Fish to Schools program launches coho salmon and rockfish donation drive for commercial fishermen

The Fish to Schools program needs help from Sitka’s commercial fishermen. The program needs a few hundred pounds of coho salmon and rockfish to help make Fish to Schools meals for Sitka students during the upcoming 2018-19 school year. The program also is seeking photos of commercial fishermen at work, which can be used to teach the students more about how the fish got to their plates.

The coho salmon donation period is Monday. Aug. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 2. To donate, commercial fishermen can sign up and indicate how many pounds they want to donate when they offload at Seafood Producers Cooperative or Sitka Sound Seafoods during the donation period. The program can only accept commercially caught fish (no sport or subsistence fish). The hope is to get enough coho salmon and rockfish donated that locally caught fish can be offered to students at least once a week. Sign-up sheets will be posted at the scale shacks and in the main offices. Only coho salmon and rockfish will be accepted.

Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School student Naomi Capp, age 9, talks with fisherman Steve Lawrie Wednesday (April 25, 2018) during lunch at the school. The elementary school was hosting fishermen who donated part of their catch to the Fish to Schools program. The program is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society and provides fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, Pacific High School, the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

The Sitka Fish To Schools project (click here to see short video) got its start as a community wellness project at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, and now is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society. It started by providing a monthly fish dish as part of the school lunch as Blatchley Middle School, and since then has grown to feature regular fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary SchoolKeet Gooshi Heen Elementary SchoolBlatchley Middle SchoolSitka High SchoolPacific High School (where the alternative high school students cook the meals themselves), the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School.

In addition to serving locally caught fish meals as part of the school lunch program, the Fish To Schools program also brings local fishermen, fisheries biologists and chefs to the classroom to teach the kids about the importance of locally caught fish in Sitka. The program received an innovation award from the Alaska Farm To Schools program during a community celebration dinner in May 2012, and now serves as a model for other school districts from coastal fishing communities. In May 2014, the Fish to Schools program released a guidebook so other school districts in Alaska could create similar programs.

For more information, contact Chandler O’Connell of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or email chandler@sitkawild.org. If you would like to donate FAS (frozen at sea) fish, please call or text Lexi Fish Hackett at 738-5684.

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Scenes from the Sitka Kitch cooking with seaweed class held in conjunction with the Sitka Mermaid Festival

Students made a no-bake mini-cheesecake with agar agar (a red seaweed derivitive) and tried some wheat and seaweed pasta during the Sitka Kitch’s cooking with seaweed class held Tuesday, Aug. 14, as part of the inaugural Sitka Mermaid Festival.

One of the focus areas of the Sitka Mermaid Festival is how to cultivate, harvest and use seaweed, kelp and other sea veggies as a food source and as a commercial enterprise.

This class was team-taught by Sitka Mermaid Festival organizer Amelia Mosher and Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals, with assistance from Roby Littlefield.

Amelia grew up in Sitka and recently returned to town after living in the Lower 48. She has worked as a health educator and also in commercial kitchens in Hawai’i. She taught the cooking portion of the class.

Hope is the owner of Gimbal Botanicals, which sells a variety of seaweed, beach asparagus, sea veggies, teas and other products around town. Hope and Roby taught students about harvesting seaweed, including traditional harvest methods, while also providing samples of various types of seaweed for the students to try.

A slideshow of scenes from the class is posted below.

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Scenes from the Sitka Kitch class on how to fillet a salmon held Aug. 7 with the Sitka Seafood Festival

Students learned how to fillet a salmon during a Sitka Kitch class held Tuesday, Aug. 7, in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival. The class took place at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church).

Renée Jakaitis Trafton, owner/chef at Beak Restaurant, taught the class. Not only did she show students how to get more meat in their fillets, but she also showed them how to pick pinbones and skin the fillet (for those wanting salmon skins to use for arts and crafts.

The salmon used in the class were hatchery kings donated from the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association’s (NSRAA’s) Medvejie Hatchery, and each student in this class received a fillet knife to take home.

The next Sitka Kitch class is a cooking with seaweed class held from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, as part of the Sitka Mermaid Festival. This class will be taught by Sitka Mermaid Festival coordinator Amelia Mosher and Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals. They are still finalizing their plans for the class, but they plan to make something using agar agar (a red seaweed derivative used for jellies and other products). They also could teach a no-bake cheesecake using seaweed and seaweed smoothies.

The cooking with seaweed class costs $27.50, plus a supply/food fee split among the students. The class size is limited, so register early to guarantee your spot in the class. The registration deadline is 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11. Register online at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title) using a debit or credit card or PayPal account, or call Claire, Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange the drop-off of a cash or check payment. For more information, contact Amelia Mosher at (707) 672-2909, Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440, Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

A slideshow of scenes from the how to fillet a salmon class is posted below.

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Sitka Kitch to host ‘cooking with seaweed’ class Aug. 14 as part of Sitka Mermaid Festival

As part of the inaugural Sitka Mermaid Festival, learn how to cook with edible seaweed products and local favorites from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church). One of the focus areas of the Sitka Mermaid Festival is how to cultivate, harvest and use seaweed, kelp and other sea veggies as a food source and as a commercial enterprise.

This class will be team taught by Sitka Mermaid Festival organizer Amelia Mosher and Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals. They are still finalizing their plans for the class, but they plan to make something using agar agar (a red seaweed derivative used for jellies and other products). They also could teach a no-bake cheesecake using seaweed and seaweed smoothies.

Amelia grew up in Sitka and recently returned to town after living in the Lower 48. She has worked as a health educator and also in commercial kitchens in Hawai’i. Hope is the owner of Gimbal Botanicals, which sells a variety of seaweed, beach asparagus, sea veggies, teas and other products around town.

This class costs $27.50 per student, plus a food/supply fee that will be split among all the registered students. The class size is limited, so register early to guarantee your spot in the class.

The registration deadline is 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11. Register online at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title) using a debit or credit card or PayPal account, or call Claire, Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange the drop-off of a cash or check payment. For more information, contact Amelia Mosher at (707) 672-2909, Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440, Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

Sitka Kitch to host class on how to fillet a salmon Aug. 7 for Sitka Seafood Festival

Sitkans love their seafood, and the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen is offering a great class in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival.

From 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church), local chef Renée Jakaitis Trafton of Beak Restaurant will teach students how to fillet a salmon. This includes lessons on how to remove the pinbones from the salmon and how to remove the skin.

The Sitka Seafood Festival is providing fish for the class, so there should be no food/supply fee. The class costs $30, which includes a new fillet knife for every student.

The registration deadline is 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4. Registration is capped at 10 students so sign up early to secure your space in this class. Register online here using a debit or credit card or PayPal account, or call Claire, Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange the drop-off of a cash or check payment. For more information, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440, Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

Scenes from the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz held July 9 at the Sitka Kitch

Students learned how to make sauerkraut using a variety of fresh vegetables during the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz held Monday, July 9, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, is a nationally recognized food writer and fermentation guru. He has been traveling through Southeast Alaska (Sitka, Juneau, Haines, and Gustavus) to offer community education and workshops about the fermentation of vegetables. The trip was coordinated by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), which offered a reduced fee to the class (the workshop sold out within a couple of days of it being offered, even though the class size was nearly double the usual size of a Sitka Kitch class).

The workshop included:
  • a discussion of “what is fermentation?”
  • why fermentation is practiced worldwide
  • the many practical benefits of fermentation
  • functional concepts about fermentation
  • instruction on how to make sauerkraut with a variety of vegetables
  • information about what to do with sauerkraut at home and how long to store it
  • troubleshooting any problems with home fermentation

Students left with their own jar of kraut, plus a wealth of knowledge on safe home fermentation practices.

A slideshow of scenes from the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz is posted below.

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Sitka Kitch to host fermentation workshop with Sandor Katz on July 9

Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, is a nationally recognized food writer and fermentation guru. He will be traveling through Southeast Alaska (Sitka, Juneau, Haines, and Gustavus) to offer community education and workshops about the fermentation of vegetables.

Sandor’s trip to Southeast Alaska includes a fermentation workshop from 5:30-8 p.m. on Monday, July 9, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church). This class costs $15 per student, and is sponsored by SEARHC, with hopes of making community food education accessible to all. There is no food/supply fee for this class.

Join this hands-on fermentation workshop with a true fermentation expert to learn how to ferment vegetables at home easily and safely to create a delicious, nutrient-packed superfood.

The workshop will include:
  • a discussion of “what is fermentation?”
  • why fermentation is practiced worldwide
  • the many practical benefits of fermentation
  • functional concepts about fermentation
  • instruction on how to make sauerkraut with a variety of vegetables
  • information about what to do with sauerkraut at home and how long to store it
  • troubleshooting any problems with home fermentation

Students will leave with their own jar of kraut, plus a wealth of knowledge on safe home fermentation practices.

Note: Please bring a chef’s knife and vegetable grater if you have them. Some knives and graters will be provided if students don’t bring these supplies from home.

Class space is limited, so register early. The registration deadline is 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 7.

Register online at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on the class title) and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal. To pre-pay by cash or check, contact Chandler, Claire, or Clarice at 747-7509 to arrange payment. For more information about the class, contact Holly at 966-8938 or holly.marban@searhc.org.

This is one of several classes hosted by the Sitka Kitch this summer. The Sitka Kitch will host a rescheduled Starting A Cottage Foods Business class from noon until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. There will be a Rambunctious Rhubarb class with Lisa Sadleir-Hart from 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, June 25, at the Sitka Kitch. The Sitka Kitch also will host a three-class Baking With Betsy series from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, July 3 (savory breads), July 10 (sweet breads), and July 17 (baking with alternative sweeteners), at the Sitka Kitch. We’re also waiting to hear details on a couple of other potential classes later this summer, so watch for updates.