for growth and a variety of creative opportunities exist to expand the economic impacts of the industry,” Lesh said. “A lot of new businesses have been created in recent years, with support from Path to Prosperity business competition and other sources. Looking forward to seeing where those businesses go.”

• Current and Potential Economic Impacts of Locally Grown Produce in Southeast Alaska (PDF file)

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the May 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 Market seeking vendors and volunteers for 2017, information about our spring garden classes and some Sitka Kitch classes, a request for volunteers to help out at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and a request for new board members. 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.

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You grew it, harvested it and/or caught it, so now what do you do? The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen will be offering the Preserving the Harvest class series to teach Sitkans how to store the summer’s bounty so they can use it during the winter.

This class series features a community canning session and six classes covering a variety of food preservation methods. Students will learn how to safely preserve their food, so it won’t spoil or cause illness. The classes on schedule are:

  • Clear The Freezer; Fill The Pantry5-9 p.m., Tuesday, May 30, Community canning session for your leftover fish, meat, berries, etc. Take home and/or trade what you make with others. We provide the canners, herbs/spices, recipes, three jars, and guided help where needed. Bring additional jars and ingredients, otherwise not provided. Canning session hosted by UAF Cooperative Extension Service. There is a $10 registration fee. Register by Monday, May 29, to make sure it happens. Call Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440 with any questions.
  • Just Dry It: Intro To Food Dehydration6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 12, taught by Lisa
    Sadleir-Hart, $27.50 registration fee
  • Rambunctious Rhubarb: Creative Ways To Use Rhubarb6-8:30 p.m., Monday,
    June 26
    , taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, $27.50 registration fee
  • Simple Pickles and Sauerkraut 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 11, taught by Lisa
    Sadleir-Hart, $27.50, registration fee
  • Jam Session: Preserving Jams and Jellies 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, July 24, taught by
    Lisa Sadleir-Hart, $27.50 registration fee
  • Rose Hip Relish and More6-8:30 p.m., Date TBA (late September/early October),
    taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, $27.50 registration fee
  • Venison Jerky6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 30, taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and Jasmine
    Shaw, $27.50 registration fee

This class series is sponsored by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), and the sponsorship will reduce our usual food/supply fees for each class.

Also, we still need people to register by Saturday night, May 13, for our Food Budgeting 101 class scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 15, at the Sitka Kitch. If we don’t hit our class minimum by Saturday, we’ll have to cancel the class. This class costs $10.

The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner. To learn more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to the website at http://www.sitkakitch.org.

When registering for any Sitka Kitch classes, students should prepay for the class through the Sitka Kitch online registration site, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on your class title), using PayPal or a credit/debit card to secure your spot in the class. If you need other payment arrangements, contact Chandler or Clarice of Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 to arrange a time when you can pay with cash or check. All classes are $27.50, plus a food/supply fee, except for the Clear Your Freezer, Fill Your Pantry canning session on May 30, which is $10. Unless noted, registration for each class closes at 11:55 p.m. on the Friday before the class.

If you have any questions about the class series, please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

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Registration for the 2017 Sitka Farmers Markets is open, and vendors looking to sell local food, arts and crafts, and other items at the markets can find all the vendor forms, information sheets, rules and regulations for this year by going to the Documents page on this site, or look at the bottom of this post for the documents. The forms include information about how to register your table for this year’s markets.

The 2017 Sitka Farmers Market manager is Nina Vizcarrondo, who helped manage a New York City farmers market and brings experience to Sitka. She can be reached at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or (863) 286-9230 during the market season. The dates for our 2017 Sitka Farmers Markets will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall at 235 Katlian Street.

This year, the Sitka Local Foods Network rolled back its Sitka Farmers Market table prices to 2015 levels and simplified them, and we hope this helps us reclaim some of the vendors we lost last year. The table fees will be $40 for a full table (slightly longer than eight feet) or $20 for a half table per market. We also have a deal where vendors who reserve space for and participate in all seven markets can receive a refund of one market fee after the season (so get seven markets for the price of six). There no longer is a price differential between indoor and outdoor booths. We want to bring back some of the excitement to the markets, where it returns to being a community gathering place, and that means we have to make the market attractive to vendors.

If you are an Alaska food vendor and don’t have the time to host a table at the market, we might be interested in buying your products at wholesale rates or selling them on consignment at our Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand. We want to show Sitkans the variety of local food products available in our community and state.

New this year is a children’s vendor program, where kids get to become entrepreneurs and sell their own locally made food or arts and crafts. This program is modeled after the city’s program where children younger than age 12 buy a season permit to sell items near Harrigan Centennial Hall on cruise ship days. In our children’s vendor program, the fee is $10 for the full market season.

Nina is available to answer questions and to make suggestions that will help new and returning vendors adjust to any food regulation changes from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, updates to the Alaska Quest electronic benefits program and WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program, etc. We hope to schedule a pre-market meeting or two for potential vendors between now and the first market.

There are several changes to the 2017 rules and responsibilities, so please read them carefully. The last page has the vendor registration form for adult and child vendors.

In addition, we are trying to increase our labor pool of volunteers to help out with the market. We need people to help us set up, take down, sell produce at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, and more. If you are interested in volunteering, send us a note with your contact info. We usually have musicians play at the market, so we are gathering a list of music groups that want to perform.

For more information, contact Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (863) 286-9230 or sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com, or you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Tiffany Justice is the SLFN board liaison to the market (and board treasurer) and Charles Bingham is the SLFN board president, and both will assist with the market.

Sitka Farmers Market vendor forms

• 2017 Vendor Rules and Responsibilities (with Registration Form, updated May 10, 2017)

• Link to 2015 Farmers Market Resource Fact Sheets from Alaska Division of Agriculture

• 2015 City and Borough of Sitka Sales Tax Form for Sitka Farmers Market Vendors

• Cottage Food Fact Sheet — “Understanding Alaska’s Cottage Food Exemptions”

• Cottage Food Exemptions

• Washington Farmers Market Vendor Marketing Guide (March 2014)

• Guide to Operating a Successful Home-Based Food Business (March 2014 document from UAF Cooperative Extension Service and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation includes Alaska food safety information and regulations for farmers markets and other food sales)

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The 2017 Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener. Back row, from left, Tiffany Justice (treasurer), Ben Timby (secretary), Sam Pointer (director) and Charles Bingham (president/communications director). Front row, from left, Nina Vizcarrondo (co-secretary), Laura Schmidt (lead gardener), Jennifer Carter (vice president).

Are you concerned about increasing access to local food for all Sitka residents? Are you worried about rising food prices in Sitka, or do you want to advocate for more community gardens in Sitka?

Please consider joining the board of directors for the Sitka Local Foods Network to help us grow in 2017. We also are trying to build up a pool of possible replacements for when we have three of our nine board spots up for reapplication at the end of each year. Sitka residents seem to want a lot of food-related projects each year (just look at this year’s Sitka Health Summit, when two were chosen), but we need board members to help make these projects happen.

Board members help direct the Sitka Local Foods Network, a non-profit that promotes the harvest and use of local food in Sitka. In addition to setting the focus of the group during our monthly meetings, board members also serve on at least one committee supporting at our three main projects of the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and garden education and mentoring. We also hope to help with the Sitka Community Gardens project as we look for a new location now that Blatchley Community Garden has been closed. In addition, some board members have supported other local foods projects in Sitka, such as the Sitka Kitch, Let’s Grow Sitka, the Sick-A-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment project, Sitka Fish-To-Schools, other school education projects and more.

To apply for a spot on the board, please fill out the application linked below and submit it to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.org. For more information, please email us. Please note this is a working board, and our group is evolving and maturing as we try to raise funds to hire staff. Board terms are for three years, with three seats up for reapplication each winter.

We also are looking to increase our pool of volunteers who will help out during the various projects hosted by the network each year (no formal application needed, just send us your name/contact info and what types of projects you enjoy). We need volunteers to help with the upcoming Sitka Farmers Market, helping our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and helping us teach gardening classes or working with our garden mentor program families.

The next regular Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting is from 6-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, at the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (611 Lincoln St.). The board usually meets from 6-8:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the See House. Please note, we will sometimes move our meetings to avoid conflicts with board member schedules, venue schedules and to insure a quorum. All of our board meetings are open to the public.

Click here for a copy of the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors job description. Click here for a copy of the board application.

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Having trouble making your food budget balance each month?  Looking for ways to shave some money off your food costs?

The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen will offer a basic food budgeting class from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 15, at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church). The class will be taught by Sitka food and nutrition educator Lisa Sadleir-Hart, MPH, RDN, who will show you how to maximize your food dollar while also planning nutritious and tasty meals. The class cost is $10 per student, and you can register by going to https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/events/food-budgeting-101/.

When registering for any Sitka Kitch classes, students should prepay for the class through the Sitka Kitch online registration site, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on your class title), using PayPal or a credit/debit card to secure your spot in the class. If you need other payment arrangements, contact Chandler or Clarice of Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 to arrange a time when you can pay with cash or check. The Sitka Kitch also has a summer Preserving The Harvest food preservation class series that will be announced soon, so watch for details.

Space is limited, so register early. Please register by Saturday, May 13, to ensure the class goes. For more information, call Lisa at 747-5985 with any questions.

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