• Sitka Assembly to give second reading Dec. 9 on plan to allow home horticulture stands

Sitka Local Foods Network President Lisa Sadleir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden, which she and husband Tom Hart cultivate.

Sitka Local Foods Network President Lisa Sadleir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden, which she and husband Tom Hart cultivate.

The Sitka Assembly will take up a plan to allow temporary home horticulture stands in residential areas during its Dec. 9 meeting at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This will be the second reading for the proposal, which passed unanimously on first reading during the Sitka Assembly’s Nov. 25 meeting. (EDITOR’S NOTE: This ordinance passed 6-0 on second reading Dec. 9, with one member absent, and will now be added to the Sitka General Code. There was some discussion about the business license requirement, but the Assembly left the requirement in.)

Ordinance 2014-38 streamlines the permitting process for home gardeners who want to set up a temporary produce stand in front of their homes to sell their extra veggies. Instead of having to go all the way to the Assembly for approval, under this proposal the Sitka Planning Commission can make the decision.

“This is an example of something that we can do very specifically to improve our food system here in Sitka,” said Sitka Local Foods Network Lisa Sadleir-Hart, who first proposed the change to the Planning Commission this summer with her husband Tom Hart. “Secondly, it’ll increase economic opportunities for Sitkans who garden or are in small farm production. Third, it’ll keep produce dollars circulating locally. Fourth, it increases neighborhood access to fresh fruits and vegetables. And fifth, it may spur other Sitkans to consider growing for more than their families and lead to further increases in our food security.”

The ordinance will allow garden stands in residential areas, but they’d be limited to six feet by eight feet. And to reduce the impact on neighbors, stands can only operate four hours a day, two days a week, between May and October. The ordinance specifically doesn’t include livestock or animal products. Home gardeners who set up produce stands in front of their homes will be required to have a business license and pay city sales tax.

• Sitka Assembly to hear proposal to allow temporary front-yard produce stands for local gardeners

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

The Sitka Assembly is scheduled at its Tuesday, Nov. 25, meeting a proposal that will allow local gardeners to host temporary front-yard produce stands in residential areas.

Lisa Sadeir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

Lisa Sadeir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

The proposal will modify city code to change commercial use horticulture from a conditional use in residential and island zones to a permitted use. It was passed unanimously by the Sitka Planning Commission during that group’s Oct. 21 meeting, with a change that will allow an expedited review and permitting process from the Planning Commission, so home gardeners don’t have to go all the way to the Assembly for a permit. The current zoning code allows for you-pick gardens, such as Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden, but doesn’t allow for temporary home produce stands.

Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart and her husband, Tom Hart, who operate Anam Cara Garden, first proposed the idea in August. They felt home gardeners can go through the permitting process during the winter, so they can operate their front-yard produce stands during the summer. The Planning Commission included a variety of rules on size, hours, neighbor notification, parking needs, etc., and it will review each proposed produce stand.

“I believe the public collaboration process works — it was good being able to work with the commission to make adjustments it was concerned about,” Sadleir-Hart said, according to an Oct. 22 article in the Daily Sitka Sentinel. “It will move us closer in terms of increasing the presence of locally produced food in our community. It will give Sitkans an opportunity to sell their produce to their neighbors, and benefit their pocketbooks as well.”

• Meet your vendors: Linda Wilson of Seaview Garden and Jewelry Arte

LindaWilson

SitkaFarmersMarketSign(This is part of a new series of “Meet your vendors” articles, where Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel is writing features about our regular Sitka Farmers Market vendors.) 

Taking a stroll through this summer’s Sitka Farmers Markets, several perfectly baked rhubarb pies may have caught your eye. Outside in the tent next to the Sitka Local Foods Network produce tent, stood the talented gardener and craftswoman Linda Wilson, a Sitka local for the past three decades who owns Seaview Garden and Jewelry Arte.

Wilson’s father was in the USDA Forest Service. Wilson was raised in California until the age of 6, when her family moved to Ketchikan. A few years later, her father moved the family to Sitka and then to Juneau for his work. Wilson attended high school in Juneau, but yearned to be back in Sitka where they had bought a house in 1975 out on Halibut Point Road. The family returned to Sitka after Wilson’s father retired from the USDA Forest Service in 1982. Wilson lost both her mother and her brother to illnesses, and has been taking care of her father in Sitka since his retirement.

LindaWilsonWithZucchiniIn Sitka, Wilson fell into gardening, because outside of the house is where she felt she had the most control and freedom. Inside the house was dad’s territory. She ripped out her salmonberry bushes in 2004, and learned how to grow broccoli when she met Florence Welsh. Today, she grows carrots, snap peas, greens including kale, collard, and lettuce, and rhubarb. She loves composting and mostly uses coffee grounds and spent grains. At the Sitka Farmers Markets, she sold collard greens and delicious pies. Strawberry-rhubarb is her favorite.

This year, she has been growing zucchini and tomato plants inside her newly established high tunnel via a NRCS grant. She thanks those in the community who helped her put up the high tunnel, and particularly market vendor Kerry MacLane’s instrumental assistance. Even though she has retired from the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors, Linda was one of the original board members. She also was one of the first managers of the Sitka Farmers Market, and she organized the first Let’s Grow, Sitka! education event.

LindaWilsonWithPieWilson loves making homemade pizza from scratch with homegrown tomatoes, onions, sliced zucchini, nasturtiums, broccoli, garlic, and basil. She says, “I grow tomatoes because it’s a challenge, and I’m gonna get it.” She also makes a mean pesto with carrot top greens. When she produces an overabundance of produce, she donates to the Salvation Army.

She loves to go mushroom foraging, and also picks berries to make a variety of jams. Her favorite is blueberry-huckleberry jam.

From 1985 until 2007, Wilson managed one of the local gift shops in town, where they sold authentic Russian imports. From 2003 to 2006, she also worked on a cruise ship in the Baltic Sea where she lectured on Russian arts and crafts, knowledge she had gained while managing the gift shop. Today, she works part-time with the Sitka Economic Development Association (SEDA), takes care of her father, and makes beautiful sculpted wire jewelry with gemstones.

Every February, Wilson makes a two-week trip down to one of the biggest jewelry shows in the world. She has attended the show 12 out of the past 13 years. Her favorite stones are fossils: coral, ammonites, and sand dollars, because, she says, “They used to be living.” She has a rock shop in her house where she houses her jewelry making studio with beautiful stones and lapidary equipment including a slab saw, trim saw, grinder, and rock tumbler, throughout. “Nature makes amazing things.”

LindaWilsonsJewelryWhen she is not out in the garden, tending to her father, or making jewelry, Wilson loves “petting kitty bellies.” They have two cats, Spike and Sandy, at home, though many more are buried out back. “Serving as compost,” Wilson jokes.

If you don’t see her at the Sitka Farmers Market, make sure to check out Linda Wilson’s beautiful jewelry at the Island Artists Gallery, an artists cooperative on Lincoln Street. Her jewelry makes great gifts for yourself, family members, and friends.

• Panel looks at allowing garden sales at homes

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

(The following article appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 3, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

By TOM HESSE
Sentinel Staff Writer

A potential zoning change that would allow gardeners to sell their extra produce from home started to take shape at Tuesday night’s Planning Commission meeting.

Lisa Sadleir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

Lisa Sadeir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

The proposal was brought forth by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and Thomas Hart [who own Anam Cara Garden] during an August meeting. The idea is to allow Sitkans with large gardens to sell their produce from their homes, which would include those in R-1, R-1 MH, R-2, R-2 MHP, GI and LI zoned districts. Since the zoning revision was first proposed, the city planning department has been trying to shape the rules, and Planning Director Wells Williams told commission members that there are a number of forms they could take.

“Like anything else, it’s a fairly simple concept but it gets complicated fairly quickly,” Williams said.

Currently, you-pick style gardens are allowed under a conditional use permit. Williams said the new proposal, which is being called commercial home horticulture, could follow a similar path. The big difference would be that gardeners could sell their produce and have a small stand in their yards where they could sell it. Those differences could be an issue in some neighborhoods, said commissioner Chris Spivey.

“There are definitely a lot of concerns about the sheer fact of having anything commercial in an R-1,” Spivey said.

Because of that, requests for commercial home horticulture permits would be done on a case-by-case basis under the proposals now being considered. Planning staff tentatively proposed a conditional use system whereby applicants would need to notify neighbors and take their applications through the planning process.

Sadleir-Hart said a four-week process to obtain a permit would be appropriate for gardeners who are looking ahead to the next growing season.

“Most people who would be moving through this process would be moving fall through winter,” she said. “To me that would be plenty of time and just being a good neighbor.”

Some of the issues commission members raised were about the days and times when sales would be allowed, how large garden stands could be, and how best to handle applications.

After a discussion, the commissioners decided the best system may be to set hours on a permit-to-permit basis.

“It’s that way with a lot of conditional use permits that we do. It varies from neighborhood to neighborhood,” commission member Richard Parmalee said.

Specifics are far from being concrete, but stands 6 feet by 8 feet in size, with an awning, are in the current proposal. They would be temporary, so they would be up only during the growing season.

“You’re going to have people in the neighborhood that want something that is aesthetically pleasing or temporary and easily broken down,” Spivey said.

Commissioners did take out a items from the original proposal, regarding greenhouses and sheds.

Williams said the planning office would take the comments from Tuesday night’s meeting and start drawing up a draft proposal with more specifics. The issue will be discussed further when the panel meets on Sept. 16.

• 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.

• 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.

• It’s time to … get out into the garden and pick your rhubarb

Rhubarb

Your Sitka Local Foods Network reminds you it’s time to get out in the garden and, finally, plant your garden. Perry Edwards will host a short on-the-ground rhubarb workshop at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 7, at 131 Shelikof Way.

Rhubarb is an easy-to-grow, productive, and healthy “fruit” that grows great in Sitka. At this workshop, you will learn the right way to pick your rhubarb so it stays productive all spring and summer long.  We’ll also discuss how to plant, fertilize, and eat your rhubarb. And through a drawing, two lucky participants will go home with enough rhubarb to make a simple, delicious rhubarb sauce. Anyone may attend, but parking space is limited, so those interested in participating are asked to please consider walking, bike riding or carpooling.

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 page, Facebook 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, so please attend if you’re interested. If you can’t attend, 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.