Moby the Mobile Greenhouse to spend rest of year at Pacific High School in Sitka

Pacific High School gardening class teacher Maggie Gallin, center right facing camera, shows Moby the Mobile Greenhouse to her students during Friday’s class.

During the Pacific High School gardening class last Friday (Feb. 15), school social worker Maggie Gallin, who teaches the class, was showing the students around Moby the Mobile Greenhouse when she asked the students to visualize what they wanted to grow in the greenhouse this year. Moby arrived in Sitka earlier in the week, just in time for the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit.

The students already have raised garden beds outside the school where they grow more traditional food crops for Sitka, such as lettuce, kale, potatoes, carrots, etc. So the students were a bit more daring in their choices.

George wants to try growing citrus. Hannah wants to grow peppers, Doug wants to grow bell peppers, while Karl and Jayvan want to try growing corn. These are crops that need a greenhouse to grow in Sitka, and they won’t grow well outside. Our climate isn’t hot enough.

“Our culinary program is really strong,” Gallin said. “But we have a garden program and a subsistence program that we want to get stronger. This will be a mini-learning lab for us on a small scale, and the students want to experiment.”

Pacific High School gardening class students discuss what crops they want to grow in the garden beds inside Moby the Mobile Greenhouse.

Pacific High School is Sitka’s alternative high school, which promotes different styles of learning and more personal attention. Principal Mandy Summer, who taught gardening classes before she became principal, said the school built its first raised garden bed in 2010 after Phil Burdick’s English class read the Paul Fleischman novel Whirligig, and the garden bed served as a place to put the whirligigs the class made where they could catch the wind. To supplement the novel, the class read articles about how to grow plants.

Over time the project grew into two classes, including one on how to build things such as more garden beds, a composter, a sifter and other items for the garden. There now are about a half-dozen raised garden beds behind the school.

The addition of Moby the Mobile Greenhouse will elevate the garden class project at Pacific High School. Moby the Mobile Greenhouse is a tiny house greenhouse project that travels to different schools in Southeast Alaska by Grow Southeast in partnership with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, Spruce Root and the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition. It was built with support from the University of Alaska Southeast, the Juneau School District, the Nature Conservancy and the Sitka Conservation Society. Before coming to Sitka, Moby spent a year each in Kake, Hoonah and Yakutat.

“Our (Pacific High’s) theme this year is growth and legacy, and Moby fits our theme,” Gallin said. “The students will be leaving something behind, and they’ll be contributing something that’s individually fulfilling.”

Moby is the size of a tiny house, and it can be pulled behind a pick-up truck. There are six small garden beds inside about waist height (three on each side), plus there are places for hanging baskets. In addition, there are rain gutters to catch rainwater to use in the garden beds. The program’s link includes a handout about Moby and a downloadable curriculum for the teachers to use.

The Pacific High School garden program already has several student-built raised garden beds, a composter, a sifter, and a small older greenhouse (from a kit) behind the school.

“Part of having Moby here is for our partnership with Baranof Elementary School, where our kids can be mentors,” Summer said, adding that in time the school hopes to grow enough food for the school lunches at both Pacific High and Baranof Elementary. There is a plot of land behind the school where Summer, Gallin and others at the school are hoping to expand the garden program, and that includes having a greenhouse or high tunnel to extend the garden season. “The plan is to have a more permanent structure.”

“Moby the Mobile Greenhouse travels to a different rural Southeast Alaska community, each growing season to kickstart interest in growing local produce, especially among young people,” said Jennifer Nu, a local foods director for the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition and a community food sustainability catalyst for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. “We hope that the greenhouse inspires a new wave of vegetable gardeners, builders, local food system advocates in Sitka and beyond. Pacific High School was chosen for strong leadership, commitment to hands-on, place-based, project-centered learning that also has wellness and community at the heart of its mission. Students at Pacific High will share their learning experience with children at Baranof Elementary school and possibly students even younger. Moby will mobilize a longer-term vision as a local food system learning center for educators around the region.”

Pacific High School garden class students and class teacher Maggie Gallin (in stocking cap with back to camera) check out Moby the Mobile Greenhouse during their class on Friday, Feb. 15.

Pacific will have Moby through October, when the garden season ends. The students will still work through the summer, even though school won’t be in session. While Moby is in Sitka, the students discussed dressing up the mobile greenhouse with Native formline drawings.

“I’m excited for more fresh produce in lunch, and working with kids,” sophomore Melissa Gibson said.

“I want to grow stuff and take care of it,” sophomore George Stevenson added.

While in Sitka, Claire Sanchez of the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program will work with Gallin. There also will be other gardeners who might help with the class. The staff at Pacific hopes having Moby in Sitka will encourage more people in town to garden.

“One of the stats Sustainable Southeast Partnership wants us to track is how many gardens are inspired by Moby,” Gallin said.

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Sitka Kitch to host National Nutrition Month Class Cooking the Mediterranean Diet with Dietitian Katie Carroll

March is National Nutrition Month, and SEARHC dietitian Katie Carroll will teach a class about Cooking the Mediterranean Diet, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen. The class takes place at the Sitka Kitch, located at the Sitka Lutheran Church, 224 Lincoln Street (enter through the back door, through the alley next to Bev’s Flowers & Gifts off Harbor Drive, and please park in regular street parking and not behind the church). This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Katie grew up in Nashville, Tenn., and lived there until she moved to Knoxville to complete her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee with a B.S. in Nutrition. She then worked for two years for East Tennessee (Women, Infant, Children) WIC as a nutrition educator and Certified Lactation Counselor. She completed her Dietetic Internship through Priority Nutrition Care out of Boston, Mass., where she focused on clinical dietetics and after completion became a registered dietitian.

“I believe in a lifestyle approach to health where no one size fits all,” Katie said. “Outside of work I enjoy hiking, dancing, reading and cooking.”

The Mediterranean diet pattern is one of the most well-researched diet patterns in the world. It has been shown to reduce risk for heart disease, preserve cognitive function, manage diabetes and even reduce risk of certain types of cancer. It is relatively easy to follow and is rich in produce, healthy fats and whole grains. Katie will teach students how to make lemon orzo pasta with veggies and garlic shrimp and a Mediterranean flatbread appetizer.

The registration deadline for the Mediterranean diet cooking class is 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 24 (deadline extended), so register now since space is limited. We need at least eight students to register and pre-pay to make this class happen. The class costs $40, which is part of our new all-inclusive fee system (you no longer have to pay a class fee to register, then a separate food/supply fee). You can register and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal on our EventSmart page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Claire Sanchez or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment. For more information about the class, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440. We do offer one potential scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, so long as we have enough students registered to make the class happen. Contact Claire at SCS for more details about the scholarship. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church through the back entrance (through the alley off Harbor Drive by Bev’s Flowers and Gifts). 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 for a Monday class), you are eligible for a partial refund of your class fee, minus $5 for processing (in this case, $35). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.

Sitka Kitch to host Cooking Around the World class Indian Cooking With Dr. Supriya Mathur (POSTPONED TO APRIL 26)

Learn how to make chicken curry during the Sitka Kitch class, Indian Cooking with Dr. Supriya Mathur, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Friday, April 26 (note, this is a change from the original date of March 22 due to a death in Dr. Mathur’s family) at the new location of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen at the Sitka Lutheran Church (224 Lincoln Street, please use the back entrance through the alley by Bev’s Flowers & Gifts, off Harbor Drive). This class is part of our Cooking Around the World series and is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Dr. Mathur works at SEARHC in Sitka as an ear, nose and throat specialist. She received her doctorate from Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, India.

Dr. Mathur grew up in India and did not leave home until age 25. She says: “Coming to the United States caused my food world to expand and grow at an explosive pace; however after living here for 20 plus years and having kids , my go-to food is Indian. I am now more aware of all the health benefits of the different Indian spices that are used and my background as a physician and a mother makes me strive to find healthy, flavorful meals that are not very labor intensive. I grew up on lentils and rice but chicken curry or goat curry was always a treat in my house.”

The menu will include chicken curry — a staple of many Indian households and a versatile dish that can be tweaked to make many other kinds of — recipes, a dip, and a side dish.

The registration deadline for the Indian cooking class is 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, so register now since space is limited. We need at least eight students to register and pre-pay to make this class happen. The class costs $40, which is part of our new all-inclusive fee system (you no longer have to pay a class fee to register, then a separate food/supply fee). You can register and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal on our EventSmart page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Claire Sanchez or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment. For more information about the class, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440. We do offer one potential scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, so long as we have enough students registered to make the class happen. Contact Claire at SCS for more details about the scholarship. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church through the back entrance (through the alley off Harbor Drive by Bev’s Flowers and Gifts). 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 for a Monday class), you are eligible for a partial refund of your class fee, minus $5 for processing (in this case, $35). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.

Sitka Kitch, SEARHC host Celebrate Food Demonstration: Easy Plant-Based Sauces and Dressings to Liven Up Your Meals

SEARHC Health Educators Holly Marban and Heleena van Veen will teach students how to liven up their meals with sauces and dressings that are packed with flavor and are a breeze to prepare during a Celebrate Food Demonstration at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

This FREE food demonstration takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, at the Sitka Kitch, now located at Sitka Lutheran Church (enter through the back door, go through the alley by Bev’s Flowers & Gifts off Harbor Drive, please park in public street parking places).

Elevate your food in minutes with these simple recipes. Students will learn how to make fresh basil pumpkin seed pesto, lemon tahini dressing, roasted red pepper romesco sauce, and a Thai almond butter sauce. All sauces will be served with small tasting portions of fish and vegetables. This free event is open to the public and is in celebration of National Nutrition Month.

Since this is is a free food demonstration and not a regular Sitka Kitch class, you do not need to pre-register in order to attend. But pre-registering does give us an idea of how many people plan to attend.

Check out the February 2019 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the February 2019 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about a need for volunteer garden education instructors, the Pick.Click.Give. charitable donation program, the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit in Sitka, the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest, and an invitation to join our board and attend our next monthly board meeting. 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).

Juneau Composts, Mud Bay Lumber win 2018 Path to Prosperity economic development contest

Sylvia Heinz and Chad Bierberich of Mud Bay Lumber Company in Haines.

Lisa Daugherty of Juneau Composts and the husband-wife team of Sylvia Heinz and Chad Bieberich of Mud Bay Lumber Company in Haines are the winners of the 2018 Path to Prosperity business development competition, earning $25,000 each for consulting and technical assistance to improve their businesses.

The annual economic development contest for Southeast Alaska businesses is co-sponsored by Spruce Root, Inc., The Sustainable Southeast Partnership, Southeast Conference, and The Nature Conservancy. Two Sitka companies — the clothing company Ebb & Flow, owned by Iris A.B. Nash, and the wooden bowl company Timberworks, owned by Zach LaPerriere — were among the 12 companies to make the finals back in July, earning the right to go to a business development Boot Camp in Juneau.

Lisa Daugherty of Juneau Composts

All of the finalists and contestants have worked hard over the past year submitting applications, attending business Boot Camp, and writing detailed business plans. The winners will be formally announced and given their awards at the 2019 Mid-Session Summit hosted by Southeast Conference on February 12. In 2017, only food businesses could enter the competition. But in 2018, the contest returned to its roots and allowed small businesses of all types to enter.

Mud Bay Lumber Company is a family-based small-scale sawmill focused on community collaboration, environmental integrity, and self-reliance. Nestled in the rainforests of Haines, they manufacture and sell local hand-picked, quality trees in the form of rough cut boards, slabs, and other added-value wood products. They promote the responsible use of natural resources through a zero log-waste goal, operating within the limits of the State Forest Management Plan, and by using each tree to its opportune use. By making local timber products accessible and affordable to the Haines community, Mud Bay Lumber Company is also helping to eliminate the fuel and plastic packaging used in long-distance transportation of lumber. They are invested in making local resources accessible and affordable to their community and growing the Haines timber industry into a stable part of the economy.

Juneau Composts performs natural alchemy, packages it, and resells it, all while reducing the noxious waste in our landfill.  They take your kitchen scraps, cook them with thermophilic microorganisms and turn them into rich soil ready for the garden. So far they have diverted more than 111,900 pounds of material from the landfill, turning it into earthy-smelling goodness. They also provide compost education and technical support. They are currently the only composting service available in Juneau and they serve households and businesses of all kinds.

The Path to Prosperity program is organized by Spruce Root, formerly Haa Aani LLC. Over the past six years, the program has attracted more than 200 Southeast Alaskan applicants, trained 64 businesses at our business boot camp, and awarded $460,000. For more information, check out the Path to Prosperity website. Applications for the 2019 cycle open on April 1 and close May 31.

Sitka Kitch to host potluck dinner and silent auction fundraiser on Feb. 17

The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen has a new space, and you’re invited to check it out during a potluck dinner and silent auction fundraiser from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.

This event is being held in conjunction with the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit, which runs Feb. 15-17 at various locations in Sitka. Several of the summit participants are staying in Sitka for a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training on Feb. 18.

The Sitka Kitch is now located in the Sitka Lutheran Church kitchen (224 Lincoln Street, enter through alley off Harbor Drive next to Bev’s Flowers and Gifts, but use public street parking). We’ve held a couple of our Cooking Around The World cooking classes and several Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club programs. We ask people to bring a dish to share.

This event is $10 at the door, or free if you bring a dish to share. There also will be a small silent auction and we’ll play some trivia featuring questions based on some of the recent classes and food choices at the Sitka Kitch.

Also, watch our online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com, as new classes for March will be posted soon (one is a National Nutrition Month class on the Mediterranean diet taught by SEARHC dietitian Katie Carroll, and the other an Indian cooking class taught by Dr. Supriya Mathur). Don’t forget to click on the class title to be taken to the class’s registration page. These classes are fundraisers for the Sitka Kitch.

For more information, contact Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or claire@sitkawild.org.