• Sick-A-Waste group to host Sitka Compost Expo on Saturday, June 16, at the Hames Center parking lot

Where does your organic waste go? Do you compost it, or does it end up with the other trash on its way to the Lower 48? Join us from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 16, at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center parking lot to get the dirt on the situation as the Sick-A-Waste Compost Group hosts the Sitka Compost Expo.

This free event features a panel discussion from 1-2 p.m. featuring local gardeners, recyclers and other experts on composting, then there will be demonstrations from 2-4 p.m. on various compost methods. Learn how to get the most out of your organic waste, which will produce rich, healthy soil for growing new food while also saving the city the price of shipping compostable organic trash to the Lower 48.

The Sitka Compost Expo is one of several projects from the Sick-A-Waste Compost Group, which got its start during the 2011 Sitka Health Summit. The group also is setting up a large demonstration compost project in the Sawmill Cove area, which eventually will include fish plant waste and other compostable items. Several smaller groups also have compost areas — such as the Blatchley Community Gardens behind Blatchley Middle School (please follow the special parking instructions during this summer’s construction project at the school) and the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church — where individuals and businesses can take their leftover banana peels, coffee grounds, food scraps, lawn clippings and other items. Sitka has a desperate need for quality soil, and composting is one way to create new soil that’s great for gardening.

Klaudia Leccese of Sick-A-Waste was interviewed during the Wednesday, June 13, KCAW-Raven Radio Morning Edition show. The Sitka Compost Expo also was featured in the Friday, June 15, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel (password required to read story).

For more information about the Sitka Compost Expo, please contact Klaudia Leccese at 747-5830 or 752-5830.

• Sitka Composting Project to meet on Monday, Nov. 7

Compost bins at Blatchley Community Garden

Compost bins at Blatchley Community Garden

The Sitka Composting Project workgroup will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, at Harrigan Centennial Hall (Maksoutoff Room).

This is the third meeting of the workgroup, which formed as part of a 2011 Sitka Health Summit health priority project. The goal is to create a community compost site and to promote more composting by individual families.

The attached document goes over a number of alternatives for site location and composting technology. The meeting will start with reporting on individual action items, then the workgroup will discuss location and composters. After that, the next steps are to create a business plan and research funding possibilities.

For more information, contact Sitka Conservation Society Community Sustainability Coordinator Justin Overdevest at 747-7509 or justin@sitkawild.org.

• Composting Proposal and Alternatives

• 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

Food Film Fest Poster-2

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.