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.

Alaska Sea Grant program to host inaugural Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Festival on May 17-20

The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program is pleased to announce the inaugural Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Festival, taking place virtually on Zoom and streamed live on Facebook from coastal communities around the state. Leading up to the event and during the week of the festival, if you order seafood products from participating businesses, you’ll receive a special gift package that includes recipe cards, a shucking knife, and other mariculture related goodies.

Hosted by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, the Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Festival celebrates and raises awareness of the sustainably grown and harvested seafood products available right here in Alaska. Mariculture is an emerging industry in Alaska, and this festival provides an opportunity to learn about what it’s like to run an oyster or seaweed farm, where to find quality shellfish and seaweed products in your communities, and interesting and delicious ways to cook Alaska’s fresh, locally grown mariculture foods.

The Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Festival is free and open to the public. Registrants will receive a reminder email with online participation information and the schedule of events.

Click this link to register for free now

Alaska Sea Grant Shellfish and Seaweed Growers Project

Is your business interested in participating in this event or being added to our Alaska-grown shellfish and seaweed directory? Please contact Hannah Wilson at hannah.wilson@alaska.edu.

The event kicks off with an introduction to mariculture from Melissa Good, Alaska Sea Grant’s mariculture specialist. Lexa Meyer, Alaska Sea Grant’s seafood workforce development coordinator and Alaska Mariculture Manager at Blue Evolution, will give an overview of seaweed farming. James Greeley, operations manager and oyster farmer at Tommaso Shellfish, will share information about oyster farming. 

The second and third days of the event will feature video tours of Alaska oyster and seaweed farms, and live online cooking demonstrations. Festival attendees can watch from the comfort of their own homes to learn how Alaska grown oysters and kelp are grown, harvested, and transformed into delicious entrees and condiments. 

The final day of the event will feature discussions about the market for shellfish and seaweed, the future of mariculture in Alaska, and how communities and individuals can get involved. Marine aquaculture creates jobs, supports resilient working waterfronts and coastal communities, and provides new international trade opportunities. As global demand for seafood continues to grow, mariculture offers an economically beneficial and environmentally sustainable complement to Alaska’s wild fisheries.

Preliminary schedule

Subject to change, all times Alaska.

Monday, May 17, 6–7:30pm

  • Introduction to Mariculture with Melissa Good, Alaska Sea Grant
  • Seaweed Farming 101 with Lexa Meyer, Blue Evolution
  • Oyster Farming 101 with James Greeley, Tommaso Shellfish

Tuesday, May 18, 6–8pm

  • Oyster Farm tour, video presentation
  • Seaweed Farm tour, video presentation
  • Bivalve identification game and seaweed quiz
  • Meet an Alaska shellfish farmer, video presentation

Wednesday, May 19, 6–8pm

  • Live oyster and kelp recipe cooking demo with Chef Austin Green
  • How to shuck an oyster video
  • How to pickle kelp with Gayla Pedersen
  • Blue Evolution cooking videos

Thursday, May 20, 6–8pm

  • Traditional Alutiiq seaweed uses presentation with Gayla Pedersen
  • Environmental change and the future of mariculture presentation
  • How aquaculture benefits coastal communities presentation

Check back for updates as we finalize the schedule.

Participating Businesses

Buy mariculture products from these participating Alaskan businesses the week of the festival to get some free swag* including an oyster-shucking knife with your purchase:

*Please confirm with individual businesses upon ordering. Check back for additions to this list.

Oysters:

Shikat Bay Oysters — nation-wide shipping

Tommaso Shellfish — nation-wide shipping

Fish from Trish — nation-wide shipping

Haines Packing Company — pick-up in Haines

Alaska Shellfish Farms — pick-up in Homer, nation-wide shipping

59 North Ocean Specialties — 907.252.5698, clamgulchseafoods@gmail.com (Kenai Peninsula Deliveries)

Island Seafoods — pick-up in Kodiak

Seaweed Products:

Foraged & Found — nation-wide shipping

Beer:

49th State Brewing Company — oyster stout available at Anchorage taproom

Kodiak Island Brewing Company — kelp beer available at Kodiak taproom

Baleen Brewing — beers to pair with oyster and kelp dishes, available at Ketchikan taproom

Grace Ridge Brewing — oyster stout available in Homer taproom and for curbside pickup

Restaurants and Food Carts Serving Oyster and Seaweed-focused menu items:

Million Recipes — dishes featuring oysters and seaweed in Kodiak

Find more great Alaskan businesses selling oyster and seaweed products in our Alaska Mariculture Directory.