• Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event is Sunday, March 20

Mark your calendars, because the 2011 “Let’s Grow Sitka” gardening education event opens at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street. Celebrate the first day of spring and get ready to garden.

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. This year’s theme is “Adding edibles to your landscape — focus on fruit trees and berry bushes.”

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau will be on hand to provide expertise during the show. Buyarski will give a special presentation on “Growing Fruit in Southeast Alaska” at 11 a.m. on March 20 at ANB Hall (just before the show opens).

Buyarski also will lead some free hands-on tree pruning workshops on Saturday, March 19, with the first tree pruning workshop at 10:30 a.m. at the trees outside Patty Bickar’s house, 310 Cascade (at the top of the hill). The tree pruning workshops will continue Saturday afternoon at the trees outside the home of Tory O’Connell, 608 Etolin Way (off Baranof Street downtown). Buyarski will provide instruction on how to properly prune the trees and bushes to encourage fruit production and maintain healthy growth. Pruning needs to be done before the trees bud, so NOW is the time to get it done. The tree pruning workshops are hosted by the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative.

The Sitka Local Foods Network encourages people to share their knowledge by hosting a booth or posting an educational display about a specific garden topic. We especially want people with experience growing fruit trees to share their knowledge about growing apple, cherry or crabapple trees in Sitka; growing strawberries; growing rhubarb; growing unusual berry varieties that do well in our climate such as aronia, sea buckthorn, honeysuckle (fruiting), gooseberry, currant and elderberry; and how to legally transplant and cultivate wild berry bushes to your property.

In addition, you can learn about home greenhouses, how to prepare your soil, how to raise chickens and what to do with all those slugs. Buy seeds and plant starts. Swap ideas and tips. Come learn, share, and get ready to grow your garden. Learn about plans for the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. Let’s Grow Sitka is organized by the Sitka Local Foods Network and is part of the Arti Gras Sitka Music and Arts Festival, which takes place March 6-20.

There still are a few FREE tables available for vendors, education and demonstrations. For more information about Let’s Grow Sitka or to reserve table space, contact Linda Wilson at lawilson87@hotmail.com or call her at 747-3096 (in the evenings or on weekends only). She also has information about the tree pruning workshops.

Master gardeners are encouraged to sign up to share their personal experience on how to create a successful garden in Sitka. Also, anyone with a garden-related product or service to sell is invited to participate. Some of the expected booths are from:

  • True Value Garden Center (type Sitka or 99835 into the store locator search bar) — garden supplies
  • White’s, Inc/Harry Race Pharmacy — garden books, magazines, accessories
  • Garden Ventures — lots of lovely primroses for sale along with garden supplies
  • Lori Adams — Down-To-Earth U-Pick garden promotion
  • Andrew Thoms — raising chickens and chicks for sale (Andrew suggests anybody wanting to buy chicks contact him as soon as possible so he can start incubating the eggs. He can be reached at 747-3747 or andrew@sitkawild.org.)
  • Eve Grutter — jams for sale, garden and raising chickens expertise to share
  • Sitka Local Foods Network — garden information and volunteer sign up
  • Sitka Farmers Market — tomato plant starts for sale, Farmers Market information
  • St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm — seed starter kits
  • Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative — information on growing your own fruit trees and berry bushes in Sitka
  • Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative — community fruit tree mapping project
  • Sitka Seed Savers — information on how to save your own garden seed, and a sign up to participate in an educational workshop on how to save vegetable seed and start a seed savers group in Sitka
  • Display and information handouts on growing rhubarb and its nutritional benefits
  • UAF Cooperative Extension Service — lots of free garden handouts
  • Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau — edible landscaping

• Let’s Grow Sitka event flier for March 20, 2011, at ANB Hall (please print and post around town)

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• FISH, Tree work groups set meetings to continue Sitka Health Summit project work

FISH (Fish In School, Hooray!) will hold an informal meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the front desk at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center to make plans for its next school meal featuring locally  caught wild fish. The other local-food-related project from the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative, also has an upcoming meeting, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The FISH project served its first special fish lunch at Blatchley Middle School in January, a red snapper fishwich. About 20 percent of the students chose the fish entrée (24 out of 120 lunches served), so the FISH group wants to look at ways they can better market the health and economic benefits of eating locally caught fish to the students. The informal meeting is scheduled during Tuesday’s open house/reopening event at Hames (5-7 p.m.) since many group members already were planning to attend the event. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or maclanekerry@yahoo.com.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative will be trying to set where it plans to plant fruit trees around Sitka later this spring, with the ultimate goal of planting 200 new apple, crabapple and cherry trees in Sitka. A brief description of the project is available in the document posted below. To learn more about the project, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or 3akharts@acsalaska.net.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative brief project description

• Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative planting group to meet on Tuesday, Jan. 18

Apples are still on the tree in front of a house on Sawmill Creek Road in early December 2010.

Apples are still on the tree in front of a house on Sawmill Creek Road in early December 2010.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative planting work group will meet from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. All members of the public are welcome to attend.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative hopes to plant 200 apple, crabapple or cherry trees in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011. The group just turned in an order of 40 “project” apple trees — 30 Williams Pride and 10 Pristine — with Garden Ventures. Penny Brown, owner of Garden Ventures, also has an order of 60 fruit trees coming for her regular supply.

A key agenda item will be updating the list of possible locations to plant the fruit trees. Several local residents already have expressed interest in purchasing trees to grow in their yards, and the group has worked with local businesses, churches and other landowners to see if they are interested in trees.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative continues to host fundraising events where Sitka residents can buy shares of fruit trees for $100 (full), $50 (half) or $25 (quarter). They also can buy shares in fruit-producing berry bushes ($25). The fruit tree shares make nice alternative gifts, and purchasers receive a certificate to give. To learn more, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 747-5985. The gift information brochure is posted below as a PDF file.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Project gift information brochure

• Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative to meet on Monday, Dec. 13

Apples are still on the tree in front of a house on Sawmill Creek Road in early December 2010.

Apples are still on the tree in front of a house on Sawmill Creek Road in early December 2010.

Folks working on the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative hopes to plant 200 apple, crabapple or cherry trees in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011. The group just turned in an order of 40 “project” apple trees — 30 Williams Pride and 10 Pristine — with Garden Ventures. Penny Brown, owner of Garden Ventures, also has an order of 60 fruit trees coming for her regular supply.

In the meantime, the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative continues to host fundraising events where Sitka residents can buy shares of fruit trees for $100 (full), $50 (half) or $25 (quarter). They also can buy shares in fruit-producing berry bushes ($25). The fruit tree shares make nice alternative gifts this holiday season, and purchasers receive a certificate to place under the Christmas tree. To learn more, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 747-5985. The gift information brochure is posted below as a PDF file.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Project gift information brochure

• Sitka fruit tree shares to be sold at two markets this weekend (Dec. 3-5)

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative will be at two market/bazaar booths this weekend to sell shares in fruit trees that will be planted this spring in Sitka.

The group will be part of Linda Wilson’s jewelry booth (Booth 5 in the Exhibit Room) at the Sitka Artisans Market from 4-9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 3-5) at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The fruit tree shares also will be sold at the St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church ECW (Episcopal Church Women) Christmas Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 4) at the Sea House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, 611 Lincoln St.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative is selling shares in fruit trees as a fundraiser to get the money the group needs to purchase the 200 apple, crabapple and cherry trees it plans to plant in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit (Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011). The tree shares will be sold as quarter shares ($25), half shares ($50) and full shares ($100). People also can buy a share in fruit-bearing bushes ($25 each). This is one of four community health priority projects decided at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit on Oct. 4-5, 2010.

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

People who buy shares in the fruit trees will receive a gift certificate that can be given as an alternate present this holiday season. The trees will be planted around town this spring, with the idea that not only will the fruit trees beautify Sitka but they also will provide people with a tasty treat as they walk by. Once the trees are planted and start bearing fruit, a portion of the fruit will be donated to local organizations that provide free or reduced-cost meals to people in need.

For more information, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 747-5985. For those who can’t attend this weekend’s market/bazaar, the PDF file posted below has information on how to order tree shares.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Project gift information brochure

• Sitka Health Summit project to plant 200 fruit trees gains momentum

A cluster of Parkland apples (photo from the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association gallery, http://www.apfga.org/)

A cluster of Parkland apples (photo from the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association gallery, http://www.apfga.org/)

The work group formed during the 2010 Sitka Health Summit to plant 200 fruit trees in Sitka met on Monday, Nov. 8, and the project is gaining momentum.

The group plans to plant 200 apple, crabapple or cherry trees in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011. The work group has been researching which trees grow best in Sitka’s climate, researching possible funding sources, and researching possible locations to plant 200 fruit trees around the community. The work group also might plant some berry bushes around town to complement the fruit trees.

The group will go public with some of its plans during the Sitka Conservation Society‘s wild foods potluck and annual meeting from at 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

A couple of members in the work group attended the city’s Tree and Landscape Committee’s meeting later in the week and presented a list of about 3-4 dozen locations around Sitka they think might make good locations for fruit trees.

Notes from both meetings are posted below as PDF files. The next meeting for the 200 fruit trees in Sitka work group is from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. For more information, contact Kari Lundgren at kari.lundgren@searhc.org or 738-2089.

• Notes from the Sitka Fruit Tree Planting Work Group meeting held on Nov. 8, 2010

• List of possible fruit tree locations presented at the Sitka Tree and Landscape Committee

• Planting fruit trees in Sitka and getting more seafood into local school meals are 2010 Sitka Health Summit projects

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

When Sitka residents met for the community planning day during the Sitka Health Summit earlier this month, two of the four health priority projects they chose to work on this year centered around local food issues.

One of the projects is to plant 200 fruit trees — apples, crabapples or cherry trees — in Sitka by the next Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011. The other food-related project is to get more locally caught wild fish into school lunch menus.

Both groups already are making progress toward their goals, and public meetings have been organized so Sitka residents can participate.

The fruit tree planting group meets from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25, at The Loft (408 Oja Way, Suite A, located across the residential street and a couple of buildings over from the Sitka Police Department’s side entry door on Oja Way). Apple cider and an apple dish will be offered.

All Sitka residents are welcome, especially those who have grown fruit trees in Sitka or Southeast Alaska and can share their experiences. Group member Lisa Sadleir-Hart created a brief survey about fruit trees in Sitka, and you can answer it by clicking this link, http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QPWMJ3N. Please complete the survey, even if you can’t attend the meeting. The group temporarily is being facilitated by Kari Lundgren, who can be reached at 738-2089 for more information.

Black cod (aka sablefish) on the grill from the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association booth at the Sitka Farmers Market

Black cod (aka sablefish) on the grill from the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association booth at the Sitka Farmers Market

The wild fish for school lunches group has been meeting with officials with the Sitka School District and Mt. Edgecumbe High School, local fish vendors, catchers and processors, to see what they can do to get more locally caught wild fish — salmon, halibut, cod, sablefish, rockfish, etc. — served in Sitka schools.

The wild fish group’s first meeting will be for a fish lunch at noon on Friday, Nov. 19, at Pacific High School. Some people will show up at 11 a.m. to help cook the fish, which will be served at noon, and the actual meeting will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the Southeast Alaska Career Center (located right behind Pacific High School). To learn more about the group, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or maclanekerry@yahoo.com.