• Rabbit, goat highlight Sawmill Farm’s farm-to-table dinner at Ludvig’s Bistro

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Locally raised rabbit and goat meat from Ketchikan were the highlights of a fundraising farm-to-table dinner for the Sawmill Farm on Jan. 31 at Ludvig’s Bistro.

In an effort to raise seed money for her Sawmill Farm project, Bobbi Daniels worked with Ludvig’s Bistro owner/chef Colette Nelson to create a five-course meal featuring locally sourced food from Sitka and Southeast Alaska. Tickets were $75 per plate for the function.

Bobbi already is raising rabbits in town, and she said goats also do well in Sitka. Bobbi hopes to find a large enough lot so she can grow enough rabbits to supply local stores with meat. She said rabbit meat is one of the cleanest meats as far as toxins, and it only takes 10 weeks to raise a rabbit to harvest size. The Sawmill Farm was one of 12 semifinalists in the recent Path to Prosperity economic development contest sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, and now is competing for the people’s choice award.

Working with local farmers and gardeners, Bobbi and Colette created five-course meal that featured:

  • rabbit terrine with farm egg, beach asparagus and mustard;
  • leek, heirloom tomato, zucchini and rabbit consommé with sprouted wheat bread;
  • Moroccan goat stew with ginger, preserved lemons, potatoes, dates and almonds, served with white satin carrot salad and balsamic beets;
  • grilled rabbit thigh served with aioli, Inca Bella potato purée and sautéed garlic kale; and
  • Russian pavlova with huckleberry, rhubarb, currants and Sitka rose sugar.

A variety of gardens and farms provided the food used for the meal. The Sawmill Farm supplied the rabbits and wheat berries, Sivertsen Farm in Ketchikan provided the goat, Lori Adams of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden supplied winter kale, Sara Taranof provided farm eggs, Linda Walker provided garlic, huckleberries, rhubarb and currants, and Florence Welsh of Forget-Me-Not Garden supplied white satin and orange carrots, heirloom tomatoes, red rose potatoes, Inca Bella potatoes, leeks, zucchini, beets, raspberry preserves and beach asparagus.

Scenes from the meal are in a slideshow below:

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• Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference to take place Feb. 27-March 1 in Petersburg

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Bo Varsano and Marja Smets of Farragut Farm in Petersburg will host the inaugural Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference from Feb. 27 through March 1 in Petersburg. This conference is made possible by the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Petersburg Economic Development Council.

FarragutFarmProduceStandatIngas“The Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference is an opportunity for the commercial vegetable and flower producers of Southeast Alaska to get together and exchange ideas and techniques, with the purpose of improving and expanding local agricultural production,” Bo Varsano said. “Commercial agriculture in Southeast Alaska is still minimal, but is rapidly expanding with new growers starting up every year. While there are many uniquely specific challenges to growing in our region, few fully developed and publicized strategies currently exist for the new grower to follow. In light of this, gathering with other growers to share our experiences and ideas may be the best way to aid the growing agricultural movement in Southeast Alaska.”

FarragutFarmMarjaInGreenhouseIt’s not too late to sign up to participate, so please take a look and let us know if you have any questions or if you are interested in joining the fun. If the travel and lodging costs are dissuading you from participating, please remember that we can arrange a home-stay for anyone (contact us by Jan. 18 to arrange home-stays) and we still have one travel stipend ($200) to hand out to someone in need.

A few things to consider:

  • This conference is open to commercial farmers, aspiring farmers, as well as anyone in the general public who is interested in the local agriculture industry.
  • Participants are responsible for their own breakfasts and lunches.
  • Friday’s dinner will be prepared by KFSK, our local radio station. This meal is a fundraising event for the station, and a suggested donation will be requested.
  • Saturday’s dinner will be a communal dinner, jointly prepared for and shared by all conference participants at the venue.
  • There is no fee to attend, however, we will be asking for a minimal donation from each participant to cover the cost of venue rental and Saturday evening’s dinner.

Several regional farmers and industry specialists have volunteered to give presentations relevant to the issues and challenges faced by Southeast Alaska growers.  The following topics will be addressed:

We will begin the conference with a brief “show and tell” session. All conference participants will be asked to give a short (under 10 minutes) introduction including a description of their farm, their farming aspirations, or their involvement in the farming industry.

We especially encourage sharing photos of your operation. If you choose to do so, please bring those photos on a memory stick in JPEG format (in the largest original format). That is the ONLY photo format that we can guarantee will work with our computer.

We hope to see you all in February, and again, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. The best way to reach us is by email, at farragutfarm@gmail.com.

Please print up the attached documents (which include a conference agenda and a map of Petersburg showing the locations for the conference) and bring them with you when you come.

• 2015 Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference Agenda

• Map of Petersburg

• Scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer

Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Debe Brincefield, left, and Ellexis Howey, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Erin Keenan of Bear Buns at the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Erin has been selling her homemade diapers at the Sitka Farmers Market for a couple of years, plus she was selling handmade baby booties from Charlee Oh Creations for Springer Black and Raven's Ink hats for Raven Shaw. Erin received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh carrots, fresh rhubarb, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the seventh year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The final market of the summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Check our website to learn about our new bus service to the 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 Co-Managers Debe Brincefield, left, and Ellexis Howey, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Erin Keenan of Bear Buns at the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Erin has been selling her homemade diapers at the Sitka Farmers Market for a couple of years, plus she was selling handmade baby booties from Charlee Oh Creations for Springer Black and Raven’s Ink hats for Raven Shaw. Erin received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh carrots, fresh rhubarb, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the seventh year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The final market of the summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Check our website to learn about our new bus service to the 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)

SitkaFarmersMarketSignErin Keenan of Bear Buns homemade diapers won Table of the Day during the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer, which took place on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St.

We wound up with a bit of sunny weather for this market, which was a nice change from our recent rain. We also enjoyed another market with our new bus service from Sitka Tours. This free service will be available at all of the rest of our markets this summer.

The sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, at ANB Founders Hall. We also plan to host a produce table at the 20th annual Running of the Boots on Saturday, Sept. 27, near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Church on Lincoln Street. A slideshow with scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market is below.

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• Meet your vendors: Erin Fulton of Alaskans Own Seafood and the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust

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SitkaFarmersMarketSign(This is part of a new series of “Meet your vendors” articles, where Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel is writing features about our regular Sitka Farmers Market vendors.) 

Walking past the Alaskans Own Seafood booth at the farmers market, you may have noticed a kind and bright-eyed brunette with black-rimmed glasses selling extra frozen fish from the first community supported fishery (CSF) program in Alaska. 

Alaskans Own Seafood is similar to a community supported agriculture organization, or “CSA program,” where on the last Wednesday of each month, they ship fish to participating individuals or families in Seattle, Wash., Juneau, Anchorage, and host a pick-up day for members from Sitka. 

ErinFultonAlaskansOwnSeafoodErin is program coordinator of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, but her job entails working with many fishery organizations around Sitka, including the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) and their Fishery Conservation Networks (FCN) which engage fishermen in both research and conservation initiatives. Alaskans Own Seafood is part of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust.

Sitka had always been at the back of her mind as her family took a cruise around Alaska 10 years ago. Despite the fact that they were only in town for one day, they kayaked Sitka Sound and determined it their favorite spot on the trip. Laughing, Fulton says, “I need space. I need more trees than people.”

Most of her family still lives in her hometown of Mahtomedi, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul. Her father is the president of a steel-casting firm and works with the mining industry, and her mother stayed home to raise her and her younger brother, Alex. Alex attended Duke University for graduate school and is now a mechanical engineer for Polaris Industries. 

ErinFultonAshiaLaneAlaskansOwnSeafoodIn 2009, Fulton graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., with two degrees in biology and environmental studies. When she wasn’t studying, she played the contra alto clarinet for the St. Olaf band (“a 90-member family”) when it went on 10-day tours around the United States. Concerned about the environmental effects of their carbon footprint while traveling around the country, Fulton began a carbon-offset initiative for local farmers. 

After St. Olaf, Fulton attended graduate school at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and graduated with two master’s degrees in environmental management and forestry. According to Fulton, at Duke, there are 7,000 acres of timberland. Her master’s thesis involved getting carbon-offset, surveying the forest, and examining afforestation, reforestation, improved forest management, and avoided deforestation. 

AO_LogoHaving never worked in or pursued an education in the fisheries industry, Fulton took a job in Sitka as a Tongass Forest Resident with the Sitka Conservation Society. She was very interested in resource management in Alaska, because unlike the Lower 48 which is “locked in” with strict laws and regulations, Alaska is an active and dynamic place with constantly changing laws and continued resource extraction. Also, given her background in forest management, she is fascinated by the life cycle of salmon and its role as a “great fertilizer for the trees and forest.” She drove from her home in Minnesota to Alaska with a friend, through the Canadian Rockies and took a ferry to Sitka from Prince Rupert, British Columbia. 

Here in Sitka, Fulton is a member of the local roller derby team Sitka Sound Slayers. Last year, she broke her leg twice, but is looking forward to getting back to the sport stronger than ever this season. And from 9-10 a.m. on Friday mornings, you can catch Erin on KCAW-Raven Radio’s Good Day Show.

Come meet Erin and check out Alaska’s Own at the next Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

• Scenes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer

Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Debe Brincefield, left, and Ellexis Howey, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Lori Adams of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden at the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Lori has been selling fresh produce, jams and jellies, and her local book on gardening at the Sitka Farmers Market for several years. She received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh rhubarb, a pair of earrings, a dozen eggs, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the seventh 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. 23, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Check our website to learn about our new bus service to the 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 Co-Managers Debe Brincefield, left, and Ellexis Howey, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Lori Adams of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden at the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Lori has been selling fresh produce, jams and jellies, and her local book on gardening at the Sitka Farmers Market for several years. She received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh rhubarb, a pair of earrings, a dozen eggs, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the seventh 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. 23, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Check our website to learn about our new bus service to the 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)

SitkaFarmersMarketSignLori Adams of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden won Table of the Day during the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer, which took place on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St.

National Farmers Market Week was Aug. 3-9, so several Sitka residents celebrated by attending the Sitka Farmers Market. We wound up with a bit of rainy weather for this market, but we still had a nice crowd and some new booths. We also enjoyed the third market with our new bus service from Sitka Tours. This free service will be available at all of the rest of our markets this summer.

The fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, at ANB Founders Hall. A slideshow with scenes from the fourth market is below.

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• Meet your vendors: Lori Adams of Down-to-Earth U-Pick Garden

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SitkaFarmersMarketSign(This is part of a new series of “Meet your vendors” articles, where Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel is writing features about our regular Sitka Farmers Market vendors.) 

A couple of miles outside of town, up Sawmill Creek Road, there is a thriving garden with everything from fennel and radishes to kohlrabi and raspberries. Lori Adams operates the Down-to-Earth U-Pick Garden at 2103 Sawmill Creek Rd.

Adams grew up on a farm in Oregon and met her husband Dale in high school through the church community. The couple came to Sitka in 1986 and worked as commercial fishermen. They now have two sons, Ben, 24, and Levi, 18. Ben has a degree in biology and fisheries, and works at the Sitka Sound Science Center as a Chum Resource Coordinator. Levi is studying foreign languages at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The family lived on a boat for 11 years (as Adams says, “It’s a great way to start out here.”) and moved around before settling down on Sawmill Creek Road.

In 2009, Adams started Down-to-Earth U-Pick, shortly after the Sitka Local Foods Network started the Sitka Farmers Market. Adams credits Florence Welsh, the “matriarch of the Sitka gardening community,” for teaching her much of the gardening knowledge she knows today. They were neighbors on Halibut Point Road before Adams moved up Sawmill Creek Road with her family.

LoriAdamsGiftBasketAdams had a serious passion for gardening from the beginning, but was frustrated that fruits and vegetables would come and go, and were not consumed. She wanted to share her produce with others. She contacted Wells Williams in the Sitka Planning Department with her idea and he responded, “You want to do WHAT?” Perplexed at first, Williams soon jumped onboard. He helped to rewrite the city bylaws so Adams would be able to start the U-Pick, and she was approved.

Although the garden requires a lot of upkeep, she loves it and spends hours every day tending to it. Dale, a hunting guide, often asks her, “Why can’t you just be a carrot lady?” And she answers that providing the community with diverse locally grown produce is her true passion. Adams likes to provide a variety of vegetables so that people can see what grows well in this climate. “There is always something someone can pick.” Sometimes one thing will get over-picked, but it’s never been a real problem. Her garden is so successful in part because she is particular in her composting. “I know what’s here, and I bring in the cleanest possible [additions].” She has a family of ducks on the property that help perform slug control and add fertilizer to the beds.

In operating the only registered U-Pick garden in Sitka, Adams has overcome many obstacles. Despite the fact that locals are positive towards her about what she’s doing, she says, “People who are really into local food aren’t my regular customers because they grow their own food, but they do support me.” She has some regulars to the garden, but often her clientele consists of families with kids who usually get their produce from the grocery store, but like to tour the garden. Adams tries her best to keep up with what the grocery stores are charging and seems to be doing a great job. “I’m not a making a living here, but it pays for itself.” Her fennel runs $4 each, peapods are $5 per plastic crate, and carrots are 20 cents each, no matter the size.

She encourages anyone and everyone to start a U-Pick and would love to help them with the venture. “It would be great if we could have U-Picks like this become more of a feasible option for the community [through having more people start them].”

LoriAdamsWithBookIn the future, Adams hopes to expand into all of her usable property, and either continue with her U-Pick garden or possibly transition to farming and supply for restaurants and other similar institutions.

You might have recently spotted Lori driving down the road in the newest addition to her family: a 1946 Chevy pickup with running gear from a 1991 Caprice. A few years back while in her late 40s, she decided that for her 50th birthday, she was going to buy herself an old truck. She has always loved them. “I grew up on a farm. I think it’s just part of the nostalgia.” Her and Dale drove all the way from Kentucky, where they bought the truck, to Seattle, to send it home on the barge.

When she’s not gardening or driving her sweet new ride, Adams likes to crochet and design patterns, scrapbook, and when traveling, watch the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri, as there isn’t a television at home. One of her favorite go-to breakfast meals consists of a toasted bagel (she used cranberry-orange the other day) with real butter, garlic scape pesto, a fried egg, and locally smoked salmon. She loves garlic scapes. She puts them on everything — even into her vanilla smoothies!

Follow her two-week-long road trip journey with Dale from Kentucky to Seattle in her new vintage pickup, as well as her life at the U-Pick Garden on her blog at http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/. In addition, Adams sells copies of her book, “How to Grow Vegetables in Sitka, Alaska,” a collection of her 2012 Daily Sitka Sentinel “Gardening in Southeast Alaska” columns, for $20 each.

Come visit Lori and pick some produce from her beautiful garden Monday through Saturday between noon to 6:30 p.m. She will be at the next three Sitka Farmers Markets (Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6) with samples of her produce, but is also at the garden by 3 p.m. on those Saturdays. A few weeks ago, she came to the market with garlic scapes pulverized with olive oil and spread on a cracker. The combination was a HUGE hit. At the last market, she brought her Down-to-Earth peapods and homemade jams. Come visit her at the market this Saturday!

• Lori Adams’ contribution to Sitka gardening featured on Sitka Conservation Society website

Lori Adams poses with some of the ducks she keeps to help keep slugs at bay at her Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden. (Photo Courtesy of Sitka Conservation Society)

Lori Adams poses with some of the ducks she keeps to help keep the slugs at bay at her Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden. (Photo Courtesy of Sitka Conservation Society)

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this recent feature story about Sitka gardener Lori Adams on the Sitka Conservation Society‘s website.

Lori Adams is owner of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden (located at 2103 Sawmill Creek Road), and the author of “How to Grow Vegetables in Sitka, Alaska” (a collection of her 2012 Gardening in Southeast Alaska columns originally published in the Daily Sitka Sentinel). Lori also is a regular vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market.

The feature tells the story about how Lori wanted to start a you-pick garden at her house in 2007, but city code at the time didn’t allow people to grow food and then sell it directly to people from her private property. Lori worked with the city planning department and Sitka Assembly to rewrite the code so Sitka residents can apply for a special permit to sell food grown in their home gardens. The article also features several photos from her garden.