Check out the October 2021 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the October 2021 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories wrapping up the 2021 Sitka Farmers Market season, information about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, an announcement about a series of online food preservation workshops from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, an invitation to join our board of directors, and information about our 2021-22 sponsorship programs. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Like what we do? Please join our board of directors or volunteer with us

The 2019 Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors, from left, Amanda Anjum, Charles Bingham, Nina Vizcarrondo, Laura Schmidt, Stanley Lopata. We are recruiting new board members for 2021.

Did you enjoy the fresh local veggies at the Sitka Farmers Market this summer? Did you take any of our garden education classes this spring? Are you concerned about increasing access to local food for all Sitka residents?

The Sitka Local Foods Network is holding an open house for potential board members and volunteers from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6. Due to COVID-19 coronavirus health concerns and the need to social-distance, we will meet using Zoom online meetings (a meeting link will be sent by email if you contact Charles Bingham at the email address below). This is a good time to learn about what we’re doing and how you can help.

Please consider joining the board of directors for the Sitka Local Foods Network to help us pursue our mission to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. We need more board members in order to keep running our programs.

Board members help direct the Sitka Local Foods Network, a non-profit that promotes the harvest and use of local food in Sitka. In addition to setting the focus of the group during our monthly meetings, board members also serve on at least one committee supporting at our three main projects of the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and garden education. In 2018, we launched the annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest to encourage food entrepreneurs in Sitka.

We also hope to help with the Sitka Community Gardens project as we look for a new location now that Blatchley Community Garden has been closed. In addition, some board members have supported other local foods projects in Sitka, such as the Sitka Kitch, Let’s Grow Sitka, the Sick-A-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment project, Sitka Fish-To-Schools, other school education projects and more.

To apply for a spot on the board, please fill out the application linked below and submit it to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.org. For more information, please email us. Please note this is a working board, and our group is evolving and maturing as we try to raise funds to hire staff. Board terms are for three years, with seats up for reapplication each winter.

We also are looking to increase our pool of volunteers who will help out during the various projects hosted by the network each year (no formal application needed, just send us your name/contact info and what types of projects you enjoy). We need volunteers to help with the upcoming Sitka Farmers Markets, helpers for our lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and people to teach gardening classes.

The next regular Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting is from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6, using Zoom online meetings (email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com to get a link to join our meeting). The board usually meets once every 4-6 weeks. Please note, we will sometimes move our meetings to avoid conflicts with board member schedules, venue schedules and to ensure a quorum. All of our board meetings are open to the public.

Click here for a copy of the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors job description. Click here for a copy of the board application.

Tlingít potato harvest Friday honors American Indian Heritage Day and National Public Lands Day

Michelle Putz harvests Tlingít potatoes in 2020.

A short but exciting hands-on celebration will be happening at the Sitka Ranger District Office on Friday, Sept. 24.  The Sitka Ranger District, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and Pacific High School gardening class will celebrate American Indian Heritage Day (Sept. 24) and National Public Lands Day (Sept 25) by following a time-honored tradition in Sitka – the annual harvest of Tlingít (Maria’s) potatoes.

Forest Service employees, Sitka Tribe employees and volunteers, and student volunteers will get their hands dirty at the USDA Forest Service office as they harvest the potatoes they lovingly planted on Earth Day, April 22. Story-tellers will talk about the traditions behind potatoes and gardening and others will share information on how to care for Tlingít potatoes, as well as their biology, history, and cultural aspects. Participants will also say goodbye to long-time Tongass NEPA Planner and “potato lady,” Michelle Putz, as she assists with her last harvest.

“It could not be more appropriate or humbling than to commemorate these two specific days, meant to honor Native American heritage and volunteerism, with these much-appreciated partners through harvesting a locally important and traditional food,” said Sitka District Ranger, Perry Edwards.

We look forward to holding a planting event next spring that is open to the community. To limit the spread of COVID-19, this year’s celebration will not be open to the public.  In the meantime, those interested in learning more about these interesting potatoes can view the Forest Service video: Tlingit Potato Garden – Culture, Horticulture, Stories, History at https://vimeo.com/416075040.

Eat Local Challenge encourages Southeast Alaskans to do more with local foods

The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition (SAWC), in partnership with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, announces this year’s Eat Local Challenge.

The seven-day challenge starts Monday and runs from Sept. 20-26, encouraging Southeast Alaskans to increase their involvement with the local food system in their community by including as many locally grown, harvested, or foraged ingredients in their daily meals as possible.

This means purchasing local seafood, vegetables, and cottage food products directly from local food producers, farmer’s markets, and retailers that carry local items. Participants also can celebrate the bounty of the region’s wild foods by including foods that they hunted, foraged, fished, or grew themselves. Be sure to shop the local farmers markets and local retailers this weekend. (NOTE: The last Sitka Farmers Market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall.)

The goal during this seven-day challenge is for participants to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the local food system in their community. Participants are encouraged to share their skills and knowledge with others cultivating a practice of gratitude around local food.  For more details, check out the Local Foods Challenge page on the Salt & Soil Marketplace website, https://www.saltandsoilmarketplace.com/eatlocalchallenge.

Anyone can participate by following the Salt and Soil Marketplace’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SaltandSoilMarketplace/) or the Southeast Alaska Local Foods Challenge Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LocalFoodSEAK/) for the Challenge Question of the Day. Participants submit their answer and photo of their local food meal either directly on Facebook or via email (localfoodschallenge.seak@gmail.com). The challenge includes daily giveaways and a grand prize for those who complete the challenge by participating all seven days.    

The Eat Local Challenge is the culminating event of the season long Southeast Local Foods Challenge in which participants have been encouraged to increase their participation in their local food systems through five main categories: Harvest & Stewardship, Eat, Reduce Food Waste, Celebrate & Gratitude, and Buy Local. Organizers aim for the challenge to foster a network of local eaters to support each other and their local food producers during a time when food security is increasingly important.

 “The Challenge is for everyone to do a little more to strengthen the local foods system,” said Jennifer Nu, SAWC Local Foods Program director. “The process of learning is never-ending. When we practice and master these skills, we can share what we know with others. Collectively all of these actions contribute to strengthening our food system and our region.”

The 2021 Local Food Challenge partners include the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, and other partners around Southeast Alaska. More details can be found on the Salt and Soil Marketplace website, https://www.saltandsoilmarketplace.com/localfoodchallenge-welcome

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Follow @saltandsoilmarketplace on Instagram and Facebook
  2. Check the SEAK Local Food Facebook page each day and post or email a photo of your local meal AND answer the daily challenge question. Submissions can be posted directly on the Facebook page or emailed to localfoodschallenge.seak@gmail.com.
  3. One winner will be randomly selected each day to receive a gift from Salt and Soil Marketplace in the mail.
  4. Participate all seven days to be eligible for a $50 gift card from Salt and Soil Marketplace to be randomly selected at the end of the challenge.
  5. Use the hashtag #locafoodschallengeseak and spread the word.

Check out the September 2021 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the September 2021 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the last two markets of the 2021 Sitka Farmers Market season, information about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, an update on new high tunnels at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm where we grow our produce, an invitation to join our board of directors, and information about our 2021 sponsorship program. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Check out the August 2021 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the August 2021 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about National Farmers Market Week and the 2021 Sitka Farmers Market season, information about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, an update on new high tunnels at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm where we grow our produce, an invitation to join our board of directors, and information about our 2021 sponsorship program. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 7

National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 1-7 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Market to join the celebration. The Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7, at the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. This is the 14th 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.

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.

Check out the July 2021 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the July 2021 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the launch of the 2021 Sitka Farmers Market season, an update on new high tunnels at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm where we grow our produce, an invitation to join our board of directors, and information about our 2021 sponsorship program. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Sitka Farmers Market kicks off 14th season on Saturday

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its 14th season of Sitka Farmers Markets with its opening market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 3, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. This will be the first of eight full markets this summer, with the other markets taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 17, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 21, Aug. 28, Sept. 11, and Sept. 18, all at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

“After last year’s COVID-19 pandemic limited our markets to only produce booths, we’re happy to be getting back to some normalcy this year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “Our eight markets this year will still have some COVID safety measures, such as being held entirely outdoors and encouraging everybody to use face masks. But we will have a variety of fresh local produce, fish, homemade baked goods, cottage foods, cooked food, arts and crafts, and more. We missed the community aspect of the markets last year, so it will be nice to have some of our vendors back this summer.”

The Sitka Farmers Market gots its start from the second Sitka Health Summit, held in April 2008, when Sitka residents chose two food-related community wellness projects to work on for the next year — to create a local foods market and to start a community greenhouse. Later in April, St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church made its backyard available for growing produce, which became St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and by August the first of three Sitka Farmers Markets was held. Those projects led to the creation of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

The Sitka Local Foods Network continues to host the Sitka Farmers Market, and also runs a farm stand selling produce grown at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. The SLFN farm stand also sells Alaska Grown value-added products from around the state. Last year when the market was simplified due to COVID, the Alaska Grown products were dropped. This summer, the Alaska Grown products are back, with Barnacle Foods kelp products from Juneau, Alaska Flour Company barley products from Delta Junction, Bridge Creek Birch Syrup from Homer, Chugach Chocolates from Girdwood, and more. New this year are Foraged and Found kelp products from Ketchikan, Moosetard mustard and BBQ sauce products from Fairbanks, and some special Sitka Farmers Market-label chocolate bars from Sitka’s own Theobroma Chocolates.

“We still are recruiting vendors for the markets, but we do expect Middle Island Gardens with fresh produce at all eight markets, and the Hog Hole hot dog stand at all eight markets,” Bingham said. “In addition, at our first market we have Harriet and Ron McClain of Fish Bone Studio with arts and crafts, Pamela Ash with arts and crafts, Ashley and Dustin Ward and family of Ward Craft with arts and crafts and cottage foods, and Charlie Bower with cultivated mushrooms.”

New this year is an online vendor registration site, https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com, where potential vendors can register and pay for their vendor fees. Nalani James, who was market co-manager last year, will manage the markets this summer, with Charles Bingham and Amanda Anjum assisting. There also is a youth vendor program for vendors age 14 and younger. Potential vendors can email sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or call Charles Bingham at 623-7660 with any questions. Potential musicians and volunteers also can call Bingham, if they want to help.

Sitka Kitch and UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host all-day Salmonganza classes July 17 at Halibut Point Recreation Area

The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, will host Salmonganza from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, at the main shelter at Halibut Point Recreation Area.

(Click image to enlarge)

This will be a day focused on salmon, with classes on preparing salmon, pressure canning salmon, smoking salmon, making salmon sausage and jerky, and even preparing condiments for the salmon using salmonberries. In addition, there will be free pressure canner gauge testing from noon until 1 p.m.

The classes will be taught by Sarah Lewis from the Juneau District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service. As part of her Maritime Extension Program, Sarah is traveling via the JunieBell to communities around Southeast Alaska to teach family and community resilience workshops.

This class is for all experience levels, ages 16 and older. No pets, please. Students should bring: a cooking knife, apron, dish towel, six wide-mouth half-pint canning jars with new lids, and your pressure canner’s dial gauge (with or without lid), if you would like it tested.

The class costs $40, which is part of our all-inclusive fee system (you no longer have to pay a class fee to register, then a separate food/supply fee). The Sitka Kitch will supply all of the food supplies for this class, but students will need to bring certain cooking items from a list provided before the class. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the class will be limited to 10 students, face masks must be worn, and social distancing must be observed.

The registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 15. Space is limited, so register early at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click class title) to secure your place in the class. We need at least eight students to register and pre-pay to make this class happen.

Current (paid) members of the Sitka Food Co-Op are now able to attend the classes for $30 each (the co-op will cover the other $10 of your class fee). Please use the Sitka Food Co-Op ticket when you register and send an email to sitkafoodcoop@gmail.com letting them know you’re in the class. (NOTE, Only one person per Co-op household may use the Co-op discount per class. Please name that person when you register so the name can be checked against the Co-op membership list.)

You can register and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal on our EventSmart page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment. Please note there is a $5 charge for parking at Halibut Point Rec, which is payable to the State of Alaska.

For more information about the class, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440. We do offer one potential scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, so long as we have enough students registered to make the class happen. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Sitka Kitch also has a new class cancelation policy. If you register for a class, then find out you can’t attend, please email us at sitkakitch@sitkawild.org and we may be able to help fill your slot through our waiting list. If you cancel from the class at least five days in advance (eg, by Wednesday the week before for a Monday class), you are eligible for a partial refund of your class fee, minus $5 for processing (in this case, $35). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.