Like what we do? Please join our board of directors or volunteer with us

The 2019 Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors, from left, Amanda Anjum, Charles Bingham, Nina Vizcarrondo, Laura Schmidt, Stanley Lopata. We are recruiting new board members for 2020.

Did you enjoy the fresh local veggies at the Sitka Farmers Market this summer? Did you take any of our garden education classes this spring? Are you concerned about increasing access to local food for all Sitka residents?

The Sitka Local Foods Network is holding an open house for potential board members and volunteers from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, at the Sitka Public Library, Gus Adams Meeting Room. This is a good time to learn about what we’re doing and how you can help.

Please consider joining the board of directors for the Sitka Local Foods Network to help us pursue our mission to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. We need more board members in order to keep running our programs.

Board members help direct the Sitka Local Foods Network, a non-profit that promotes the harvest and use of local food in Sitka. In addition to setting the focus of the group during our monthly meetings, board members also serve on at least one committee supporting at our three main projects of the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and garden education. In 2018, we launched the annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest to encourage food entrepreneurs in Sitka.

We also hope to help with the Sitka Community Gardens project as we look for a new location now that Blatchley Community Garden has been closed. In addition, some board members have supported other local foods projects in Sitka, such as the Sitka Kitch, Let’s Grow Sitka, the Sick-A-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment project, Sitka Fish-To-Schools, other school education projects and more.

To apply for a spot on the board, please fill out the application linked below and submit it to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.org. For more information, please email us. Please note this is a working board, and our group is evolving and maturing as we try to raise funds to hire staff. Board terms are for three years, with seats up for reapplication each winter.

We also are looking to increase our pool of volunteers who will help out during the various projects hosted by the network each year (no formal application needed, just send us your name/contact info and what types of projects you enjoy). We need volunteers to help with the upcoming Sitka Farmers Markets, helpers for our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and people to teach gardening classes.

The next regular Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, at the Sitka Public Library, Gus Adams Meeting Room. The board usually meets once every 4-6 weeks. Please note, we will sometimes move our meetings to avoid conflicts with board member schedules, venue schedules and to ensure a quorum. All of our board meetings are open to the public.

Click here for a copy of the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors job description. Click here for a copy of the board application.

Scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, left, presents the Table of the Day Award to Ashley Moore McNamee, center, and Kailee McNamee during the second market of the summer held Saturday, July21, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Ashmo’s is a seafood truck that serves salmon mac and cheese, rockfish tacos, blackcod tips, fish and chips, ling cod sandwiches, and more. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, Ashley and Kailee received two Sitka Farmers Market t-shirts, some birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, and a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub. The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), with other markets scheduled for Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We held our second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, July 21, with a full slate of booths and a big crowd. The weather even cooperated, clearing up to blue skies after a morning of clouds.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling homemade clam chowder, home-baked bread, jams and jellies, sea veggies and teas, garlic scapes, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a couple of food trucks and a hot dog vendor outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, at the ANB Founders Hall. There also are markets scheduled for Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15. To learn how to be a vendor at the marketor how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

A slideshow of scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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• Natural History Seminar Series to feature presentation on Mushrooms of Alaska’s Southern Coasts

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The next topic of the Natural History Seminar Series will feature Kate Mohatt presenting “Mushrooms of Alaska’s Southern Coasts.” The presentation is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday Sept. 19, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

Kate Mohatt is an ecologist for the Chugach National Forest who has been studying fungi in Montana and Alaska for several years. She has been a key organizer in the Girdwood Fungus Fair and a frequent speaker at the Tongass Rainforest Festival in Petersburg. Mohatt is the lead author of the 2013 publication, Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska (available at the USDA Forest Service, Sitka Ranger District office in Sitka, 204 Siginaka Way).

Mohatt will talk about the importance of fungi in forests, and about some common and interesting fungi found in Alaska. She also will lead a walk focused on forest fungi on Saturday, Sept. 20, in Sitka, with details shared at the Friday night seminar.

The seminar series is supported by a grant from the Sitka Permanent Charitable Trust to the Sitka Sound Science Center, and by the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus with support from the USDA Forest Service. If you have questions, please contact Kitty LaBounty at 747-9432.

• UAS Sitka Campus to host annual class on how to identify Southeast Alaska mushrooms

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The University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus Office of Continuing Education will host its annual class “Southeast Mushrooms: How to Identify Them.”

This two-day class takes place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, at the UAS Sitka Campus (with field trips). The course fee is $50 and students should dress for the outdoors, bring waxed paper and a bucket for gathering.

This course is designed to introduce students to the mushroom flora of Southeast Alaska. The focus will be on the use of taxonomic keys for identification of fungi and recognition of both edible and poisonous mushrooms. Cooking and preservation of mushrooms will be discussed. Field trips are followed by in-class identification of collected mushrooms.

There is a maximum of 18 students allowed in this class, and the class may be canceled if at least 10 people don’t pre-register for it. For more information, contact the UAS Sitka Campus Office of Continuing Education at 747-7762. To register, call 1-800-478-6653, Ext. 7762, or go to https://aceweb.uas.alaska.edu/. Click the link below to download the course brochure as a PDF file.

• “Southeast Mushrooms: How to Identify Them” class brochure for 2014

• Tongass National Forest, Sitka Ranger District, clarifies rules for berry-picking and gathering on forest lands

Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

The Tongass National Forest, Sitka Ranger District, is reminding people that any berry-picking or other gathering for commercial use on national forest lands requires a special-use permit. The rules clarification comes after a sign recently was posted outside a grocery store offering payment for salmonberries. Personal-use berry-picking and other gathering is allowed, so long as no money changes hands.

Please note, these are not new regulations and they have been on the books for many years. But the USDA Forest Service wants to remind people about them because many Sitka residents don’t know them.

“Here is an interim policy for special forest products attached (see link below), but it is long and cumbersome for most to read,” District Ranger Perry Edwards wrote. “The short version is you can collect berries, mushrooms, etc., for personal use in a national forest. But once you sell them it becomes a commercial use and a person needs to have a special forest product permit. So far, no one has officially gone through the process to get one from the Sitka Ranger District, as it does take some time for the USDA Forest Service to do the analysis and the public process.”

The interim rules and regulations run several pages, but the two paragraphs below help clarify Special Forest Products and commercial uses.

  • Special Forest Products – Special forest products (SFPs) are defined as products derived from non-timber biological resources that are used for subsistence, personal, spiritual, educational, commercial, and scientific use. SFP resources include, but are not limited to: mushrooms, boughs, Christmas trees, bark, ferns, moss, burls, berries, cones, conks, herbs, roots, and wildflowers. Also included are cuttings (such as of willow used for restoration) and transplants (as for landscaping purposes). SFP resources exclude saw-timber, pulpwood, cull logs, small round-wood, house logs, utility poles, minerals, animals, animal parts, rocks, water and soil.
  • Commercial Uses — SFP resources that are sold, processed for sale, or used in business operations are considered commercial use. Research collections for bioprospecting or other purposes by entities that do not have a cooperative agreement with the Forest Service or other federal government agency or department are considered commercial use and are subject to the same permitting procedures and requirements as other commercial uses. Commercial use on the Tongass National Forest is subject to the standards and guidelines in the Tongass Forest Plan, national and regional SFP policies, and the following management guidelines. In all cases, commercial use should not displace subsistence, personal or other non-commercial uses.

The Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation has similar rules for harvesting from Alaska State Parks, and earlier this summer began requiring a special permit for gathering seaweed at the Halibut Point Recreation Area in Sitka.

• Interim Special Forest Products Policy for Tongass National Forest, Sitka Ranger District

• Fish to Schools program seeks donations of coho salmon from commercial fishermen

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The Fish to Schools program needs help from Sitka’s commercial fishermen. The program needs 500 pounds of coho salmon to help make Fish to Schools meals for Sitka students during the upcoming school year.

“Please donate a few of your fish at the closure of the second king opener to Fish to Schools this August and help us meet our goal to get locally caught coho in all Sitka schools,” Fish to Schools program coordinator Tracy Gagnon said. “We’re also collecting photos of you (fishermen) in action — please email a photo of you on the water.”

The Sitka Fish To Schools project (click here to see short video) got its start as a community wellness project at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, and now is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society. It started by providing a monthly fish dish as part of the school lunch as Blatchley Middle School, and since then has grown to feature regular fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School,Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, Pacific High School (where the alternative high school students cook the meals themselves), the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School.

In addition to serving locally caught fish meals as part of the school lunch program, the Fish To Schools program also brings local fishermen, fisheries biologists and chefs to the classroom to teach the kids about the importance of locally caught fish in Sitka. The program received an innovation award from the Alaska Farm To Schools program during a community celebration dinner in May 2012, and now serves as a model for other school districts from coastal fishing communities. In May 2014, the Fish to Schools program released a guidebook so other school districts in Alaska could create similar programs.

To donate, sign up in the main offices at Seafood Producers Cooperative or Sitka Sound Seafoods. The program can only accept commercially caught fish (no sport or subsistence fish).

For more information, contact Tracy Gagnon at Sitka Conservation Society, tracy@sitkawild.org or 747-7509.

• Sitka to host three-day Gathering in conjunction with two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany course

Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

This month Sitka will host a two-week Introduction to Ethnobotany course on May 19-30, and as part of that course there will be a three-day UAF Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program All-Hands Gathering for stakeholders on May 29-31 held in conjunction with the class. As part of the Gathering, there will be a couple of events open to Sitka residents interested in ethnobotany and the uses of local plants.

The Gathering is sponsored by the Ethnobotany Certification Program of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuskokwim Campus (Bethel), and the Gathering will serve as a chance for stakeholders (students, instructors, elders, colleagues) to to get together to celebrate the program’s first five years, plan the next five years, and network with each other.

The schedule is still being finalized, but the first public event will be on Thursday, May 29, when the 10 ethnobotany class students will make their presentations from 3-5 and 6-8 p.m. (with a break for a bring-your-own dinner) in Room 229 of the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

At 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, May 31, keynote speaker Anore Jones (author of Plants That We Eat) will  share her passion for traditional foods of the subarctic. This event will be at the Yaw Classroom at the Sitka Fine Arts Campus.

The Gathering will conclude at 5:30-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, with a community potluck dinner/local foods feast and Native dancing at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi. This event will feature a Native chant from our Hawaiian friends, vending tables, as well as music from the Sitka rock band Slack Tide. The Gathering will provide a main course, some desserts and beverages for this event, and people are encouraged to bring side dishes featuring local food.

For more information, contact Kuskokwim Campus Ethnobotany Program Coordinator Rose Meier, PhD, at 1-907-474-6935 (voice), 1-907-474-5952 (fax) or by email at rameier@alaska.edu.

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