Sitka Kitch provides opportunities for education, entrepreneurship

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Lisa Sadleir-Hart, left center, watches as Julie Platson, Cheryl Call, Libby Stortz and Kristen Homer heat milk during a Nov. 14, 2016, Cooking From Scratch class on making homemade yogurt held at the Sitka Kitch.

(NOTE: The following article appeared in the Daily Sitka Sentinel‘s Weekender section on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. It was written by Sitka Local Foods Network board president and Sitka Kitch advisory team member Charles Bingham, who also took the photos.)

By CHARLES BINGHAM
For the Daily Sitka Sentinel

kitch_logo_mainWith a mission to “Educate, Incubate, Cultivate,” the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen serves a variety of functions to improve food security in Sitka. It’s a classroom, a maker space and a community meeting place.

The Sitka Kitch project was a result of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit and is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society. Located inside the First Presbyterian Church (505 Sawmill Creek Road), the Sitka Kitch is best known for the variety of cooking and food preservation classes it regularly hosts.

Right now, registration is open for five classes in a Cooking Around The World series, where a variety of instructors will teach students international dishes from Morocco, Chile, Thailand, Austria (strudel), and Turkey. Registration also is open for a five-class series called “Nourish: Using Food As Medicine For Optimum Health,” taught during National Nutrition Month (March) by Sitka nutritionist Holly Marban.

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Jasmine Shaw and Joyce Pearson add brine to a jar of squash during a July 18, 2016, Preserving The Harvest class on simple pickles and sauerkraut held at the Sitka Kitch.

The Sitka Kitch plans a series of food preservation classes this summer, and may host a cottage foods entrepreneurship class in the future. It also has offered basic culinary skills and Cooking From Scratch classes in recent months. In addition, the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club has hosted cooking and food preservation classes for kids at the Sitka Kitch.

The Sitka Kitch offers a full schedule of classes because learning how to cook and preserve your own food allows Sitkans to improve their nutrition and extend their food budgets.

“The Sitka Kitch programming team already has plans underway for a dynamic 2017 Preserving the Harvest series,” said Lisa Sadleir-Hart, a member of the Sitka Kitch advisory team. “In addition to some old time favorites like pickling, jam, jelly and fruit butter classes, the Sitka Kitch team is hoping to offer classes focused on local foods and medicinals like seaweed, devil’s club, rhubarb and rosehips. June will showcase a ‘Clean Out Your Freezer’ class and an ‘Introduction to Food Dehydration’ class as well.”

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Lisa Sadleir-Hart, left, shows Lavina Adams, Sue Falkner and Cheryl Call how to knead and pinch their dough during a Nov. 28, 2016, Cooking From Scratch class on baking whole-grain breads using the Tassajara bread technique held at the Sitka Kitch.

While it isn’t as well known as the classes, the Sitka Kitch also provides an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation-certified commercial kitchen for local cottage food entrepreneurs to use as a maker space. One of the businesses that rents the Sitka Kitch (by the hour) is Simple Pleasures, a Sitka company that sells jams, jellies, kelp pickles and other products around the state. In addition, other groups have used the Sitka Kitch as a meeting venue, such as the Sitka Conservation Society, which hosted its 2016 annual meeting in the Sitka Kitch.

“The Sitka Conservation Society is proud of the Sitka Kitch’s work to build community connection and celebrate local, healthy and delicious food,” said Sitka Conservation Society Community Catalyst Chandler O’Connell, another member of the Sitka Kitch advisory team. “We hope that the community kitchen will continue to be a positive space for Sitkans to come together and share their skills.”

The Sitka Kitch has a website where people can learn how to rent the kitchen, http://www.sitkakitch.org/, and a Facebook page which posts class updates and other info, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaKitch. To learn more about and register for classes, go to the online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/, and click on the class title. You can pay for classes online using credit/debit cards or PayPal, or you can call Chandler or Clarice at the Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a time to pay with cash or check.

Local businesses can sponsor upcoming classes for $300 per class, which helps cover the instructor stipend, facility rental and food/supply costs. Contact Chandler at 747-7509 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org for more info.

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• Sitka Kitch sets scheduled orientation schedules for potential renters of the commercial kitchen

LisaSadleirHartKristyMillerSarahLewisDorrieFarrell

kitch_logo_mainAre you a budding entrepreneur who wants to use the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen to make cottage foods products? Are you wanting to rent the Sitka Kitch (Facebook page) to teach cooking or food preservation classes, or to host a large gathering where you need a larger kitchen than what’s in your home?

The Sitka Kitch, which is located at First Presbyterian Church (505 Sawmill Creek Road), will offer some scheduled orientation sessions for a significant price reduction for a solo orientation. The scheduled orientations every other month are $10 per person or group vs. $75 for a solo orientation. These one-hour orientations will teach you how to use the Sitka Kitch facilities and show you what items are available for your use.

The scheduled orientations will be from 4-5 p.m. on the first Fridays and 11 a.m. to noon on the first Saturdays of February, April, and June (Feb. 5-6, April 1-2, and June 3-4). Please note this orientation schedule may change if we have people wanting to rent the Sitka Kitch at these times.

For more information, contact Kristy Miller at the church at 747-3356 or millerkris50@gmail.com.

• A quick tour of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen

Sitka Kitch Advisory Team Members, from left, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Kristy Miller, Sarah Lewis, and Dorrie Farrell go through the orientation packet before a recent series of canning and cottage foods classes taught by Lewis.

Sitka Kitch Advisory Team Members, from left, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Kristy Miller, Sarah Lewis, and Dorrie Farrell go through the orientation packet before a recent series of canning and cottage foods classes taught by Lewis.

kitch_logo_mainDid you know Sitka has a community rental commercial kitchen?

The Sitka Kitch, located inside First Presbyterian Church at 505 Sawmill Creek Road, officially opened in March and is available for cottage food businesses needing a commercial kitchen, people wanting to put up their own harvest, cooking and canning classes, and even groups who want to cook a dinner for friends and family that’s too large to hold in someone’s home.

The Sitka Kitch is a rental community commercial kitchen project coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network, located inside the First Presbyterian Church. The Sitka Kitch was a project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit designed to improve food security in Sitka while also providing a space for people wanting to get into the cottage food business or wanting to preserve their harvest for storage in the home pantry. Sitka Kitch (Facebook page) officially opened after a series of renovations to make the church kitchen pass Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation commercial kitchen food safety standards.

The Sitka Food Co-op and Everything Organic Sitka regularly use the facility for deliveries and distribution.

Kristy Miller, the facilities manager for First Presbyterian Church, serves as the manager of Sitka Kitch and helps with scheduling and communal supplies. If you are interested in learning more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to this website, http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_kitch, and the best way to schedule a rental is by email at sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

The slideshow below provides a quick tour of the facility.

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• Sitka Kitch, First Presbyterian Church announce grant to renovate kitchen for classes, rentals

The Sitka Health Summit congratulates the folks at Sitka Kitch and First Presbyterian Church on their $13,000 grant. The funds will go a long way towards renovation of their community kitchen. "Sitka Kitch is a community collaboration to augment and strengthen Sitka's workforce through the development of food-based curriculum and training." It is an initiative of the Sitka Health Summit. From left are Patrick Williams, Marjorie Hennessy, Clara Gray, Cheri Hample, Martina Kurzer, Suzan Brawnlyn, Cyndy Gibson, and Betsy Decker. (Photo Courtesy of the Sitka Health Summit)

The Sitka Health Summit congratulates the folks at Sitka Kitch and First Presbyterian Church on their $13,000 grant. The funds will go a long way towards renovation of their community kitchen. “Sitka Kitch is a community collaboration to augment and strengthen Sitka’s workforce through the development of food-based curriculum and training.” It is an initiative of the Sitka Health Summit. From left are Patrick Williams, Marjorie Hennessy, Clara Gray, Cheri Hample, Martina Kurzer, Suzan Brawnlyn, Cyndy Gibson, and Betsy Decker. (Photo Courtesy of the Sitka Health Summit)

kitch_logo_mainSitka Kitch is the community food project that arose from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit. The overall goal of Sitka Kitch is to improve community capacity and community development through the lens of food security.

The Sitka Kitch will start with food-based education and emergency preparedness at the household level. As it grows, the Sitka Kitch seeks to provide career and technical training, and entrepreneurial development opportunities. This will be achieved through a shared-use community kitchen and will work to educate, incubate and cultivate community sustainability.

Sitka Kitch also has a sub-group that is currently working to improve storage of emergency food with the Salvation Army. Eventually the kitchen would also like to generate a food ‘income’ stream to augment immediate relief efforts by local food banks and soup kitchens.

Sitka Kitch is pleased to announce a new partnering with the Sitka First Presbyterian Church to kick off its first year through the use of kitchen space. The groups collaborated in April to prepare an application to the Northwest Coast Presbytery Community Blessings Grant. The proposal outlined a budget to renovate the church’s existing kitchen to meet the requirements of becoming an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)-certified kitchen and thus meet the needs of Sitka Kitch users.

The church and Sitka Kitch were awarded the grant, in the amount of $13,000, and the funds will go towards renovating and improving functionality of the kitchen. These renovations will begin in June and Sitka Kitch plans to start offering classes in July.

For more information, contact Marjorie Hennessy at the Sitka Conservation Society (marjorie@sitkawild.org or 747-7509). Click here to listen to a KCAW-Raven Radio morning interview with Marjorie and Suzan Brawnlyn to learn more about Sitka Kitch.