• Northwest Farm Credit Services awards grants to Alaskans Own and Sitka Kitch projects

From left, Linda Behnken of the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association and Anya Grenier of the Alaskans Own Seafood community supported fishery project receive a check for $4,500 from Michael Wittman of Northwest Farm Credit Services to help promote local seafood for Alaskans.

From left, Linda Behnken of the Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association and Anya Grenier of the Alaskans Own Seafood community supported fishery project receive a check for $4,500 from Michael Wittman of Northwest Farm Credit Services to help promote local seafood for Alaskans.

image003Northwest Farm Credit Services recently awarded two rural community grants to help fund a pair of local foods projects in Sitka. The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association received $4,500 for its Alaskans Own Seafood community supported fisheries program, and the Sitka Local Foods Network received $1,975 for a series of basic culinary skills classes to take place in March at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (which is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society with assistance from the Sitka Local Foods Network).

“The support of Northwest Farm Credit Services will allow ALFA to improve and expand Alaskans Own so we can provide premium seafood to more rural residents,” said Linda Behnken, ALFA’s executive director.  “We believe healthy fisheries and healthy fishing communities go together and with this grant support we will reinvest in both.”

Alaskans Own connects residents of Alaska’s rural communities with great Alaskan seafood through monthly subscriptions. Subscription sales support ALFA’s research and conservation work to promote sustainable fisheries and sustainable fishing communities. Click here for KCAW-Raven Radio’s coverage of the grant.

From left, Dorrie Farrell and Kristy Miller of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen advisory team and Sitka Local Foods Network president Lisa Sadleir-Hart receive a check for $1,975 from Michael Wittman of Northwest Farm Credit Services to support a Sitka Kitch project to teach basic culinary skills to people wanting to get jobs in the food/restaurant industry. The classes will take place in March.

From left, Dorrie Farrell and Kristy Miller of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen advisory team and former Sitka Local Foods Network president/interim Sitka Kitch project coordinator Lisa Sadleir-Hart receive a check for $1,975 from Michael Wittman of Northwest Farm Credit Services to support a Sitka Kitch project to teach basic culinary skills to people wanting to get jobs in the food/restaurant industry. The classes will take place in March.

“Sitka Kitch will use the resources to launch a basic culinary training series taught by Chef Kathy Jones (executive chef for the Westmark Sitka Hotel),” said Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Sitka Kitch interim coordinator and former Sitka Local Foods Network board president. “Chef Kathy will model the four-session training on a curriculum from Indianapolis. She sees it as a way to get local Sitkans trained on entry-level culinary skills that could land them jobs in one of Sitka’s many restaurants or food-related businesses.”

The Sitka Kitch basic culinary skills training series is modeled after a similar program designed to help give people work skills for the restaurant/catering industry offered by a hunger relief nonprofit called Second Helpings in Indianapolis. More details about the Sitka Kitch basic culinary skills program will be announced in the next week or so. The classes also will be open to Sitka residents wanting to improve their home culinary skills.

Sitka Kitch is a community wellness project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit designed to improve food security in Sitka. The different parts of the project include creating a community kitchen Sitka residents can rent to prepare food for their small businesses or to preserve their family harvest of fish, game, or garden veggies; expanding Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity; and providing education about cooking and preserving food and building family emergency food pantries.

Northwest Farm Credit Services is committed to helping rural communities succeed. In 2015, Northwest FCS awarded 62 rural grants totaling more than $134,000 to projects in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Since the program’s inception in 2007, the company has presented 464 rural grants totaling more than $948,000.

The next rural grant deadline is Feb. 1, with two other deadline cycles later in the year. If you think your rural project may be eligible for a grant, visit http://northwestfcs.com/Stewardship/Rural-Communities for more information and an application.

Northwest FCS is a financial cooperative providing financing and related services to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, commercial fishermen, timber producers, rural homeowners and crop insurance customers in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Northwest FCS provides approximately $13 billion in loans and is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions that provide approximately $221 billion in loans to rural America. For more information, go to http://northwestfcs.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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

• Easter Group to auction off painted boots to raise money for the homeless during the Sept. 15 Sitka Farmers Market

The Easter Group will raise money for Sitka’s Project Homeless Connect event when it auctions off several pairs of painted rubber boots during the final Sitka Farmers Market of the season, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.).

The white rubber boots were a donation from Sitka Sound Seafoods, which found them inadequate for its slippery floors. According to Dorrie Ferrell, the unpainted boots were available to Sitka’s homeless residents during the Project Homeless Connect event in January, but only a couple of of pairs were taken. So the boots were given to local artists to paint, and now they will be auctioned off to help raise money for future Project Homeless Connect projects.

The boots will be on display at Kettleson Memorial Library from Sept. 1-14, when they will be moved to a booth at the Sept. 15 Sitka Farmers Market for the auction. The auctioneer will be Brock Bauder. In addition to Project Homeless Connect and other projects to combat homelessness in Sitka, Easter Group also supports the local Blessings in a Backpack program, which sends food home on the weekend with school children whose families need food assistance. For more information, contact Easter Group at info@eastergroup.org.

And don’t forget the Running of the Boots fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network is on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Crescent Harbor shelter, which is a perfect time to wear your newly purchased painted rubber boots. Registration opens and the Sitka Blues Band starts playing at 10 a.m., costume judging is at 10:30 a.m., and the fun run is at 11 a.m.