UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host ‘Starting a Cottage Foods Business’ as online webinar

Photo from Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation website page on Cottage Food Regulations

Join Sarah Lewis of the Juneau District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service as she hosts a free webinar from her kitchen about the basics of starting a home-based, cottage foods business in Alaska. The class is from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22, using Zoom online meetings.

This class includes an intro to Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation‘s cottage foods (aka, home-based foods) regulations and information about the “non-potentially hazardous” food preservation methods that are allowed: dehydration, boiling water-bath canning, and pickling. In addition, Sarah will emphasize the best food safety and sanitation methods to use in a cottage foods business, and how a cottage foods business can continue sales during this time of social distancing.

This class is being offered in preparation for the 2021 season of Sitka Farmers Markets, which take place on eight Saturdays this summer. This is a good way for new and past vendors to familiarize themselves with the current cottage food business regulations in Alaska.

To register, contact Jasmine Shaw of the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu. Please register by Monday, so you can receive the Zoom link in time.

Vendor registration open for 2021 Sitka Farmers Markets

Vendor registration is finally open for the 2021 Sitka Farmers Markets. This 14th annual event is hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit working to improve Sitka’s food security. The new online vendor registration page, http://sitkafarmersmarket.wordpress.com, is live and ready for vendors to sign up and pre-pay for their spots.

This summer there are eight Sitka Farmers Markets, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 3, July 17, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 21, Aug. 28, Sept. 11, and Sept. 18, at the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. In addition to table space under the building overhang and on the plaza, there are parking spots for food trucks and food carts.

All vendors will pay $40 per market, regardless of whether you have a table or a food truck. We have a special rate of $280 for vendors who register for all eight markets, which means you get one market free. Vendors can register for one or two markets, or all eight. We also have youth vendor program for ages 14 and younger, which is $20 for all eight markets. Vendors will need to supply their own tables (preferably 30×72-inch banquet tables, please no tables longer than eight feet), and in some cases their own 10×10-foot tents.

The Sitka Farmers Market is a community event hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. Our focus is on local — fresh produce, fish, baked goods, prepared foods, cottage foods, arts and crafts — and all products must be made in Alaska (preferably in Sitka or Southeast Alaska, cooked foods may use non-local foods so long as the food is cooked on site).

We are holding the market entirely outside this year to help protect against the spread of COVID-19. While most people now are vaccinated against the coronavirus, there still are people who aren’t vaccinated and there are periodic hot spots where the illness flares up. We don’t want the market to be one of them. We encourage vendors and customers to wear masks, to use hand sanitizer, and to avoid bunching up while giving others six feet of space.

Vendors can pay using PayPal or credit/debit card. When you get to the Payment options, click PayPal and it should give you the option of using a PayPal account or four different types of cards (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover). If you prefer to pay by cash or check, contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660.

Nalani James is the Sitka Farmers Market manager this summer (she’s on the right in the photo above). Laura Schmidt (left in photo) is our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, where the Sitka Local Foods Network grows most of the produce it sells at the market. Charles Bingham is the assistant market manager.

For questions about the market, email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or call the market phone at (907) 738-7310. More details about the market will be posted on the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, and shared on its Facebook pages — https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and https://www.facebook.com/SitkaFarmersMarket — and on Twitter, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods.

• 2021 Sitka Farmers Market Vendor Rules and Responsibilities

• Scenes from the Sitka Kitch venison class hosted by UAF Cooperative Extension, SEARHC

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kitch_logo_mainSitka residents love their venison, so the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program hosted a free class on canning, smoking, and making deer jerky on Oct. 30 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Oct. 30 class featured lessons on how to can venison in jars, taught by Ellen Ruhle, as well as info about how to prepare deer jerky and how to smoke venison roasts, taught by Jud Kirkness. Due to the popularity of the class, the Sitka Kitch is hoping to schedule a second class on deer/venison in the near future.

Below is a slideshow of photos taken during the class by Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office.

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• SEARHC, UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host deer/venison canning classes

Participants in Sitka's Alaska Way Of Life 4-H program, aka the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program, learn how to skin and butcher a deer. (Photo courtesy of the Sitka Conservation Society/Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program)

Participants in Sitka’s Alaska Way Of Life 4-H program, aka the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program, learn how to skin and butcher a deer. (Photo courtesy of the Sitka Conservation Society/Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program)

kitch_logo_mainThe SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service are teaming up to offer a deer and venison workshop from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, at the Sitka Kitch.

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, 505 Sawmill Creek Road. 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 officially opened in March 2015 after a series of renovations to make it pass Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation commercial kitchen food safety standards.

The Oct. 30 class will feature lessons on how to can venison in jars, taught by Ellen Ruhle, as well as how to prepare deer jerky and how to smoke venison, taught by Jud Kirkness.

There is a possibility we will be able to harvest a deer next week, and if so we will add on a portion of the workshop to focus on butchering and meat care. And this time we are just offering the food preservation class (canning, jerky, and smoking hind quarters).

Thanks to a grant from the SEARHC WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program, all ingredients, jars, and equipment will be supplied in class.

The SEARHC WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program promotes healthy lifestyles by connecting Alaska Natives in Southeast Alaska to their culture. Members of the program learn how to harvest, cook, and preserve their traditional Alaska Native foods, which usually are healthier than heavily processed store-bought foods. In addition, participants learn traditional language, dancing, carving, weaving, and other skills that help reconnect them to their culture.

The UAF Cooperative Extension Service offers a variety of programs geared toward food, how to grow it, how to preserve it for storage, and how to make it into cottage foods you can sell. For those who can’t make the classes, the service offers a series of free online tutorials about home canning called Preserving Alaska’s Bounty.

Pre-registration is required for this class, and there are only 12 spots available. For more information and to pre-register, please contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu.

• SEARHC, Cooperative Extension to host free food preservation and entrepreneurship workshops at Sitka Kitch

SitkaKitch2015CanningClasses

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service are teaming up to offer a series of four free food preservation and entrepreneurship workshops on Thursday through Saturday, July 16-18, at the Sitka Kitch. There also will be free pressure canner gauge testing at the Sitka Farmers Market on July 18.

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, 505 Sawmill Creek Road. 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 officially opened in March 2015 after a series of renovations to make it pass Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation commercial kitchen food safety standards.

UAF Southeast Extension Agent Sarah Lewis of the Juneau District Office will teach four classes — Cottage Foods and Beyond, Pickling and Fermenting, Canning Salmon and Berries, and Canning Soups and Sauces. These classes are open to Sitka residents of all ages, but an adult must accompany those younger than 14 years old. Class sizes are limited to 16 people. Thanks to a grant from the SEARHC WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program, all ingredients, jars, and equipment will be supplied in class.

“The WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program is partnering with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service because their work complements our purposes, which is to help Native families reduce their risk for disease while working toward getting back to a traditional way of eating,” said SEARHC Health Educator Clara Gray, of the SEARHC WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program.

The SEARHC WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program promotes healthy lifestyles by connecting Alaska Natives in Southeast Alaska to their culture. Members of the program learn how to harvest, cook, and preserve their traditional Alaska Native foods, which usually are healthier than heavily processed store-bought foods. In addition, participants learn traditional language, dancing, carving, weaving, and other skills that help reconnect them to their culture.

SarahLewisWithBoilingPotsThe UAF Cooperative Extension Service offers a variety of programs geared toward food, how to grow it, how to preserve it for storage, and how to make it into cottage foods you can sell. For those who can’t make the classes, the service offers a series of free online tutorials about home canning called Preserving Alaska’s Bounty.

“As a UAF Cooperative Extension Agent, I try to teach that family and community resilience are strengthened when local foods are used to cook meals at home,” Lewis said. “Through my food preservation and entrepreneurship workshops I offer the knowledge and skills needed for people to discover the nutritional benefits and financial stability that come from making and preserving homemade meals with local ingredients.”

Here are the details and schedules of the four classes:

  • Cottage Foods and Beyond, 2-4 p.m., Thursday, July 16 — Learn to safely make and legally sell your local foods. This class explains the DEC Cottage Foods Exemptions, as well as steps to take when you’re ready to go “beyond cottage foods.”
  • Pickling and Fermenting, 6:30-9:30 p.m., Thursday, July 16 — Sauerkraut, kim-chi, vinegars, pickled vegetables and non-alcoholic beverages. Come learn the basics of lacto-fermentation and vinegar pickling for tasty home-made snacks and digestive health.
  • Canning Salmon and Berries, 4-9 p.m., Friday, July 17 — Waterbath and pressure canning for people of all experience levels, with a focus on these two favorite Southeast foods.
  • Canning Soups and Sauces, 3-8 p.m., Saturday, July 18 — Home-canned soups and sauces save time, money and meal-time hassles. Come learn how to easily and safely pressure and waterbath can ready-to-eat meals and side dishes for your pantry.

In addition to teaching the four classes, Lewis will offer free pressure canner gauge testing at the Sitka Farmers Market, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian Street. She also will provide other resources about home canning and food preservation. To ensure safe canning, pressure canner dial gauges should be tested every year for accuracy.

Due to limited class space, please pre-register by Wednesday, July 15, to ensure a spot. To pre-register, contact Jasmine Shaw of the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu.