Registration open for Alaska Food Festival and Conference on March 8-9 in Homer

Registration is open for the 2019 Alaska Food Festival and Conference, which takes place on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9, at Land’s End Resort in Homer.

Hosted by the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC), this semi-annual event previously took place in Anchorage in 2014 and 2016 and in Fairbanks in 2017. This year, the Alaska Farmers Market Association is co-hosting the conference.

“This event is an amazing opportunity to meet enthusiastic folks from all parts of the Alaska food system to share ideas and dreams from educators to farmers, distillers to oyster growers, and communities from Tyonek to Port Lions to Kotzebue,” said Lorinda Lhotka, a governing board member of the Alaska Food Policy Council and one of the conference organizers. “There is truly something for everyone and when you leave this conference you will be motivated to take action to improve your local food system.”

Conference topics will cover Alaska’s vast and diverse food system. This year’s keynote speakers are Ben Feldman, policy director and interim executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition, and Courtney Long, program coordinator for the Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service and Outreach/Local Foods Program.

Sessions will include presentations on farmers market issues, food security, policy, production, harvesting, business, education, community, tradition, sovereignty, fermenting, subsistence, growing, and more. Chef demonstrations, hands-on activities, vendor booths, and a Friday night social round out the event.

In conjunction with the Alaska Food Festival and Conference, two other events will take place in Homer during this week. There will be a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training on Thursday, March 7, to teach commercial food growers how to meet the requirements of the new Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule. On Sunday, March 10, the Alaska Farmers Market Association will host its annual meeting and planning session.

“The first ever Alaska Farmers Market Association conference in 2017 brought together market organizers from around the state,” said Robbi Mixon, a governing board member of the Alaska Food Policy Council and coordinator of the Alaska Farmers Market Association. “We shared information and ideas, gained knowledge on running successful markets, and most importantly built a statewide community of market managers who support each other. We’ve joined forces with the Alaska Food Policy Council for our next edition, further broadening the experience and connections for Alaska’s farmers, markets, eaters, businesses, non‐profits, academics … really anyone with an interest in building a stronger food system.”

To learn more about this event, go to the conference website at http://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2019-conference. The website has links to draft agendas and information about registration, event sponsorship, being a vendor, being a volunteer, and how to nominate someone for the Alaska Food Heroes Award. There are a limited number of travel scholarships.

We have arranged a 7 percent travel discount with RAVN Alaska, and people should use the code “AKFOODPOLICY” when booking their airfare. We also have a conference rate of 10-15 percent off regular winter rates at Land’s End Resort for people booking their rooms before March 1 and using the code “FARMERS2019.”

For more information about the conference, contact Robbi Mixon at (907) 235-4068, Ext. 23, or robbi@inletkeeper.org.

  • The Alaska Food Policy Council (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/) is a nonprofit organization whose diverse membership works to engage Alaskans to make positive changes for the state’s food system, and to create a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future for all.
  • The Alaska Farmers Market Association (http://www.alaskafarmersmarkets.org/) is a nonprofit whose mission is to support and promote vibrant and sustainable farmers markets throughout Alaska. AFMA is excited about this opportunity to gather state farmers market organizers and food system leaders together. Market organizers — look for sessions with a focus on farmers markets.
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Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by attending the Sitka Farmers Markets on Aug. 4 and 11

The 19th annual National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 5-11 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Markets to join the celebration, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, Aug. 4 and 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. This is the 11th season of Sitka Farmers Markets.

The annual National Farmers Market Week celebration is the first full week of August, when growing season is peaking around the country. Click here to read this year’s National Farmers Market Week proclamation from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

The number of farmers markets in the country has more than tripled since 1996, growing from 2,410 markets in 1996 to 8,675 in 2016. There has been similar growth in Alaska, and now markets can be found in many Bush communities from Bethel to Thorne Bay. This growth has improved Alaska’s food security while also serving as an incubator for new businesses.

According to the Farmers Market Coalition, farmers markets …

  • Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.
  • Stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those growers that do not sell locally create three jobs.
  • Increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several  studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52 percent more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011. The Sitka Farmers Market was the first market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP and WIC benefits, and we have a matching program for SNAP and WIC beneficiaries.
  • Support healthy communities. Farmers market vendors educate their shoppers. Four out of five farmers selling at markets discuss farming practices with their customers, and three in five discuss nutrition and how to prepare food.
  • Promote sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 12

The 18th annual National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 6-12 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Market to join the celebration, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. This is the 10th season of Sitka Farmers Markets.

The annual National Farmers Market Week celebration is the first full week of August, when growing season is peaking around the country. Click here to read this year’s National Farmers Market Week proclamation from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

The number of farmers markets in the country has more than tripled since 1996, growing from 2,410 markets in 1996 to 8,675 in 2016. There has been similar growth in Alaska, and now markets can be found in many Bush communities from Bethel to Thorne Bay. This growth has improved Alaska’s food security while also serving as an incubator for new businesses.

According to the Farmers Market Coalition, farmers markets …

  • Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.
  • Stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those growers that do not sell locally create three jobs.
  • Increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several  studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52 percent more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011. The Sitka Farmers Market was the first market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP and WIC benefits, and we have a matching program for SNAP and WIC beneficiaries.
  • Support healthy communities. Farmers market vendors educate their shoppers. Four out of five farmers selling at markets discuss farming practices with their customers, and three in five discuss nutrition and how to prepare food.
  • Promote sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.

Help celebrate National Farmers Market Week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 13

SLFNNationalFarmersMarketWeekPoster

WhyMarkets_2016The 17th annual National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 7-13 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Market to join the celebration, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

The annual National Farmers Market Week celebration is the first full week of August, when growing season is peaking around the country. This year’s theme is “Farmers Markets and Community Education,” which highlights how farmers markets help communities reconnect to and learn about their food sources (from farms and farmers to local food relief programs). Click here to read this year’s National Farmers Market Week proclamation from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack.

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe number of farmers markets in the country has tripled since 1998, growing from 2,746 markets in 1998 to more than 8,500 in 2015. There has been similar growth in Alaska, and now markets can be found in many Bush communities from Bethel to Thorne Bay. This growth has improved Alaska’s food security while also serving as an incubator for new businesses.

According to the Farmers Market Coalition, farmers markets …

  • Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.
  • Stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those growers that do not sell locally create three jobs.
  • Increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several  studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52 percent more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011. The Sitka Farmers Market was the first market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP and WIC benefits.
  • Support healthy communities. Farmers market vendors educate their shoppers. Four out of five farmers selling at markets discuss farming practices with their customers, and three in five discuss nutrition and how to prepare food.
  • Promote sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.

• Help kick off National Farmers Market Week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market on Saturday

WhyMarkets_2015_Page1

Icon_NFMW-1-300x269National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 2-8 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Market this Saturday to help kick off the celebration. The Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

The annual National Farmers Market Week celebration is the first full week of August, when growing season is peaking around the country. This year’s theme is “There’s More To Market,” which highlights the wider variety of products now found at farmers markets across the country. Click here to read this year’s National Farmers Market Week proclamation from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack.

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe number of farmers markets in the country has tripled since 1998, growing from 2,746 markets in 1998 to 8,268 in 2014. There has been similar growth in Alaska, and now markets can be found in many Bush communities from Bethel to Thorne Bay. This growth has improved Alaska’s food security while also serving as an incubator for new businesses.

According to the Farmers Market Coalition, farmers markets…

  • Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.
  • Stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those that do not sell locally create three.
  • Increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several  studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52 percent more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011.
  • Support healthy communities. Farmers market vendors educate their shoppers. Four out of five farmers selling at markets discuss farming practices with their customers, and three in five discuss nutrition and how to prepare food.
  • Promote sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.

• Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by visiting the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 9

WhyFarmersMarkets

SitkaFarmersMarketSignU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 3-9 as National Farmers Market Week this year, as noted by the Farmers Market Coalition, and you can celebrate the week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

Farmers markets are a great way to connect with the community, while also purchasing local produce, wild fish, locally baked bread and arts and crafts. Besides providing access to fresh local produce, farmers markets create strong economic engines in communities, promote local health and bring a diverse group of people together. They also help consumers meet and get to know the people who produce their food.

SLFNGroupwLinda“The Sitka Farmers Market is a community festival where people of all walks of life come together and find great stuff, good food, amazing music, awesome produce, freshly harvested, and above all, great company!” said Debe Brincefield, one of the two Sitka Farmers Market co-managers.

Farmers markets have been growing nationally, from 2,863 in 2000 to more than 8,100 in 2014, a jump of more than 280 percent. While Alaska doesn’t have as many farmers markets as other states, it did have the highest percentage of new markets in the country in recent years, up to 35 markets in 2011 or 46 percent. The national rate of new market growth was 17 percent in 2011 and 9.6 percent in 2012.

Aug. 9 will be the fourth of six full Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, with the schedule running on alternate Saturdays (June 28, July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun.

SitkaFarmersMarketBusNEW2The Sitka Farmers Market was the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons, and we also accept SNAP EBT payments. In addition, this year we teamed up with Sitka Tours to offer free bus service on market Saturdays. The bus picks up at Sawmill Creek Apartments at 9:45 a.m., at Indian River at 9:50 a.m., and Swan Lake Senior Center at 10 a.m., with the return trip leaving ANB Founders Hall at noon.

For more information about the market or hosting a booth, contact Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Ellexis Howey or Debe Brincefield at 738-8683 or sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. By the way, we always need volunteers to help set up and take down the market before and after the event. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Also, we need volunteer harvesters from 3:30-5:30 p.m. every Friday and 8-9:30 a.m. on market Saturdays at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, which is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (the dark brown brick-and-wood church on Lincoln Street above Crescent Harbor). Fresh veggies will be available for a donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network or a WIC farmers market coupon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Mondays before a market Saturday. For more info on garden work parties, contact St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt at 738-7009 or 623-7003.

• Pledge to spend at least $10 at the Sitka Farmers Market as part of the ‘I Love My Farmers Market’ celebration

LoveMyFarmersMarketApples

AFT_Love_My_Market_InfographicHow well do you love the Sitka Farmers Market? You can show your love by clicking this linkand pledging to spend at least $10 at the next Sitka Farmers Market as part of the “I Love My Farmers Market” Celebration, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust.

According to the American Farmland Trust:

AFT’s I Love My Farmers Market Celebration is raising national awareness about local farmers markets and putting money directly in the pockets of family farmers.

Throughout the celebration, consumers will pledge dollars they intend to spend at their local farmers markets. A pledge is a commitment to spend $10 at your farmers market. Pledges can be cast once a day, and farmers market shoppers can pledge to support more than one farmers market.

Each week, one lucky participant and their favorite farmer will receive a free No Farms No Food® hat.

The Top 100 most celebrated markets will receive a special logo honoring their achievement, “No Farms, No Food”® gear, and recognition on the I Love My Farmers Market Celebration’s website, www.lovemyfarmersmarkets.org/.

The 2014 I Love My Farmers Market Celebration started on June 13 and will end at midnight EST on Sept. 13.

Click here to listen to a 90-second PSA from the American Farmland Trust about the importance of shopping at your local farmers market, and how farmers markets benefit your health and local economy.

The Farmers Market Coalition, which provides technical resources for farmers markets and sponsors National Farmers Market Week on Aug. 3-9, recently released a report about the benefits of farmers markets. Some of the findings included:

  • There were more than 7,800 farmers markets in the US in 2012—an increase of nearly 10% in just one year.
  • For every $100 spent at a farmers market, $62 stays in the local economy, and $99 stays in-state.
  • People who shop at farmers markets have 15-20 social interactions per visit, while they would only have one or two at the grocery store.

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThere will be six Sitka Farmers Markets in 2014. The first one takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The remaining five Sitka Farmers Market are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The Sitka Farmers Market accepts Alaska Quest card electronic benefits transfers for people using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, aka food stamps.