• It’s time to … learn about gardening in a high tunnel

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Have you ever wanted to learn more about growing vegetables in a high tunnel or hoop house? Your Sitka Local Foods Network is teaming up with local landscape architect and 20-year Sitka gardener Barth Hamberg, who will host a free discussion about high-tunnel gardening at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25, at Hamberg’s garden.

High tunnels, also known as hoop houses or temporary greenhouses, extend the growing season so more food is produced before and after the traditional dates for growing stuff outdoors. High tunnels are different than greenhouses in that they are passively heated by the sun, so they have lower energy costs than greenhouses. This link has frequently asked questions and answers about seasonal high tunnel systems for crops.

“Last summer I constructed a high tunnel with a grant from the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service),” Hamberg said. “This is my first season in production and I’m experimenting with may different plants and learning a lot about the advantages of the high tunnel. It’s working great.”

Some of the topics Hamberg will discuss include:

  • siting and constructing a high tunnel
  • selecting a high tunnel manufacturer and style of tunnel
  • planting for winter harvest
  • planting for early spring harvest
  • high tunnel maintenance requirements
  • irrigation systems
  • making the high tunnel an enjoyable place to work and to be
  • compost-based soil fertility in the high tunnel

“My interest is growing food in the most efficient and beautiful way possible,” Hamberg said.

People interested in attending this discussion should call Hamberg at 738-9145 to reserve a space and to receive the address and directions to his garden.

The Sitka Local Foods Network education committee has been hosting a series of “It’s time to …” workshops this spring and summer designed to help local residents learn about various aspects of vegetable gardening and fruit growing. Many of these classes will be informal get-togethers at various gardens around town. Please watch our website, Facebook pageFacebook group, and local news media for information about upcoming classes. If you have an “It’s time to …” workshop you’d like to teach, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708.

The SLFN education committee is still looking to expand our network of local volunteers who can teach classes (formal and informal) this year about growing food, please email Charles Bingham at charleswbingham3@gmail.com with info about what topics you can teach, your gardening experience, and contact information so we can add you to our database of instructors.

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• It’s time to … get out and plant your vegetable garden; it’s not too late for this summer

GreensInHoopHouseStPeters

Your Sitka Local Foods Network reminds Sitkans that it’s not too late to get out and plant a vegetable garden this summer. Local gardener and Sitka Local Foods Network board member Michelle Putz will host a free discussion and hands-on planting opportunity at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, at 131 Shelikof Way.

Tour the garden and learn about planting some of Sitka’s easiest-to-grow vegetables, including carrots, lettuce, and bok choy. All are invited to attend, especially those new to gardening and growing vegetables. Freshly harvested lettuce will be given away to interested participants. Anyone may attend, but parking space is limited, so those interested in participating are asked to please consider walking, bike riding or carpooling.

“If you start soon, there is still plenty of time to get a vegetable garden growing in Sitka for this year,” Michelle Putz said. “Many easy-to-grow plants can be started now whether in pots, planters, or garden beds. And if your garden is a little challenging like mine, now is a good time to replant or add more seeds in the thin areas.”

The Sitka Local Foods Network is hosting a series of “It’s time to …” workshops this spring and summer designed to help local residents learn about various aspects of vegetable gardening and fruit growing. Many of these classes will be informal get-togethers at various gardens around town. Please watch our website, Facebook pageFacebook group, and local news media for information about upcoming classes. If you have an “It’s time to …” workshop you’d like to teach, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708.

We are still looking to expand our network of local volunteers who can teach classes (formal and informal) this year about growing food, please email Charles Bingham at charleswbingham3@gmail.com with info about what topics you can teach, your gardening experience, and contact information so we can add you to our database of instructors.

• Suzan Brawnlyn, the Chef at the Market, provides her recipes from the second Sitka Farmers Market

Suzan Brawnlyn, the Chef at the Market, holds a sample cup of honey miso-glazed black cod with broccoli and bok choy stir fry during a cooking demonstration on July 21, 2012, at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season.

Suzan Brawnlyn, the Chef at the Market, holds a sample cup of honey miso-glazed black cod with broccoli and bok choy stir fry during a cooking demonstration on July 21, 2012, at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season.

This year, the Sitka Local Foods Network is happy to feature local chef Suzan Brawnlyn as its “Chef at the Market.” Suzan received a grant to provide cooking demonstrations at at least four of our six markets this year. Suzan also has been making her recipes available so people can try them at home. Her recipes from the second market on July 21 are posted below. To get her first batch of recipes, click this link.

The next Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.).The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking volunteers to help set up tables and tents before the market starts, and to tear down and pack up the market after it ends. We need volunteers for all of the remaining markets (Aug. 4, 18, Sept. 1 and 15). If you have a strong back and helping hands, please contact Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 for more details.

• Chef at the Market recipes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season, July 21, 2012

• Rhubarb, greens ready at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

Rhubarb and several types of greens will be available during the work party scheduled for 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street).

Besides rhubarb, the available veggies include spinach, kale, lettuce, basil, Swiss chard and bok choy. Many of these items were grown at Seaview Gardens.

These items are available for a $3 donation for greens or a bundle of rhubarb, or $2 for a small bundle of basil. Donations will help support St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, a communal garden that produces veggies for the Sitka Farmers Market, local food charities and other programs. WIC farmers market vouchers and fruit and vegetable vouchers are welcome.

In addition, help is needed to help harvest produce that’s ready for picking on Sitka Farmers Market days (on alternate Saturdays, July 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27 and Sept. 10). Early risers can show up at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm between 6:30-9 a.m. to help harvest for the markets that run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On weeks when there is no market, there will be regular work parties from 2-4 p.m. at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm.

To learn more about the garden work parties, please contact Laura Schmidt at 623-7003 or 738-7009. To learn more about the available produce, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985.