• Sitka gardeners to meet Tuesday, April 20, at UAS-Sitka Campus

Local gardener Evening Star Grutter of Eve's Farm, shown here with some of her homemade jams during the Aug. 29, 2009, Sitka Farmers Market, will be the guest speaker at April's meeting of the Sitka Gardeners Club

Local gardener Evening Star Grutter of Eve's Farm, shown here with some of her homemade jams during the Aug. 29, 2009, Sitka Farmers Market, will be the guest speaker at April's meeting of the Sitka Gardeners Club

The Sitka Gardeners Club’s monthly get-together takes place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, in Room 106 at the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus on Japonski Island.

The get-together provides a venue for gardeners of all types, interests and skills to informally exchange ideas, information, seeds and growing tips. Share and learn from other gardeners with no dues or commitments other than good fellowship.

Sitka gardeners plan to meet on the third Tuesday of the month at the UAS-Sitka Campus. This month’s meeting will feature gardening tips from Evening Star Grutter of Eve’s Farm, and it is sponsored by UAS-Sitka Campus and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. For more information, call Cheryl Stromme at 747-9473 or Bob Gorman at 747-9413.

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• Sitka growers to contribute to local CSA venture

Renee Pierce, right, explains the first Sitka CSA venture to Sitka Local Foods Network board member Natalie Sattler during the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Renee Pierce, right, explains the first Sitka CSA venture to Sitka Local Foods Network board member Natalie Sattler during the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

One of the latest trends in farming is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which enables people to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmer. Renee and Brian Pierce, who own the locally made kelp products and wild berry jelly shop Simple Pleasures of Alaska, are working with Sitka growers to start a small CSA venture with local produce during the summer growing season.

Renee Pierce said that instead of the CSA being a true farmers’ cooperative, she will buy produce from several local growers — including Florence Welsh of the Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens, Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals, Judy Johnstone of Sprucecot Gardens, Evening Star and Fabian Grutter of Eve’s Farm, and Lori Adams of Down To Earth U-Pick Gardens. The CSA also will include produce from the Pierce Family’s Simple Pleasures garden.

The Sitka CSA will start small, with membership slots for just 25 families the first year. Renee Pierce said of those 25 slots, only about 10 memberships are left. CSA members will commit to paying $50 plus tax every other week, which will give the member families a selection of produce that includes some organic produce purchased from Organically Grown Company of Portland, Ore. During the months when Sitka growers aren’t producing many vegetables, there will be more produce purchased from Organically Grown Company. There also will be an option to buy bread at $6 a loaf beyond the price of the produce box.

The produce selection includes many crops that can be grown in Sitka — such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, radishes, zucchini, green beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, tomatoes, etc. But with the Organically Grown Company providing some of the produce, CSA members also can choose items that aren’t regular Sitka crops — such as bananas, lemons, limes, pineapples, oranges, etc.

Information about Sitka's first CSA from the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Information about Sitka's first CSA from the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Renee Pierce said she has worked with Organically Grown Company for about four years, purchasing organic produce for the Pierce family and several friends and other Sitka residents who heard about the venture (at one point she had about 60-70 families buying from her). She said she orders produce by the case, and it is available for pick-up from 3-6 p.m. every other Monday afternoon at the Simple Pleasures store next to Kettleson Memorial Library. The first pick-up day for the Sitka CSA is March 29 (which will be for the 15 or so families that already have reserved a spot in the CSA), and the next pick-up day is April 12. CSA members are encouraged to bring their own bags and/or boxes on pick-up days.

The pick-up days are slated to be during the weeks between the every-other-week Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, which will give local growers and buyers the opportunity to buy and sell local produce for both. Renee said there will be some produce extras for families that want to adjust their allotments, but everybody’s allotted produce value will be $50. If you add from the extras you will need to pay the difference, and if you give up some produce you don’t want so your value dips below $50 there are no refunds. She said the CSA is being done as a community service and it’s meant to just break even so the bills get paid.

To learn more about the Sitka CSA, contact Renee Pierce at 738-0044 (cell) or 747-3814 (home). You also can e-mail her at mpierce@ptialaska.net.

• Capital City Weekly features Sitka Farmers Market’s Table of the Day Award and other news about local foods

Screenshot of Capital City Weekly feature on Sitka Farmers Market Table of the Day Award winners

Screenshot of Capital City Weekly feature on Sitka Farmers Market Table of the Day Award winners

Click here to see a photo in this week’s Capital City Weekly highlighting Evening Star Grutter and Fabian Grutter of Eve’s Farm, who won the Table of the Day Award during the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Aug. 29. Don’t forget the fifth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the summer takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 12, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). We look forward to seeing you there.

There also have been several other local foods stories in the news in Alaska in recent days.

Click here to read a Capital City Weekly article about the Autumn Festival on Saturday, Sept. 19, in Juneau. The Autumn Festival features some local food booths, in addition to the usual arts and crafts and the beer garden (part of the Autumn Pour homebrew competition) that make up the bulk of the show at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

Click here to listen to a newscast from KHNS-FM public radio in Haines that features a story about local efforts in Haines and Skagway to promote local foods during the Alaska Grown Eat Local Challenge on Aug. 23-29 (link opens an online MP3 audio file, story starts about halfway through the newscast). The story mentions that the last Haines Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12 (click here for info).

Click here for an Anchorage Daily News article on what crops to expect at this weekend’s farmers markets in the Anchorage and Mat-Su valleys.

Click here to read an article from The Redoubt Reporter (an online news site from the Kenai Peninsula) about the annual honey extraction event hosted by the Eat Me Raw Honey Company in Kasilof (a community near Kenai and Soldotna). During this event, they clean honey out of the hives and processing it.

Click here to read an article from The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman about Wasilla dentist Steve Hubacek and his two record-breaking cabbages at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer.

• Juneau Empire features Table of the Day Award winners from fourth Sitka Farmers Market

Screenshot of Sunday's Juneau Empire feature on the Sitka Farmers Market table of the day award

Screenshot of Sunday's Juneau Empire feature on the Sitka Farmers Market table of the day award

Click here to see where the Juneau Empire on Sunday, Sept. 6, featured Table of the day Award winners Evening Star Grutter and Fabian Grutter of Eve’s Farm from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Aug. 29. By the way, this photo also appeared in the Friday, Sept. 4, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel (but there’s no online link).

Don’t forget that our final Sitka Farmers Market of the summer takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). We look forward to seeing you at the market.

• Evening Star Grutter wins Table of the Day Award from fourth Sitka Farmers Market

Fabian Grutter, left, and Evening Star Grutter, right, of Eve's Farm receive the Table of the Day Award from Linda Wilson during the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Aug. 29.

Fabian Grutter, left, and Evening Star Grutter, right, of Eve's Farm receive the Table of the Day Award from Linda Wilson during the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Aug. 29.

Evening Star Grutter and Fabian Grutter of Eve’s Farm won the “Table of the Day Award” for the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Aug. 29.

The Sitka Local Foods Network selected the table — which featured a variety of fresh produce and homemade jams and jellies — to receive the $25 cash prize, an Alaska Farmers Market Association tote bag and a certificate of appreciation. A similar prize package is awarded to a deserving vendor at each of the five Sitka Farmers Markets this summer.

The fifth and final market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. Keep your eye on this site for more information.

Also, a new photo gallery from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 29 has been posted on Shutterfly (an online photo-sharing site). Click this link to check out the photos.

Evening Star Grutter and a rack of her homemade jams and jellies

Evening Star Grutter and a rack of her homemade jams and jellies

Lexi Fish cooks up a crepe

Lexi Fish cooks up a crepe