• Alaskans Own™ community supported fisheries program announces season subscriptions for Sitka and Juneau

Sitka-based Alaskans Own seafood recently announced its subscription prices for its 2012 Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka and Juneau. Alaskans Own was the first CSF program in the state, modeling its program after the successful Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs that let customers deal directly with harvesters so they can buy subscription shares to the year’s crop/catch.

This is the third year of the Alaskans Own CSF program, and this year there are four-month and six-month subscriptions. The six-month subscriptions are new this year, and they will allow people to keep receiving freshly caught seafood through October instead of August. Half-subscriptions also are available. Subscriptions include a mix of locally caught black cod (sablefish), halibut, king salmon, coho salmon, lingcod and miscellaneous rockfish, depending on the commercial fishing season.

In Sitka, pick-ups take place on the fourth Wednesday of the month (May through August for four-month subscriptions, May through October for six-month subscriptions) at the Mill Building at the Sitka Sound Science Center. A pick-up location for Juneau will be announced at a later date. Registration for 2012 subscriptions opened on April 13, and the first pick-up is scheduled for Wednesday, May 23. Subscriptions are limited, so sign up early. For those who miss out on subscriptions, Alaskans Own frequently has a booth at the Sitka Farmers Markets.

The four-month summer subscription price (May through August) is $430 plus tax for 40 pounds of seafood total, while the half-subscription price is $230 plus tax for 20 pounds. The four-month share will have two pounds of blackcod and 10 pounds of miscellaneous rockfish in May, eight pounds of lingcod and four pounds of halibut in June, six pounds of king salmon in July and 10 pounds of coho salmon in August. The half-subscription has half shares of each fish species.

The six-month summer subscription price (May through October) is $635 plus tax for 60 pounds of seafood, while the half-subscription price is $335 plus tax for 30 pounds of seafood. The six-month share will be the same as the four-month share for May through August, with September adding one pound of blackcod, five pounds of miscellaneous rockfish and four pounds of lingcod, and October including two pounds of halibut, three pounds of king salmon and five pounds of coho salmon. The half-subscription matches the four-month half-subscription through August, then adds one pound of black cod, three pounds of miscellaneous rockfish and two pounds of lingcod in September, and one pound of halibut, one pound of king salmon and two pounds of coho salmon in October.

The mix outlined is subject to change, as Alaskans Own bases its costs on estimated dock prices that can fluctuate throughout the season. For example, if July king salmon prices are higher than expected, you’ll receive a little bit less of that species and get additional pounds of coho salmon. The bottom line is you get the best mix of seafood possible for the subscription price.

For more information, go to the CSF page on the Alaskans Own website, or call 738-3360 in Sitka. You can contact Alaskans Own by e-mail in Sitka at info@alaskansown.com or in Juneau at alaskansown@gmail.com.

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• Alaskans Own™ community supported fisheries program expands from Sitka to Juneau

The Juneau Empire on Sunday, Jan. 23, featured an article that Sitka-based Alaskans Own™ seafood cooperative is expanding its Community Supported Fisheries program into Juneau this summer.

Last summer, Alaskans Own™ became the first community supported fisheries (CSF) program in Alaska, using a model popular with farmers called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) where customers buy a subscription and share in the harvest. In recent weeks there has been news that the Anchorage-based Alaska Marine Conservation Council is going to offer a CSF this year for Kodiak tanner crab, making it the second Alaska program to offer a CSF. With renewed emphasis on local foods, CSFs and CSAs are becoming very popular around the country since they help the customers connect directly with the harvesters.

Alaskans Own™ still is finalizing its plan for this year’s programs in Juneau and Sitka, with prices being set once the long-lining season opens in February and they see what the seafood market price ranges are for the year. Fish quantities may be limited, so Alaskans Own™ suggests signing up for subscriptions early. Full- and half-shares are available, with each share featuring a variety of salmon, halibut, black cod (sablefish), yellow-eye rockfish and other species. Alaskans Own™ also sells some fish during the Sitka Farmers Markets.

For more information, go to the Alaskans Own™ website, e-mail alaskansown@gmail.com, or call 738-3360 (Sitka) or 209-1187 (Juneau).

• Palmer-based CSA looks into distributing produce boxes to Southeast customers

Baby carrots from the Glacier Valley Farm CSA photostream by South Anchorage Farmers Market Reporter Alison Arians

Baby carrots from the Glacier Valley Farm CSA photostream by South Anchorage Farmers Market Reporter Alison Arians

Glacier Valley Farm CSA, which is based in the Palmer area, is considering expanding its distribution network to include some Southeast communities, including Sitka.

Glacier Valley currently distributes its produce in the Anchorage, Mat-Su Valley and Kenai Peninsula areas. However, a customer service rep named Nelli said the CSA has been receiving a lot of interest from Southeast Alaska. For those not familiar with a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, small farms sell subscriptions or memberships to local residents, who share in the produce of that farm through weekly boxes of fruits and veggies (and sometimes fresh bread). Glacier Valley Farm CSA is owned by Arthur and Michelle Keyes, who also own A & M Farms.

Red cabbage from the Glacier Valley Farm CSA photostream by South Anchorage Farmers Market Reporter Alison Arians

Red cabbage from the Glacier Valley Farm CSA photostream by South Anchorage Farmers Market Reporter Alison Arians

“We are getting a growing list of interested people together, so that when we officially launch our Southeast service we can let folks know,” Nelli wrote in an e-mail.

She encourages people to go to the Glacier Valley Farm CSA website and learn more about the services it provides. On its site, Glacier Valley advertises itself as, “The only year-round CSA produce box program featuring Alaskan vegetables.” When it can, the program uses Alaska Grown produce from some of the better-known Mat-Su Valley farms. But sometimes Lower 48 fruits and veggies do make it into the boxes, especially in the winter when storage veggies may look a bit sketchy.

The CSA’s site lists produce box contents from previous weeks, community pick-up locations, recipes, and how to order information.This link features photos of some of the fruits and veggies Glacier Valley Farm CSA sells at the South Anchorage Farmers Market.

Nelli said if people are interested in regularly ordering a produce box or have any questions, they should e-mail her at customerservice@glaciervalleycsa.com to let her know. She said people also should let her know their home community (Sitka, Juneau, etc.) so she can let people know when there are enough people in that community to start service.

While the Glacier Valley Farm CSA program is not based in Southeast Alaska, there are some people in town who prefer to eat Alaska Grown produce, even if it travels nearly the same distance from Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley as produce from Washington-based Full Circle Farm CSA, Chelan Produce and other organizations that serve Sitka. The Sitka Local Foods Network encourages Sitka residents to buy produce grown by Sitka gardeners first, then look within the region before buying produce grown elsewhere.

• Alaskans Own seafood to start community supported fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka

The Alaskans Own seafood company is starting a community supported fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka this summer. The CSF program will be modeled after the community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription programs used by small farms around the country.

Alaskans Own is a group of independent fishermen in Sitka whose commitment to conservation is supported by the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust. “For us, it’s not just about catching fish, it’s about caring for the fisheries. It’s our passion, our future. Our commitment to the resource comes through in the quality of Alaskans Own seafood — it’s the best, and we’re proud of that,” says Jeff Farvour of the F/V Christi-Rob and an occasional vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market.

The Alaskans Own CSF program features a three-month subscription that lasts from June through August. During these three months, subscribers will receive a total of 40 pounds of fresh, locally caught wild seafood (20 pounds for the half-subscription option) that features a selection of king and coho (silver) salmon, rockfish and ling cod, halibut and black cod (sablefish), plus some free black cod tips.

Subscribers will receive their fish during twice-monthly pick-ups (dates and times TBA) at the Mill Building, 836 Lincoln St., next to the Sitka Sound Science Center. All seafood is flash frozen at its freshest, portioned and commercially vacuum-packed.

Only 15 subscriptions are available this year, and the cost is $380 for a full subscription and $190 for a half-subscription. For more information, contact Beth Short at 738-3360, or e-mail her at info@alaskansown.com to register. Payment is by check for now, but credit cards soon. Proceeds benefit the Fisheries Conservation Network and the Sitka fishing community.

2010 Community Supported Fisheries information sheet

• Sitka Local Foods Network featured on APRN’s “Talk of Alaska” statewide call-in show about local food production

Sitka Local Foods Network President Kerry MacLane was one of the featured guests for the Alaska Public Radio Network’s “Talk of Alaska” statewide call-in show hosted by Steve Heimel on Tuesday, March 30.

The topic of Tuesday’s hour-long show was “Local Food Production.” If you weren’t able to hear the show, you can listen to it by clicking this link and then looking for the arrow above the comments box. In addition to Kerry, the other featured guest was Tim Meyers of Meyers Farm in Bethel. Some of the topics on this show included community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, spring planting, the Sitka Farmers Market, the Sitka Seafood Festival, the new Alaska Food Policy Council, sac roe herring, composting, soil conditions and other issues.

Some of the clips from Tuesday’s Talk of Alaska show were reorganized into a news feature story that ran on Wednesday’s “Alaska News Nightly” half-hour newscast on APRN. The news feature used some of Kerry MacLane’s comments about the Sitka Local Foods Network, but there were several minor errors in the story about what’s going on in Sitka.

By the way, this isn’t the first time local food has been featured on Talk of Alaska this year. In October 2009, Talk of Alaska did a show “Our Food Supply” as a preview for the Bioneers of Alaska annual conference.

• Sitka growers to contribute to local CSA venture

Renee Pierce, right, explains the first Sitka CSA venture to Sitka Local Foods Network board member Natalie Sattler during the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Renee Pierce, right, explains the first Sitka CSA venture to Sitka Local Foods Network board member Natalie Sattler during the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

One of the latest trends in farming is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which enables people to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmer. Renee and Brian Pierce, who own the locally made kelp products and wild berry jelly shop Simple Pleasures of Alaska, are working with Sitka growers to start a small CSA venture with local produce during the summer growing season.

Renee Pierce said that instead of the CSA being a true farmers’ cooperative, she will buy produce from several local growers — including Florence Welsh of the Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens, Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals, Judy Johnstone of Sprucecot Gardens, Evening Star and Fabian Grutter of Eve’s Farm, and Lori Adams of Down To Earth U-Pick Gardens. The CSA also will include produce from the Pierce Family’s Simple Pleasures garden.

The Sitka CSA will start small, with membership slots for just 25 families the first year. Renee Pierce said of those 25 slots, only about 10 memberships are left. CSA members will commit to paying $50 plus tax every other week, which will give the member families a selection of produce that includes some organic produce purchased from Organically Grown Company of Portland, Ore. During the months when Sitka growers aren’t producing many vegetables, there will be more produce purchased from Organically Grown Company. There also will be an option to buy bread at $6 a loaf beyond the price of the produce box.

The produce selection includes many crops that can be grown in Sitka — such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, radishes, zucchini, green beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, tomatoes, etc. But with the Organically Grown Company providing some of the produce, CSA members also can choose items that aren’t regular Sitka crops — such as bananas, lemons, limes, pineapples, oranges, etc.

Information about Sitka's first CSA from the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Information about Sitka's first CSA from the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Renee Pierce said she has worked with Organically Grown Company for about four years, purchasing organic produce for the Pierce family and several friends and other Sitka residents who heard about the venture (at one point she had about 60-70 families buying from her). She said she orders produce by the case, and it is available for pick-up from 3-6 p.m. every other Monday afternoon at the Simple Pleasures store next to Kettleson Memorial Library. The first pick-up day for the Sitka CSA is March 29 (which will be for the 15 or so families that already have reserved a spot in the CSA), and the next pick-up day is April 12. CSA members are encouraged to bring their own bags and/or boxes on pick-up days.

The pick-up days are slated to be during the weeks between the every-other-week Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, which will give local growers and buyers the opportunity to buy and sell local produce for both. Renee said there will be some produce extras for families that want to adjust their allotments, but everybody’s allotted produce value will be $50. If you add from the extras you will need to pay the difference, and if you give up some produce you don’t want so your value dips below $50 there are no refunds. She said the CSA is being done as a community service and it’s meant to just break even so the bills get paid.

To learn more about the Sitka CSA, contact Renee Pierce at 738-0044 (cell) or 747-3814 (home). You also can e-mail her at mpierce@ptialaska.net.

• Photo album from the 2010 ‘Let’s Grow Sitka!’ available

Lori Adams of Down To Earth U-Pick Gardens shows off a basket of produce she was giving away

Lori Adams of Down To Earth U-Pick Gardens shows off a basket of produce she was giving away

The Sitka Local Foods Network extends a big thank you to the more than 200 people who stopped by Sunday, March 14, for the “Let’s Grow Sitka!” garden show at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.

If you stopped by, you were able to check out booths from local gardeners who sell their surplus veggies, learn about Sitka’s first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) venture, buy a new Sitka gardening handbook from Florence Welsh, pet some baby chicks, get your pressure canner gauge checked, start some seeds for the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, eat some Sisterhood Stew sold by the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4, register for a master gardener certification course, learn about composting and slug control, and buy seeds for your own garden. Over the next few weeks, more details will be posted about some of the individual projects.

For now, click here to see a photo gallery from Let’s Grow Sitka! (look for the album with the Let’s Grow Sitka name). Keep an eye open, because there may be video links posted later, depending on how things turned out.

Sonja Koukel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service's Juneau office checks pressure gauges for Perry Edwards of Sitka

Sonja Koukel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service's Juneau office checks pressure gauges for Perry Edwards of Sitka

Let's Grow Sitka booths are still busy after closing time

Let's Grow Sitka booths are still busy after closing time

Lina and her mom hold one of several baby chicks owned by Andrew Thoms

Lina and her mom hold one of several baby chicks owned by Andrew Thoms