• Sitka film featured in Palmer’s “Local Harvest, Local Food” film festival, a Sitka café featured for using local food and other local foods news

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Join the Palmer Arts Council for its inaugural “Local Harvest, Local Food” film fest from Thursday, Nov. 19, through Sunday, Nov. 22, at the Strangebird Consulting Office in downtown Palmer. “Good Food” screens at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19; “Fresh” shows at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20; “Eating Alaska” by Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein screens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21; and “Ingredients” shows at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22. After the Sunday showing there will be a discussion about women in agriculture with Cynthia Vignetti. Suggested donations are $10-15 for all films except for Sunday, which is free.

A Sitka restaurant, the Larkspur Café, was featured in Capital City Weekly last week. The article talks about the origins of the restaurant, which is located in the same building as KCAW-Raven Radio. It also discusses the restaurant’s use of local foods, including owners Amelia Budd and Amy Kane purchasing produce from the Sitka Farmers Market during the summer.

In other local foods news from around the state, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced an expansion to the state’s subsistence halibut fishery to include more rural residents (this includes the Sitka area). The new rules, which take effect on Dec. 4, redefine who qualifies as a rural resident. The previous rules defined rural residents as people living in a rural community or people belonging to a Native tribe with customary and traditional uses of halibut, and the news rules try to catch subsistence halibut users who fell outside the previous definition. Click this link for more information about subsistence halibut regulations and applications.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel has been running a brief announcement from the Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Kayaaní Commission, which is selling 2010 calendars, CDRoms and field guides about traditional uses of native plants. Here is the information:

Kayaaní Native Plant Publications Available: 2010 Kayaaní Harvest Calendars featuring native plants and their traditional and cultural uses ($16, $2 postage per address); Interactive Ethnobotanical CDRoms with native species, their Tlingít, scientific and common names, and interviews with Elders on the traditional and medicinal uses of plants ($15, $1 postage per address); Ethnobotanical Field Guides ($16, $1 postage per address). We will mail to the addresses of your choice. Order by Dec. 18 for guaranteed delivery before Christmas. Call or e-mail with your order: 907-747-7178, pbass@sitkatribe.org, STA Kayaaní Commission, 456 Katlian. All proceeds will assist the nonprofit Kayaaní Commission in protecting, perpetuating and preserving knowledge of native plants.

The Chilkat Valley News weekly newspaper from Haines featured an article about sixth-graders at Haines School learning how to compost their leftover food (including leftover meat) so it can be used for gardening. The school is working with the Takshanuk Watershed Council to teach the students about composting. The students call their compost project “Marvin” because it’s a living organism.

The Alaska Dispatch recently ran a feature called “Growing Season” that discusses some of the farms in the Matanuska-Susitna valleys that grow local food. The feature includes video clips of harvest time at a couple of the farms featured.

The Mat-Su Frontiersman had a feature called “Chicken U,” which is about raising chickens in Alaska and getting them to produce eggs during the winter months.

The Anchorage Daily News also mentioned Chicken University, which will be one of several presentations at the Alaska Farm Bureau annual meeting on Friday, Nov. 13, at the Millennium Hotel in Anchorage. Other presentations are on growing apples in Alaska and preserving your harvest.

The Anchorage Daily News also had an article about how to get local produce in Anchorage during the winter, either through the Glacier Valley CSA produce boxes from Palmer or the indoor farmers market at the Northway Mall.

Anchorage Daily News garden columnist Jeff Lowenfels wrote a column about how hydroponic gardening is easier and cheaper than ever. The column includes lots of links for people who want to try this method of growing food without soil (by the way, there is a hydroponic garden at McMurdo Station in Antarctica that keeps the scientists there stocked in fresh produce in a land of ice).

Fran Durner’s “Talk Dirt To Me” blog on the Anchorage Daily News site includes a post about how snow can act as mulch for the garden.

The Ester Republic, a monthly publication for the community near Fairbanks, runs periodic articles about sustainability and local food security issues. Some of the articles are linked in the archives, and the editors are working to get more of the past articles on these topics online so more people can enjoy them.

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• Recent articles highlight food security issue in rural Alaska

The New York Times on Saturday ran a lengthy article by former Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter Stefan Milkowski about how weak runs of king salmon are hurting Yukon River communities. The article is datelined from the village of Marshall, near the mouth of the Yukon River, where villagers already are feeling the pinch of no salmon to fill their freezers for the winter.

This is a region where heating oil costs $7 a gallon and a can of condensed milk goes for nearly $4. It also is a region that last year faced critical food shortages last year, with many faith groups from around the country sending food to help tide the residents through the winter. Click here to read accounts from “Anonymous Bloggers” about last year’s airlift and what villagers are doing to prepare for this winter.

The food shortages resulted in some July protest fisheries, which resulted in the arrest of the only police officer in Marshall, Jason Isaac, who joined other villagers in claiming state and federal fish and wildlife officials were more concerned with a Canadian fish treaty than they were about rural Alaskans. The Tundra Drums reports that 67,000 Yukon kings reached Canada, about 10,000 to 13,000 more than the treaty called for.

In relatively close-by Bethel, Tim Meyers and his wife Lisa have helped their communities food security with Meyer’s Farm, which is growing enough fruits and vegetables that Bethel residents can buy weekly boxes of locally grown produce for $30. This shows that local produce can be grown in rural Alaska to reduce our dependency on store-bought food.

Food security also hits closer to home, where state Sen. Albert Kookesh of Angoon faces a trial over subsistence fishing practices near his home village.

Not all of the local foods news in Alaska is gloom and doom this week. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner featured a story on Monday about the growth of the Delta Meat and Sausage plant in Delta Junction, which processes locally raised Galloway cattle and game meat shot by local hunters.

Also, this week’s Chilkat Valley News (Haines weekly) included a brief item about a Haines moose hunter who was the beneficiary of a snow goose dropped by a hawk that didn’t have the strength to carry its prey.

Finally, the Alaska Dispatch site includes an update on the inaugural Alaska Local Food Film Festival, which runs from Oct. 2-8 at the Beartooth Theatrepub and Grill in Anchorage. Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein presented her movie “Eating Alaska” on Sunday, Oct. 4.