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Archive for the ‘food security’ Category

Do you have a kid with a head for business? The Sitka Local Foods Network is introducing a new kids vendor program at the Sitka Farmers Market that might be what your kid needs to become a successful entrepreneur.

This program is for kids age 12 or younger who want to sell local food or arts and crafts at the Sitka Farmers Market this summer. Kids can sell fresh veggies from their garden, homemade baked goods, or their own jewelry, just for example.

How it works is kids rent a half-table (about four feet of space) for $10 for the full season (good for all seven markets, not just one). They follow the same rules as the adults when it comes to cottage foods or local arts and crafts, and parental supervision is encouraged. We’ve had a couple of kid vendors at the market before, but never a program just for them.

Our markets this year are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

For more information, contact Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (863) 286-9230 or by email at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. The farmers market rules, responsibilities and registration packet is attached below (and the registration form is the last page, just circle the kids vendor program note).

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

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What you put #OnMyFork matters. That’s the message behind American Farmland Trust’s ninth annual Farmers Market Celebration. The celebration calls on shoppers to help identify the cream of the crop — the best of America’s farmers markets — and in Alaska we think that’s the Sitka Farmers Market.

The celebration calls on shoppers to help identify the best of America’s farmers markets. The summer-long event launched June 21 and runs through Sept. 22. The first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. The other six Sitka Farmers Markets this summer are on Saturdays, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9.

“The Celebration encourages market customers, family farmers, community activists – anyone who believes they’ve got the best farmers market in the country – to endorse their market in four special areas: Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community, and Champion for the Environment,” said Susan Sink, American Farmland Trust vice president of development and external relations.

Shoppers are encouraged to use Instagram and join the local food community in saving farmland with their forks, as part of AFT’s “#OnMyFork” social media campaign. Supporters are encouraged to post pictures or videos of their farmers market to Instagram using the hashtag #OnMyFork. If you do post something about the Sitka Farmers Market, please tag our Sitka Local Foods Network page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork or share it on our Twitter page, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. Please use the hashtags #SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and #SitkaFarmersMarket if you share a photo.

“While farmers markets have been growing in popularity, keeping family farmers on farmland remains a nationwide challenge,” Sink says. “Many family farmers are struggling to stay financially afloat and face daily pressure from development to sell their land. Farmers markets provide a wonderful opportunity for family farmers to sell directly to consumers and to help make a living on their land.”

bigcabbagewsFarmers markets have a lot to offer. Beyond the beautiful array of fresh and local food, farmers markets help family farmers thrive, connect us as a community and can be catalysts for both environmental and social good. That is why American Farmland Trust is giving away awards to farmers markets who are the Best in Class in four special areas — Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community, and Champion for the Environment. There also is a People’s Choice category.

If you have ever been to the Sitka Farmers Market, you may already know it as setting the gold standard for farmers markets in these areas. If you haven’t been to the market before, here are a few reasons why the Sitka Farmers Market deserves to be named one of America’s top markets:

  • Focus on Farmers — The Sitka Local Foods Network, which sponsors the Sitka Farmers Market, has been working with local gardeners and small farmers to increase the amount of locally grown fruits and veggies in Sitka. Not only is locally grown food fresher and better tasting, but it’s better on the environment because it doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles to get to Alaska.
  • Healthy Food for All — The Sitka Farmers Market was the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP (food stamps/Alaska Quest cards) and WIC vouchers for people benefitting from those programs. In addition, we have matching dollars of up to $20 per person per market available for SNAP-eligible foods (produce, fish, baked goods, barley products, etc.).
  • Pillar of the Community — The Sitka Farmers Market not only serves as a community gathering place, but it also is a business incubator. It’s a good place for budding entrepreneurs to test ideas and products before going into full production. The Sitka Farmers Market emphasizes local, local, local, which helps put the focus on products from Sitka.
  • Champion for the Environment — It’s estimated that Alaska residents import about 90-95 percent of their food from the Lower 48 or foreign countries. By encouraging people to grow or harvest food locally, we’re cutting down on thousands of miles of transportation costs. That means less fuel is used, and fewer pollutants in the air.

To help shine a light on the Sitka Farmers Market, just go to http://markets.farmland.org/market/sitka-farmers-market/ and recommend our market. In past Farmers Market Celebrations, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, the Sitka Farmers Market has been at or near the top among the Alaska rankings. In 2015, the Sitka Farmers Market was the top Alaska market in this contest. In 2016, the Sitka Farmers Market earned Best In Class honors in the contest. We have a couple of new wrinkles in 2017 (vendor rates back to 2015 levels, a new Alaska Grown booth featuring products from around the state, a kids vendor program, etc.), so this year could be the best yet.

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Samia Savell of the Juneau office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will be in Sitka on Friday, June 23, to meet with local food growers about her program’s services. She currently is setting up one-on-one meetings from 4-6 p.m. on Friday afternoon at the Sitka Public Library study room.

Among the services provided by the USDA NRCA’s Alaska program is nutrient management to improve soil quality, irrigation system design, energy conservation, and possibly funding for high tunnels if it will improve crop condition and varieties (the high tunnel program is geared toward conserving resources and is offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program).

If you are interested in learning more about the programs and how you can work with the USDA NRCA, or setting up a meeting, please contact Samia at (907) 586-7220, Extension 100, or email her at samia.savell@ak.usda.gov.

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The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a meeting for prospective and past vendors of the Sitka Farmers Market from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). There are a few changes to the vendor rules and table rates this year, so this is a good time to learn about them.

This is the ninth year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features seven markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). The Sitka Farmers Market was a community health initiative from the 2008 Sitka Health Summit.

The farmers markets feature booths from local farmers and gardeners, local fishermen, local bakers, and local artisans and craftspeople. Our emphasis is on local products from Sitka and Southeast Alaska. The farmers markets also are great Sitka gathering places.

A detailed description of the farmers markets and vendor forms can be found our websitehttp://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (scroll down or look in the right-hand column). If you have any questions, please email Sitka Farmers Market Manager Nina Vizcarrondo at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or call her at (863) 286-9230.

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

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Students learned how to make fruit leathers and how to dehydrate a variety of fruits and vegetables in the Just Dry It: Intro to Food Dehydration class on Monday, June 12, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen. This was the first of six scheduled classes in the Preserving the Harvest food preservation class series offered this summer.

The class was taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, a Sitka dietitian and health educator who has taught several cooking and food preservation classes for the Sitka Kitch. In this class, students learned how to dehydrate four types of fruit (bananas, blueberries, mangoes, and apples), dehydrate four types of vegetables (zucchini, peppers, green beans, and mushrooms), and make four types of fruit leather (blueberry, rosehip, strawberry-rhubarb, and rosehip-blueberry).

This was the first class in the Preserving the Harvest food preservation class series, which is sponsored by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). The other classes in the series are (underlined titles take you to the class registration page):

  • 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

The Sitka Kitch programming team is working on other classes to be offered later this summer and next fall. We also might reschedule the Clear the Freezer, Fill the Pantry community canning session for later this summer, but on a Saturday instead of during the week. Watch the Sitka Kitch page on Facebook or our online registration page to see when these and any future classes are scheduled.

When registering, students should prepay for the class through the Sitka Kitch online registration site, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com, using PayPal or credit/debit card. 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. To qualify for a partial refund, please notify us at least three days in advance if you need to cancel. The registration deadline is three days before each class so our instructors have time to purchase materials. Please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org with any questions.

A slideshow of scenes from the food dehydration class follows below.

• UAF Cooperative Extension Service handout, “Drying Fruits and Vegetables”

• UAF Cooperative Extension Service handout, “Fruit Leather”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the June 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 the Sitka Kitch’s Preserving the Harvest class series, and details about a new study on the economic impacts of locally grown produce in Southeast Alaska. 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 Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Starting Wednesday, June 1, the Alaska Division of Agriculture is launching a brand-new $5 Alaska Grown, Five Month Challenge to support the growth of Alaska’s agriculture industry.

From June through October, Alaskans are encouraged to spend $5 per week on Alaska Grown products at their local grocery stores and/or farmers markets. If every Alaskan participates in the challenge, tens of millions of dollars in local purchases could be circulated within local economies rather than sent outside of Alaska. According to the Alaska Farm Bureau, if every Alaskan spent $5 per week on Alaska Grown products, year-round, it would have a $188 million dollar impact.

For the $5 Alaska Grown Challenge, the Division of Agriculture is partnering with dozens of retailers across the state including Carrs-Safeway, Fred Meyer, Wal-mart and SaveUMore. These retailers will be creating specialty Alaska Grown displays in their stores that prominently place and showcase the Alaska Grown products they carry, making it easy for customers to find Alaska Grown products on which to spend $5 per week.

The challenge will run for the five-month period when Alaska Grown products are most available. Each month, new produce and flowers will be introduced into stores as they become seasonally available. Customers can also spend their $5 per week on year-round Alaska Grown products including meat (including fish), fresh eggs and packaged products at their local retailers.

In Sitka, Alaskans can participate by purchasing Alaska Grown produce at the Sitka Farmers Markets. There will be seven Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). In addition, there are several growers in town, and you can find out more about them in the Alaska Grown Source Book.

“Why buy Alaska grown?” the Alaska Farm Bureau website asks. “Not only are you supporting Alaskans and boosting our economy, you’re also getting a fresher, tastier, more nutritious product. In a blind taste test, 82 percent of Alaskans surveyed could taste the difference between products grown here and those shipped up. Adults and kids say Alaska grown is sweeter, fresher-tasting and crispier.”

• Taste of Alaska White Paper (taste tests of Alaska vs. Lower 48 produce from 2011 Alaska State Fair in Palmer)

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