• Sitka Local Foods Network hosts annual meeting and potluck dinner on Saturday, Jan. 21

Please join the Sitka Local Foods Network for its annual meeting and potluck dinner at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine St., parking lot is off Spruce Street).

Join us as we honor our four years of existence and prepare for our fifth year. During this time, the Sitka Local Foods Network has worked on several initiatives — creating the Sitka Farmers Market, building St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, hosting the Let’s Grow Sitka! garden education event, and more. We supported projects to plant more fruit trees around Sitka, get more local fish served in school lunches and increase Sitka’s ability to compost, and we are working toward starting the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center. We also received a 501(c)(3) non-profit status from the IRS, so people can make tax-deductible gifts to help fund our work.

Our annual meeting and potluck is open to the public, and all Sitka residents are welcome to attend. We will feature local and slow foods, but we really value your attendance. This is our opportunity to say thank you to those who have helped us grow, and it is your chance to learn more about what we’re doing and how you can help.

As we enter 2012, Sitka and the rest of Alaska face some serious food security issues. According to a recent survey by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, the weekly cost for food for a family of four in Sitka has gone up 44 percent over the past five years. With rising fuel prices, this trend does not figure to change in the near future. Sitka still imports about 90-95 percent of its food from the Lower 48 or other countries, which means transportation is a big part of our food cost. The Sitka Local Foods Network is looking for input from Sitka residents about how we can work to improve Sitka’s food security. We also are working with the Alaska Food Policy Council, which is a statewide organization working on food security issues.

So mark your calendar to attend our annual meeting and potluck dinner at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, 408 Marine St. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Monday, Jan. 9

The 2011-12 Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The 2011-12 Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St. (parking lot is off Spruce Street).

Key topics for the meeting include planning for the Jan. 21 Sitka Local Foods Network annual meeting, a recap of the recent SLFN board retreat, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, an update on the Sitka Food Co-op, an update on recent work by the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Sitka Composting Project, our new logo and t-shirts, planning for upcoming educational events such as Let’s Grow Sitka on March 11 and the Sitka Farmers Markets on alternating Saturdays from July 7-Sept. 15, and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public, usually once a month (except summer). We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-3475.

• Time to mark your calendar for 2012 Sitka Local Foods Network major events

Each year, the Sitka Local Foods Network hosts a variety of events to promote the use of local foods in Sitka. Here are the dates and (if known) times for some of the events we will host in 2012.

The Sitka Local Foods Network annual meeting and potluck takes place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall located at 408 Marine St. (the parking lot is off Spruce Street). For more details about this event, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.

The Let’s Grow Sitka! gardening and local food production education event is from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (ANB Hall), 235 Katlian St. If you would like to be a vendor, do a demonstration or display, host an informational table, or participate in some other way, please contact Linda Wilson by phone 747-3096 (evenings/weekends) or via e-mail at lawilson87@hotmail.com.

The Sitka Farmers Markets this year will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Saturday, from July 7 through Sept. 15, at ANB Hall, 235 Katlian St. The exact dates are July 7, July 21, Aug. 4, Aug. 18, Sept. 1 and Sept. 15.

While it’s not an official Sitka Local Foods Network event, we do support the Sitka Seafood Festival because it promotes the use of local seafood. This year’s Sitka Seafood Festival takes place on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 10-11, at Harrigan Centennial Hall and the Crescent Harbor shelter. For more information about this event, contact Alicia Olson at (928) 607-4845 or sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Wednesday, Dec. 7

The Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the upstairs offices at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St.

Key topics for the meeting include a recap of the recent SLFN board retreat, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, an update on the Sitka Food Co-op, an update on recent work by the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Sitka Composting Project, our new logo and t-shirts, planning for upcoming educational events such as Let’s Grow Sitka in March, and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public, usually once a month (except summer). We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-3475.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting agenda for Dec. 7, 2011

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Thursday, May 12

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s new office in the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St.

Key topics for the meeting include the start of work parties at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, preparations for the upcoming Sitka Farmers Market season, an update on fruit tree planting efforts from the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative, an update on the Sitka Seafood Festival, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project, a recap of the Let’s Grow Sitka event on March 20, an update on Blatchley Community Garden plans for the spring and summer, an update on the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Fish In Schools Hooray (FISH) project to get more locally caught fish into school menus.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public. We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Thursday, April 7

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s new office in the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St. This is a change from the board’s regular meeting schedule.

Key topics for the meeting include an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project, a recap of the Let’s Grow Sitka event on March 20, an update on St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and Blatchley Community Garden plans for the spring and summer, an update on the Sitka Farmers Markets that start in July, an update on the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the two new food projects from the Sitka Health Summit (planting 200 apple or other fruit trees in Sitka and getting more locally caught fish served at Sitka schools), and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public. We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.

• Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event is Sunday, March 20

Mark your calendars, because the 2011 “Let’s Grow Sitka” gardening education event opens at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street. Celebrate the first day of spring and get ready to garden.

This annual event brings together local garden supply stores, local gardeners, landscapers and anybody who is interested in learning how to grow food and/or flowers. This year’s theme is “Adding edibles to your landscape — focus on fruit trees and berry bushes.”

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau will be on hand to provide expertise during the show. Buyarski will give a special presentation on “Growing Fruit in Southeast Alaska” at 11 a.m. on March 20 at ANB Hall (just before the show opens).

Buyarski also will lead some free hands-on tree pruning workshops on Saturday, March 19, with the first tree pruning workshop at 10:30 a.m. at the trees outside Patty Bickar’s house, 310 Cascade (at the top of the hill). The tree pruning workshops will continue Saturday afternoon at the trees outside the home of Tory O’Connell, 608 Etolin Way (off Baranof Street downtown). Buyarski will provide instruction on how to properly prune the trees and bushes to encourage fruit production and maintain healthy growth. Pruning needs to be done before the trees bud, so NOW is the time to get it done. The tree pruning workshops are hosted by the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative.

The Sitka Local Foods Network encourages people to share their knowledge by hosting a booth or posting an educational display about a specific garden topic. We especially want people with experience growing fruit trees to share their knowledge about growing apple, cherry or crabapple trees in Sitka; growing strawberries; growing rhubarb; growing unusual berry varieties that do well in our climate such as aronia, sea buckthorn, honeysuckle (fruiting), gooseberry, currant and elderberry; and how to legally transplant and cultivate wild berry bushes to your property.

In addition, you can learn about home greenhouses, how to prepare your soil, how to raise chickens and what to do with all those slugs. Buy seeds and plant starts. Swap ideas and tips. Come learn, share, and get ready to grow your garden. Learn about plans for the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. Let’s Grow Sitka is organized by the Sitka Local Foods Network and is part of the Arti Gras Sitka Music and Arts Festival, which takes place March 6-20.

There still are a few FREE tables available for vendors, education and demonstrations. For more information about Let’s Grow Sitka or to reserve table space, contact Linda Wilson at lawilson87@hotmail.com or call her at 747-3096 (in the evenings or on weekends only). She also has information about the tree pruning workshops.

Master gardeners are encouraged to sign up to share their personal experience on how to create a successful garden in Sitka. Also, anyone with a garden-related product or service to sell is invited to participate. Some of the expected booths are from:

  • True Value Garden Center (type Sitka or 99835 into the store locator search bar) — garden supplies
  • White’s, Inc/Harry Race Pharmacy — garden books, magazines, accessories
  • Garden Ventures — lots of lovely primroses for sale along with garden supplies
  • Lori Adams — Down-To-Earth U-Pick garden promotion
  • Andrew Thoms — raising chickens and chicks for sale (Andrew suggests anybody wanting to buy chicks contact him as soon as possible so he can start incubating the eggs. He can be reached at 747-3747 or andrew@sitkawild.org.)
  • Eve Grutter — jams for sale, garden and raising chickens expertise to share
  • Sitka Local Foods Network — garden information and volunteer sign up
  • Sitka Farmers Market — tomato plant starts for sale, Farmers Market information
  • St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm — seed starter kits
  • Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative — information on growing your own fruit trees and berry bushes in Sitka
  • Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative — community fruit tree mapping project
  • Sitka Seed Savers — information on how to save your own garden seed, and a sign up to participate in an educational workshop on how to save vegetable seed and start a seed savers group in Sitka
  • Display and information handouts on growing rhubarb and its nutritional benefits
  • UAF Cooperative Extension Service — lots of free garden handouts
  • Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau — edible landscaping

• Let’s Grow Sitka event flier for March 20, 2011, at ANB Hall (please print and post around town)