White E awards Sitka Local Foods Network 2020 grant to match SNAP/WIC produce sales

Sitka White Elephant Shop (White E) volunteer Tom Brown, left, presents Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham with a check for $1,500 to use for matching SNAP/WIC benefits at the 2020 Sitka Farmers Market.

The Sitka White Elephant Shop (aka, the White E thrift shop) awarded the Sitka Local Foods Network with a $1,500 grant during its 2020 grant cycle. In 2018, the White E awarded the Sitka Local Foods Network $1,000. The amount was increased to $1,500 in 2019.

The grant will be used to provide matching funds for SNAP and WIC beneficiaries who purchase produce at the Sitka Farmers Market and other events where the SLFN sells produce, such as at the Running of the Boots. The Sitka Local Foods Network began providing SNAP matching dollars for the first $20 of produce purchases at the markets several years ago when there was a state grant, but in 2017 those state grant funds ran out and we used our Sitka Local Foods Network general fund to match the produce purchases.

The White E grants, starting in 2018, have helped us continue the matching program. We also started matching the $5 WIC farmers market produce coupons in 2017, using our general fund (in 2019, we were the only farmers market in the state authorized to match WIC coupons). If the senior farmers market coupons are finally distributed in Southeast Alaska in 2020, our intention is to match those as well.

We grow most of the produce sold at the Sitka Farmers Market locally at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and our satellite gardens around town. St. Peter’s Fellowship holds a Certified Naturally Grown designation, which means we follow healthy and sustainable practices while growing our produce, including limited use of chemical fertilizers. The Sitka Farmers Market also is on the Certified Naturally Grown’s Guide To Exceptional Markets.

“Our mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans, but buying local produce can be difficult for people on food assistance programs,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “Local produce can be fresher and tastier than barged-in produce from the Lower 48, and it doesn’t lose its nutritional value during transit. Our matching funds help get more healthy local produce into the diets of lower-income residents of Sitka. A lot of people don’t realize how much income inequality there is in Sitka, and according to the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report released in 2014, there were 1,410 people and 766 families receiving SNAP benefits in Sitka during 2013. That’s about one out of six Sitka residents who need extra access to this healthy local produce.”

The White E made several grants during the 2020 grant cycle, but a complete list wasn’t available. The Sitka Local Foods Network thanks the White E for its support.

Check out the February 2020 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the February 2020 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short articles about our annual meeting and potluck dinner, the Pick.Click.Give. program being open for 2020, the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest application period being open, a fundraiser to build a second high tunnel at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, an invitation to join our board of directors or volunteer for us, information about upcoming Sitka Kitch classes and a fundraising dinner, and an update on our sponsorship program. 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).

Foundroot, Village Coffee Company win $25,000 each in 2019 Path to Prosperity business development contest

Nick Schlosstein, left, and Leah Wagner of Foundroot seed company man their farm stand in Haines. Foundroot was one of the 2019 winners of the Path to Prosperity business development competition.

Two Southeast Alaska businesses — Foundroot seed company of Haines and Village Coffee Company of Yakutat — recently were selected as winners of the 2019 Path to Prosperity economic development contest. As winners, Foundroot and Village Coffee Company were awarded $25,000 each for consulting and technical services. The winners were announced on Feb. 5, during the 2020 Mid-Session Summit hosted by Southeast Conference in Juneau.

Foundroot is an open-pollinated seed company run by Leah Wagner and Nick Schlosstein in Haines that sells vegetable, herb, and flower seeds proven for Alaskan growing conditions. On their small sustainable farm in Haines, Foundroot is growing seed varieties that are adapted to Alaska’s climatic challenges and have sent seeds to over 65 different communities throughout the state. Teaching their customers how to save their own seeds and supporting their gardening and farming endeavors is integral to the company’s philosophy. Foundroot’s mission is for all Alaskans to feel confident growing food, no matter the scale, and fostering self-reliance and a deeper sense of food security for us all.

Justyne Wheeler of Village Coffee Company in Yakutat. Village Coffee Company was one of the two 2019 winners of the Path to Prosperity competition.

Village Coffee Company is a drive-thru espresso shop in Yakutat run by Justyne Wheeler that serves custom coffee drinks and homemade pastries crafted from locally-sourced ingredients, including fresh salmonberry upside down cake and spruce tip tea. In the small community of Yakutat, Village Coffee Company has found itself serving many regulars, who oftentimes drive up in 4x4s or forklifts to get their daily cup. Village Coffee Company works closely with the community to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. They provide coffee grinds for composting; use compostable stir-sticks, cups, and packaging; and source locally when possible.

These two companies were chosen from 13 finalist businesses from Southeast Alaska (including the Sitka Food Co-Op and M/V Adak Short- and Long-Term Rentals from Sitka) that participated in the Path to Prosperity’s Business Boot Camp in September in Juneau. They were chosen from 43 businesses from 12 Southeast Alaska communities that applied for the 2019 Path to Prosperity contest.

The following businesses were selected as 2019’s finalists:

  • Business Name, Applicant, Location
  • Alaska Costal Seaweed, Theresa Abbas, Juneau
  • Around the Bay Lodging, Susan Ritchie, Wrangell
  • Foundroot, Leah Wagner and Nick Schlosstein, Haines
  • Gale Force Gardens, Stephanie Jurries, Craig
  • Jellyfish Donuts, Brianna Krantz, Ketchikan
  • Kaawu Shellfish Co., Anthony Lindoff, Hoonah
  • Kootéeyaa Koffee House, Lee Wallace, Saxman
  • M/V Adak Short- and Long-Term Rentals, Brendan and Rachel Jones, Sitka
  • Sagebrush Dry Gear, John Peterka, Kake
  • Sitka Food Co-Op, Keith Nyitray, Sitka
  • Tamico, Inc., Carrie J. K. Martinsen, Petersburg
  • Tommaso Shellfish, James Greeley, Whale Pass
  • Village Coffee Co., Justyne Wheeler, Yakutat

An aerial view of the gardens at Foundroot.

At Boot Camp, the finalists learn about triple-bottom-line principles, worked with mentors, and received one-on-one counseling on how to develop their business models and plans. Following this intensive business training weekend, the finalists spent two months working with Spruce Root business coaches to create thorough business plans and pitch videos to be submitted to the judges. The winners are selected based on the feasibility, social impact, and environmental sustainability of their businesses.

Path to Prosperity is run by Spruce Root, Inc., and is made possible through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. Since the first competition in 2013, Path to Prosperity has received over 300 applications from Southeast Alaskan small business owners and entrepreneurs across 22 communities. The program has trained 89 finalists at Business Boot Camp and awarded 15 winners $510,000 to build their businesses. All of the participants have been trained in the “triple bottom line” approach to building a business by learning to measure their profitability as well as the environmental and social impacts of their business. Previous competition winners include Skyaana Coffee Co. (Klawock), Barnacle Foods (Juneau), The Salty Pantry (Petersburg), Port Chilkoot Distillery (Haines), Icy Straits Lumber (Hoonah), and others.

The Village Coffee Company trailer.

Spruce Root is an Alaska Native-run CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) that provides local entrepreneurs with access to business development and financial resources in the form of loan capital, business coaching, workshops, and competitions. Together these programs support both new and existing businesses in Southeast Alaska and empower business owners through increased self-sufficiency.

Applications for the 2020 Path to Prosperity competition will open on April 1 and will close on May 31. This year there will be a focus on minority-run businesses.

To learn more about Path to Prosperity or Spruce Root’s other services (such as small business loans), visit their website at www.spruceroot.org or email grow@spruceroot.org.

Sitka Kitch to host Winter Baking Series: Challah With Robin Sherman class on Feb. 19

Learn how to make challah in the third class of the new Winter Baking Series at the Sitka Kitch. The Challah With Robin Sherman class takes place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the Sitka Kitch community commercial kitchen. Please note this is an earlier starting time than our usual night classes, since challah can take three hours to make.

Robin Sherman grew up in New York City and started baking as a kid. She is enthusiastically pro-gluten and enjoys exploring new bakeries whenever she travels. Challah is a Jewish bread traditionally served on the Sabbath (when it is braided) and holidays (when it is sometimes round). White flour and eggs are required ingredients, raisins, seeds and butter are optional. Challah is soft and sweet and makes great french toast if there is any left over for breakfast. Please bring paper bags to take some challah home. Since the dough will need some time to set, attendees might want to bring dinner with them.

The registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17. Space is limited, so register early to secure your place in the class. 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 Chandler O’Connell or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment.

Current (paid) members of the Sitka Food Co-Op are now able to attend the 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 send an email to 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.)

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 Chandler at SCS for more details about the scholarship. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Also, the registration deadline for the fourth class in the Winter Baking Series, Sourdough Bread With Carolyn Rice (Take Two), is 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22. The sourdough bread class takes place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the Sitka Kitch, and is similar to the sourdough bread class Carolyn taught on Jan. 14. Details on other classes in the series will be posted as they become available.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church 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). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.

Scenes from the Sitka Kitch’s Winter Baking Series class Bagels With Robin Sherman

Students learned how to make bagels during the second class of the Sitka Kitch‘s Winter Baking Series, Bagels With Robin Sherman, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the Sitka Kitch rental commercial kitchen.

Robin grew up in New York City, so she enjoys a good bagel. Students learned how to make the dough, which includes barley malt syrup, flour, salt, and water. They also learned how to shape the bagels, how to boil them to set them, and then how to bake them.

The next class in the Winter Baking Series is a second Sourdough Bread With Carolyn Rice class, which takes place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Sitka Kitch (note the earlier starting time than our usual evening classes). This class costs $40 ($30 for Sitka Food Co-op members who are current on their dues), and the registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22. Carolyn taught another class on baking sourdough bread on Jan. 14 to open the Winter Baking Series, and there was enough popular demand for her to teach a second class. More classes in the series will be announced as their information is finalized.

Also, the Sitka Kitch is hosting a vegetarian Indian food buffet fundraiser and silent auction from 5:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at Beak Restaurant. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the silent auction closes at 7:30 p.m. Seating is limited for this event, so register early. The cost is $40, with all proceeds going to the Sitka Kitch to promote new classes.

A slideshow of scenes from the bagels class is posted below.

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Sitka Kitch to host Winter Baking Series: Sourdough Bread With Carolyn Rice second class on Feb. 25 (NEW DATE)

Did you miss the the first class in the new Winter Baking Series from the Sitka Kitch? Well, it’s back by popular demand and you have a second chance to learn how to bake sourdough bread in the third class of the Winter Baking Series at the Sitka Kitch. The Sourdough Bread With Carolyn Rice class takes place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Sitka Kitch community commercial kitchen. (NOTE, this date has changed from what initially was announced.) This class will be similar to the class she taught on Jan. 14 to open the Winter Baking Series.

In this class, Carolyn will teach students how to make delicious sourdough bread. With just a little bit of instructions you’ll be on your way to making your own crusty, customized loaves.

Information on future Winter Baking Series classes will be posted when it becomes available. Here is a link to some scenes from Carolyn’s first class on sourdough bread, to give you a flavor for the class.

Carolyn  is an Alaska Fellow with the Sitka Conservation Society and the USDA Forest Service. She works to publicize the hard work that goes into managing the Tongass National Forest — and how awesome it is.

Raised in a tiny town in the Colorado Rockies, Carolyn has since lived all over the American West. Now, she “kind of” hails from Portland, Ore. — but feels at home generally in kitchens and when her feet are dirty. She loves to make sourdough bread, run, write poetry, and watch sunsets.

The registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22. Space is limited, so register early to secure your place in the class. 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 and follow instructions to register). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Chandler O’Connell or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment.

Current (paid) members of the Sitka Food Co-op are now able to attend the 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 send an email to 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.)

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 Chandler at SCS for more details about the scholarship. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Also, the Sitka Kitch is hosting a vegetarian Indian food buffet fundraiser and silent auction from 5:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at Beak Restaurant. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the silent auction closes at 7:30 p.m. Seating is limited for this event, so register early. The cost is $40, with all proceeds going to the Sitka Kitch to promote new classes.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church 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). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.

Sitka Kitch to host vegetarian Indian food buffet dinner and silent auction fundraiser on March 18

Join us for a special fundraising buffet dinner and silent auction for the Sitka Kitch from 5:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at Beak Restaurant.

This event will feature a variety of vegetarian Indian dishes cooked by Beak chef/owner Renée Jakaitis Trafton and her crew. In addition to the dinner, there will be a silent auction, door prizes, fun and games. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the silent auction closes at 7:30 p.m.

Renée’s tentative menu (subject to change due to ingredient availability) includes:

  • Samosas, filled with potato, peas, onion. Tamarind dipping sauce, mango or rhubarb chutney
  • Naan
  • Spiced basmati rice, cinnamon, cardamon, clove
  • Saag paneer, spinach, paneer
  • Red lentil daal
  • Chana masala, chickpeas

Seating is limited for this event, so register early. The cost is $40 per person, and the registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16. All proceeds benefit the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, which provides cooking and food preservation classes to Sitka residents. It also provides kitchen rentals on a limited basis for food businesses.

You can reserve your spot at this event with PayPal or a credit/debit card by going to our online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com, and clicking on the event title and following the instructions from there. If you prefer to use cash or check to reserve your spot, please call Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) or email chandler@sitkawild.org.