Please wear face masks for the Sitka Farmers Market this Saturday

Over the past month, Sitka has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases and now has returned to a High risk level.

With that in mind, the Sitka Local Foods Network asks customers and vendors to be Covid-aware during the Sitka Farmers Market this Saturday (10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, July 2, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall). We still plan to hold the market, but we don’t want to contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

We are trying to return to normal this summer, by holding the market where we held it for our first 12 years before Covid. This year we have both inside and outside booths (in the BIHA parking lot next to ANB Hall), hoping Covid levels would go down. But we knew there was a chance we might see some Covid spikes and that’s why we wrote a Covid-19 mitigation plan that includes requiring masks inside ANB Hall when Sitka is at a High or Moderate risk level (and encouraging them for outside).

We ask all customers and vendors to wear masks, even if you are vaccinated. Other than getting one of the vaccines, a mask is the best protection against Covid-19 spread. In addition, we request people give each other at least six feet of space, and not attend the market if you are feeling sick.

When you visit a vendor’s table, please point out which items you’re interested in and let the vendor get them for you. This will reduce the amount of handling of food items.

By the way, the Sitka Local Foods Network needs a volunteer or two to help set up the market, sell produce during the market, and take down the market after it’s over. If you’re interested in helping, contact Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or Nalani James at (808) 778-9888. We plan to start setting up about 8-8:30 a.m. and should have everything packed up by 2 p.m.

We also are recruiting new vendors, and they can register and pay their vendor fees by going to https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com. More information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

The Sitka Local Foods Network does take WIC farmers market coupons and Alaska Quest SNAP EBT cards at the Sitka Farmers Market, and offers a matching program for produce purchased at the SLFN farm stand (if you buy $5 of produce, you will receive $10 worth).

• 2022 Sitka Farmers Market Covid-19 mitigation plan

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

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the July 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 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 Local Foods Network prepares to host 15th summer of Sitka Farmers Markets

The Sitka Farmers Market will kick off its 15th summer this Saturday, July 2, when it returns to its roots at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, its home for its first 12 summers of markets. The first market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 2, with six other markets scheduled for the same time on alternate Saturdays, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, and Sept. 24, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic limited our markets the last two years, forcing us to move and change our formate, we’re happy to be getting back to some normalcy this year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “Our seven markets this year will still have some COVID safety measures, such as being held entirely outdoors and encouraging everybody to use face masks. But we will have our usual variety of fresh local produce, fish, homemade baked goods, cottage foods, cooked food, arts and crafts, and more. It will be nice to return to our roots at ANB Founders Hall this summer.”

The Sitka Farmers Market is a community event hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. Our focus is on local — fresh produce, fish, baked goods, prepared foods, cottage foods, arts and crafts — and all products must be made in Alaska (preferably in Sitka or Southeast Alaska, cooked foods may use non-local foods so long as the food is cooked on site). Since our mission is geared toward food security and our space is limited this year, if we have too many vendors try to register our food booths will have a higher priority over arts and crafts. We will try to accommodate as many vendors as possible, but some may need to be outdoors.

The Sitka Farmers Market gots its start from the second Sitka Health Summit, held in April 2008, when Sitka residents chose two food-related community wellness projects to work on for the next year — to create a local foods market and to start a community greenhouse. Later in April, St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church made its backyard available for growing produce, which became St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and by August the first of three Sitka Farmers Markets was held. Those projects led to the creation of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

After having to relocate for two years due to COVID-19, we are back where we started out. We will have indoor and outdoor spaces, inside ANB Founders Hall and outside in the Baranof Island Housing Authority parking lot next to ANB Founders Hall.

Since COVID-19 is still around, we will require masks inside the ANB Founders Hall when Sitka is at the Moderate/Medium or High risk levels. While most people now are vaccinated against the coronavirus, there still are people who aren’t vaccinated and there are periodic hot spots when the illness flares up. We don’t want the market to be a place that spreads the coronavirus. Even with our outside booths, we encourage vendors and customers to wear masks, to use hand sanitizer, and to avoid bunching up while giving others six feet of space.

Last year we launched our online vendor registration website, http://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com, and we will continue to use that this year. Vendors need to register by the Thursday morning before each market to be guaranteed a spot. Tables/booths are $40 each, with a special of $240 (instead of $280) for someone registering for all seven markets before the first one takes place. We also have a youth vendor program, where youth ages 14 or younger can reserve a table for $20 for the full season. Due to Covid and the need for personal space indoors, we are not selling half-tables this year.

Please read the market vendor rules and responsibilities and Covid-19 protocol documents linked below. All vendors using this site to register for the market will be held to these rules. Unless you specify you want to be outside, we will try to find room for you indoors. We are not selling half-tables this year because we need social-distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Vendors can pay using PayPal or credit/debit card. When you get to the Payment options, click PayPal (not Invoice) and it should give you the option of using a PayPal account or four different types of cards (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover). If you prefer to pay by cash or check, contact Charles Bingham at 907-623-7660. We will provide a $35 refund for cancellations, but to get the refund you are required to let us know before Wednesday of the week of your registered market that you can’t make it. This is $5 less than the $40 table fee since we are billed for transaction fees and other expenses. There is no refund if you don’t let us know until after Wednesday.

Nalani James is the Sitka Farmers Market manager this summer (she’s on the left in the photo above). Laura Schmidt (center in photo) is our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, where the Sitka Local Foods Network grows most of the produce it sells at the market. Charles Bingham is the assistant market manager and the president of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

In addition to vendors, we also are looking for volunteers to help us set up the markets, take down the markets, and sell produce at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand during the market. You can get more information about how to volunteer at this link, https://sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/2022/06/15/sitka-local-foods-network-seeks-volunteers-to-help-with-sitka-farmers-markets/.

For questions about the market, email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or call (907) 623-7660. More details about the market will be posted on the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, and shared on its Facebook pages — https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and https://www.facebook.com/SitkaFarmersMarket — and on Twitter, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods.

• 2022 Sitka Farmers Market Vendor Rules and Responsibilities

• 2022 Sitka Farmers Market Covid-19 mitigation plan

Sitka Kitch to host Cooking With Culture class on how to make tortilla soup with Nalani James

Are you a tuxedo corn lover? Join the Sitka Kitch as Nalani James teaches our first in-person class since March 2020 on how to make tortilla soup as part of the Cooking With Culture class series. This class takes place from 4-6:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, at the Sitka Kitch community commercial kitchen, located in the basement of the Sitka Lutheran Church.

Summer is here and house-made tortilla soup is a good way to keep your soup bowls on the table. Summer is corn season and tuxedo corn is coming to the party. This soup has a beautiful array of colors to electrify your senses. Nalani chose this because she loves tuxedo corn from the Southwest. Corn has a short season and should be celebrated. There will be vegetarian and dairy-free options as well. Note: this is not a “grain-free recipe.”

Nalani has offered many classes in Sitka and has been successfully teaching to the community special dishes to her soul. This is the second year of her Cooking With Culture class series.

The class cost is $40, and we need at least eight people registered to make the class happen. Ingredients are provided in the registration price. Students may want to bring a container for leftovers.

This is our first in-person class indoors since the start of the pandemic (we did hold a couple of campfire cooking classes last year). With Covid-19 still being around, we are monitoring Sitka’s Covid-19 risk levels. Right now, Sitka has a Medium/Moderate risk level, which means face masks are encouraged in the kitchen but not required. If our risk level goes back to High, we will require masks in the kitchen.

Current (paid) members of the Sitka Food Co-op are now able to attend the online classes for $30 each (the co-op will cover the other $10 of your class fee). Please use the Sitka Food Co-op ticket when you register and  email  sitkafoodcoop@gmail.com letting them know you’re in the class. (NOTE, Only one person per Co-op household may use the Co-op discount per class. Please name that person when you register so the name can be checked against the Co-op membership list.)

The registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6. Space is limited, so register early to secure your place in the class. You can register and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal on the Sitka Kitch EventSmart online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Kylee Jones at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment.

For more information about the class, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440. We occasionally offer one scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, provided we still have enough students registered to make the class happen. Contact Jasmine or Kylee at SCS for more details about the scholarship.

The Sitka Kitch is supported in partnership by Sitka Conservation Society with UAF Cooperative Extension Service. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church downstairs through the back entrance (through the alley off Harbor Drive by the old Bev’s Flowers and Gifts location). The door on the right should be open for students to enter. Please do not park in the church’s back parking lot. Please use the public parking lots off Harbor Drive.

The Sitka Kitch also has a new class cancelation policy. If you register for a class, then find out you can’t attend, please email us at sitkakitch@sitkawild.org and we may be able to help fill your slot through our waiting list. If you cancel from the class at least five days in advance (eg, by Wednesday the week before for a Monday class), you are eligible for a partial refund of your class fee, minus $5 for processing (in this case, $35 or $25, depending on if you are paying full price or getting the Sitka Food Co-op discount). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.

Sitka Local Foods Network seeks volunteers to help with Sitka Farmers Markets

Are you passionate about local foods? Healthy eating? The environment? Local nonprofits? Come volunteer with us.

The Sitka Local Foods Network seeks a few good volunteers to assist us with the Sitka Farmers Market this summer. The markets are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 2, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, and Sept. 24 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

We need people to help the market manager set up tables and tents, starting about 8:30 a.m., and to help clean up and pack up the market for about an hour after the market ends. We also need people to help sell locally grown produce and Alaska Grown value-added products at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand during the market. Other duties include helping us get a count of how many people actually attend the markets and helping customers find their favorite booths.

No experience necessary, but our ideal volunteers will be punctual, passionate, and dependable. Partial shifts are available.

For more details on how to volunteer, contact Sitka Farmers Market manager Nalani James at (808) 778-9888 or assistant manager Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. Be sure to include your name, phone, and email contact information and which markets you can assist with, and for how long. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Earn SLFN farm stand vouchers through the Walk, Bike, Win! downtown commuting challenge

Most Sitkans know by now that we’re expecting a record number of cruise ship visitors this summer and to help with the crowds the city is closing part of Lincoln Street on heavy cruise ship passenger days.

To help ease traffic and reduce cars downtown on these heavy cruise ship passenger days, the Walk, Bike, Win! downtown commuter challenge started on May 7 and runs through Sept. 29. As part of the challenge, people log their active transportation trips (walking, biking, etc.) downtown and earn points.

As part of the challenge, people earning 25 points can receive a $15 voucher to use at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand at the Sitka Farmers Market. You can use the voucher to buy fresh local produce grown in Sitka at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. You also can use the vouchers to buy any of our Alaska Grown value-added products, such as chocolate from Sitka’s Theobroma Chocolate or Girdwood’s Chugach Chocolates, barley products from Delta Junction’s Alaska Flour Company, kelp salsa products from Juneau’s Barnacle Foods, or kelp pesto or pasta sauce from Ketchikan’s Foraged & Found. There is a limited number of vouchers available.

The Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand usually is located in the BIHA parking lot next to the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, although we sometimes move it inside if we have a low number of vendors scheduled for that market. The Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 2, 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27, Sept. 10, and 24 — at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). This is the only booth where you can use the vouchers at the market, and the vouchers are only accepted at the market and there is no change. See you at the market.

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

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

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about a special class on how to start a cottage foods business from the Sitka Kitch, a notice that vendor registration for the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market is open, 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 Kitch to host online class on starting a cottage foods business

Learn what the basics of starting and running a cottage foods business as Sarah Lewis teaches students how to Start a Cottage Foods Business from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15, via Zoom.

This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, and also is designed to help vendors prepare for the upcoming Sitka Farmers Markets hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network.

Sarah Lewis — the home, health and family development agent for the Juneau office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service — will teach this class by videoconference from Juneau. Students will learn about state laws regarding home food businesses, and get ideas for businesses you might take to the Sitka Farmers Market or local trade shows. The first hour will be spent discussing rules and regulations, and the second part of the class will be for questions and answers.

The class fee is $10, and the funds go to the Sitka Kitch. Class space is limited, so register early. The registration deadline for this class is 11 p.m. on Monday, June 13. The Sitka Local Foods Network is offering students of this class half off their Sitka Farmers Market vendor fee for the first market of the season where they host a table. Representatives from the Sitka Local Foods Network/Sitka Farmers Market and (hopefully) the Sitka food safety office of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation are planning to attend so they can answer any questions potential cottage foods business owners may have.

Register online at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on class title) and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal. To pre-pay by cash or check, contact Kylee Jones of the Sitka Conservation Society at 907-747-7509 or info@sitkawild.org to arrange payment. For more information about the class, contact Jasmine Shaw at the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office at 907-747-9440.

The Sitka Kitch is supported in partnership by Sitka Conservation Society with UAF Cooperative Extension Service. These classes are fundraisers for the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak finally reaches Alaska

After watching the 2022 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak spread across the country in recent months, it’s finally reached Alaska.

The first case was detected in a non-commercial backyard flock in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in late April. It was likely brought in by migratory birds, according to Alaska State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Gerlach.

The attached chart includes a variety of tasks for people raising chickens, ducks, and other fowl, and for birders who may see suspicious things happening to wild bird flocks. Please report any suspected cases to your veterinarian or Dr. Gerlach at 907-375-8215.

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

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the May 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 winners of the fifth annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest, a notice that vendor registration for the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market is open, 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).