Brittany Dumag, Tamara Kyle, Abigail Ward win prizes in Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest

Brittany Dumag leans out one of the windows of her food trailer business, called Castaway, that will serve Cuban pork sandwiches with beans and rice.

One winner is opening a food cart so she can sell Alaska-raised pork sandwiches. Another will use her prize to jump start her sauerkraut business. And another is making seasoning mixes to sell at the Sitka Farmers Market and outside Harrigan Centennial Hall this summer.

Tamara Kyle of Sitka Sauers poses with some of her sauerkraut and her two children at a 2017 Sitka Farmers Market.

This year’s winners of the second annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest are Brittany Dumag and her food cart, Castaway, in the start-up business category (younger than two years); Tamara Kyle of Sitka Sauers in the established business division; and Abigail Ward, age 12, who won a special youth business award. The Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest awarded a $1,500 prize each to Dumag and Kyle, while Ward won $250.

The contest is sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network as a way to encourage Sitka entrepreneurs to start businesses using food from Sitka or Alaska. It also is meant to promote better food security with more locally made food products.

“We were pleased with the response this year, five times as many applications as last year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “We hope our prizes help these businesses grow and become successful and sustainable. We also want to see our other entrants come back for next year’s contest. And we hope all of our entrants have booths at this year’s Sitka Farmers Market.”

Dumag’s food cart is her first business venture, but others in her family have run businesses. Dumag, her husband, and others started with a bare trailer, and built it from a 4×8-foot flat trailer to a 6×12-foot trailer with walls, a kitchen, a skylight, and more. She plans to be at all of the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, and she is talking with a couple of places in town to park the trailer, which she hopes to open on June 1.

Even though she has yet to open, Dumag has had to change her plans. She originally planned to make rockfish tacos, but the cost was too high and she had difficulty finding rockfish. So she decided to start with Cuban pork sandwiches with rice and beans (the pork is from Dream Acres Farm in North Pole), and hopes to add the rockfish tacos after she has her business up and running.

“I want to feed local families,” Dumag said. “I want to source what I can locally.”

Tamara Kyle has been making sauerkraut for several years, but with two toddlers she hasn’t been able to make it on a consistent basis. Her sauerkraut takes five weeks to ferment, so she has to be thinking ahead about her plans when she makes it.

“This is going to jump-start it,” Kyle said. “I’m going to get the right machinery and get an apprentice, so my sauerkraut will be more consistently available.”

Abigail Ward sells cupcakes and herbs at her youth booth at a 2018 Sitka Farmers Market.

Kyle makes two types of sauerkraut — her classic with organic cabbage and pink Himalayan sea salt and another with caraway dill seasonings. Eventually, she’d like to add local beets, local carrots, and even local salt, if the price is right.

Ward has been a regular youth vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market for the past two years, selling a variety of products while her parents and sister ran a table next to her. Her business will be to make two seasoning mixes — one for red meat/venison and one for seafood — which she plans to sell at the farmers market and with the youth vendor tables in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall when cruise ships are in town.

“The contest prize money will help to improve and expand my business from a hobby to an official business,” Ward wrote on her entry form.

Ward, who splits time between Washington state and Sitka, was the only entrant to include product samples with her entry form. She said her spice mixes are meant to enhance locally harvested seafood and venison, and she hopes to eventually make her own sea salt and grow her own rosemary for the mixes.

• Lori Adams says a word about growing beans in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

LoriAdamsDownToEarthUPickGarden(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in the Daily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 4 of the Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)


By Lori Adams


In general, Sitka is just not bean-growing country, but there is one bean that actually does really well here — the fava bean (also called the broad bean).  Up until a few years ago I had never even heard of fava beans, but had read that they’re grown in England so I figured they would grow here too and gave them a try.  The results were excellent.

Fava beans are from the legume family. As a rule the members of this family grow pods with seeds in them; peas, beans, alfalfa, clover and peanuts are the most commonly known legumes.  Legumes can do something that other plants can do — by working in a cooperative partnership with the Rhizobia bacteria found in the soil they can pull nitrogen right out of the air.

Nodules form on the roots in this nitrogen-fixing process and the plants store nitrogen for pod formation. When you plant beans in a garden bed for the first time there is a good chance that the proper strain of this bacteria will not be present in the soil, so it is important to “inoculate” the seeds.  Inoculant bacteria can be purchased in powder form and sprinkled onto the seeds at planting time.

Before planting fava beans prep the soil with plenty of organic material that is not too rich with nitrogen (cured compost or beach mulch) and lime (seashell sand) and prepare some type of support to put in place to keep mature plants off of the ground.  I used wire tomato cages. Fava bean plants get about five feet tall and although they are fairly sturdy they can eventually get knocked down by the wind and rain.

You can start seeds indoors mid-March and transplant them outdoors mid-April or just sow them directly outdoors mid-April. Either way it’s best to dampen the seeds and sprinkle them with inoculant before planting.  The seeds are quite large and should be planted an inch deep. Final spacing in the garden should be at least 12 inches apart.  Floating row cover is not necessary but can speed up maturity.

Fava beans bloom just like peas do with beautiful blooms similar to lupine flowers.  These flowers are self pollinating. Pods soon appear and can be picked while very small and cooked and eaten whole like snap peas. Once the pods get a little size to them they are wooly and fibrous and unpleasant to eat whole, so let them get to be full sized before harvesting them for the beans. Full-sized pods contain anywhere from 1-5 beans in them.

Cooking fava beans is rather labor intensive but worth it.  Shuck the beans and discard the pods, blanch the beans and then “pop” each inner bean out of its waxy covering.  The inner bean will fall out in two halves and can be eaten cold or hot. As with other vegetables, it is good to harvest the mature pods regularly so the plant will continue to produce more pods. Besides, the longer pods are left on the vine the tougher the beans will be.

I think any attempt to leave beans on the vine in hopes of harvesting them as shelling beans is futile as they will probably just mold.  I have read that the tips of the plants themselves are also edible as a leafy green but I have never tried them. A word of warning: some people of Mediterranean descent are allergic to fava beans.

I used to grow Fava Beans in the u-pick garden but very few of my customers were familiar with them so I had trouble selling them.  Rather than taking up valuable garden space growing something my customers don’t want I decided to concentrate on growing vegetables that they do want.

It is possible to grow green beans here but very, very difficult.  The plants simply do not like to get wet and slugs just love, love, love them. If grown outside they MUST be protected from the rain, but if enclosed with a covering they are very likely to rot, so any cover needs to have the sides open for ventilation.  I have had very little success growing green beans, but they are so delicious fresh from the vine that I just keep beating my head against the wall trying.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

• Sitka Local Foods Network contracting for 2010 St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener

Darby Osborne, Doug Osborne, Kerry MacLane and Maybelle Filler pick radishes at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm before the first Sitka Farmers Market in 2008

Darby Osborne, Doug Osborne, Kerry MacLane and Maybelle Filler pick radishes at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm before the first Sitka Farmers Market in 2008

The Sitka Local Foods Network is contracting for a lead gardener to help manage our activities at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm community garden this summer. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (SPFF) is growing, and we’re adding new garden beds so we can grow more crops. The vegetables grown at SPFF are sold at the Sitka Farmers Market to help support the efforts of the Sitka Local Foods Network, with some crops also going to local church and charity groups. Here is the lead gardener contract description.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm 2010 Lead Gardener Contract Description

Work Experience: 2-3 years of varied vegetable gardening experience, preferably with at least one year in Southeast Alaska. This includes planning, cultivating, harvesting, composting and preparing vegetables for sale or preservation, as well as putting the garden to rest for the season.

Contract Requirements:

  • Develop a garden plan that includes succession planting in conjunction with the SPFF tri-coordinators (board members Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne and Maybelle Filler)
  • Conduct soil testing and amend the soil to improve soil quality using available resources (i.e., seaweed, bone meal, etc) in conjunction with the SPFF tri-coordinators and volunteer work parties
  • Cultivate plant starts using seeds provided by the SLFN and make recommendations for SPFF seed start kits to be distributed at the Let’s Grow Sitka event on March 14, 2010
  • Use organic gardening practices
  • Host 3 initial planting parties (from 2-4:30 p.m. on three Saturdays, May 15, May 22 and May 29) i.e., coordinate with the SPFF tri-coordinators to plan and direct work
  • Direct 75 percent of the garden work parties, i.e., these are tentatively scheduled for Wednesdays 4:30-6 p.m. and Saturdays 2-3:30 p.m. (on non-Sitka Farmers Market Saturdays) during the months of June, July and August, plus the first half of September, but can be negotiated.
  • Plan and oversee the harvest of the garden for the first five 2010 Sitka Farmers Markets (harvest usually takes place early on market-day mornings, July 17, July 31, August 14, August 28 and September 4)
  • Develop a method for quantifying the amount of vegetables harvested from SPFF and implement it
  • Maintain the composting and watering systems
  • Direct any questions or concerns to the SPFF tri-coordinators

Compensation: A total of $1,500 paid in three installments (May 15, July 15 and September 15) plus 5 percent of the SPFF harvest – this compensation schedule is open for negotiation.

If interested in the SPFF lead gardener contract, e-mail a resume that includes two local references that can speak to your gardening ability and a letter of interest by February 20th to Direct questions to Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or Doug Osborne at 747-3752.