Sitka Local Foods Network teams up with ANS to host Fourth of July booths on Tuesday

The Sitka Local Foods Network is teaming up with the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4 to host Fourth of July booths from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

This event came together after the usual Fourth of July booths at the Baranof Elementary School playground were canceled. The goal is to provide a similar family friendly and fun event, while helping the ANS raise money to attend Grand Camp Convention in Portland, Ore., this fall and helping the Sitka Local Foods Network raise money to help improve food security in Sitka.

ANS will have hot food to sell, and the Sitka Local Foods Network will have a table featuring Alaska Grown food products and SLFN swag. There also will be a variety of artisans, food vendors, music and fun and games.

Booths will be available to rent for $60 for six hours (NOTE: Since this was posted, table prices have been reduced to $40 for six hours), and participants in the July 1 Sitka Farmers Market will receive a $10 deduction on their booth fee. To learn more about the event, click this link to listen to a June 28 interview on KCAW-Raven Radio. For booth reservations, contact Debe Brincefield of ANS at 738-4323.

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• Scenes from the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer

Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Kerry MacLane, second from left, and his Sitka's Blackcod Collars helpers Autumn Mayo, center, and Ilona Mayo, second from right, at the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. MacLane is a regular participant at the Sitka Farmers Market with his grilled blackcod collars/tips served over rice with beach asparagus, kale, and other greens for a garnish. This was the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. While the Sitka Farmers Markets are over for 2015, the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce booth at the Running of the Boots on Saturday, Sept. 26, near St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church. The Running of the Boots is a costumed fun run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network, where people run a short race in their XtraTufs (aka Sitka Sneakers). Registration opens at 10 a.m., with costume judging about 10:30 a.m. and the race start at 11 a.m. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets, Running of the Boots, and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Kerry MacLane, second from left, and his Sitka’s Blackcod Collars helpers Autumn Mayo, center, and Ilona Mayo, second from right, at the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. MacLane is a regular participant at the Sitka Farmers Market with his grilled blackcod collars/tips served over rice with beach asparagus, kale, and other greens for a garnish. This was the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. While the Sitka Farmers Markets are over for 2015, the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce booth at the Running of the Boots on Saturday, Sept. 26, near St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church. The Running of the Boots is a costumed fun run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network, where people run a short race in their XtraTufs (aka Sitka Sneakers). Registration opens at 10 a.m., with costume judging about 10:30 a.m. and the race start at 11 a.m. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets, Running of the Boots, and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

For our final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 season we had our usual fall Sitka weather — if you don’t like it right now wait 15 minutes and it will change.

We had torrential downpours early in the morning as we were setting up the market, but the rains stopped in time for the market to open and the sun even came out for a bit. We had more rainfall about halfway through the market, but it cleared up and was partly sunny for the end of the market and we even had a brief but large rainbow overhead.

While Saturday’s Sitka Farmers Market was the last one of the summer, there will be another chance to get some local veggies. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce stand at its annual Running of the Boots costume run fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 26, near St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Running of the Boots registration and the produce booth open at 10 a.m., with costume judging about 10:30 a.m. and the fun run at 11 a.m. Dress up your XtraTufs and come on down for the fun.

A slideshow from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of 2015 is posted below.

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• Scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer, and the Sitka Slug Races

Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Rock Peterson of Jam-N-Peppers at the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Peterson sells an apricot and pepper jam/glaze. He received a gift bag with fresh chard, kale, beets, and other veggies. The market also featured the inaugural Sitka Slug Races, won by Linda Wilson's slug Moses, with Sophie Nethercut and Maybelle Filler's slug Thug The Slug second, and Thomas Witherspoon's slug Slugzilla third. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The last market of the summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Rock Peterson of Jam-N-Peppers at the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Peterson sells an apricot and pepper jam/glaze. He received a gift bag with fresh chard, kale, beets, and other veggies. The market also featured the inaugural Sitka Slug Races, won by Linda Wilson’s slug Moses, with Sophie Nethercut and Maybelle Filler’s slug Thug The Slug second, and Thomas Witherspoon’s slug Slugzilla third. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The last market of the summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

For the first time this summer, we had a minimal amount of moisture at the Sitka Farmers Market, with a brief rain during our Aug. 29 market. But the slugs in the Sitka Slug Races love moisture.

The highlight of the Aug. 29 market was the inaugural Sitka Slug Races, which included a preliminary heat before the main event. The top finisher was Moses, handled by Linda Wilson. In second place was Thug The Slug, handled by Sophie Nethercut and Maybelle Filler. In third place was Slugzilla, trained by Thomas Witherspoon.

The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the ANB Founders Hall. This will be our last market of the summer.

A reminder, due to health codes we can’t allow any pets in the ANB Founders Hall or the parking lot other than service dogs. We also don’t allow tobacco (smoking or chewing) at the Sitka Farmers Market because this is a health event (our event started out as a Sitka Health Summit project).

Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to be a vendor you can learn more by clicking this link or sending an email to sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We always need new vendors, especially those selling produce from their home gardens, commercially caught fish or locally baked bread.

A slideshow from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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• Scenes from the third Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer

Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Linda Wilson of Sea View Garden at the third Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Wilson is a longtime vendor at the market, selling rhubarb and other veggies from her garden, rhubarb jams and jellies, banana bread, rhubarb black tea, and her homemade jewelry. Wilson received a gift bag with fresh greens and fresh rhubarb. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Don’t forget Aug. 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week, so even though we don't have a full market scheduled the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce booth at the Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, at Sheldon Jackson Campus. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Linda Wilson of Sea View Garden at the third Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Wilson is a longtime vendor at the market, selling rhubarb and other veggies from her garden, rhubarb jams and jellies, banana bread, rhubarb black tea, and her homemade jewelry. Wilson received a gift bag with fresh greens and fresh rhubarb. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Don’t forget Aug. 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week, so even though we don’t have a full market scheduled the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce booth at the Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, at Sheldon Jackson Campus. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka kicked off National Farmers Market Week (Aug. 2-8) with its third Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

Blessed by warm, sunny weather, we had the highest number of vendors for the season, giving customers a wide variety of local products to purchase.

Since we don’t have a Sitka Farmers Market scheduled during the official National Farmers Market Week, the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a booth at the Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Sheldon Jackson Campus. We also will host our usual table with local produce Aug. 8-9 when the Chelan Produce truck is in town.

A reminder, due to health codes we can’t allow any pets in the ANB Hall or the parking lot other than service dogs. We also don’t allow smoking at the Sitka Farmers Market because this is a health event (our event started out as a Sitka Health Summit project).

Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to be a vendor you can learn more by clicking this link or sending an email to sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We always need new vendors, especially those selling produce from their home gardens, commercially caught fish or locally baked bread.

A slideshow from the third Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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• Scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer

Sitka Farmers Market Volunteer Trish Coffey, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Elizabeth Faulkner of Friendship Beading Co. at the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, July 18, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Faulkner makes ear rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Faulkner received a gift bag with fresh greens and fresh rhubarb. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Don't forget Aug. 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week, so check out the Sitka Farmers Market. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Volunteer Trish Coffey, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Elizabeth Faulkner of Friendship Beading Co. at the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, July 18, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Faulkner makes ear rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Faulkner received a gift bag with fresh greens and fresh rhubarb. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Don’t forget Aug. 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week, so check out the Sitka Farmers Market. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Pressure canner gauge testing and a musical theater preview were among the highlights at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Saturday, July 18, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

While it looked like it might be rainy at the start of the market, the weather cleared up and even gave us a bit of sun. Sarah Lewis of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Juneau District Office was in town offering free pressure canner gauge testing, and the Sitka Fine Arts Camp Musical Theater program stopped by to sing a couple of numbers from its July 24-25 production of Beauty and the Beast.

The third Sitka Farmers Market of the summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at ANB Founders Hall, 235 Katlian Street. National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 2-8 (the first full week of August), so stop by and check out the Sitka Farmers Market.

A reminder, due to health codes we can’t allow any pets in the ANB Hall or the parking lot other than service dogs. We also don’t allow smoking at the Sitka Farmers Market because this is a health event.

Also, if you’ve ever wanted to be a vendor you can learn more by clicking this link or sending and email to sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We always need new vendors, especially those selling produce from their home gardens, commercially caught fish or locally baked bread.

A slideshow from the second Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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• Scenes from the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer

Sitka Local Foods Network Board Secretary Alli Gabbert, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Jennifer "Springer" Black of Charlee Oh Creations at the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, July 4, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Springer is a new vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market and she sold handmade soft-soled shoes for babies and toddlers, some with matching bibs. Springer received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh rhubarb, fresh mint, and some handmade earrings donated by Taylor Ihde. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Bring your canner pressure gauge to this market to have it checked. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Local Foods Network Board Secretary Alli Gabbert, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Jennifer “Springer” Black of Charlee Oh Creations at the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, July 4, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Springer is a new vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market and she sold handmade soft-soled shoes for babies and toddlers, some with matching bibs. Springer received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh rhubarb, fresh mint, and some handmade earrings donated by Taylor Ihde. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Bring your canner pressure gauge to this market to have it checked. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka celebrated its independence from over-processed store-bought food with the first Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Saturday, July 4, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

We were greeted by gorgeous sunny weather, a Sitka rarity for the Fourth of July, and several new booths. A reminder, due to health codes we can’t allow any pets in the ANB Hall or the parking lot other than service dogs. We also don’t allow smoking at the Sitka Farmers Market because this is a health event.

The second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, at ANB Founders Hall, 235 Katlian Street. Don’t forget to bring your pressure canner gauge and lid because Sarah Lewis of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Juneau District Office will be in town offering free pressure canner gauge testing. You should have your pressure canner gauge tested once a year to make sure it’s safe.

A slideshow from the first Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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• Sitka Farmers Market prepares for eighth summer of fresh, local veggies

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK Sitka Local Foods Network board members and supporters pose at the St. Peter's Fellowship Farm communal garden on Monday. St. Peter's Fellowship Farm supplies most of the local produce sold at the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer. The first Sitka Farmers Market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 4, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. The other five Sitka Farmers Market dates are July 18, Aug. 1, Aug. 15, Aug. 29, and Sept. 12. Pictured are, front row from left, Michelle Putz, Muriel Sadleir-Hart, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, and Kathy Jones. Back row, Matthew Jackson, Jonathan Adler, Peter Gorman, Jud Kirkness, Brandie Cheatham, Mary Therese Thomson, and Laura Schmidt.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK
Sitka Local Foods Network board members and supporters pose at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden on Monday. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm supplies most of the local produce sold at the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer. The first Sitka Farmers Market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 4, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. The other five Sitka Farmers Market dates are July 18, Aug. 1, Aug. 15, Aug. 29, and Sept. 12. Pictured are, front row from left, Michelle Putz, Muriel Sadleir-Hart, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, and Kathy Jones. Back row, Matthew Jackson, Jonathan Adler, Peter Gorman, Jud Kirkness, Brandie Cheatham, Mary Therese Thomson, and Laura Schmidt.

Sitka Local Foods Network uses St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and Sitka Farmers Market to improve food security in Sitka

During the stormy months of winter, most people in Sitka aren’t thinking about their gardens. But that’s when St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt is trying to figure out which vegetables to plant in which garden bed, starting seeds, and (if the soil isn’t frozen) amending the soil with seaweed and other nutrients to get an early start on the garden.

As the lead gardener since 2011, a contract position with the Sitka Local Foods Network, Schmidt is responsible for growing most of the fresh, local vegetables sold during the Sitka Farmers Markets each summer. She oversees food production at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, and at an extension garden located at Pat Arvin’s house.

Schmidt and her volunteer gardeners have about 3,000 square feet in production. Last year they grew about 300 pounds of rhubarb and 100 pounds of kale. “That’s a lot of kale,” Schmidt said. Besides kale and rhubarb, they also grow garlic, onions, potatoes, kohlrabi, cabbage, broccoli, fava beans, spinach, carrots, beets, nasturtiums, zucchini, cucumbers, and more.

“It’s fun to have it all come together. It’s nice to see it turn into food,” Schmidt said. “It’s a fun puzzle because every year is different, and how do we make it more productive.”

2015SitkaFarmersMarketFlierSitka residents will have a chance to celebrate their independence from store-bought and overly processed food at the first Sitka Farmers Market of the summer, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 4, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. The other five markets will be on July 18, Aug. 1, Aug. 15, Aug. 29, and Sept. 12.

“It’s very important. People come for the produce. It’s the prime attraction,” Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield said. “We have jams and jellies, bread, fish, and arts and crafts, but people bring their produce bags and are happy to fill them.”

The Sitka Farmers Market and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm are two of the main projects of the Sitka Local Foods Network, and both projects came out of the second Sitka Health Summit, which took place in April 2008. The first garden beds were built and planted at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm by May 2008, and food grown at St. Peter’s was available for sale at the first Sitka Farmers Market in August 2008. Since then, both projects have been a growing concern.

These two projects came about because many in Sitka were concerned about food security, especially as the country entered a major recession in 2008. It’s estimated about 90-95 percent of the food eaten in Alaska is shipped here from the Lower 48 or foreign countries, and artificially cheap transportation made it easier for people to buy their food from the store than to grow or harvest it themselves, which was the norm in Sitka until the 1950s and 1960s. With so little food being grown locally, Sitka residents worried what might happen if fuel prices went up or if we had a natural disaster that destroyed our ports and/or airport.

There also were worries about how much longer residents could afford store-bought food, especially as Sitka food prices went up 43.6 percent from September 2003 to 2011, according to the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report (a 2012 Sitka Health Summit project). The report also noted that 1,410 Sitka residents participated in the food stamp program in 2013, about one-sixth of Sitka’s population of about 9,000. Sitka residents redeemed $1,645,702 in food stamp dollars in 2012, an increase of $201,000 from 2011.

The Sitka Farmers Market and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm are two key elements for improving food security in Sitka, with education about gardening and food preservation being another key element.

“It helps people to connect the food to the market, and hopefully realize the Sitka Local Foods Network is the umbrella organization,” Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart said. “We knew if we had a market, we had to have food to sell. We have a lead gardener in Laura who has grown and expanded the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and our extension garden at Pat Arvin’s every year. And we have generous people who donate produce from their gardens for us to sell, such as Jud Kirkness, Linda Wilson and my family.”

AK 2015 FMNP Poster SLFNTo help families struggling with food security, the Sitka Farmers Market became the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP (food stamps) and WIC nutrition benefits, including the Alaska Quest electronic benefits transfer cards used for SNAP. The Sitka Farmers Market also matches dollars spent on SNAP-approved foods (produce, fish, baked goods, barley products, etc.), which allows Alaska Quest card users to double their purchase by as much as $20 per person per market. That means a family of four with SNAP benefits can be matched up to $80. This year, the Sitka Farmers Market will partner with the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) on a new program where SEARHC beneficiaries with chronic disease are prescribed vouchers for fruits and vegetables.

And the growing is spreading.

“As I was taking a walk around town the other day, I identified three new gardens,” Sadleir-Hart said. “They also have a new garden at the Pioneer Home where they’re growing food.”

For more information about the Sitka Local Foods Network, Sitka Farmers Market and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. To learn about being a vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, contact Debe Brincefield at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or call 738-8683.

(Editor’s note: The story above appeared in the Weekender section of the July 2, 2015, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It was written by Sitka Local Foods Network board member/communications director Charles Bingham.)