Scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nalani James, left, presents the Table of the Day Award for July 17 to Charlie Bower, who sold a variety of mushrooms he cultivated and gathered, as well as other mushroom products. Charlie received a certificate, a tote bag, a bag of salad mix, and a jar of Foraged and Farm kelp pickles. The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. Vendors can register online (by Thursday) at https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com. More details about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

It was cool and overcast when the Sitka Local Foods Network held its second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, July 17, perfect weather for a market.

Due to a growing COVID-19 count, we instituted a face mask policy to try and protect our customers and vendors from the coronavirus. That face mask policy will be in force when we hold our third Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, on the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. We ask all customers and vendors to wear masks.

The markets are being held outside this year to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We haven’t had as many booths as in previous years, but the smaller market seems to be working. We still have fresh local produce, as well as a variety of Alaska Grown value-added products, local eggs, mushrooms, and arts and crafts. We should have some cooked food at Saturday’s market.

The Sitka Local Foods Network needs a volunteer or two to help set up the market, sell produce during the market, and take down the market after it’s over. If you’re interested in helping, contact Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or Nalani James at (808) 778-9888.

We also are recruiting new vendors, and they can register and pay their vendor fees by going to https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com. More information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

The Sitka Local Foods Network does take WIC farmers market coupons and Alaska Quest SNAP EBT cards, and offers a matching program for produce purchased at the SLFN farm stand (if you buy $5 of produce, you will receive $10 worth).

A slideshow of scenes from the second market of the summer is posted below.

Help the Sitka Local Foods Network build a new high tunnel at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

Since 2008, the Sitka Local Foods Network has been growing fresh, local produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm to sell at the Sitka Farmers Markets each summer.

In 2019, we decided to add a high tunnel, aka a hoop house, to St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm to see if that helped us increase production. It worked wonderfully, so in 2020 we want to add a second high tunnel to the property to make more produce available for the Sitka Farmers Markets. Now we need your help. This new high tunnel will cost us about $3,500, so we have a GoFundMe Charity fundraiser to try and help pay for it.

For those not familiar with high tunnels, they can extend the gardening season by warming up the soil and keeping some of the inclement weather off the plants, but they don’t have all the heating and electricity needs of a greenhouse. They also are easy to vent, so you can lower the temperature on the really hot days.

By adding a second high tunnel to St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, we expect to increase our produce production, and the produce will be available for sale at the Sitka Farmers Markets and when Chelan Produce is in town. We also have a few restaurants and catering companies that buy produce from us. At the Sitka Farmers Markets, we match the first $20 of SNAP and WIC benefits, which means we’re able to get more local produce into the diets of lower-income Sitka residents.

The produce grown at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and sold at the Sitka Farmers Market has a Certified Naturally Grown designation, which is a national program encouraging sustainable agriculture.

The mission of the Sitka Local Foods Network is to increase the amount of locally harvested and produced foods in the diets of Southeast Alaskans, so this project fits in our mission. For more details, please go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com, or call SLFN board president Charles Bingham at 623-7660.

• Sitka Local Foods Network to host booths at Sitka Seafood Festival and Chelan Produce on Saturday

BeetsAndRhubarb

Sitka residents wanting to buy some fresh local produce will have two opportunities this weekend, even though no Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled.

The Sitka Local Foods Network will have a booth selling produce and SLFN swag at the Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace from noon to 6 p.m. (or until it runs out) on Saturday, Aug. 8, at Sheldon Jackson Campus. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve hosted a booth at the Sitka Seafood Festival, so we’re looking forward to being at this local-foods-oriented event.

We also will host our regular table on Saturday and Sunday at the Chelan Produce truck on Katlian Street across from AC Lakeside Grocery. For the last couple of years we’ve had a table with fresh local veggies at the Chelan Produce truck on weeks where we didn’t have a Sitka Farmers Market. We appreciate Chelan Produce giving us a chance to sell some local produce when it brings in its produce from Washington State.