Sitka Local Foods Network education committee announces its 2017 spring garden classes

Want to learn how to grow your own food? Are you new to Sitka and want to learn what veggies grow in our town? The Sitka Local Foods Network education committee has a list of free 2017 spring garden classes that can help you learn what to do and when to do it so you have a healthy garden.

This spring, all of our classes except one will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursdays at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). Each week will feature a different topic, and all classes are free (donations to the Sitka Local Foods Network will be accepted).

The class schedule is as follows:

  • Gardening in Sitka 101March 30, taught by Michelle Putz
  • Cottage Foods Business BasicsApril 6, 6-8 p.m., Room 106, University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, taught by Sarah Lewis and Nina Vizcarrondo, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service
  • Growing Potatoes in SitkaApril 13, taught by Kathy Kyle
  • Extending Your Garden SeasonApril 20, taught by Kerry MacLane
  • Container GardeningApril 27, taught by Joshua Andresky
  • Raising ChickensMay 4, taught by Joshua Andresky, Nina Vizcarrondo and Brinnen Carter
  • Everything You Need To Know About TreesFriday, May 19, taught by Jud Kirkness
  • Growing Garlic in SitkaDate TBA (toward the end of the summer), taught by Jennifer Carter

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

Check out the January 2017 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the January 2017 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 on Feb. 4, a request for new board members, an update on the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit on Feb. 24-26 in Haines, and info about some upcoming classes at the Sitka Kitch. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the registration form 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.

Check out the December 2016 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the December 2016 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short articles about our #GivingTuesday campaign on Nov. 29, a request for new board members, an update on two food-related Sitka Health Summit projects, and info about some upcoming classes at the Sitka Kitch. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the registration form 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.

 

A thank you to those people who donated to us through Pick.Click.Give.

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We recently received a check from Pick.Click.Give. for donations from the 2016 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) community giving program. This year there were 42 donors giving the Sitka Local Foods Network $2,800.

Thank you. We appreciate your support for our mission to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans.

This was the third year the Sitka Local Foods Network participated in the Pick.Click.Give. program, which allows people to donate in $25 increments to their favorite statewide and local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations when they file their PFD applications. When you choose to donate part of your PFD to the Sitka Local Foods Network, you support the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, education programs about growing and preserving food, the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, community gardens, the sustainable use of traditional foods, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, the Sitka Food Summit, the Fish-To-Schools program, and a variety of other projects designed to increase access to healthy local foods in Sitka.

Unfortunately, due to a clerical snafu, we will not be participating in the 2017 Pick.Click.Give. program. We hope to be back for 2018, though.

You still can donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network, even if we’re not in the 2017 Pick.Click.Give. program. To donate, send your check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408 Marine St., Suite D, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. Our EIN is 26-4629930. 

11-29-2016givingtuesdayOn Tuesday, Nov. 29, we will launch our second annual #GivingTuesday fundraising campaign. Giving Tuesday is a day set aside to donate to various causes you care about after the consumer-oriented Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday events. Our Giving Tuesday campaign will take donations through Dec. 31, for those wanting another donation for tax purposes.

You also can make an online donation through our Razoo.com crowdfunding page. Please let us know if you need a receipt for tax purposes. The Sitka Local Foods Network now has a Bronze rating from the GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Service, and we are listed with the Benevity Causes Portal used by larger corporations for employee giving programs. For more information about donating, you can send an email to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Check out the October 2016 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

 

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the October 2016 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This edition of the newsletter has brief stories about the Sitka Farmers Market earning Best In Class honors from the American Farmland Trust Farmers Market Celebration voting, the Sitka Kitch hosting a Cooking From Scratch class series for Fall 2016, the October meeting of the informal Sitka Garden Club. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the registration form 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.

Final classes set for 2016 Sitka Local Foods Network garden mentor program

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img_1993The final batch of classes (Class Six) for the 2016 Sitka Local Foods Network garden mentor program are being set for our two participating first-year families and our three returning second-year families. The classes will be similar at each location, and they are open to the public.

There were six classes in the series, with Class Six being about preparing the garden for the winter. Class One focused on site selection, garden preparation, building planter beds, simple vegetables and soil preparation, while Class Two was about simple vegetables and planting. Class Three was about garden maintenance, with Class Four about early harvest and Class Five about the final harvest.

Our first-year gardener families (Erin Mathes and Fran Baratki), learn how to grow four hardy crops for Sitka — kale, lettuce, potatoes and rhubarb. Our three returning families (A.J. Bastian, Rebecca Kubacki and Breezy) will be planting carrots, chard, green onions and peas this year. These four crops are slightly more difficult crops to grow that our first-year plantings of kale, lettuce, potatoes and rhubarb. Even though the crops for our second-year students are more difficult to grow, many gardeners in Sitka still have good results with these vegetables. These classes are essentially the same, so feel free to attend the class that best fits your schedule.

The class schedule and location for the one first-year and three second-year families is (some classes still need to be scheduled and will be announced later):

  • ERIN MATTHES (first-year family), 716 Etolin Street — CLASS 6: 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25.
  • FRAN BARATKI (first-year family), 180 Price Street, No. 6 (purple trailer) — CLASS 6: TBA.
  • A.J. BASTIAN (second-year family), 207 Brady St. — CLASS 6: 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
  • REBECCA KUBACKI (second-year family), 1202 Halibut Point Rd. — CLASS 6: 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3.
  • BREEZY (second-year family), 616 Sawmill Creek Rd. — CLASS 6: TBA.

img_1911This is the third year of the garden mentor program, which provides one-to-one mentoring to families who are trying to garden for the first time. In order to reach more people, our participating families allow the classes to be made public. By teaching families the basics of gardening, we are helping them improve their family nutrition, extend their family food budget, and increase food security in Sitka.

Michelle Putz has been contracted to coordinate the program and design lesson plans. We also have about a half-dozen experienced Sitka gardeners who serve as mentors for the program. For more information, please contact Michelle at 747-2708.

Check out the August 2016 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the August 2016 edition of its newly launched monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This edition of the newsletter has brief stories about the Sitka Farmers Markets, a series of ‘Building A Local Food System’ articles by intern Claire Chang, a reminder that you can still add Pick.Click.Give. donations to your Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application through Aug. 31, and an update on the Sitka Local Foods Network 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 registration form 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, you still can add Pick.Click.Give. donations to your 2016 PFD application through Aug. 31

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PCGFarmersMarket2016NEWIf you’re like most Alaskans you probably filed your 2016 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) application before the March deadline and haven’t given it a second thought since. But did you know you still can add Pick.Click.Give.donations to your 2016 application through Monday, Aug. 31? If you haven’t already, please consider making a Pick.Click.Give. donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network.

Here’s how to add or change your Pick.Click.Give. donations. First, go to the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application website, http://pfd.alaska.gov/, and find the green “Add A Pick.Click.Give. Donation” bar in the right column. Click the green bar, and follow the directions. You’ll need to enter your driver’s license number, Social Security number, and birthday to access your application, but once on the page you’ll be able to see your current Pick.Click.Give. donations (if any) and you can add or change them. Click here for an FAQ page about making Pick.Click.Give. donations.

PCGTestemonialLisaAndMurielSadleirHart2016Unfortunately, new donations made after the March 31 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend filing deadline do not qualify for entry into the Double Your Deadline Sweepstakes, where 10 lucky Alaskans will win the equivalent of a second PFD. But you still get the satisfaction of sharing the wealth with the more than 600 Alaska nonprofit organizations participating in the Pick.Click.Give. program, including 24 from Sitka.

This is the third year the Sitka Local Foods Network is participating in the Pick.Click.Give. program, which allows people to donate in $25 increments to their favorite statewide and local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations when they file their PFD applications. When you choose to donate part of your PFD to the Sitka Local Foods Network, you support the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, education programs about growing and preserving food, the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, Blatchley Community Gardens, the sustainable use of traditional foods, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, the Sitka Food Summit, the Fish-To-Schools program, and a variety of other projects designed to increase access to healthy local foods in Sitka.

PCGTestemonialLindaWilson2016You still can donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network if you aren’t from Alaska or aren’t eligible for a 2016 PFD. To donate, send your check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408 Marine St., Suite D, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. Our EIN is 26-4629930. You also can make an online donation through our Razoo.com crowdfunding page. Please let us know if you need a receipt for tax purposes. The Sitka Local Foods Network now has a Bronze rating from the GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Service, and we are listed with the Benevity Causes Portal used by larger corporations for employee giving programs. For more information about donating, you can send an email to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Thank you to everybody making a Pick.Click.Give. donation to your Sitka Local Foods Network. We appreciate your support.

Fifth-grade students start their own garden at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School

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Five fifth-grade boys are growing a variety of crops this year after starting their own garden at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

The five boys who started the garden — Kyan Scudero, Bridger Bird, Takeshi Handy, Samuel Jones, and Camden Young — were assisted by their classmates, teacher Jennifer Tulloh said. They will be in sixth grade at Blatchley Middle School this fall.

The boys let student-teacher Julie Jordan know they wanted to start a garden and, with Tulloh’s blessing, Jordan contacted Sitka Local Foods Network board member Jennifer Carter for technical assistance. Jordan designed the garden beds, and her husband, Karl Jordan, had the students in his Blatchley Middle School shop class build the raised garden beds.

“You know, this started as a project for my kids that weren’t interested in band but my whole class got involved in the project,” Tulloh said. “The boys got really into the planting and enjoyed meeting with Jennifer (Carter), who was so giving of her time and resources. They started and followed the garden from beginning to end and took great pride in it.”

“The young men wanted to start a vegetable garden for their school and leave it as a parting legacy before they moved on to middle school,” Carter said. “They learned how to prepare the soil, measure for proper spacing and start their own seedlings. They have planted rhubarb, strawberries, potatoes, peas, lettuce, carrots, kale, onions, and radishes.”

A slideshow of photos of the boys and their garden (taken by Jennifer Carter) can be found below.

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Do you need to test your soil for a better garden? Sometimes you do

simple-plant-deficiency-guideHave you ever planted your garden and even though you’ve had plenty of sunny weather it just doesn’t seem to be growing the way it should? You might need to test your soil to see if you need to replenish some nutrients.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service has several publications and a video that can help you decide if you need to test your soil, and if yes, teach you how. Many gardeners test their soil at the end of the season, so they can amend their soil as needed to prepare for the next spring’s planting. But sometimes you might need to test during the growing season, which is what Sitka Local Foods Network Garden Mentor Program Coordinator Michelle Putz did last year when one of her student’s gardens wasn’t doing very well.

Soil testing is not always necessary,” Michelle said. “If you have several hours of direct sun and your garden is growing beautifully, then you may not need to test your soil. If you have sun but your garden is not doing so well, or if you have brand new soil, it might be worth testing the soil.

“One of our Garden Mentor families in 2015 grew beautiful but tiny plants that were struggling to get bigger, she added. “A simple soil test showed that their soil was low in nitrogen and needed a little acid. Once we added coffee grounds (for acid) and blood meal (for nitrogen), the plants grew substantially. Had we realized that our starting soil was so basic (not acidic enough) and nutrient poor, we could have made adjustments before the growing season and had a much more productive garden.”

In Southeast Alaska, our rain tends to wash a lot of the nutrients out of the soil. This is why it’s almost a requirement for gardeners to amend their soil with seaweed, compost, coffee grounds and other items to replenish the missing nutrients. It also helps to rotate your crops from one garden plot to the next, since different plants draw different nutrients as they grow (for example, potatoes use a lot of nitrogen while tomatoes use a lot of potassium).

To learn more about soil-testing, watch the video at the top of this story and read the three attached files below. The attached files and video will show you how to take a soil sample and how to send it to a lab for testing.

• Soil and Fertilizer Management for Healthy Gardens (UAF Cooperative Extension Service publication, HGA-0338)

• Factors to Consider in Selecting a Soil-Testing Laboratory (UAF Cooperative Extension Service publication, FGV-00045)

• Soil Sampling (UAF Cooperative Extension Service publication, FGV-00044)