Moby the Mobile Greenhouse to spend rest of year at Pacific High School in Sitka

Pacific High School gardening class teacher Maggie Gallin, center right facing camera, shows Moby the Mobile Greenhouse to her students during Friday’s class.

During the Pacific High School gardening class last Friday (Feb. 15), school social worker Maggie Gallin, who teaches the class, was showing the students around Moby the Mobile Greenhouse when she asked the students to visualize what they wanted to grow in the greenhouse this year. Moby arrived in Sitka earlier in the week, just in time for the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit.

The students already have raised garden beds outside the school where they grow more traditional food crops for Sitka, such as lettuce, kale, potatoes, carrots, etc. So the students were a bit more daring in their choices.

George wants to try growing citrus. Hannah wants to grow peppers, Doug wants to grow bell peppers, while Karl and Jayvan want to try growing corn. These are crops that need a greenhouse to grow in Sitka, and they won’t grow well outside. Our climate isn’t hot enough.

“Our culinary program is really strong,” Gallin said. “But we have a garden program and a subsistence program that we want to get stronger. This will be a mini-learning lab for us on a small scale, and the students want to experiment.”

Pacific High School gardening class students discuss what crops they want to grow in the garden beds inside Moby the Mobile Greenhouse.

Pacific High School is Sitka’s alternative high school, which promotes different styles of learning and more personal attention. Principal Mandy Summer, who taught gardening classes before she became principal, said the school built its first raised garden bed in 2010 after Phil Burdick’s English class read the Paul Fleischman novel Whirligig, and the garden bed served as a place to put the whirligigs the class made where they could catch the wind. To supplement the novel, the class read articles about how to grow plants.

Over time the project grew into two classes, including one on how to build things such as more garden beds, a composter, a sifter and other items for the garden. There now are about a half-dozen raised garden beds behind the school.

The addition of Moby the Mobile Greenhouse will elevate the garden class project at Pacific High School. Moby the Mobile Greenhouse is a tiny house greenhouse project that travels to different schools in Southeast Alaska by Grow Southeast in partnership with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, Spruce Root and the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition. It was built with support from the University of Alaska Southeast, the Juneau School District, the Nature Conservancy and the Sitka Conservation Society. Before coming to Sitka, Moby spent a year each in Kake, Hoonah and Yakutat.

“Our (Pacific High’s) theme this year is growth and legacy, and Moby fits our theme,” Gallin said. “The students will be leaving something behind, and they’ll be contributing something that’s individually fulfilling.”

Moby is the size of a tiny house, and it can be pulled behind a pick-up truck. There are six small garden beds inside about waist height (three on each side), plus there are places for hanging baskets. In addition, there are rain gutters to catch rainwater to use in the garden beds. The program’s link includes a handout about Moby and a downloadable curriculum for the teachers to use.

The Pacific High School garden program already has several student-built raised garden beds, a composter, a sifter, and a small older greenhouse (from a kit) behind the school.

“Part of having Moby here is for our partnership with Baranof Elementary School, where our kids can be mentors,” Summer said, adding that in time the school hopes to grow enough food for the school lunches at both Pacific High and Baranof Elementary. There is a plot of land behind the school where Summer, Gallin and others at the school are hoping to expand the garden program, and that includes having a greenhouse or high tunnel to extend the garden season. “The plan is to have a more permanent structure.”

“Moby the Mobile Greenhouse travels to a different rural Southeast Alaska community, each growing season to kickstart interest in growing local produce, especially among young people,” said Jennifer Nu, a local foods director for the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition and a community food sustainability catalyst for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. “We hope that the greenhouse inspires a new wave of vegetable gardeners, builders, local food system advocates in Sitka and beyond. Pacific High School was chosen for strong leadership, commitment to hands-on, place-based, project-centered learning that also has wellness and community at the heart of its mission. Students at Pacific High will share their learning experience with children at Baranof Elementary school and possibly students even younger. Moby will mobilize a longer-term vision as a local food system learning center for educators around the region.”

Pacific High School garden class students and class teacher Maggie Gallin (in stocking cap with back to camera) check out Moby the Mobile Greenhouse during their class on Friday, Feb. 15.

Pacific will have Moby through October, when the garden season ends. The students will still work through the summer, even though school won’t be in session. While Moby is in Sitka, the students discussed dressing up the mobile greenhouse with Native formline drawings.

“I’m excited for more fresh produce in lunch, and working with kids,” sophomore Melissa Gibson said.

“I want to grow stuff and take care of it,” sophomore George Stevenson added.

While in Sitka, Claire Sanchez of the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program will work with Gallin. There also will be other gardeners who might help with the class. The staff at Pacific hopes having Moby in Sitka will encourage more people in town to garden.

“One of the stats Sustainable Southeast Partnership wants us to track is how many gardens are inspired by Moby,” Gallin said.

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Sitka Kitch to host potluck dinner and silent auction fundraiser on Feb. 17

The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen has a new space, and you’re invited to check it out during a potluck dinner and silent auction fundraiser from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.

This event is being held in conjunction with the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit, which runs Feb. 15-17 at various locations in Sitka. Several of the summit participants are staying in Sitka for a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training on Feb. 18.

The Sitka Kitch is now located in the Sitka Lutheran Church kitchen (224 Lincoln Street, enter through alley off Harbor Drive next to Bev’s Flowers and Gifts, but use public street parking). We’ve held a couple of our Cooking Around The World cooking classes and several Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club programs. We ask people to bring a dish to share.

This event is $10 at the door, or free if you bring a dish to share. There also will be a small silent auction and we’ll play some trivia featuring questions based on some of the recent classes and food choices at the Sitka Kitch.

Also, watch our online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com, as new classes for March will be posted soon (one is a National Nutrition Month class on the Mediterranean diet taught by SEARHC dietitian Katie Carroll, and the other an Indian cooking class taught by Dr. Supriya Mathur). Don’t forget to click on the class title to be taken to the class’s registration page. These classes are fundraisers for the Sitka Kitch.

For more information, contact Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or claire@sitkawild.org.

Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club to host six-week Wild Edibles Series for youth

Want to learn more about the food growing around you? The Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club will host a six-week Wild Edibles Series for youth from Sept. 11 through Oct. 24 at a variety of locations around Sitka.

Participants will interact with wild edibles in a variety of ways, including identification, harvest, local importance, and preparation. Ages 5-8 will meet from 3-4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, while ages 9-older will meet from 3:30-5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Spots are limited, and the cost of the series is $10 per person. The registration deadline is Thursday, Sept. 6. All participants must be registered with 4-H, which is $25 for the full year. Scholarships are available.

To learn more, contact Claire Sanchez with Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or claire@sitkawild.org.

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.

Scenes from the Sitka Kitch ‘Baking With Betsy: Alternative Sweeteners’ class on July 17

Students learned how to bake a triple chocolate date torte, a lemon polenta cake, almond chocolate chip cookies, and ginger snap cookies with pecans during the Alternative Sweeteners class, the third class in the Sitka Kitch’s three-course Baking With Betsy series, held July 17 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Sitka Kitch class series is being taught by professional baker and culinary skills instructor Betsy Peterson Sanchez of St. Charles, Ill.

In addition to the Sweet Breads class, the other two classes were :

Betsy comes from a long line of people who love to cook and that passion has been passed down to her. Although Betsy considered a career in music, she happily decided to go into what she loved the most, baking and cooking.

Betsy headed for New York and attended the Culinary Institute of America, receiving a degree in culinary arts.  Then it was off to Chicago to work as a pastry chef  in several different establishments.  Baking is Betsy’s first love, particularly yeast breads.

After a career as a pastry chef and raising her family, she went back to school. Betsy attended The French Pastry School in Chicago for a certificate in French Pastry as well as a continuing education course in Artisan Breads. Currently, Betsy teaches in a Culinary Program at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill. She is a member of The Baker’s Guild and a Chef Mentor for Fox Valley Food For Health, a non-profit providing healthy meals for families going through devastating illnesses.

Betsy is so excited to be spending part of the summer in Sitka, where she plans to spend as much time as possible with her daughter, Claire Sanchez, and enjoy the beauty of Alaska.

Classes in this series had a reduced food/supply fee thanks to a donation from Sea Mart Quality Foods.

The next Sitka Kitch class is being held from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival, when Beak Restaurant owner-chef Renée Jakaitis Trafton will teach people how to fillet a salmon. This class costs $30 (no food/supply fee), and each student will receive a new fillet knife.

A slideshow of scenes from the alternative sweeteners class is posted below.

 

 

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