• The new Sitka Local Foods Network e-newsletter (May 14)

Click here to read the current Sitka Local Foods Network e-newsletter courtesy of Linda Wilson. Don’t forget, you can sign up for the e-newsletter by typing your e-mail address in the “Join Our Mailing List” box on bottom of the left side of the page.

This issue of the e-newsletter includes information about the historical significance of Sitka strawberries, wheat and barley grown in Sitka at the turn of the 20th Century, the average last frost in Sitka, the May 31 sustainable gardening presentations by Northwest garden guru/author/TV host/seed company owner Ed Hume (a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network), and a calendar of upcoming local foods events.

• SEARHC, Sitka Local Foods Network host Ed Hume for sustainable gardening presentations

Ed Hume

Ed Hume

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Sitka Local Foods Network will host Northwest garden guru, author, TV personality and seed company owner Ed Hume for two presentations on sustainable gardening.

The two presentations take place on Monday, May 31 (Memorial Day), at Grace Harbor Church, 1904 Halibut Point Road (the gray building across from SeaMart). The first presentation is from 3-5 p.m. and the topic will be “Preparing the Northwest Garden: Soil preparation and garden design for the Pacific Northwest climate.” The second presentation is from 7-9 p.m. with a topic of “Vegetables and Ornamentals: Sustainable solutions for common problems, variety selection and ideas for ornamental gardening.”

Tickets are $15 per session, or $20 for both sessions, and they are available at Old Harbor Books or White’s Pharmacy (at AC Lakeside Grocery). The two “Sustainable Gardening with Ed Hume” presentations are fundraisers for the Sitka Local Foods Network (http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/), a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the use of locally grown, harvested and produced foods in Sitka. Event sponsors include White’s Inc., True Value, the SEARHC Health Promotion, Diabetes and Lifestyle Balance programs and Garden Ventures.

A separate event for SEARHC patients and their families living with diabetes or prediabetes is being planned for Tuesday, June 1. Details about that event will be announced later.

“I remember first hearing about Ed Hume and his year-round vegetable garden a couple of years ago at a Northwest Flower and Garden Show,” said SEARHC Diabetes Grant Coordinator Maybelle Filler, who is organizing the event for the Sitka Local Foods Network. “This seemed impossible since he lives in the same climate zone as Sitka and as far as I knew once winter hits, even fall time, there aren’t any vegetable gardens to be found. But as I sat there listening to his presentation and looking at his slides, it definitely was true. I was so impressed, and I thought what a great opportunity for Sitkans to listen to what he’s been able to do so we can extend the growing season for our own vegetable gardens.”

Hume is host of the weekly “Gardening in America” television show, the longest continuously running TV show on gardening at 42-plus years. He also hosts a weekly radio show. He is a member of the Garden Writers Association’s “Hall of Fame,” and won the National Garden Communicator’s Award in 1977. He has written several books on gardening, including “Gardening With Ed Hume: Northwest Gardening Made Easy.” He owns Ed Hume Seeds (http://www.humeseeds.com/), manages a children’s educational garden in Puyallup, Wash., and also is an internationally known speaker on gardening.

“Ed’s seed firm has a reputation for quality and reliability that is second to none,” said Kerry MacLane, Sitka Local Foods Network Board President. “We’re pretty lucky that such a famous expert is coming to Sitka. People do like to come to Sitka. Last year we hosted Ciscoe Morris (for a sold-out Memorial Day gardening presentation). This is getting to be a great tradition.”

No stranger to Southeast Alaska, Hume has visited Sitka and other communities in our region several times. His son used to fish out of Elfin Cove, and Hume said he conducted some of the trials for his seeds in an Elfin Cove garden to see if the plants were hardy enough for our climate.

During his presentations, Hume said he will discuss soil preparation and he will show how to improve vegetable garden soil since successful gardens need to start off with high-quality soil. Another topic includes the advantages of growing vegetables in raised beds, which provide warmer soil temperatures and better drainage. For those gardeners who have limited space, Hume will discuss the concept of the wide row to make small spaces more productive. Other topics will be the importance of garden layout for better light exposure and air circulation, fertilization issues and the environment, what types of vegetables to plant, and more.

At the two presentations on May 31, Sitka strawberry plant starts will be available for sale at $2 each as a fundraiser for the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden (a Sitka Local Foods Network project). For information about the presentations and Ed Hume, contact Maybelle Filler at 966-8739. For information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and its projects, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

• Kerry MacLane provides update on Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project

An artist's concept of one version of a proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

An artist's concept of one version of a proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

About a dozen people joined Sitka Local Foods Network president Kerry MacLane for a PowerPoint presentation about the proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center on Wednesday, May 12, at the SEARHC At Kaník Hít Community Health Services Building first-floor conference room. Kerry showed his presentation (attached) and provided a status update for the project. He also took feedback from the participants, seeking ideas for the next steps needed to complete the project.

The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center is a project of the Sitka Local Foods Network to address one of the top local health priorities identified at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. Sitka residents said they wanted a community greenhouse in order to make more locally grown fruits and vegetables available in town, and a community greenhouse is seen as a way to grow fruits and veggies all year. In addition to local food being healthier for you, local food also provides food security in case of a disaster or other event that keeps the barges or airplanes from delivering (it’s estimated that 95 percent of the food eaten in Alaska is shipped in from the Lower 48 or overseas).

Currently, the Sitka Local Foods Network is in negotiations with the State of Alaska to lease an unused piece of Mt. Edgecumbe High School-owned land on Japonski Island near Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. If the lease goes through, the community greenhouse will help Sitka grow more fruits and vegetables locally while extending our short growing season. The greenhouse can provide educational opportunities for Mt. Edgecumbe High School and University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus students, as well as for other school, church and community groups who want to learn more about growing their own food. The community greenhouse also can provide horticultural therapy for medical and behavioral health patients.

Kerry said the model for the Sitka Community Garden and Education Center is the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in Cheyenne, Wyo. Kerry used to work at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens several years ago, and he has been given pointers by Cheyenne Botanic Gardens director/founder Shane Smith. The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens started out as a small-scale community greenhouse in 1977 that now features more than nine acres of extensive gardens, a solarium, arboretum and other features. It combines educational opportunities with production gardening and horticultural therapy (see fact sheet linked below).

Kerry said he is seeking letters of support from individuals and groups in Sitka who support the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, and a sample letter is attached below. For more information, contact Kerry at 966-8839 or 752-0654.

Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center PowerPoint presentation

Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center proposal 2010

Sample Letter of Support for the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

Cheyenne Botanic Gardens factsheet

• Jerry Dzugan wins bike in Sitka Seafood Festival raffle

Jerry Dzugan was the big winner in the Sitka Seafood Festival raffle on Sunday, May 9, winning a $550 Specialized Hard Rock Disc Sport mountain bike donated by Eric Haseltine and Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop.

Grace Gjertsen won $125 of king salmon from Moe and Betsy Johnson of the FV Cloud Nine. Winning gift certificates to various local restaurants (with a range of values from $25-$100) were Robert Reed, Liz Garrick, Danny Stockel, Teal West, Mike Hagan, Kaitlyn Resch, Laura Buehler, Tras Master, George Burnstein, Betsy Johnson and Marsh.

In all, the raffle raised about $3,000 for the inaugural Sitka Seafood Festival, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 6-7. Details still are being arranged, but the event will feature a formal catered dinner by a guest chef on Friday night and a full day of events on Saturday. Guest performers included the bluegrass band Trampled By Turtles and the four-man juggling, acrobatic, martial arts and comedy troupe “NANDA: Acrobaticalist Ninja Action Heroes.”

To learn more about the Sitka Seafood Festival or to volunteer to help on one of the committees, e-mail sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com. You also can contact Alicia Peavey at alaska_al33@hotmail.com or 1-928-607-4845. The minutes from the May 6 Sitka Seafood Festival steering committee meeting are posted below. The next meeting of the steering committee is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 20, at the Sitka Fire Station.

The next fundraising event for the Sitka Seafood Festival is the Sitka Culinary Tour on May 21-22, which an event where ticket-holders sample small-plate seafood dishes prepared by the chefs at six different local restaurants. Tickets are $40 per person, available at Old Harbor Books, and they allow you to travel between any of the six participating restaurants from 4-9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, May 21-22, to sample the dishes. Sitka Culinary Tour tickets also may be sold at SeaMart, so watch for updates. To learn more, contact Linda Olson at 747-6985.

Sitka Seafood Festival raffle thank-you letter and winners’ list

Sitka Culinary Tour flier with menus and participating restaurants

Sitka Seafood Festival information sheet

Sitka Seafood Festival minutes from the May 6, 2010, steering committee meeting

• SEARHC hosts May 12 lunchtime presentation about Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project

An artist's concept of one version of a proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

An artist's concept of one version of a proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

Have you heard about the proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center? Join us for a short lunchtime presentation at noon on Wednesday, May 12, at the SEARHC At Kanik Hít Community Health Services Building first-floor conference room (1212 Seward Ave., down the hill from Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, the building with the big totem pole in front).

The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center is a project of the Sitka Local Foods Network to address one of the top local health priorities identified at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. Currently, the Sitka Local Foods Network is in negotiations with the State of Alaska to lease an unused piece of Mt. Edgecumbe High School-owned land on Japonski Island near Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital.

If the lease goes through, the community greenhouse will help Sitka grow more fruits and vegetables locally while extending our short growing season. The greenhouse can provide educational opportunities for Mt. Edgecumbe High School and University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus students, as well as for other school, church and community groups who want to learn more about growing their own food. The community greenhouse also can provide horticultural therapy for medical and behavioral health patients.

This short lunchtime PowerPoint presentation will be made by SEARHC Grant Writer Kerry MacLane, who also serves as president of the Sitka Local Foods Network, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/. For more information, contact Kerry at 966-8839.

A 2009 proposal for the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center (note, the education aspect of the project has been expanded since this proposal was written)

• Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours take place May 20-23 in Juneau

David Lendrum, co-president for the Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners Association this year, sent this invitation to Sitka gardeners about the Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours on May 20-23 in Juneau:

I would like to invite the Sitka local foods community to our biennial Southeast Garden Conference on May 20-23 at the University of Alaska Southeast-Juneau Campus (Auke Lake). The agenda will be available at our website, http://www.sealaskamastergardeners.org/.

The Extended Stay hotel by the airport has offered an rate of $79.00 per night to conference attendees.

Sitka’s own Florence Welsh of The Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens and Bob Gorman of the Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service are featured speakers. They will be accompanied by Sam Benowitz of RainTree Nursery (Morton, Wash.), anthropological researcher Betsy Kunibe (Juneau), who has been exploring the early agriculture of Southeast Alaska, especially the early potato introduction to native peoples, and Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries (Canby, Ore.), who has reinvented perennial gardening in our modern times.

We also will have a trade show and demonstration venue, and if the Sitka Local Foods Network would like to have a display we would welcome it. You can call me with any questions,

David Lendrum
Landscape Alaska, landscapealaska@gci.net
Co-President of the Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners Association for this year
907-321-4149

Some of the conference highlights include workshops on tool use and maintenance, planter/container design and maintenance, nutrition in wild plants, landscaping to attract native pollinators, birds in the garden, greenhouses in Alaska, low-maintenance landscape design, native plant propagation, meconopsis, fruiting plants for Southeast Alaska, organic edibles, creating flower arrangements to last, rock setting and plant choice for Southeast Alaska, tree grafting, creating color and flash with new perennials, perennials around the world, taking cuttings and how to get roots on sticks, and compost and worms. A PDF file to the agenda is linked below.

Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours flier

Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours poster

Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours agenda

• Sitka Seafood Festival seeks local recipes for fundraising cookbook

Do you have a favorite seafood recipe? A recipe you are willing to share? One that you would like to see published in a cookbook?

We want it!

The inaugural Sitka Seafood Festival will be Friday and Saturday, Aug. 6-7, 2010. It will be a celebration focusing on Alaska’s wild seafood through entertainment, education and culinary delights.

As a fundraiser for the festival, we are putting together a local cookbook. The focus will be on seafood recipes, however, we want a well-rounded cookbook with recipes for appetizers, beverages, soups, salads, vegetables, main dishes, breads and rolls, desserts and miscellaneous dishes.

Please e-mail your recipes to sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com or mail them to Linda Olson at 230 Observatory Street, Sitka, Alaska, 99835 by Monday, May 24th. Please put your name on the recipe and include your contact information.

Thank you.

For more information about the festival, check out our website at http://sitkaseafoodfestival.org/ and our page on Facebook.

• Sitka Community Schools opens registration for Blatchley Community Garden

Blatchley Community Garden

Blatchley Community Garden

Sitka Community Schools has opened registration for the 2010 Blatchley Community Garden located behind Blatchley Middle School.

Potential gardeners can register for a plot from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday through May 28 at the Sitka Community Schools office at Hames Athletic and Wellness Center. Availability of garden plots is limited, and former gardeners will be assigned their plots from previous years if they register before May 28. Fees for the program are 50 cents per square foot for plots.

Blatchley Community Garden features small plots for families or groups who want to raise vegetables for their personal consumption. This is different than the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, which raises vegetables for the Sitka Local Foods Network to sell at the Sitka Farmers Market.

For more information, please contact Scott McAdams at 966-1405 or lead gardener Dave Neutzel at 738-8732.

• SEARHC Employee Wellness Team builds vegetable garden at Sitka campus

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The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Employee Wellness Team is building a new community garden for employees on its Sitka campus.

The vegetable garden is located on an unused patch of land on the lower part of SEARHC’s Sitka campus, between the employee fitness center and daycare facilities and across the street from the SEARHC Behavioral Health residential substance abuse treatment centers. The garden is being built with the blessings of the SEARHC Employee Wellness Team, SEARHC Green Team and SEARHC Facilities Management Department. The garden was initiated by SEARHC Grant Writer Kerry MacLane, who also is president of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

SEARHC employees are holding regular lunchtime work parties on Fridays, and employees who work in the garden will be eligible to share in the bounty when the produce is ready to harvest. The garden will be used to grow potatoes, onions, greens, herbs and edible flowers, among other items.

In his note about this Friday’s work party (May 7), MacLane wrote, “This will be a great opportunity to work out and get out any angst that you might be harboring. Come go crazy on the weeds. Aggressive behavior is encouraged. We are going to be digging up weeds, chopping down salmonberries, mixing in sand and compost, and forming two big raised beds.”

SEARHC Employee Wellness Team leaders Lisa Sadleir-Hart and Doug Osborne said a community garden for employees is something a lot of businesses in Sitka can build. A workplace community garden allows employees a chance to get physical activity and gives them the opportunity to add more locally grown vegetables to their diets. Other benefits of an employee garden include reduced stress and improved employee morale. Also, some employees may live in small apartments where they don’t have room for a garden.

To learn more about how you can start a similar employee garden project at your business, contact Kerry MacLane at 966-8839, Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 966-8735 or Doug Osborne at 966-8734.

• Construction to limit space for this summer’s Sitka Farmers Markets

Due to construction, this summer’s Sitka Farmers Markets will have no outdoor vendor space. The Baranof Island Housing Authority will construct a building this summer in part of the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall parking lot, and the parking lot will be closed off for safety and to store supplies.

We will try to make as much room as possible available to vendors inside ANB Hall. We encourage vendors to create vertical displays so more people can share the tables. This year, the Sitka Farmers Markets are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on alternate Saturdays, July 17 and 31, Aug. 14 and 28, and Sept. 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.

Due to space limitations, we may have to give our local food booths a limited priority over arts and crafts. The earlier you register for booth space, the more likely we will be able to find a spot for you.

We really, really, need more locally grown produce vendors, home bakers, fish mongers, prepared food vendors and volunteers this year. If you know of someone who can help, please let us know. If you have extra locally grown produce but don’t have the time to staff a booth, you can donate it or sell it to the Sitka Farmers Market for resale at the Sitka Farmers Market booth. Proceeds from the produce sold at the Sitka Farmers Market booth goes toward Sitka Local Foods Network projects.

This year we had to raise the vendor fee for a table to $15 to cover costs of renting the ANB Hall and kitchen, hiring musicians and other expenses. There is an option to get your vendor space free if you help out with set-up and clean-up.

The registration form and market rules are linked below as PDF files. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (nights and weekends only) or by e-mail at lawilson87@hotmail.com.

• 2010 Sitka Farmers Market vendor rules

• 2010 Sitka Farmers Market food rules

• 2010 Sitka Farmers Market vendor registration form