• 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.

• Sitka Conservation Society to host annual Wild Foods Potluck on Dec. 8 at Sweetland Hall

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WildFoodsPotluckHelp Sitka celebrate its wonderful bounty of local and wild foods by joining the Sitka Conservation Society for its annual Wild Foods Potluck from 5-7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

This annual event features a variety of wild foods that can be harvested around Sitka, including many varieties of fish, deer, ducks, berries, seaweed, beach greens, and more. This event gives local residents a chance to sample a multitude of wild food dishes for a true taste of Sitka. If you don’t have any wild foods, just garnish your dish with a local plant.

“Bring a dish that features ingredients from the outdoors and meet others interested in subsistence foods and the conservation field,” said the Sitka Conservation Society’s Ray Friedlander, who is helping coordinate the event. “Your dish could win a prize if you enter it into the Best Dish, Best Side, and Best Dessert category.”

This event is non-alcoholic, and it is open to all residents of Sitka, including members and non-members of the Sitka Conservation Society. For more information, contact Ray Friedlander or Mary Wood at the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509, or go to http://www.sitkawild.org/.

• ADF&G offers basic hunter education course July 22-23 in Sitka

A Sitka black-tailed deer feeds on one of the barrier islands near Sitka

A Sitka black-tailed deer feeds on one of the barrier islands near Sitka

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is offering a two-day basic hunter education class July 22-23 in Sitka. The class takes place from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, July 22, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, at the Sitka Sportsman’s Association building toward the end of Halibut Point Road (by the shooting range next to the ferry terminal).

To register, students must purchase a $10 study packet that is available at the Sitka ADF&G office, 304 Lake St., Suite 103. The packet workbook must be completed before the start of the first class. The course is open to anyone, but it is designed for students ages 10 and older. A minimum of six students is needed for the class to take place.

For packet workbooks and additional information, contact the Sitka office of ADF&G at 747-5449. More information about the basic hunter education class also is available online at this link.

This class is required before hunters are allowed to get permits for some of Alaska’s game management areas. Successful completion of the class earns the hunter a certificate recognized by all other states, Canadian provinces and territories, and in Mexico.

• Sitka Conservation Society hosts wild foods potluck and annual meeting on Saturday, Nov. 13

The Sitka Conservation Society, which helps sponsor the Sitka Local Foods Network, is hosting its community wild foods potluck and annual meeting from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

This annual event gives Sitka residents a chance to share meals made with locally foraged food, from fish and wild game to seaweed, berries and other traditional subsistence foods. Doors open at 5 p.m., with food service starting at 5:30 p.m. Families are asked to bring in dishes that feature local wild foods, and if you can’t bring in a dish that features wild foods you can use a wild plant to garnish a dish made with store-bought foods. Local cooks can enter their dishes in a wild foods contest, too. The event also features live music from the SitNiks and a short presentation on the Tongass Wilderness. There also will be booths about local programs and projects before food is served.

This event kicks off the Sitka Conservation Society’s “Wild Week,” which features events from Nov. 13-20. Another local foods-oriented event is the “Eat Wild” benefit dinner that takes place on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the New Bayview Restaurant and Wine Bar. Hors d’oeurves start at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. Bayview chef Josh Peavey will prepare the meal, which also includes a sampling of locally produced beer from Baranof Island Brewing Company. Tickets for this special event are $60 each and available from Old Harbor Books and the Sitka Conservation Society.

• ADF&G offers basic hunter education course this weekend in Sitka

A Sitka black-tailed deer feeds on one of the barrier islands near Sitka

A Sitka black-tailed deer feeds on one of the barrier islands near Sitka

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is offering a two-day basic hunter education class this weekend in Sitka. The class takes place from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, July 9, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 10.

To register, students must purchase a $10 study packet that is available at the Sitka ADF&G office, 304 Lake St., Suite 103. The packet workbook must be completed before the start of the first class. The course is open to anyone, but it is designed for students ages 10 and older. A minimum of six students is needed for the class to take place.

For packet workbooks and additional information, contact the Sitka office of ADF&G at 747-5449. More information about the basic hunter education class also is available online at this link.

This class is required before hunters are allowed to get permits for some of Alaska’s game management areas. Successful completion of the class earns the hunter a certificate recognized by all other states, Canadian provinces and territories, and in Mexico.

• Wanton waste of deer meat, a record high herring quota and other local foods stories in the news

Over the past couple of weeks, at least 10 Sitka black tail deer corpses have been found in Sitka with lots of edible meat still on the bone but the prime cuts missing. According to the Anchorage Daily News, state wildlife officials are searching for the hunters, and wanton waste charges may be coming for those involved. There were six deer found off Green Lake Road, then four deer were found near Harbor Mountain Road five days later.

The Sitka Local Foods Network encourages the responsible and sustainable harvesting of traditional subsistence foods, such as deer, but we must respect the resource and use the entire animal. Not only is leaving edible meat in the field wasteful, but the last couple of years have been down years for deer survival and the actions of these wasteful hunters may mean fewer hunting opportunities next year for hunters who need the deer to feed their families. Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call Alaska Wildlife Troopers at 747-3254 or, to remain anonymous, Wildlife Safeguard at 1-800-478-3377.

In other local foods news, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game established a record sac roe herring quota for the 2010 season, a quota of more than 18,000 tons (more than 4,000 tons higher than last year’s then-record quota). The commercial herring fleet is very happy with the higher quota, but KCAW-Raven Radio reports local subsistence gatherers worry that the record quota will harm their ability to gather herring eggs on hemlock branches, a popular subsistence and barter food for local Tlingít and Haida residents. They also worry two straight years of record quotas will hurt the resource, since herring also serves as a key forage food for salmon, halibut, whales, sea lions and other species in the region.

The Juneau Empire reported that the State of Alaska asked for an extension to reply to an inquiry on subsistence management from the federal government. The federal government took over some management of subsistence in Alaska more than a decade ago because state laws weren’t in compliance with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which calls for a rural preference on subsistence in times of shortage, and the federal government may be expanding its role in subsistence management.

The Anchorage Daily News reported on Alaska pork being ready for the freezer at A.D. Farms, and that pork will be sold at the indoor farmers market at Anchorage’s Northway Mall. The story included a wrap-up of other local foods available at the market, and it had a recipe for crock-pot cod.

Laine Welch’s Alaska fishing column was about how more local fish is appearing in school lunch menus.

The Anchorage Daily News Alaska Newsreader feature reported on several Arctic travelers getting trichinosis from eating undercooked bear meat. The National Post of Canada also had a story on travelers eating undercooked bear meat, while the New York Times had an article about how trichinosis is common in bear meat that isn’t cooked properly.

The Anchorage Daily News had an article about how Alaska’s rhubarb probably first came from Russia.

Miller-McCune magazine had an article about how Alaska’s complex salmon politics can serve as a model for sustainable fisheries elsewhere in the world.

The Alaska Public Radio Network reported on a woman from Aniak, Dee Matter, who has taken freezing her food to a new level. The story also was on APRN’s Alaska News Nightly show.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner had a feature article about Kotzebue hunter and trapper Ross Schafer and the “Eskimo” way of life.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner had an article about a conflict between farmers and hunters over the future of the Delta bison herd.

The Juneau Empire ran a story about glaciers providing an important food source.

Anchorage Daily News garden columnist Jeff Lowenfels wrote about magazine gifts for gardeners.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an Associated Press article about Monsanto’s role in the business of agriculture, especially the way it squeezes out competitors in the seed industry.

Finally, the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences blog featured an article about a new study about food security challenges in Alaska.

• ‘Encounters with Richard Nelson’ radio show features episodes on venison and salmon

For the past four years, Sitka resident Richard Nelson has hosted a radio show called “Encounters,” which airs on KCAW-Raven Radio and other public radio stations around the state.

His Nov. 23 show was about venison. The show’s description — “Look over the shoulder of host Richard Nelson as he butchers a freshly killed deer. He tells stories of his learning to hunt from his Inupiaq teachers and we learn how knowing more about the food we eat can make us feel closer to the environment.”

His Aug. 10 show was about salmon. The show’s description — “Instead of heading uptown, head upstream this week with Richard Nelson as he gets into a salmon stream to experience the amazing annual life cycle event of wild Alaskan salmon.”

The rest of his shows are about life in Alaska and other spots in the arctic, and they range from bear safety to mosquitoes. Some of his episodes also deal with Nelson’s time spent in Australia.

• Baranof Elementary students dig up potatoes and other local food stories in the news

Daily Sitka Sentinel screenshot of Baranof Elementary School student picking potatoes

Daily Sitka Sentinel screenshot of Baranof Elementary School student picking potatoes

Monday’s edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel features a photo of Baranof Elementary School first-grader Keaton Kelling, 7, holding up a couple of potatoes he dug up from the Russian Bishop’s House garden on Thursday. First-grade students from Baranof Elementary harvested crops of peas, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables they planted last spring when they were kindergarten students. Most crops did well this year. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Monday's picking potatoes photo from the Daily Sitka Sentinel

Monday's picking potatoes photo from the Daily Sitka Sentinel

There were several other local food stories in Alaska newspapers over the weekend. Here’s a quick rundown.

Click here to read a story from Sunday’s Juneau Empire that features an Alaskanized version of a recipe for “salmon maritako,” a stew made by Spanish fishermen. The article is by Ginny Mahar, a chef at Rainbow Foods who also writes the Food-G blog. Many of the recipes Ginny posts on her blog include local, Southeast Alaska ingredients.

Click here to read an article from Sunday’s Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about a University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service project at the Fairbanks Experimental Farm where they are using high-tunnel greenhouses to grow more apples and berries in northern climates. Click here to go directly to the UAF Cooperative Extension Service project page.

Click here to read Wednesday’s Anchorage Daily News gardening column by Jeff Lowenfels about now being the time to prepare plants for winter. Most of the column deals with flowers, but he does have some info about preparing tomato plants for the winter at the end of the column.

Click here to read an Associated Press story posted on the Anchorage Daily News Web site on Monday about how hoop houses (a low-cost type of greenhouse that uses plastic on a frame) are extending the growing season for urban farmers in northern climates. The version of the story on the ADN site didn’t have any photos of the hoop houses, so click here to see a version with photos.

Click here to read a transcript from National Public Radio of a story about two Walmart truckers who drive 2,600 miles one way from an Oregon warehouse to Alaska each week to deliver produce to Alaska stores. That’s a long way to transport a piece of lettuce or a carrot we can grow in Alaska, and that distance doesn’t include how far the produce had to travel to get to the Oregon warehouse before being trucked to Alaska. The story originated from the Alaska Public Radio Network, which has the story in streaming audio on its site.

Finally, click here for a humorous column from the July 2009 Field and Stream by Scott Bestul comparing the taste of Grade A Choice Holstein beef vs. wild venison when both are prepared the same way. This isn’t really a local story, but deer hunting season is coming soon in Southeast Alaska.

• ADF&G hunter education safety courses offered in Sitka

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is offering an Online Basic Hunter Education Field Day and a Basic Hunter Education class this month in Sitka.

The Online Basic Hunter Education Field Day will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19. This field day course is only for students who already have successfully completed the electronic portion of the Online Basic Hunter Education class. Upon passing the online exam, students will receive a field day qualifier certificate, which grants admission to the field day. Students must have their field day qualifier number before registering for the field day. Register online at http://www.hunt.alaska.gov (click the “Hunter Education/Shooting” link at the bottom-right corner of the grid listing services). Detailed information about each course can be found on the Hunter Education/Shooting link.

The three-day Basic Hunter Education class will run from 6-8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24-25, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26. To register, students must purchase a $10 study packet available at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Sitka. The packet workbook must be completed prior to the start of class.

Classes will be held at the Sitka Sportsman’s Association building located at 5211 Halibut Point Road. For additional information, please contact the Sitka office for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 747-5449.