• Registration opens for Southeast Alaska Farm and Fish to School Conference on April 2-3 in Juneau

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Registration has begun for the inaugural Southeast Alaska Farm and Fish to Schools Conference, which takes place April 2-3 at Centennial Hall in Juneau.

This event will be the first regional opportunity focused on building connections between Alaska’s school systems and local food entrepreneurs. Anyone interested in bringing more local foods into our school system is invited to collaborate and connect with regional experts to strengthen fish and farm to school programming across the state.

Southeast Conference, the regional economic development organization, is coordinating the conference in conjunction with the newly formed Sustainable Southeast Partnership, a diverse network of organizations working together on community sustainability in Southeast Alaska.

Farm&Fish-logo-on-photos Cropped“Often we find that the barriers to achieving access to local, healthy foods can be overcome if we work together as a region to make this initiative a priority,” said Alana Peterson, program director of the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, Haa Aani, Community Development Fund Inc. “By bringing all the key players together for a conference we are hoping to achieve just that.”

Fish and farm to school programming offers significant economic, environmental cultural and nutritional opportunities to our rural communities and region.

“Schools in southeast received more than $500,000 last year to buy Alaskan produced foods through the Nutritional Alaska Foods to Schools grant program.” said Shelly Wright, Executive Director of Southeast Conference. “However, schools are often limited by what they can procure. There are untapped opportunities for, farmers, fishermen and small business in our region. We are eager to break down barriers and grow the opportunities for everyone.”

Online registration and more detailed conference information is available at http://www.seconference.org/southeast-farm-and-fish-schools-conference. Register before Feb. 28 to be eligible for a travel stipend. For more information, contact Lia Heifetz at growsoutheast@gmail.com.

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• Local merchants provide coffee grounds, spent beer grain for garden compost

Alana Peterson shows where gardeners can find used coffee grounds from the Back Door Café.

Alana Peterson shows where gardeners can find used coffee grounds from the Back Door Café.

Sitka’s constant rains tend to wash the nutrients from our soil, which means many Sitka gardeners also use compost to build new soil. Some local merchants provide used coffee grounds and spent beer grain so gardeners can add them to their compost piles.

Alana Peterson of the Back Door Café (104 Barracks St.) said the person who normally collects her business’ used coffee grounds has reached his max capacity, so now they are available for other gardeners to gather. She usually puts them in one of the plastic containers outside the main entrance to the shop, under the tree by the large black plastic garbage container. The coffee grounds are in plastic bags, so they’re easy for gardeners to grab.

The Baranof Island Brewing Company, aka BIBCO (215 Smith St.), provides free spent beer grain for gardeners. The spent grain is kept in a tote near the brewery’s Tap Room, and gardeners need to bring their own buckets to carry the grain home (a shovel is in the tote).

At both businesses the compost items are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please double-check with the merchants if you have any questions.