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Archive for the ‘Local food in the news’ Category

The Sustainable Southeast Partnership and Spruce Root Inc. have officially released a report, “Current and Potential Economic Impacts of Locally Grown Produce in Southeast Alaska.” The report, which was first presented at the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit held in February in Haines, was written by the McDowell Group.

“This study is the first to measure the amount of produce grown in Southeast Alaska,” said Dan Lesh, a research analyst with the McDowell Group. “Even though I’m an avid gardener and lifelong Southeast Alaskan, I was surprised at the high level of gardening we found through the survey. It was also interesting to see what crops people are growing and which are the most productive.”

The 47-page study surveyed residents of several Southeast Alaska communities to try and find out how much food they grew locally, and how much was imported. For example, even though 38 percent of Southeast Alaskans garden, only 4.4 percent of the vegetables eaten in the region were produced locally (and 95.6 percent were imported from the Lower 48 or overseas).

Southeast Alaskans spent $19 million on imported veggies in 2016, and many of those veggies can be grown here in the region. While commercial growers in Southeast Alaska only sold about $180,000 in locally grown produce, gardeners and commercial growers spent about $1.8 million to support growing food in the region. Money spent on locally grown produce tends to circulate within the region instead of going elsewhere.

“There is tremendous opportunity to expand commercial and home-scale food production in Southeast Alaska,” said Lia Heifetz, food security regional catalyst for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. “This contributes to community and regional food security. There is also significant opportunity to create economic activity through support services — like the local production of seeds and soil, or local sources of agriculture infrastructure and tools — as well as adding value to raw agricultural products. In addition to supporting services, either growing your own food or supporting our region’s food producers through farmers markets, or online farmers markets, like the Salt & Soil Marketplace, is a great way to contribute to localizing our food system.”

The report includes a breakdown of what veggies commercial growers in the region are growing, and what they’re selling for. It also includes a breakdown of what households are growing and consuming. There are charts showing food purchases over the years, and vegetable consumption.

There also is information on trends within the region when it comes to growing veggies, and how that impacts the economy. It details some of the challenges for the region, and what’s being done to meet those challenges. In addition, the report touches on the food security of the region.

“The commercial agriculture industry in Southeast Alaska is clearly at a small scale right now, but there is room for growth and a variety of creative opportunities exist to expand the economic impacts of the industry,” Lesh said. “A lot of new businesses have been created in recent years, with support from Path to Prosperity business competition and other sources. Looking forward to seeing where those businesses go.”

• Current and Potential Economic Impacts of Locally Grown Produce in Southeast Alaska (PDF file)

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the May 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 our spring garden classes and some Sitka Kitch classes, a request for volunteers to help out at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and a request for new board members. 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.

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You grew it, harvested it and/or caught it, so now what do you do? The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen will be offering the Preserving the Harvest class series to teach Sitkans how to store the summer’s bounty so they can use it during the winter.

This class series features a community canning session and six classes covering a variety of food preservation methods. Students will learn how to safely preserve their food, so it won’t spoil or cause illness. The classes on schedule are:

  • Clear The Freezer; Fill The Pantry5-9 p.m., Tuesday, May 30, Community canning session for your leftover fish, meat, berries, etc. Take home and/or trade what you make with others. We provide the canners, herbs/spices, recipes, three jars, and guided help where needed. Bring additional jars and ingredients, otherwise not provided. Canning session hosted by UAF Cooperative Extension Service. There is a $10 registration fee. Register by Monday, May 29, to make sure it happens. Call Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440 with any questions.
  • Just Dry It: Intro To Food Dehydration6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 12, taught by Lisa
    Sadleir-Hart, $27.50 registration fee
  • 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

This class series is sponsored by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), and the sponsorship will reduce our usual food/supply fees for each class.

Also, we still need people to register by Saturday night, May 13, for our Food Budgeting 101 class scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 15, at the Sitka Kitch. If we don’t hit our class minimum by Saturday, we’ll have to cancel the class. This class costs $10.

The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner. To learn more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to the website at http://www.sitkakitch.org.

When registering for any Sitka Kitch classes, students should prepay for the class through the Sitka Kitch online registration site, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on your class title), using PayPal or a credit/debit card to secure your spot in the class. 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. All classes are $27.50, plus a food/supply fee, except for the Clear Your Freezer, Fill Your Pantry canning session on May 30, which is $10. Unless noted, registration for each class closes at 11:55 p.m. on the Friday before the class.

If you have any questions about the class series, please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

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Having trouble making your food budget balance each month?  Looking for ways to shave some money off your food costs?

The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen will offer a basic food budgeting class from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 15, at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church). The class will be taught by Sitka food and nutrition educator Lisa Sadleir-Hart, MPH, RDN, who will show you how to maximize your food dollar while also planning nutritious and tasty meals. The class cost is $10 per student, and you can register by going to https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/events/food-budgeting-101/.

When registering for any Sitka Kitch classes, students should prepay for the class through the Sitka Kitch online registration site, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on your class title), using PayPal or a credit/debit card to secure your spot in the class. 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. The Sitka Kitch also has a summer Preserving The Harvest food preservation class series that will be announced soon, so watch for details.

Space is limited, so register early. Please register by Saturday, May 13, to ensure the class goes. For more information, call Lisa at 747-5985 with any questions.

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For 26 years, Mollie Kabler and Kitty LaBounty have taken to the KCAW-Raven Radio airwaves during the spring months to broadcast The Garden Show.

This year there’s a major change to the show, as the show doesn’t have a designated time slot and so will be a pop-up show as they fit episodes around their travel plans and the radio station schedule. In past years the show aired from April through June, or longer into the summer if work schedules permit. Kitty has a regular music show (Hometown Brew) from 2-4 p.m. on Thursdays, and many of the half-hour Garden Shows may take place during her program.

Garden Show topics include timely tasks for gardening in Southeast Alaska, taking on-air questions, and themes around basic and more advanced gardening of vegetables, flowers, fruit, trees, etc. For example, on the pop-up show on Thursday, May 6, Kitty interviewed Keith Nyitray of Finn Island Farm about the vegetables and plant starts he grows in the Kasiana Islands near Sitka.

Mollie and Kitty each have been gardening in Sitka for more than 26 years, and they also have significant gardening experience from their childhoods in Wisconsin (Mollie) and Oregon (Kitty). They both are certified as Master Gardeners, after completing the class series offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

To call the show with gardening questions, call 747-5877 and ask to be connected to the show.

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Alaskans will celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 2. On this day, Alaskans are encouraged to support local agriculture by seeking out and purchasing products produced in Alaska and educating youth about the vital role that agriculture plays in our economy. This is Alaska’s version of National Ag Day (which took place on March 21 this year, when many parts of Alaska were still thawing out).

Here are a few ideas from the Division of Agriculture on how to celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day:

In Sitka, you can celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day by starting a food garden (even a couple of containers on your deck can provide you with potatoes, carrots or greens). Teachers are encouraged to offer a lesson plan or two about the importance of agriculture in Alaska and in Sitka. Here’s a link to an article about how Sitka was Alaska’s original garden city back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Also, the Sitka History Minute feature on KCAW-Raven Radio has had several episodes about agriculture in Sitka (click here to listen to a feature about the potato in Sitka, click here to listen to a feature about the Sitka Agricultural Station, and click here to listen to a feature about the cows of Iris Meadows).

During the growing season, please support the Sitka farmers and production gardeners listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book (chief contact in parentheses) — Anam Cara Family Garden (Lisa Sadleir-Hart), Blatchley Community Gardens (David Nuetzel, this garden closed in 2016 and there is a group seeking a new location for what will be called Sitka Community Gardens), Down To Earth U-Pick Garden (Lori Adams, switched to a CSA in 2017 and no longer is a public u-pick garden), Finn Island Farm (Keith Nyitray), Sprucecot Gardens (Judy Johnstone), and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (Laura Schmidt/Sitka Local Foods Network). There also are a few Sitka farms and production gardens not listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book, such as Humpback Farm (Peter Williams), Middle Island Organic Produce (Andrea Fraga/Kaleb Aldred), Sea View Garden (Linda Wilson), The Sawmill Farm (Bobbi Daniels), Sitka Seedling Farms (Matthew Jackson) and Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Garden(Florence Welsh).

Many of these farms and gardens will be vendors during the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. The Sitka Farmers Markets take place 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.).

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Need help with pest management? Would you like to have an integrated pest management professional visit your farm or production area to discuss new and established pests?

Janice Chumley, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program tech with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, will be visiting Sitka the first week of June to work with growers one-on-one on pest issues (NOTE: This date has been changed due to illness). These consultations are free of charge.

Sitka District Office administrative assistant Jasmine Shaw is setting up individual appointments for Janice during her visit to Sitka in early June. If interested, please fill out the following form to set up an appointment, https://form.jotform.us/71097060928157.

Janice also will give a public presentation on Common Pests in Greenhouses at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 5, in Room 229 of the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. This presentation is free and open to the general public. For more information, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu.

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