• Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event is Sunday, March 11, at ANB Hall

Mark your calendars, because the 2012 “Let’s Grow Sitka” gardening education event opens at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street. Don’t forget to set your clocks to spring forward so you can get ready to grow.

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. Sitka Local Foods Network Vice President Linda Wilson, who is coordinating the event with SLFN Board Member Cathy Lieser, was interviewed during the Morning Edition show Thursday on KCAW-Raven Radio and she provided more details about this event (click the link to listen to the interview), which helps Sitka residents get excited about the upcoming garden season.

There will be a wide variety of individuals and businesses with booths for the event, with some booths providing gardening information geared toward and others selling gardening supplies. Lunch will be available for purchase. Here is a tentative list of some of those planning to host booths:

  • Linda Wilson, Sitka Farmers Market, Grow a Row for the Market
  • Cathy Lieser, Let’s Grow Sitka, Sitka Local Foods Network
  • Doug Osborne. Sitka Local Foods Network?
  • Johanna Willingham, Pacific H.S./Sitka Farmers Market backup.
  • Jud Kirkness, Sicka Waste compost project, Fruit tree map
  • Tom Hart, compost, NZ composter ?
  • Kerry MacLane. Pest management
  • Lisa Sadleir-Hart. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm
  • Laura Schmidt, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm/Seed swap & share
  • Maybelle Filler, ???
  • Stanley Schoening, Chickens, fig trees, UAF Cooperative Extension Service
  • Judy Johnstone, High Tunnel program
  • David Lendrum, Guest speaker 3:15, info on new/unusual varieties for Southeast Alaska
  • Jeren Schmidt, Sitka Spruce Catering, lunch for purchase
  • Robert Gorman, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, history of Experimental Station
  • Andrianna Natsoulas, Food Sovereignty
  • Tracy Gagnon, Sitka 4H Club
  • Eve Grutter, Chickens, produce
  • Adam Chinalski, Model greenhouse
  • Penny Brown, Garden Ventures – products for sale
  • Amanda Grearson, True Value – products for sale
  • Lowell Frank, Spenard Building Supply Garden Center ??
  • Michelle Putz, Locally grown environmental benefits?
  • Rick Peterson, Gardening 101 – easiest to grow, need to amend soil, etc…
  • Lori Adams, Down-to-Earth U-Pick Garden – garden promotion and information
  • Mike Tackaberry/Robin Grewe, White’s Inc. – products for sale
  • Mandy Summers, Pacific High School
  • Kelly Smitherman, National Park Service – garden at Bishops House, etc…
  • Lisa Teas, Sitka Farmers Market art debut
  • Florence Welsh, Forget-Me-Not Gardens, local garden booklet, possible plant starts
  • Hope Merritt, Gimbal Botanicals herbal teas – info on wild herbs and herbs to grow

Right after the three-hour Let’s Grow Sitka event ends, guest speaker Dave Lendrum of Juneau will speak at 3:15 p.m. on “New Vegetable Varieties, Small Fruits, and Ornamentals for Southeast Alaska.” Lendrum is a landscape designer who just finished a two-year term as president of the Southeast Alaska Master Gardener Association and with his landscape architect wife, Margaret Tharp, owns Landscape Alaska.

Dave’s life has evolved in partnership with the natural world. He grew up in California on an organic u-pick vegetable farm, learning horticulture from his parents and the 4H club. He did nursery work and continued his post-college adventure in Ecuador by starting a fresh market produce business. After being a city horticulturist at the Eugene (Ore.) Parks Department, Dave started his first nursery, Western Oregon Perennials. A few years later, he found himself in a high-temperature photosynthesis lab at Stanford. In the Pacific Northwest, Dave restored old estate gardens. When he heard Alaska’s call, he moved north to Elfin Cove. Dave and his wife started Landscape Alaska in Juneau 28 years ago. They design and build landscapes on every scale and have won numerous awards both locally and nationally. In addition, Dave is the landscape superintendent for the University of Alaska Southeast and the Southeast representative on the statewide invasive species organization (SNIPM).

For more information about Let’s Grow Sitka, contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings, weekends) or lawilson87@hotmail.com, or Cathy Lieser at 978-2572. The two event fliers for this event are posted below as Adobe Acrobat files (PDF files).

• Main flier for 2012 Let’s Grow Sitka event

• Flier for Dave Lendrum presentation after Let’s Grow Sitka event ends

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Monday, Feb. 6

The 2011-12 Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured are Johanna Willingham-Guevin and Tom Crane.

The 2011-12 Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured are Johanna Willingham-Guevin and Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St. (parking lot is off Spruce Street).

Key topics for the meeting include planning for the Let’s Grow Sitka on March 11, a recap of the Jan. 21 Sitka Local Foods Network annual meeting and potluck, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, an update on the Sitka Food Co-op, an update on recent work by the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Sitka Composting Project (Sick-a-Waste), our new logo and t-shirts, planning for spring planting at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and other community gardens, planning for upcoming events such as the Sitka Farmers Markets on alternating Saturdays from July 7-Sept. 15, and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public, usually once a month (except summer). We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-7888.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Monday, Jan. 9

The 2011-12 Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The 2011-12 Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St. (parking lot is off Spruce Street).

Key topics for the meeting include planning for the Jan. 21 Sitka Local Foods Network annual meeting, a recap of the recent SLFN board retreat, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, an update on the Sitka Food Co-op, an update on recent work by the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Sitka Composting Project, our new logo and t-shirts, planning for upcoming educational events such as Let’s Grow Sitka on March 11 and the Sitka Farmers Markets on alternating Saturdays from July 7-Sept. 15, and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public, usually once a month (except summer). We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-3475.

• Sitka Composting Project to meet on Monday, Jan. 9

Compost bins at Blatchley Community Garden

Compost bins at Blatchley Community Garden

The next meeting of the Sitka Composting Project (aka Sick-a Waste) will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, at Harrigan Centennial Hall in the Pestchouroff Room.

This meeting will include an update on the project, which is one of this year’s three community health priority projects selected during the 2011 Sitka Health Summit. The agenda will include a discussion of recent meetings with the City and Borough of Sitka and the Sitka School District about improvements to the compost site at the Blatchley Community Garden behind Blatchley Middle School. The city and school district both have been supportive, so the next steps include submitting grants and further developing the project’s business plan.

For more information, contact Justin Overdevest at 747-7509.

• Draft of Sitka Compost Project business proposal (PDF file)

• Sitka Composting Project to meet on Monday, Dec. 12

Compost bins at Blatchley Community Garden

Compost bins at Blatchley Community GardenBlatchley Community Garden

The next meeting of the Sitka Composting Project (aka Sick-a Waste) will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, at Harrigan Centennial Hall in the Pestchouroff Room.

The group decided during its Dec 6 meeting that since we are so close to the holidays and the proximity to a couple of grant deadlines by the end of the month that we will meet next week before a January meeting.

During the Dec. 6 meeting we discussed project costs, inputs and management of the proposed composting site. Due to complications with windrow composting at the Blatchley Middle School Community Gardens site, we have decided as a group to install two EarthTubs (and for the time being leave off a second site at the Sitka Recycling Center). Windrows or a larger in-vessel composter will be the target of the next stage of the project. Before the next meeting we will determine Sitka Community Schools participation in the project, make revisions to the proposal, and research technical issues with the composter (electricity, maintenance, etc.).

For more information, contact Justin Overdevest at 747-7509. The Sitka Composting Project is one of three community health priority projects selected during the 2011 Sitka Health Summit.

• Rising grocery prices raise food insecurity concerns in Sitka

(NOTE: The following letter to the editor appeared in the Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

Dear Editor,

Many in Sitka are feeling squeezed not only by rising fuel costs, but also by escalating food costs. The September 2011 Alaska Food Cost Survey, conducted by University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, calculated Sitka’s weekly food cost for a family of four as $198.41. This is a 44-percent increase since 2006, when the same market basket cost was $138.14. Sitka’s food costs are 57 percent higher than in Portland, Ore., 37 percent more than in Anchorage and 30 percent more than in Juneau.

Feeding America 2011 statistics report that 11.7 percent of Sitka’s borough is “food insecure.”  This translates to 1,030 Sitkans and other Baranof Islanders who sometimes are completely without a source of food on a regular basis.

Kids Count Alaska 2009-2010 reports that 46 percent of Sitka’s school age children and youth live in families receiving some form of public assistance i.e., Denali KidCare, food stamps, or Alaska Temporary Assistance. This is a 10-percent increase since 2007.

Alaska behavioral risk factor data from 2009 show that only 23 percent of Alaskans consume the recommended five fruits and vegetables each day and only 17 percent of adolescents eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. One of the primary reasons for this low intake is inadequate access to affordable, quality produce.

These combined statistics paint a picture of increasing vulnerability when it comes to securing nutritious food on a regular basis. In the nutrition and public health world, this tenuous access to healthy food is known as food insecurity. So, how can Sitka, collectively and creatively, respond to food insecurity? Sitka can respond by INCREASING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE LOCAL FOOD.

The Sitka Local Foods Network is working towards improving access to nutritious, local foods through five interconnected strategies. Together, these five strategies can move Sitka toward a more food-secure future. They are:

  1. Promoting traditional and customary food gathering and preservation.
  2. Developing the Let’s Grow Sitka gardening campaign to assist Sitkans in learning to grow some of their own food.
  3. Growing the number of community gardens to augment the garden behind Blatchley Middle School. The 4-year-old St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is a recent example.
  4. Coordinating regular Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer growing and gathering seasons.
  5. Creating a community greenhouse and promoting commercial greenhouses to increase year-round access to local fruits and vegetables.

If you are interested in supporting this effort, please commit to one of the following actions:

  • Attend the Let’s Grow Sitka extravaganza as part of Artigras from noon-3pm on March 11, 2012, at the ANB Hall to learn how to grow your own food
  • Volunteer to work at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm this spring or the Sitka Farmers Market this summer
  • Support the Sitka Farmers Market which begins July 7, 2012, and runs every other Saturday morning through Sept. 15, 2012.
  • Mail a tax-deductible, year-end contribution to the Sitka Local Food Network at 408-D Marine Street, Sitka, AK 99835.

Together, we can make food security a reality in Sitka.

Sincerely,

Sitka Local Foods Network Board and Friends
(Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Charles Bingham, Kerry MacLane, Doug Osborne, Ellen Frankenstein, Maybelle Filler, Robin Grewe)

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Wednesday, Dec. 7

The Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the upstairs offices at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St.

Key topics for the meeting include a recap of the recent SLFN board retreat, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, an update on the Sitka Food Co-op, an update on recent work by the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Sitka Composting Project, our new logo and t-shirts, planning for upcoming educational events such as Let’s Grow Sitka in March, and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public, usually once a month (except summer). We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-3475.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting agenda for Dec. 7, 2011

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Tuesday, Nov. 8

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the upstairs offices at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St. (NOTE: This is a change from the original Monday meeting date previously announced.)

Key topics for the meeting include discussion of the upcoming SLFN board retreat, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, an update on Food Day on Oct. 24, an update on recent work by the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Sitka Composting Project, our new logo and t-shirts, planning for upcoming educational events such as Let’s Grow Sitka in March, and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public, usually on the first Monday of the month (except summer). We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-3475.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Thursday, Sept. 8

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s new office in the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St.

Key topics for the meeting include the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, the Running of the Boots fundraiser on Sept. 24, an update on St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, other garden projects in town (Sprucecott Garden with high tunnels/hoop houses, Blatchley Community Gardem), educational projects, Food Day on Oct. 24, the Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 29-Oct. 1, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, a report on a possible meeting and board training with the Foraker Group, our new logo and t-shirts, and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public. We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Thursday, May 12

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s new office in the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St.

Key topics for the meeting include the start of work parties at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, preparations for the upcoming Sitka Farmers Market season, an update on fruit tree planting efforts from the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative, an update on the Sitka Seafood Festival, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project, a recap of the Let’s Grow Sitka event on March 20, an update on Blatchley Community Garden plans for the spring and summer, an update on the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Fish In Schools Hooray (FISH) project to get more locally caught fish into school menus.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public. We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.