Transition Sitka, Sitka Local Foods Network work to bring community gardens back to Sitka

In the spring of 2016, Sitka’s main community garden, Blatchley Community Garden was closed. Since then, Sitka hasn’t had a true community garden. But that soon might change.

Joel Hanson, who is part of the community sustainability group Transition Sitka and recently joined the board of the Sitka Local Foods Network, has been working on a proposal to create two community gardens. Both are about half an acre with 50 or more 10-foot-by-20-foot garden plots each, and located on city property. One is located off Osprey Street, next to the Vilandre baseball field next to Blatchley Middle School. The other is located near the top of Jarvis Street, near where the Sitka Homeless Coalition is building a new tiny house community for the unhoused.

More details, including maps, are included in the two linked handouts at the bottom of this story.

“Community gardens plant the seeds for a solution to community food security,” Hanson said. “They create a sense of place and cooperative engagement. They promote health, advance equity, encourage inclusion and foster resiliency. They are for people of all ages.”

“Rebuilding a community garden in Sitka has been a major need as far as food security in the years since Blatchley Community Garden was closed,” Sitka Local Foods Network president Charles Bingham said. “We have a lot of people in town who want to grow their own food, but they live in an apartment or on a boat and don’t have the space to garden. This gives them a place to grow their own produce. When Blatchley Community Garden was closed, all of the spaces were being used and there was a waiting list. This proposal fills that need and allows space for expansion.”

Over the past few months, Hanson has been meeting with city officials and committees/commissions, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, and other organizations to develop the proposal linked below. These community gardens still need approval before they can be developed. Once approved, we will need to raise money for supplies, recruit volunteers or hire workers to develop the land (which may involve cutting trees and leveling off soil), and more.

If you are interested in volunteering, helping raise money to build the gardens, having a plot in one of the gardens, or just staying in touch with what’s happening, please click this link and complete the short survey, For more details, contact Joel Hanson at 907-747-9834 or email

• Sitka community gardens project prospectus (with maps of both locations)

• Two-page Q&A sheet with more information

Learn how to graft apple trees with Brad Smith

Some Sitka residents may remember a Sitka Health Summit project from 2010 to plant dozens of apple, crabapple, and cherry trees around town. One learning experience from that project is it takes a bit of work to make these trees produce fruit.

Brad Smith will host an apple-tree grafting workshop from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, in the smokestack building on the Sitka Fine Arts Camp campus.

The class requires an RSVP, and is by donation. Half of any proceeds go to Sitka Fine Arts Camp. It’s an introductory class. If there is enough interest, Brad will host another class later in the week.

Participants will learn about rootstock, scion, how to practice at grafting, and if you have a good place for it, you can take home a baby apple tree.

Also I will have scion wood available the rest of that week for free to take. There will be a few different varieties of apple and pear. I want to encourage you to graft apple varieties onto local crabapples, and try putting pear wood onto mountain ash. If you are interested in any of this, email Brad Smith at

The class is brought to you by the Agrarian Sharing Network, an Oregon-based group focused on hosting events to distribute high-quality and rare fruit-tree genetics and seeds freely to the public.

Alaska Farmers Markets Association hosts annual meeting and summit online on March 24

The Alaska Farmers Markets Association will host its annual meeting and summit on Friday, March 24, online using Zoom. The meeting takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the theme is Growing Strong(er) Markets.

This year’s keynote speaker is Ziona Brownlow from the nonprofit Food For Thought Alaska. Guest speakers include Sara Dylan Jensen, who has been the manager of the Snohomish Farmers Market and also is a leader in social media; and Ben Feldman, the outgoing executive director of the national Farmers Market Coalition.

There also will be a guest panel about value-added products featuring representatives from Gustavus Grown/Stellar Botanicals, Tundra Tonics, and Wildland Chocolate.

Before the annual meeting and summit, there will be a pre-summit screening from 6-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, of Rhythms of the Land, an ode to Black farmers in the USA.

Registration for this event is free, but it is required to participate. To register, go to

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host Scrappy Cooking 101 class with Jennifer Nu

Learn how to make your own vegetable stock, bone/fish broth, and pectin with Jennifer Nu from Ecotrust and the Sustainable Southeast Partnership in a “Scrappy Cooking 101” workshop.

This event takes place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7, at the Sitka Lutheran Church kitchen (downstairs behind the church, please use street parking and not the lot behind the church). The workshop is free, but registration is required.

Jennifer will also lead a focused discussion on what happens to food waste in Sitka, how to start composting, and tips and tricks for reducing food waste in your household.

To register or ask questions, contact Jasmine Shaw with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service at or 907-747-9440. 

Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners to offer ‘Practical Landscaping for Southeast Alaska’ classes

Planning Your Garden (1)

Practical Landscaping for Southeast Alaska is a series presented by the SEAK Master Gardeners Association, in collaboration with the Juneau Public Library, and is an opportunity to look at the practical aspects of design as well as providing a chance to explore creative possibilities of your own, unique garden.

These classes are offered in person at the Mendenhall Valley Library in Juneau, and virtually. We would love to see you in person but realize not everyone can make it. Zoom will be available to those that register HERE and fill out this brief form.

February 16th 5:45-7:45pm
Landscape Design Considerations
This session will focus on the practical considerations for landscape design. Examine how and where sun enters your yard in different locations, wind direction and ferocity, where water settles in your yard, what features are already there to be incorporated into the design.

Merrill Jensen is a horticulturist who became first manager of the Jensen-Olsen Arboretum in 2007. While there, he succeeded in getting national collection status for the largest documented collection of primula, primroses in North America – an outstanding feat. He also as created the garden design and flow.

When Your Yard is a Swamp: Drainage Solutions When You Have Too Much Water
This session explores various options for those areas in your yard that can’t compete with two weeks of record-breaking rain and for those areas that seem to bog down from our typical weather. Explore options and perspectives from our experienced panel.

Ed Buyarski has been gardening in the rain in Southeast Alaska since 1983. He has gardened in Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau, and Haines. 2022 was a record breaker with 105 measured inches at his place near Tee Harbor. Still, good crops were harvested of garlic, potatoes, beets, carrots and much more. Thanks to plenty of compost, a lot of timely rain, some sun, and using plenty of plastic to warm the soil and plants harvest happens. Hoop houses also allowed him to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and even some corn. Lots of primroses and other perennial flowers also brighten up his gardens. Promotion of lawn reduction and more food production here is his religion and you can often hear him preaching on KFSK and KTOO during the gardening season as well as in classes and workshops sponsored by the Master Gardeners and University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

Danielle Brown-Farrell, MG class of 2016. Dani is the owner of Sunny Slope Organic Farm, which runs a successful community supported agriculture (CSA) in the growing season, sells both perennials and annuals in the spring, and provides landscaping expertise.

George Campbell is the owner of Little Diggers and Landscaping, LLC. George has been providing expertise in landscaping since 2017 utilizing heavy equipment.

March 16th, 5:45-7:45pm
Color as a Design Element in the Landscape
Color draws us into gardens more than any other element, well maybe besides berries, birds, or for a rest. Is that your objective–to use more color? Gardeners sometimes think only of flower color in their garden. Yet, many other features of plants can be drawn upon for color. Objects and structures also can be used as bold anchors or features to build on or around a landscape. Ginger will present inspirational ways to mix or think about color as you build, renovate, or invigorate your garden’s evolution.

Ginger Hudson is the current manager of the Jensen-Olson Arboretum, a CBJ Parks & Rec facility. She came to Juneau from Anchorage where she worked for the Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage as the Special Horticulture Projects Manager. Ginger has operated her own landscape design business in addition to teaching design and maintenance. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, a Bachelor of Environmental Design, and is an Advanced Master Gardener. Join Ginger and her staff in Juneau at JOA this summer where she is delighted to lead native plant walks, Primula tours, and public garden tours.

Building the Bones of a Landscape; Pathways, Rocks, and Patterns
Landscaping is a language; it shows us how to manage ourselves in the world. Choosing the plants is the very last stage of landscape design, long before picking the color of the Rhododendrons, dealing with the mechanics of the site drives the design considerations. Activities and lifestyle demands are addressed by access and transport considerations. In an illuminating session, Margaret will illustrate some of the principles and methods for creating, or remodeling a landscape that functions well for the purposes desired by the users, and able to be managed over time as the garden matures.

Margaret Tharp and David Lendrum, Landscape Alaska, shared that when they came to Juneau there were not even lawns in the valley, they started in their front yard in Lemon Creek and built nurseries in several parts of the community. Margaret graduated with a master’s in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and was given a standing ovation for developing a salvage and reuse method for the native understory. She has designed much of our public and private landscape in her practice, including Thunder Mountain High School, the Alaska Capitol, Mendenhall Library, Ethel Lund SEARHC clinic, Treadwell Historic Park, and the residences of Ginger Johnson, Christine Zack and Jo Pegues. The only “1 Percent for Art” ever awarded for Landscape Architecture was her design for the Juneau Police Station. David is a lifelong “Hort”, with many positions including Juneau’s initial Arboretum, Soil and Water Conservation, and Landscape

April 20th, 5:45-7:45pm
The Secret Garden: The Power of Garden Rooms
This session explores the power of creating special spaces within the larger garden that allow themes, whimsy, and the pure delight of the unexpected. Find out how Garden Art, Whimsy, Themes and so much more can become a captivating and welcome addition to your landscape. Explore different types of themes and take your space from the average garden to the wow factor of your garden design. Learn about visual impact and sensory awareness using sight, sound, and smell. Learn the steps to discover your own secret garden.

Pat Hartman has spent the last 40 years planning, replanning, and growing ornamental plants, vegetable gardens and Garden Railroads throughout the Western United States. Her current garden contains various Garden Rooms which include meditation, whimsy, theme areas and spectacular views. In 2012 Pat completed the Alaska Master Gardener Class. Pat is a plant aficionado, world traveler, Garden Railroad geek, and active member of the Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners Organization serving as Web Manager. She currently serves as the American Primrose Society President and Chairs the ICRA for Primula committee. She incorporates Primula into her Garden Rooms that she has grown from seed, purchased, or shared from friends.

Water Features: Because Sometimes Living in a Rainforest isn’t Wet Enough
This session will explore fountains, waterfalls, ponds that have been found on the Juneau Master Garden Tour. Look at what our neighbors have done to enhance their space through their garden’s water features.

Registration link for all programs in this series:

If you have questions, please contact committee chairperson Corinne Conlon at

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to offer Extension Workshops in Sitka with Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Juneau District Office will be in Sitka later this month to offer Extension Workshops.

The Extension Workshops include a five-hour class on Canning New Year Soups, and three lunchtime Cooking For Brain Health classes — Get Pickles, Spice It Up, and Go Nuts.

The Canning New Year Soups class is from 3-8 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22, in the downstairs kitchen of the Sitka Lutheran Church (the location of the Sitka Kitch). Please enter from the alley behind the church, and park on the street and not in back of the church. This class for all skill levels costs $25.

The three lunchtime classes take place from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Jan. 23-25, in the Gus Adams Meeting Room at Sitka Public Library. They cost $10 each, or you can take all three classes for $20.

The registration deadline for these classes is Saturday, Jan. 21. To register, go to (scroll down) or click on the highlighted class titles above. For more information, contact Jasmine Shaw at or 907-747-9440.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to teach online Preserving Alaska’s Bounty class series

UAF Cooperative Extension Service agent Sarah Lewis will teach the Preserving Alaska’s Bounty online class series from Jan. 7 to Feb. 4, 2023. The five-week series will give participants the skills necessary to safely preserve foods for their own household. Anyone who wishes to become a food preservation educator within their community may also complete a final exam.

Students will learn about and practice pickling and fermenting vegetables; boiling water-bath canning of fruits, berries, and pickles; pressure canning of meat, fish, and vegetables; as well as dehydration of fruits and vegetables; making jerky; and smoking fish. Other topics will include emergency preparedness, how to start a cottage foods business (aka, a home-based foods business), and information about wild harvested plants.

The course will be offered on the Canvas platform. Live instruction will be offered in a 3-hour Zoom session each Saturday at 1 p.m., with assignments to be completed in the student’s kitchen on their own schedule, as well as assigned readings and other activities. The final session will be on Feb. 4.

Participants must be 16 or older (unless joining a household adult). The registration deadline is Dec. 31. Registration and more class details are available at, or by contacting Sarah at Even though Sarah is based in Juneau, this is an online class so you can take it from anywhere in the state.

A course fee of $150 per household or Zoom connection includes one class textbook, which will be mailed to students. A 50-percent reduction (scholarship) is available if requested. Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made 10 business days in advance of the Jan. 7 start, to

The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer, educational institution and provider and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual:

JOB NOTICE REPOSTED: Sitka Local Foods Network seeks manager for 2023 Sitka Farmers Market season

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nalani James, right, rings up a sale at a 2022 market.

The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking a manager to coordinate the 2023 Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. This is a contract position, and the manager receives a small compensation, depending on experience, for his or her contract work organizing the farmers markets this summer. The manager receives a monthly check for the five months from May through September.

We’ve been lucky to have the same market manager, Nalani James, for the past three summers. But her life is getting too busy with two personal business ventures (Bayside Taxi Tours and Baker Cups) and a family store (Bear Country Convenience and Coffee) for her to keep running the markets. We hope to have the new manager hired in time to do some training with Nalani (and assistant manager Charles Bingham) this spring/summer, and Nalani may be able to assist for one or two of the early markets before totally bowing out of the job. We thank Nalani and her family for their help rebuilding our market during Covid times.

This will be the 16th year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features 6-8 markets during the summer from July through September. Market dates for 2023 haven’t been confirmed yet, but they usually run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on selected Saturdays at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. We have requested July 1, 15, 29, Aug. 12, 26, Sept. 9, and 23 for the 2023 markets. The Sitka Farmers Market is a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network.

The farmers markets feature booths from local farmers/gardeners, local fishermen, and artisans and craftspeople. These events are great Sitka gathering places, and we promote local foods and other local goods at the markets. The Sitka Local Foods Network hosts a farm stand at the market, with produce grown at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and a variety of Alaska Grown value-added food products.

In recent years we made some changes to the market, and those have helped it grow into one of the top markets in the state. We have an experienced assistant manager, who will help ease the load for the manager by doing most of the administrative work while the market manager handles the actual markets. The manager needs to be able to commit to being available for all of the markets this summer. In addition, the market manager needs access to (or a reliable friend with access to) a vehicle with a trailer hitch (we keep our market supplies in a construction trailer) and to the internet.

The manager’s main duties include recruiting and organizing the vendors for each market, hiring musicians and other entertainment, setting up and taking down the market tents and tables, managing the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, recruiting volunteers to help sell produce at the SLFN farm stand, helping the assistant manager make deposits and keep track of WIC/SNAP benefit matches, etc. The assistant manager handles market publicity, helps with set up and take down, helps sell produce, takes photos of people and vendors at the market, makes bank deposits, purchases Alaska Grown products to sell at the market (under consultation with the SLFN board of directors), etc. A detailed description of the market manager duties can be found at the link below. The farmers market manager has been a member of the SLFN board in recent years.

Applications should include a cover letter, resumé and three recommendations, and they are due by 10 p.m. on Friday, March 31 (DEADLINE EXTENDED so we can get more applications). The market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market is a seasonal contract position that reports to the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors via a board liaison (Amanda Anjum). For more information or to submit applications, contact SLFN board president Charles Bingham at 1-907-623-7660, or you can email the SLFN Board at (please put “Sitka Farmers Market Manager” in the subject line).

Once we sign a contract with our market manager, we will announce a couple of pre-market meetings for potential vendors. We also will announce a spring class on cottage food business basics (in partnership with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service) for those thinking about starting a home-based food business, and students taking that class will receive a reduction on their first table fee from the Sitka Farmers Market in 2023.

• Description of duties for market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market Manager (2023)

Sitka Conservation Society to host annual Wild Foods Potluck on Sunday, Nov. 13

The Sitka Conservation Society is thrilled to once again be able to invite the community to its Wild Foods Potluck.

Join us beginning at 5pm on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall for an evening celebrating the connections that bind us together: food, community, and this place we call home.

Please bring a dish featuring ingredients that were fished, foraged, hunted, or cultivated in Southeast Alaska. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and dinner will begin at 5:45 p.m.

This event is open to the entire community. Come celebrate Alaska’s wild food bounty. Prizes will be awarded for generosity, presentation, and tastiness. This event is open to the entire community.

The Sitka Conservation Society could never pull off an event this big without help from volunteers, members, and our community. Interested in volunteering at the potluck or want more information? Contact or call 747-7509. Current members should be able to pick up their 2023 SCS calendar at the dinner.

Registration open for 2023 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit

Registration for the 2023 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit opened this week. The event takes place from Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 23-25, 2023, at Holy Cross House in Petersburg. This is the first in-person Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit since the 2019 event in Sitka. The plan was to hold one in Petersburg in 2022, but it was postponed (and converted to an online event) due to COVID-19.

To learn more and register for the summit, please visit the website at Space is limited so please reserve your spot ASAP. Travel scholarships are available for those in need of financial assistance, there is a low-cost bunkhouse lodging option, and meals are included in the registration package.

Also, we are working with partners to offer two informative pre-summit workshops, which will take place on Feb 21-22.  Learn important farm and food safety practices through the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course, offered by Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and be inspired to improve your sales strategies through the Farmers Marketing Workshop organized by Ecotrust. Both workshops are absolutely FREE and open to all Farmers Summit participants — you can register for one or both on the SEAK Farmers Summit website.

We hope to see you all in Petersburg this winter. Mark your calendars and reserve your spot today. For more information, email