CABBAGE PATCH KIDS — Baranof Elementary School first-grader Alice Ann Ricketts, 6, carries a cabbage out of the Russian Bishop’s House garden Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. First-graders were harvesting the vegetables they planted last spring when they were kindergartners during the annual event. Teachers and students were planning on making a soup with their harvested vegetables. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson, this photo appeared on Page 1 of the Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, edition)
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.
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.
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.”
Students at Sitka Adventist School recently harvested a bumper crop of veggies they grew over the summer in their new school garden. Sitka Adventist School is a small private school for grades 1-8 located at 1613 Halibut Point Road (lower level).
“Our garden is relatively new. We built and planted it in spring of 2014,” Principal/Teacher Kallie McCutcheon said. “The students helped mix dirt, shovel dirt and sand, plant seeds and seedlings, water (on the rare occasion that it wasn’t supplied from the heavens), check plants, weed, and of course, pick our wonderful produce. We picked beets, carrots, potatoes and cabbage. I decided to plant the garden to teach the kids a skill and that they CAN grow plants!”
(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.
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.
At this Saturday’s Sitka Farmers Market, Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel will host a live fermentation booth where she will give out samples of locally made sauerkraut and information on how to ferment at home.
Fermentation is an ancient process where microorganisms in our food extend their usefulness and enhance flavor. Fermentation is used in a wide variety of food from around the world, including the yeast that helps make bread, wine, beer, cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, coffee, soy sauce, and more. Sandor Katz, who wrote The Art of Fermentation, calls it “the flavorful space between fresh and rotten.”
Another advantage to fermentation is it can extend the shelf life of many foods. “It’s not forever, like canned foods that you can put into a pantry or storm cellar and forget about for 10 years and still eat it,” Katz said. “These foods are alive, they’re dynamic, but they’re extremely effective strategies for preserving food through a few seasons, which is really the point.”
Recently, one of the big discussions about fermentation is how it can help replenish healthy gut bacteria, especially when items are fermented by lactic acid bacteria. These helpful probiotics are essential in an age where so many of our foods include chlorine in the water, antibiotic drugs, antibacterial cleaning products, and other sanitizing methods that kill healthy bacteria with the bad.
In addition to learning how simple it is to make sauerkraut, visitors to the booth will be able to learn about and taste kombucha. Bring a small jar to the market so you can take a kombucha starter home with you. This week’s Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the market.
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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with info about what topics you can teach, your gardening experience, and contact information so we can add you to our database of instructors.