Sitka Local Foods Network seeks volunteer instructors for 2019 spring garden education classes

Are you an experienced Sitka gardener who wants to share your knowledge with the community? The Sitka Local Foods Network is looking for a few volunteer instructors to teach garden education classes this spring.

Classes typically last about 1 1/2 to two hours, and they can cover a variety of Sitka garden topics. In past years we’ve had people teach classes such as Sitka Gardening 101, How to Extend Your Garden Season, How to Grow Potatoes, How to Grow Rhubarb, How to Grow Fruit Trees, How to Grow Garlic (this class was in the fall), How to Raise Chickens, How to Container Garden, How to Compost, and more. The past two years we even had a class on Cottage Food Business Basics (with the help of the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service) to help vendors prepare for the Sitka Farmers Market.

Most of the classes tend to be low-key, and the class sizes have ranged from 2-35 depending on the topic. Some classes have been hands-on (with students planting starts in trays), while others have been lectures or group conversations. It depends on the instructor and class. A few classes have been taught at people’s home gardens, but we also have hosted others at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (Thursday nights work best for this venue). Most of our classes are offered for free, except for a couple that had a small supply fee. If you need help preparing a lesson plan, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service provides a variety of free and low-cost publications on Alaska gardening topics that can be downloaded from the Publications part of its website.

If you are available to teach a course or two, please contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com so we can build a schedule.

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Tuesday’s the day to start filing your 2019 PFD applications with Pick.Click.Give. donations

As 2018 winds to a close, many Alaskans already are thinking about applying for their 2019 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check in January. As usual, Alaskans can share their wealth with a variety of Alaska nonprofits, including the Sitka Local Foods Network, through the PFD’s Pick.Click.Give. program.

This is the fifth year the Sitka Local Foods Network will participate in the Pick.Click.Give. program, which allows people to donate in $25 increments to their favorite statewide and local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations when they file their PFD applications from Jan. 1 through March 31.

When you choose to donate part of your PFD to the Sitka Local Foods Network, you support the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, education programs about growing and preserving food, the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, Sitka Community Gardens, matching dollars at the Sitka Farmers Market for SNAP/WIC beneficiaries, the sustainable use of traditional foods, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, the Sitka Food Summit, and a variety of other projects designed to increase access to healthy local foods in Sitka. We recently launched the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest to try and inspire entrepreneurs in Sitka to work more with local foods.

In 2018 Alaskans contributed $2.5 million to 617 Alaska nonprofit organizations, and more than $21.1 million has been donated since the program started in 2009. Some Alaskans choose to donate to just one group, while others may spread several donations around to many groups. There now are more than 600 total 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations participating in Pick.Click.Give. for 2019 (including multi-location nonprofits), including 21 from Sitka. In 2017, Alaskans donated $100,500 to Sitka-based nonprofits.

So how do you make a donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network through the Pick.Click.Give. program? First, starting on Tuesday, Jan. 1, go fill out your Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application at http://pfd.alaska.gov/. When you get to the section of the application asking if you want to participate in Pick.Click.Give. Charitable Contributions program, click on the PCG link and search for the Sitka Local Foods Network. You also can look for us by using the town search for Sitka.

The Pick.Click.Give. program is available only to people who file their PFD applications online, and not to those who file by mail. Even though you can’t file a new PFD application after March 31, you can go back into your application and update your Pick.Click.Give. donations through Aug. 31 each year.

You still can donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network if you aren’t from Alaska or aren’t eligible for a 2019 PFD. To donate, send your check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408D Marine St., Sitka, Alaska, 99835. You also can donate online by going to our online fundraising page on MightyCause.com, and clicking the Donate button to make an online contribution. You also can send in a check or make an online donation if you are trying to make nonprofit donations before the end of the 2018 tax year. We also have an end-of-2018 fundraiser on Facebook. Please let us know if you need a receipt for tax purposes. For more information about donating, you can send an email to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Thank you for supporting our mission of promoting and encouraging the growing, harvesting and eating of local foods in Sitka and Southeast Alaska.

Sitka Local Foods Network to host annual meeting and potluck on Saturday, Jan. 26

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its annual meeting and potluck dinner from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine St., parking off of Spruce Street).

Participants are encouraged to bring a dish featuring local foods to share, and please bring your own utensils (note, this is a non-alcoholic event). This is a casual and social event that serves as a good time for people to learn more about the Sitka Local Foods Network and what we do around town. We also hope to have a small silent auction, where people can bid on various gardening and food items (donations are welcome).

Attendees will hear about project updates, plus the current board will vote on by-law changes. We will introduce our new board members for 2019, and we will confirm the election of our officers. We also have a couple of openings on our board, and people wanting to learn more about joining can click this link for info and applications.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Sitka Local Foods Network can email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com to learn about our projects and volunteer opportunities.

Sitka Local Foods Network hosts its fourth annual #GivingTuesday fundraiser on Nov. 27

Most people have heard about Black FridaySmall-Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, three consumer-oriented days geared toward shopping for the holidays. But have you heard about Giving Tuesday, which takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 27, this year?

Giving Tuesday, also listed at #GivingTuesday (known as #GivingTuesdayAK in Alaska), is a day for people to celebrate generosity and give to worthy nonprofits who support the local community. This year, the Sitka Local Foods Network is launching its fourth Giving Tuesday online fundraiser to help us meet our mission of increasing the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. In addition to our usual #GivingTuesday fundraiser page on MightyCause.com (formerly Razoo.com), this year we also have one on Facebook that will be eligible for matching dollars from the Facebook and PayPal. The #GivingTuesday fundraiser page on MightyCause.com will accept early donations, for those who don’t want to wait until Nov. 27 to give.

When you donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network you support us as we host the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer, grow food at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and teach people about gardening and food preservation through our education program. We also can use funds to help us match the first $20 in produce purchases WIC and SNAP beneficiaries make at the Sitka Farmers Market, which helps get more healthy local produce into the hands of lower-income Sitkans. In 2018, we launched a Sitka food business innovation contest, so your donation might support that effort to encourage food entrepreneurship in Sitka. For businesses and organizations, we have a yearly sponsorship program with four tier levels of support — Grower ($2,500-plus), Harvester ($1,000-$2,499), Planter ($250-$999) and Friend ($50-$249).

In addition to our own projects, we support other local-food-related projects in town, such as Fish To Schools (which puts more locally caught seafood in school meals), our fruit tree project (where we got more community apple and cherry trees in town), the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, or the Sitka Community Food Assessment (which gave us baseline data on food security issues in Sitka).

It’s easy to donate to our Giving Tuesday fundraiser through our secure donation page hosted by MightyCause.com (formerly Razoo.com, an online site that collects donations for nonprofit organizations), or through our Facebook fundraiser page (the one with the match from Facebook and PayPal). The minimum donation through this site is $5, but we appreciate whatever you can give. A donation of $10 can help us purchase some seeds or work gloves, while a gift of $100 can buy wood, soil and seeds to build a raised garden bed.

In 2018, the Sitka Local Foods Network returned to the Pick.Click.Give. program after missing a year due to a clerical snafu. We thank the 24 donors who contributed $1,175 to us this year through Pick.Click.Give. and look forward to the 2019 donation period. In Pick.Click.Give., Alaskans can donate part of their Permanent Fund Dividend when they file their applications between Jan. 1 and March 31 each year. It’s a great way to share the wealth Alaskans receive through the Permanent Fund with a variety of nonprofit organizations in the state.

For those who prefer to donate the old-fashioned way (or want to avoid online processing fees), you can send a check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408 Marine Street, Suite D, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. For those looking for end-of-the-year tax deductions, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and our EIN is 26-4629930. Please let us know if you need a receipt. We hold a Bronze level rating with GuideStar.org, and we also are listed with Benevity.org (a site where employee donations to nonprofits sometimes are matched by larger corporations) and NetworkForGood.org (the organization that handles most of the fundraisers started on Facebook).

We thank you for supporting local foods in Sitka, Alaska. Your donation is greatly appreciated. If you need more information about our organization or a receipt for tax purposes, you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2019 Sitka Local Foods Network sponsorship program details and registration form

Like what we do? Please join our board of directors or volunteer with us

Did you enjoy the fresh local veggies at the Sitka Farmers Market this summer? Did you take any of our garden education classes this spring? Are you concerned about increasing access to local food for all Sitka residents?

The Sitka Local Foods Network is holding an open house for potential board members and volunteers from 6-7:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, at the Sitka Public Library, Gus Adams Meeting Room. This is a good time to learn about what we’re doing and how you can help.

Please consider joining the board of directors for the Sitka Local Foods Network to help us pursue our mission to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. We need more board members in order to keep running our programs.

Board members help direct the Sitka Local Foods Network, a non-profit that promotes the harvest and use of local food in Sitka. In addition to setting the focus of the group during our monthly meetings, board members also serve on at least one committee supporting at our three main projects of the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and garden education and mentoring. We also hope to help with the Sitka Community Gardens project as we look for a new location now that Blatchley Community Garden has been closed. In addition, some board members have supported other local foods projects in Sitka, such as the Sitka Kitch, Let’s Grow Sitka, the Sick-A-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment project, Sitka Fish-To-Schools, other school education projects and more.

To apply for a spot on the board, please fill out the application linked below and submit it to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.org. For more information, please email us. Please note this is a working board, and our group is evolving and maturing as we try to raise funds to hire staff. Board terms are for three years, with three seats up for reapplication each winter.

We also are looking to increase our pool of volunteers who will help out during the various projects hosted by the network each year (no formal application needed, just send us your name/contact info and what types of projects you enjoy). We need volunteers to help with the upcoming Sitka Farmers Market, helping our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and helping us teach gardening classes or working with our garden mentor program families.

The next regular Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting is from 6-7:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, at the Sitka Public Library, Gus Adams Meeting Room. The board usually meets once every 4-6 weeks. Please note, we will sometimes move our meetings to avoid conflicts with board member schedules, venue schedules and to ensure a quorum. All of our board meetings are open to the public.

Click here for a copy of the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors job description. Click here for a copy of the board application.

Scenes from the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser

It was cloudy in Sitka on Saturday, Sept. 22 (stop the presses), but the rain held off and didn’t dampen the fun during the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka.

Runners and others met under a large tent in Totem Square park, where we also had a small farm stand with fresh, local veggies from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, music from the Sitka Blues Band, a table with info about Youth Advocates of Sitka, and more.

In recent years, the Running of the Boots has been an annual fundraising event for the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. The Sitka Local Foods Network operates the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, the Sitka Farmers Market, and hosts an education program that includes the family garden mentoring project.

This year, Youth Advocates of Sitka helped co-host the event. Youth Advocates of Sitka is an organization that provides mental and behavioral health services for youth, and it also runs a youth-run food-based business (the Smoothie Truck) during the summer.

The Running of the Boots is part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association, where Sitka residents were served hamburgers and hot dogs to celebrate the end of the summer.

A slideshow of scenes from the 24th annual Running of the Boots is posted below.

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24th annual Running of the Boots raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka

It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and paint them up. The 24th annual Running of the Boots begins at 11:30 a.m. (registration opens at 10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the big tent near Totem Square park on Lincoln Street. This year the costumed fun run fundraiser benefits two local nonprofit organizations — the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka.

This year, there will be more food, music and other tents staged near the start of the Running of the Boots, so it will have a more festive atmosphere. This change allows the race to be a bigger part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association. In addition to the Running of the Boots, the Season’s-End Celebration includes a lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for Sitka residents featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, and fish. People are asked to make a $2 donation when they get their lunch, and the money raised will go toward a local community group or nonprofit to be announced.

THIS JUST IN: Russell’s has donated 10 pairs of XtraTufs for door prizes at the Running of the Boots. Thanks, Russell’s.

“We’re happy to share this event with Youth Advocates of Sitka this year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “The Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted this event for the past decade, but this year we weren’t sure if we had enough board members in town to keep the event going. It’s a great event, and I’m happy Youth Advocates of Sitka decided to partner with us to keep it around for a 24th year. We lost our co-sponsor from last year when the organization closed its Sitka office and we needed to find a partner to continue this event. We wanted to honor the kid-friendly aspect of the event, and Youth Advocates of Sitka serves that role, as well as operating a youth-run food business (the Smoothie Truck) during the summer.”

“Youth Advocates of Sitka is proud to be involved with the Sitka tradition, Running of the Boots,” Youth Advocates of Sitka executive director Charlie Woodcock said. “Our vision is to empower youth to grow into healthy, happy, and productive members of our community. What a wonderful opportunity for us to support our youth and community with a fun and original celebration!”

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). For the past decade, the Running of the Boots raised funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners. This year, it also will raise funds for Youth Advocates of Sitka, which provides a variety of mental and behavioral services for youth and their families in Sitka.

The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The course starts at Totem Square park, and runners will run from one end of Lincoln Street to the other and back to Totem Square park (or, we may just run from Totem Square down Lincoln Street to St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, where runners will loop around the church and head back to Totem Square). There will be lots of prizes, including some new pairs of XtraTufs. There also is live music, and fun for the entire family. Some of the better costumes in recent years have been worn by adults.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $10 per person and $30 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10:30 a.m. Costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11:30 a.m. (NOTE: these times are a half-hour later than in recent years). As usual, local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a farm stand booth with fresh veggies for sale from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Alaska Quest (SNAP) electronic benefit cards. The Smoothie Truck also will be at the event.

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Charlie Woodcock of Youth Advocates of Sitka at 747-2910 or by email at charlie.woodcock@sitkayouth.org, or contact Charles Bingham of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 623-7660 or by email at charleswbingham3@gmail.com. We also need several volunteers to help set up and take down the race (at least two needed) and to judge the costumes (two needed). Contact Charlie Woodcock or Sydney Carter of YAS (747-2848 or sydney.carter@sitkayouth.org) to learn how to volunteer.

Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/. Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-17) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (type Running of the Boots into the search bar near the top of the page). Click this link to see a slideshow of scenes from the 2017 Running of the Boots.

Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and follow our Twitter page at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods (@SitkaLocalFoods) to stay updated on Sitka Local Foods Network activities. The Youth Advocates of Sitka page on Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/sitkayouth.