Please wear face masks for the Sitka Farmers Market this Saturday

Over the past month, Sitka has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases and now has returned to a High risk level.

With that in mind, the Sitka Local Foods Network asks customers and vendors to be Covid-aware during the Sitka Farmers Market this Saturday (10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, July 2, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall). We still plan to hold the market, but we don’t want to contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

We are trying to return to normal this summer, by holding the market where we held it for our first 12 years before Covid. This year we have both inside and outside booths (in the BIHA parking lot next to ANB Hall), hoping Covid levels would go down. But we knew there was a chance we might see some Covid spikes and that’s why we wrote a Covid-19 mitigation plan that includes requiring masks inside ANB Hall when Sitka is at a High or Moderate risk level (and encouraging them for outside).

We ask all customers and vendors to wear masks, even if you are vaccinated. Other than getting one of the vaccines, a mask is the best protection against Covid-19 spread. In addition, we request people give each other at least six feet of space, and not attend the market if you are feeling sick.

When you visit a vendor’s table, please point out which items you’re interested in and let the vendor get them for you. This will reduce the amount of handling of food items.

By the way, the Sitka Local Foods Network needs a volunteer or two to help set up the market, sell produce during the market, and take down the market after it’s over. If you’re interested in helping, contact Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or Nalani James at (808) 778-9888. We plan to start setting up about 8-8:30 a.m. and should have everything packed up by 2 p.m.

We also are recruiting new vendors, and they can register and pay their vendor fees by going to https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com. More information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

The Sitka Local Foods Network does take WIC farmers market coupons and Alaska Quest SNAP EBT cards at the Sitka Farmers Market, and offers a matching program for produce purchased at the SLFN farm stand (if you buy $5 of produce, you will receive $10 worth).

• 2022 Sitka Farmers Market Covid-19 mitigation plan

Check out the July 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the July 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the upcoming 2022 Sitka Farmers Market, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our 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 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).

Sitka Local Foods Network prepares to host 15th summer of Sitka Farmers Markets

The Sitka Farmers Market will kick off its 15th summer this Saturday, July 2, when it returns to its roots at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, its home for its first 12 summers of markets. The first market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 2, with six other markets scheduled for the same time on alternate Saturdays, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, and Sept. 24, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic limited our markets the last two years, forcing us to move and change our formate, we’re happy to be getting back to some normalcy this year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “Our seven markets this year will still have some COVID safety measures, such as being held entirely outdoors and encouraging everybody to use face masks. But we will have our usual variety of fresh local produce, fish, homemade baked goods, cottage foods, cooked food, arts and crafts, and more. It will be nice to return to our roots at ANB Founders Hall this summer.”

The Sitka Farmers Market is a community event hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. Our focus is on local — fresh produce, fish, baked goods, prepared foods, cottage foods, arts and crafts — and all products must be made in Alaska (preferably in Sitka or Southeast Alaska, cooked foods may use non-local foods so long as the food is cooked on site). Since our mission is geared toward food security and our space is limited this year, if we have too many vendors try to register our food booths will have a higher priority over arts and crafts. We will try to accommodate as many vendors as possible, but some may need to be outdoors.

The Sitka Farmers Market gots its start from the second Sitka Health Summit, held in April 2008, when Sitka residents chose two food-related community wellness projects to work on for the next year — to create a local foods market and to start a community greenhouse. Later in April, St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church made its backyard available for growing produce, which became St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and by August the first of three Sitka Farmers Markets was held. Those projects led to the creation of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

After having to relocate for two years due to COVID-19, we are back where we started out. We will have indoor and outdoor spaces, inside ANB Founders Hall and outside in the Baranof Island Housing Authority parking lot next to ANB Founders Hall.

Since COVID-19 is still around, we will require masks inside the ANB Founders Hall when Sitka is at the Moderate/Medium or High risk levels. While most people now are vaccinated against the coronavirus, there still are people who aren’t vaccinated and there are periodic hot spots when the illness flares up. We don’t want the market to be a place that spreads the coronavirus. Even with our outside booths, we encourage vendors and customers to wear masks, to use hand sanitizer, and to avoid bunching up while giving others six feet of space.

Last year we launched our online vendor registration website, http://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com, and we will continue to use that this year. Vendors need to register by the Thursday morning before each market to be guaranteed a spot. Tables/booths are $40 each, with a special of $240 (instead of $280) for someone registering for all seven markets before the first one takes place. We also have a youth vendor program, where youth ages 14 or younger can reserve a table for $20 for the full season. Due to Covid and the need for personal space indoors, we are not selling half-tables this year.

Please read the market vendor rules and responsibilities and Covid-19 protocol documents linked below. All vendors using this site to register for the market will be held to these rules. Unless you specify you want to be outside, we will try to find room for you indoors. We are not selling half-tables this year because we need social-distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Vendors can pay using PayPal or credit/debit card. When you get to the Payment options, click PayPal (not Invoice) and it should give you the option of using a PayPal account or four different types of cards (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover). If you prefer to pay by cash or check, contact Charles Bingham at 907-623-7660. We will provide a $35 refund for cancellations, but to get the refund you are required to let us know before Wednesday of the week of your registered market that you can’t make it. This is $5 less than the $40 table fee since we are billed for transaction fees and other expenses. There is no refund if you don’t let us know until after Wednesday.

Nalani James is the Sitka Farmers Market manager this summer (she’s on the left in the photo above). Laura Schmidt (center in photo) is our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, where the Sitka Local Foods Network grows most of the produce it sells at the market. Charles Bingham is the assistant market manager and the president of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

In addition to vendors, we also are looking for volunteers to help us set up the markets, take down the markets, and sell produce at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand during the market. You can get more information about how to volunteer at this link, https://sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/2022/06/15/sitka-local-foods-network-seeks-volunteers-to-help-with-sitka-farmers-markets/.

For questions about the market, email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or call (907) 623-7660. More details about the market will be posted on the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, and shared on its Facebook pages — https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and https://www.facebook.com/SitkaFarmersMarket — and on Twitter, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods.

• 2022 Sitka Farmers Market Vendor Rules and Responsibilities

• 2022 Sitka Farmers Market Covid-19 mitigation plan

Sitka Local Foods Network seeks volunteers to help with Sitka Farmers Markets

Are you passionate about local foods? Healthy eating? The environment? Local nonprofits? Come volunteer with us.

The Sitka Local Foods Network seeks a few good volunteers to assist us with the Sitka Farmers Market this summer. The markets are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 2, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, and Sept. 24 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

We need people to help the market manager set up tables and tents, starting about 8:30 a.m., and to help clean up and pack up the market for about an hour after the market ends. We also need people to help sell locally grown produce and Alaska Grown value-added products at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand during the market. Other duties include helping us get a count of how many people actually attend the markets and helping customers find their favorite booths.

No experience necessary, but our ideal volunteers will be punctual, passionate, and dependable. Partial shifts are available.

For more details on how to volunteer, contact Sitka Farmers Market manager Nalani James at (808) 778-9888 or assistant manager Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. Be sure to include your name, phone, and email contact information and which markets you can assist with, and for how long. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Earn SLFN farm stand vouchers through the Walk, Bike, Win! downtown commuting challenge

Most Sitkans know by now that we’re expecting a record number of cruise ship visitors this summer and to help with the crowds the city is closing part of Lincoln Street on heavy cruise ship passenger days.

To help ease traffic and reduce cars downtown on these heavy cruise ship passenger days, the Walk, Bike, Win! downtown commuter challenge started on May 7 and runs through Sept. 29. As part of the challenge, people log their active transportation trips (walking, biking, etc.) downtown and earn points.

As part of the challenge, people earning 25 points can receive a $15 voucher to use at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand at the Sitka Farmers Market. You can use the voucher to buy fresh local produce grown in Sitka at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. You also can use the vouchers to buy any of our Alaska Grown value-added products, such as chocolate from Sitka’s Theobroma Chocolate or Girdwood’s Chugach Chocolates, barley products from Delta Junction’s Alaska Flour Company, kelp salsa products from Juneau’s Barnacle Foods, or kelp pesto or pasta sauce from Ketchikan’s Foraged & Found. There is a limited number of vouchers available.

The Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand usually is located in the BIHA parking lot next to the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, although we sometimes move it inside if we have a low number of vendors scheduled for that market. The Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 2, 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27, Sept. 10, and 24 — at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). This is the only booth where you can use the vouchers at the market, and the vouchers are only accepted at the market and there is no change. See you at the market.

Check out the June 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the June 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about a special class on how to start a cottage foods business from the Sitka Kitch, a notice that vendor registration for the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market is open, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our 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 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).

Check out the May 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the May 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the winners of the fifth annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest, a notice that vendor registration for the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market is open, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our 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 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).

Vendor registration open for 2022 Sitka Farmers Markets

Sitka Farmers Market Manager Nalani James, left, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt, center, and Sitka Local Foods Network Board Treasurer Amanda Anjum at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand during a July 2021 Sitka Farmers Market.

Vendor registration is open for the 2022 Sitka Farmers Markets. This 15th annual community event is hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit working to improve Sitka’s food security. The online vendor registration page, http://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com, is live and ready for vendors to sign up and pre-pay for their spots.

This summer, the Sitka Local Foods Network is hosting seven markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays — July 2, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, and Sept. 24 — at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), where we held our first 12 years of markets. All vendors will pay $40 per market, regardless of whether you have a table or a food truck. We have a special rate of $240 for vendors who register for all seven markets before the first market happens, which means you get one market free. Vendors can register for one or two markets, or all seven. We also have youth vendor program for ages 14 and younger, which is $20 for all seven markets (please let us know ahead of time which specific markets you plan to attend).

The Sitka Farmers Market is a community event hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. Our focus is on local — fresh produce, fish, baked goods, prepared foods, cottage foods, arts and crafts — and all products must be made in Alaska (preferably in Sitka or Southeast Alaska, cooked foods may use non-local foods so long as the food is cooked on site). Since our mission is geared toward food security and our space is limited this year, if we have too many vendors try to register our food booths will have a higher priority over arts and crafts.

After having to relocate for two years due to COVID-19, we are back to our roots this year for our 15th season of markets. We will have indoor and outdoor spaces. Since COVID-19 is still around, we will require masks inside the ANB Hall when Sitka is at the Moderate or High risk levels. While most people now are vaccinated against the coronavirus, there still are people who aren’t vaccinated and there are periodic hot spots when the illness flares up. We don’t want the market to be a place that spreads the coronavirus. Even with our outside booths, we encourage vendors and customers to wear masks, to use hand sanitizer, and to avoid bunching up while giving others six feet of space.

Please read the market vendor rules and responsibilities document linked below. All vendors using this site to register for the market will be held to these rules. We ask all vendors to register by the Thursday morning before the markets where they intend to sell. Unless you specify you want to be outside, we will try to find room for you indoors. We are not selling half-tables this year because we need social-distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Vendors can pay using PayPal or credit/debit card. When you get to the Payment options, click PayPal (not Invoice) and it should give you the option of using a PayPal account or four different types of cards (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover). If you prefer to pay by cash or check, contact Charles Bingham at 907-623-7660. We will provide a $35 refund for cancellations, but to get the refund you are required to let us know before Wednesday of the week of your registered market that you can’t make it. This is $5 less than the $40 table fee since we are billed for transaction fees and other expenses. There is no refund if you don’t let us know until after Wednesday.

Nalani James is the Sitka Farmers Market manager this summer (she’s on the left in the photo above). Laura Schmidt (center in photo) is our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, where the Sitka Local Foods Network grows most of the produce it sells at the market. Charles Bingham is the assistant market manager and the president of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

For questions about the market, email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or call (907) 623-7660. More details about the market will be posted on the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, and shared on its Facebook pages — https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and https://www.facebook.com/SitkaFarmersMarket — and on Twitter, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods.

• 2022 Sitka Farmers Market Vendor Rules and Responsibilities

Fish broth project, Enoki Eatery win $1,500 prizes in fifth Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest

One group of winners is using parts of fish that normally are wasted to create fish broth, while the other winner has a Japanese-Hawaiian pop-up restaurant with an Alaska twist. Congratulations to Lexi Fish-Hackett and Edith Johnson of the as-yet unnamed fish broth business and to Gretchen Stelzenmuller of Enoki Eatery. They are the winners of $1,500 each in the fifth annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest.

“We are happy to encourage more businesses to get into the local food system with our contest,” said Charles Bingham, board president of the Sitka Local Foods Network, which sponsors the contest. “Even though we had other entries, our judges were unanimous in picking these two standouts. We really liked the fish broth business, since it is reducing wasted parts of the fish. Enoki Eatery is offering new tastes in Sitka, and the smoked salmon musubi is really tasty. The Sitka Local Foods Network’s mission is to increase the amount of locally harvested and produced foods into the diets of Southeast Alaskans, so we hope our prizes continue to encourage local food entrepreneurs here in Sitka.”

The fish broth business is still getting off the ground, but the two women behind it have deep roots in Sitka’s food system. Edith Johnson owns Our Town Catering and was head chef at a couple of Sitka hotels before opening her own catering business, while Lexi Fish-Hackett is co-owner of Fish and Family Seafoods and studied nutrition in college.

“Our food business idea is to create a fish broth product and bring it to market. Broth is such a kitchen staple and can be used in so many types of cuisines. Plus we both love soup. Who doesn’t?” Edith and Lexi said. “There’s so much goodness in the bones of fish, which don’t get fully utilized on a commercial level, and we want to tap into that.”

In their entry form, Edith wrote, “Lexi approached me with an idea that she has had for years, the thought of using fish ‘waste’ — heads, bones and the meat left on the bones — to make a product that is very sustainable but also helps use fish parts that are thrown away. Every year in Sitka alone, thousands of fish carcasses are tossed into the ocean or disposed of. We would use these to make a fish bone broth.”

Edith and Lexi plan to make three types of fish broth. The first type is a bone broth that is clear and versatile using salmon bones and meat. The second type is a smoked salmon broth, which uses fish heads smoked by Catch Sitka Seafoods, and produces a concentrated broth that is richer and flavorful, meant for soups with heavy creams or milk. The third type is a Sitka-style fumet, which is a rich, high-end French broth with leeks, garlic, white wine, and gently poached halibut. A fumet is targeted to fish sauces on a high-end scale for delicate broths.

“We are really excited to work on creating a pantry essential that is sourced from our local Southeast Alaska waters,” Lexi and Edith said. “Another goal is to help to improve food security in Alaska by focusing sales within our region and state, at least to start. We want to create a product that is convenient, nutritious, and that people love!”

Gretchen Stelzenmuller grew up in Sitka, but spent time living in Hawai’i before coming back to Sitka. She worked in kitchens along the way. She started Enoki Eatery a few months ago, and had pop-up restaurants at Harbor Mountain Brewing and the Backdoor Cafe. She was using the Sitka Fine Arts Camp kitchen for her pop-up cooking, but will be looking for another kitchen to use this summer. She hopes to have a bicycle food cart for special events, such as the Sitka Farmers Market, and to use pop-up locations at other times. Eventually she hopes to find a more permanent location.

“Enoki Eatery was born from my love of making food as beautiful as it is delicious, sustainable as it is convenient,” Gretchen wrote on her entry form. “Enoki Eatery combines unique Southeast Alaskan flavors and ingredients with the style and inspiration of Japanese street food.  We specialize in musubi, a Hawaiian/japanese snack food of sticky rice, togarashi seasoning (mainly sesames and seaweed) topped with protein, such as smoked salmon, chicken, or mushroom wrapped in sheets of nori seaweed, for easy eating and extra nutrients. 

“It is most commonly served with spam, and though I do serve it this way, I am trying to use healthier and more sustainable ingredients that reflect Alaskan culture. Our other menu items include a pork katsu sandwich, soba noodles with black garlic sauce, kimchi rice bowls, mochi cupcakes and much more. It changes with the seasons. I focus on high-quality ingredients, simple menus, and artful presentations.”

Sustainability is a concern of Gretchen’s, and she knows it can make for a costly business model in Sitka. She wants to use local ingredients, since that supports local growers and harvesters. “This not only helps our economy, but cuts down on my environmental impact through barge and air freight use,” she said.

“The Sitka Local Food Network winnings will allow me to stay sustainable by financing biodegradable packaging for my take-out only food cart,” Gretchen said. “Staying dedicated to creating less waste is expensive and this is a step in the right direction. Sitka already faces mounting issues with shipping waste off the island. As a new business we aim to be part of the solution by being conscientious of our impact. I am sourcing biodegradable packaging specifically so that I know, no matter where it ends up in the waste stream, it will not negatively impact our environment.” 

Last year’s winners were Joanne “Chef Jo” Michalski of Muddy Mermaid Mudd Pies (frozen yogurt pies) and Nalani James of Eggstravgant (eggs from her chickens). The 2020 winners were Andrew Jylkka of Southeast Dough Company (fresh sourdough bread and fermented foods) and Levi Adams of Forage and Farm (mushroom growing and foraging). In 2019, our winners were Brittany Dumag of Castaway (food cart with Cuban pork sandwiches using Alaska pork) and Tamara Kyle of Sitka Sauers (fermented foods), with a special youth winner award for Abigail Ward of Sitka Spices (meat and fish rubs). In 2018, the winner was Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals (beach greens and local teas).

Check out the April 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the April 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the about the deadline of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application period (and Pick.Click.Give. application) on March 31, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our 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 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).