• Mark your calendar for several upcoming meetings about local food projects

As we near spring, it’s time to start marking your calendar with meetings, workshops and garden preparation events. Here is a list of some of the upcoming events, so you can add them to your calendar. All of these events are open to the public and new volunteers are more than welcome to join each project.

  • The Sitka Seafood Festival planning committee meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, at the Baranof Island Brewing Company, 212 Smith St. The Sitka Seafood Festival is May 20-21 this year, and there are several fundraising events (such as the Sitka Culinary Tour Passport event on March 10-13) in the months leading up to the festival. For more info, contact Alicia Olson at 1-928-607-4845 or sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com.
  • The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative work group will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. For more info, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or Doug Osborne at 747-3752.
  • The Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 7, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship building, 408 Marine St. For more info, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.
  • The Sitka Farmers Market planning group meets at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship building, 408 Marine St. For more info, contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (nights, weekends).
  • The Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event starts at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, 456 Katlian St. Master Gardener Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau will be at the Let’s Grow Sitka event to discuss fruit trees. Buyarski also will give a pruning workshop at a time and location TBA on Saturday, March 19; and he will give a talk about fruit trees at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 20, at ANB Hall. For more info, contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (nights, weekends).

• Save the date — ‘Let’s Grow Sitka’ gardening education event is Sunday, March 20, at ANB Hall

The view from above at closing time of the 2010 Let's Grow Sitka garden education event.

The view from above at closing time of the 2010 Let's Grow Sitka garden education event.

Mark your calendars, because the 2011 “Let’s Grow Sitka” gardening education event opens at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street. Celebrate the first day of spring and get ready to garden.

This annual event brings together local garden supply stores, local gardeners, landscapers and anybody who is interested in learning how to grow food and/or flowers. This year’s theme is “Adding edibles to your landscape — focus on fruit trees and berry bushes.”

The Sitka Local Foods Network encourages people to share their knowledge by hosting a booth or posting an educational display about a specific garden topic. We especially want people with experience growing fruit trees to share their knowledge about growing apple, cherry or crabapple trees in Sitka; growing strawberries; growing rhubarb; growing unusual berry varieties that do well in our climate such as aronia, sea buckthorn, honeysuckle (fruiting), gooseberry, currant and elderberry; and how to legally transplant and cultivate wild berry bushes to your property.

Young girls check out a baby chick at the 2010 Let's Grow Sitka event. Andrew Thoms will have egg-producing chicks and information about how to raise them available this year, but he suggests anybody wanting to buy chicks contact him as soon as possible so he can start incubating the eggs. He can be reached at 747-3747 or andrew@sitkawild.org.

Young girls check out a baby chick at the 2010 Let's Grow Sitka event. Andrew Thoms will have egg-producing chicks and information about how to raise them available this year, but he suggests anybody wanting to buy chicks contact him as soon as possible so he can start incubating the eggs. He can be reached at 747-3747 or andrew@sitkawild.org.

In addition, you can learn about home greenhouses, how to prepare your soil, how to raise chickens and what to do with all those slugs. Buy seeds and plant starts. Swap ideas and tips. Come learn, share, and get ready to grow your garden. Learn about plans for the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. Let’s Grow Sitka is organized by the Sitka Local Foods Network and is part of the Arti Gras Sitka Music and Arts Festival, which takes place March 6-20.

Master gardeners are encouraged to sign up to share their personal experience on how to create a successful garden in Sitka. Also, anyone with a garden-related product or service to sell is invited to participate. Some of the expected booths are from the True Value Garden Center (type Sitka or 99835 into store locator box), Andrew Thoms (chickens, see note with photo above), White’s Inc./Harry Race Pharmacy, St. Peters Fellowship Farm (seed starter kits), Sitka Local Foods Network, University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, the Sitka Fruit Tree Planting Initiative and many others. Master Gardener Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau also will be on hand to provide expertise.

There still are a few FREE tables available for vendors, education and demonstrations. For more information or to reserve table space, contact Linda Wilson at lawilson87@hotmail.com or call her at 747-3096 (in the evenings or on weekends only).

• Sitka Health Summit project to plant 200 fruit trees gains momentum

A cluster of Parkland apples (photo from the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association gallery, http://www.apfga.org/)

A cluster of Parkland apples (photo from the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association gallery, http://www.apfga.org/)

The work group formed during the 2010 Sitka Health Summit to plant 200 fruit trees in Sitka met on Monday, Nov. 8, and the project is gaining momentum.

The group plans to plant 200 apple, crabapple or cherry trees in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011. The work group has been researching which trees grow best in Sitka’s climate, researching possible funding sources, and researching possible locations to plant 200 fruit trees around the community. The work group also might plant some berry bushes around town to complement the fruit trees.

The group will go public with some of its plans during the Sitka Conservation Society‘s wild foods potluck and annual meeting from at 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

A couple of members in the work group attended the city’s Tree and Landscape Committee’s meeting later in the week and presented a list of about 3-4 dozen locations around Sitka they think might make good locations for fruit trees.

Notes from both meetings are posted below as PDF files. The next meeting for the 200 fruit trees in Sitka work group is from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. For more information, contact Kari Lundgren at kari.lundgren@searhc.org or 738-2089.

• Notes from the Sitka Fruit Tree Planting Work Group meeting held on Nov. 8, 2010

• List of possible fruit tree locations presented at the Sitka Tree and Landscape Committee

• Sam Benowitz to give free presentation tonight (Monday, May 24) about growing fruit in Sitka

A cluster of Parkland apples (photo from the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association gallery, http://www.apfga.org/)

A cluster of Parkland apples (photo from the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association gallery, http://www.apfga.org/)

Sam Benowitz of RainTree Nursery in Morton, Wash., will be in Sitka to give a free presentation tonight about how to grow fruit in Southeast Alaska.

The presentation takes place at 7 p.m. tonight (Monday, May 24) at Harrigan Centennial Hall. His Sitka presentation will be about about selecting, growing, and maintaining fruit trees, berry bushes and other edible landscape features.

Benowitz is the founder of RainTree Nursery, and he frequently gives presentations in Washington and Alaska about how to grow fruit trees. In Sitka, it’s possible to grow several varieties of apples and a couple of types of cherries. For more information, check out the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association site. There also are a multitude of berries that grow around Sitka, including many wild varieties and cultivated types such as raspberries and tayberries.

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

Benowitz was one of the keynote speakers at this past weekend’s Southeast Alaska Gardeners Conference and Garden Tours event in Juneau, and he agreed to offer a free presentation when he passed through Sitka on his way home to Washington.

For more information about tonight’s presentation, contact Jud Kirkness at 738-3254 or by e-mail at judkirkness@yahoo.com.

• Sam Benowitz to give free presentation about growing fruit in Sitka

A cluster of Parkland apples (photo from the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association gallery, http://www.apfga.org/)

A cluster of Parkland apples (photo from the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association gallery, http://www.apfga.org/)

Sam Benowitz of RainTree Nursery in Morton, Wash., will be in Sitka to give a free presentation about how to grow fruit in Southeast Alaska.

The presentation will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 24, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. His Sitka presentation will be about about selecting, growing, and maintaining fruit trees, berry bushes and other edible landscape features.

Benowitz is the founder of RainTree Nursery, and he frequently gives presentations in Washington and Alaska about how to grow fruit trees. In Sitka, it’s possible to grow several varieties of apples and a couple of types of cherries. For more information, check out the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association site. There also are a multitude of berries that grow around Sitka, including many wild varieties and cultivated types such as raspberries and tayberries.

For more information, contact Jud Kirkness at 738-3254 or by e-mail at judkirkness@yahoo.com.