Two Sitka businesses among finalists in 2018 Path To Prosperity contest

Iris Nash works with a customer during a 2017 Sitka Farmers Market.

The Path to Prosperity (P2P) business development competition has selected 12 finalists to advance to the second round of the 2018 program. P2P aims to identify and support new and growing small businesses in Southeast Alaska, especially those implementing sustainable practices into their business models.

After limiting the contest to food businesses only in 2017, P2P returned to its roots and reopened it to businesses of all types this year, which is the way it was the first four years. The two Sitka businesses to make the finals are both non-food businesses — Timberworks owned by Zach LaPerriere and Ebb & Flow owned by Iris A.B. Nash. Several of the finalists are food businesses, but not the two from Sitka.

Zach LaPerriere with some of his wooden bowls

“I make wood bowls and vessels to showcase the outstanding old growth forests of Southeast Alaska,” LaPerriere said. “Every bowl tells a story of the life and growth of an ancient tree. Because I work in woods that average 100 to 500 years old, I take extra time to shape each bowl to show what is most unique about the tree it came from. Because my work blurs the line between a functional wood bowl and art, about half my bowls are in daily use and the other half are displayed as art pieces around the world.”

“Ebb and Flow will be a design and sewn product manufacturing company in Sitka, offering high-function attire for the climate specific to Southeast Alaska,” Nash said. “Morally focused on cultivating conversation on conservation, we aim to tread lightly by utilizing earth friendly fabrics and processes.”

P2P is in its sixth year, and is a partnership between Spruce Root, Inc. and The Nature Conservancy. Since 2013, the P2P program has helped develop local companies that are focused on increasing profitability and local employment, while also having a positive socioeconomic impact on their communities, promoting sustainable use of local resources, and magnifying entrepreneurial capacity in Southeast Alaska.

All 12 finalists will participate in a three-day business boot camp Sept. 28-30 in Juneau. All expenses including airfare and lodging will be covered by P2P for the businesses. The intense weekend of workshops covers topics such as business plan writing, sustainable business practices, and accessing financial capital.

“I’ve been largely self-employed for 25 years and just learned along the way, but never taken the time to step back and write a business plan,” LaPerriere said. “I welcome the business boot camp because it will help me give more structure and planning to what I do. When do I hire professionals to help? How do I evaluate when to seek financing? These aren’t easy questions for a solopreneur artist. Spruce Root is an amazing organization, and it’s an honor to work with and learn from them.”

Nash said her family is out commercial fishing right now, so it will be a month or two before her new business takes shape. But she welcomes the competition as a good starting point.

2018 P2P Finalists

Here are this year’s twelve finalists, ordered by city and announced by business name and applicant:

  • Beaver Brothers Trading Co., Quinn Aboudara, Craig
  • Mud Bay Lumber Company, Sylvia Heinz, Haines
  • Juneau Composts!, Lisa Daugherty, Juneau
  • The Farm, Bridget LaPenter, Juneau
  • Exiting Eden Tannery, Richard Harney, Ketchikan
  • Blue Drum Farm, Marja Smets, Petersburg
  • Petersburg Marine, John Murgas, Petersburg
  • Timberworks, Zach LaPerriere, Sitka
  • Ebb & Flow, Iris A.B. Nash, Sitka
  • Tenakee Logging Company, Gordon W. Chew, Tenakee
  • Gathered & Grown Botanicals, Angie Flickinger, Wrangell
  • Yakutat Sustainable, Nathan Moulton, Yakutat
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Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit seeks speakers for February 2019 event in Sitka

(Passing on an email from the Salt and Soil Marketplace regional food hub out of Juneau).

Hello Southeast Alaska farmers,

The 2019 SEAK Farmers Summit is right around the corner (February in Sitka) and in the spirit of the event, we are looking to include a few “cooperative farmer presentations” this year. The idea being that 2-4 farmers/growers team up to create a presentation that addresses (from a personal experience perspective) a topic that was requested on evaluations from the last summit in Haines. What follows is a list of the  requested topics/ideas:

  • Irrigation Systems
  • Pest/Disease Management
  • Greenhouse Growing/Supplemental Lighting
  • Packaging & Distribution
  • Specific Crop Information (exactly how YOU grow it)
  • “Worst mistakes you’ve ever made”
  • Growing Berries in SEAK
  • Methods for Seed Starting
  • Weed Suppression Techniques
  • Root Cellars

If you feel you have anything to contribute (even just a couple minutes worth) to sharing experience/knowledge related to any of these topics and would like to be included as a presenter for one of these cooperative presentations, please email Marja Smets of Farragut Farm for more information (farragutfarm@gmail.com). She will be coordinating this part of the agenda. We are looking for folks to prepare a 2-10 minute presentation (hopefully with pictures, but it is not required) and be willing to answer questions from the audience. Again, the idea is to foster conversation and the exchange of ideas among participating farmers/farmers-to-be.

Thanks and looking forward to seeing you all in February 2019.

Lia G. Heifetz
Director, Grow Southeast
1107 W. 8th Street, Suite 234
Juneau, Alaska 99801
321.5425

Scenes from the community conversation about our food with food systems expert/author Mark Winne

This past week, noted food systems/food policy expert and author Mark Winne was in Sitka to research his new book, tentatively called “Food Town, USA,” about the local food systems of seven communities around the country.

During his time in Sitka, Mark visited the Sitka Farmers Market, the Sitka Food Co-op, the Sitka Kitch, and several food businesses around town. He also helped lead a community conversation about our food on Wednesday, July 11, at the Sitka Public Library, a free event co-sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Food Co-op.

This event was moderated by Doug Osborne, health promotion director at Sitka Community Hospital and a former Sitka Local Foods Network board member. It also featured a brief history of Sitka’s food system from current Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham and an introduction to the Sitka Food Co-op by manager Keith Nyitray.

Those in attendance then had a chance to discuss Sitka’s food system, to find strengths and weaknesses. They also broke into small groups to discuss where they wanted for Sitka’s food system in the future.

A slideshow of scenes from the event is posted below. A PDF version of the brief history of Sitka’s food system also is posted below.

• A Story About Food In Sitka (opens as 13.5 MB PDF file, originally a much larger PowerPoint presentation)

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Sitka Kitch to host class on how to fillet a salmon Aug. 7 for Sitka Seafood Festival

Sitkans love their seafood, and the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen is offering a great class in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival.

From 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church), local chef Renée Jakaitis Trafton of Beak Restaurant will teach students how to fillet a salmon. This includes lessons on how to remove the pinbones from the salmon and how to remove the skin.

The Sitka Seafood Festival is providing fish for the class, so there should be no food/supply fee. The class costs $30, which includes a new fillet knife for every student.

The registration deadline is 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4. Registration is capped at 10 students so sign up early to secure your space in this class. Register online here using a debit or credit card or PayPal account, or call Claire, Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange the drop-off of a cash or check payment. For more information, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440, Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

Scenes from the Sitka Kitch ‘Baking With Betsy: Sweet Breads’ class on July 10

Students learned how to bake brioche, pulla (a Swedish cardamom braid) and cinnamon rolls during the Sweet Breads class, the first class in the Sitka Kitch’s three-course Baking With Betsy series, held July 10 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Sitka Kitch class series is being taught by professional baker and culinary skills instructor Betsy Peterson Sanchez of St. Charles, Ill.

In addition to the Sweet Breads class, the other two classes are :

Betsy comes from a long line of people who love to cook and that passion has been passed down to her. Although Betsy considered a career in music, she happily decided to go into what she loved the most, baking and cooking.

Betsy headed for New York and attended the Culinary Institute of America, receiving a degree in culinary arts.  Then it was off to Chicago to work as a pastry chef  in several different establishments.  Baking is Betsy’s first love, particularly yeast breads.

After a career as a pastry chef and raising her family, she went back to school. Betsy attended The French Pastry School in Chicago for a certificate in French Pastry as well as a continuing education course in Artisan Breads. Currently, Betsy teaches in a Culinary Program at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill. She is a member of The Baker’s Guild and a Chef Mentor for Fox Valley Food For Health, a non-profit providing healthy meals for families going through devastating illnesses.

Betsy is so excited to be spending part of the summer in Sitka, where she plans to spend as much time as possible with her daughter, Claire Sanchez, and enjoy the beauty of Alaska.

Classes in this series had a reduced food/supply fee thanks to a donation from Sea Mart Quality Foods.

A slideshow of scenes from the sweet breads class is posted below.

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Scenes from the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz held July 9 at the Sitka Kitch

Students learned how to make sauerkraut using a variety of fresh vegetables during the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz held Monday, July 9, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, is a nationally recognized food writer and fermentation guru. He has been traveling through Southeast Alaska (Sitka, Juneau, Haines, and Gustavus) to offer community education and workshops about the fermentation of vegetables. The trip was coordinated by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), which offered a reduced fee to the class (the workshop sold out within a couple of days of it being offered, even though the class size was nearly double the usual size of a Sitka Kitch class).

The workshop included:
  • a discussion of “what is fermentation?”
  • why fermentation is practiced worldwide
  • the many practical benefits of fermentation
  • functional concepts about fermentation
  • instruction on how to make sauerkraut with a variety of vegetables
  • information about what to do with sauerkraut at home and how long to store it
  • troubleshooting any problems with home fermentation

Students left with their own jar of kraut, plus a wealth of knowledge on safe home fermentation practices.

A slideshow of scenes from the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz is posted below.

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Sitka Conservation Society, 4-H host summer bounty snack share at Sitka Public Library

The Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club (aka, Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club) and Sitka Conservation Society will host a summer harvest camp from 1-3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at the Sitka Public Library.

The 4-H club members will be making kid-friendly snacks from ingredients collected from public lands or grown in Sitka soil. Participants will create a recipe booklet.

For more information, contact Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or claire@sitkawild.org