Sitka Local Foods Network seeks volunteer instructors for spring garden education classes

Are you an experienced Sitka gardener who wants to share your knowledge with the community? The Sitka Local Foods Network is looking for a few volunteer instructors to teach garden education classes this spring.

Classes typically last about 1 1/2 to two hours, and they can cover a variety of Sitka garden topics. In past years we’ve had people teach classes such as Sitka Gardening 101, How to Extend Your Garden Season, How to Grow Potatoes, How to Grow Rhubarb, How to Grow Fruit Trees, How to Grow Garlic (this class was in the fall), How to Raise Chickens, How to Container Garden, How to Compost, and more. Last year we even had a class on Cottage Food Business Basics (with the help of the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service) to help vendors prepare for the Sitka Farmers Markets.

Most of the classes tend to be low-key, and the class sizes have ranged from 2-35 depending on the topic. Some classes have been hands-on (with students planting starts in trays), while others have been lectures or group conversations. It depends on the instructor and class. A few classes have been taught at people’s home gardens, but we also have hosted others at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (Thursday nights work best for this venue). Most of our classes are offered for free, except for a couple that had a small supply fee. If you need help preparing a lesson plan, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service provides a variety of free and low-cost publications on Alaska gardening topics that can be downloaded from the Publications part of its website.

If you are available to teach a course or two, please contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com so we can build a schedule.

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Janice Chumley to give presentation on integrated pest management June 5 at the library

Janice Chumley, who is the integrated pest management tech for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, will be in Sitka on Monday and Tuesday, June 5-6, for one-on-one consultations with local gardeners/farmers. She also will give a presentation about integrated pest management in greenhouses and high tunnels from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, June 5, at the Sitka Public Library (note, this is a location change from what was announced in April).

“I have been employed as a pest scout for that past 19 years and enjoy working with growers of crops large and small across Alaska,” said Chumley, who is based out of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service’s Kenai Peninsula District Office. “My work has been varied from home gardeners (like me) to commercial potato, hay, mixed vegetable producers, to peony producers. I have had to privilege to learn and work with many folks across the state and now I have funding to be able to come to Southeast.”

Chumley originally was scheduled to come to Sitka in May, but had to change her travel schedule due to illness.

“I hope that your schedule will allow time for us to visit and discuss any established pests you encounter along with a few new ones that might be heading north,” Chumley said. “Since IPM (integrated pest management) focuses on the least toxic approach, that is where we start, but all concepts are discussed and it is up to you to make an informed choice for your growing conditions. If you would like a site visit please let me know how to find you and if you have any specific concerns.”

For more information, contact Chumley at 1-907-262-5824 or jichumley@alaska.edu, or contact Jasmine Shaw at the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu.

Date changed to May 26 for spring garden class about raising trees

There is one spring garden class left on this year’s schedule, but the date has been changed. The “Everything You Need To Know About Trees” class taught by Jud Kirkness now will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Friday, May 26, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street).

The class is free, but donations to the Sitka Local Foods Network will be accepted.

For more information about the class, contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520. Other classes may be added at a later date if we find volunteers to teach them.

The Garden Show returns to KCAW-Raven Radio spring programming lineup for 26th year

For 26 years, Mollie Kabler and Kitty LaBounty have taken to the KCAW-Raven Radio airwaves during the spring months to broadcast The Garden Show.

This year there’s a major change to the show, as the show doesn’t have a designated time slot and so will be a pop-up show as they fit episodes around their travel plans and the radio station schedule. In past years the show aired from April through June, or longer into the summer if work schedules permit. Kitty has a regular music show (Hometown Brew) from 2-4 p.m. on Thursdays, and many of the half-hour Garden Shows may take place during her program.

Garden Show topics include timely tasks for gardening in Southeast Alaska, taking on-air questions, and themes around basic and more advanced gardening of vegetables, flowers, fruit, trees, etc. For example, on the pop-up show on Thursday, May 6, Kitty interviewed Keith Nyitray of Finn Island Farm about the vegetables and plant starts he grows in the Kasiana Islands near Sitka.

Mollie and Kitty each have been gardening in Sitka for more than 26 years, and they also have significant gardening experience from their childhoods in Wisconsin (Mollie) and Oregon (Kitty). They both are certified as Master Gardeners, after completing the class series offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

To call the show with gardening questions, call 747-5877 and ask to be connected to the show.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to provide one-on-one assistance on pest management


Need help with pest management? Would you like to have an integrated pest management professional visit your farm or production area to discuss new and established pests?

Janice Chumley, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program tech with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, will be visiting Sitka the first week of June to work with growers one-on-one on pest issues (NOTE: This date has been changed due to illness). These consultations are free of charge.

Sitka District Office administrative assistant Jasmine Shaw is setting up individual appointments for Janice during her visit to Sitka in early June. If interested, please fill out the following form to set up an appointment, https://form.jotform.us/71097060928157.

Janice also will give a public presentation on Common Pests in Greenhouses at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 5, in Room 229 of the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. This presentation is free and open to the general public. For more information, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu.

Sitka Local Foods Network education committee announces its 2017 spring garden classes

Want to learn how to grow your own food? Are you new to Sitka and want to learn what veggies grow in our town? The Sitka Local Foods Network education committee has a list of free 2017 spring garden classes that can help you learn what to do and when to do it so you have a healthy garden.

This spring, all of our classes except one will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursdays at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). Each week will feature a different topic, and all classes are free (donations to the Sitka Local Foods Network will be accepted).

The class schedule is as follows:

  • Gardening in Sitka 101March 30, taught by Michelle Putz
  • Cottage Foods Business BasicsApril 6, 6-8 p.m., Room 106, University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, taught by Sarah Lewis and Nina Vizcarrondo, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service
  • Growing Potatoes in SitkaApril 13, taught by Kathy Kyle
  • Extending Your Garden SeasonApril 20, taught by Kerry MacLane
  • Container GardeningApril 27, taught by Joshua Andresky
  • Raising ChickensMay 4, taught by Joshua Andresky, Nina Vizcarrondo and Brinnen Carter
  • Everything You Need To Know About TreesFriday, May 19, taught by Jud Kirkness
  • Growing Garlic in SitkaDate TBA (toward the end of the summer), taught by Jennifer Carter

For more information about the classes, contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520. Other classes may be added at a later date if we find volunteers to teach them.

Lori Adams switching her u-pick garden to a community-supported agriculture program

SLFN 1 Gardens

LoriAdamsDownToEarthUPickGardenTruckDown-To-Earth U-Pick Garden will be changing formats in 2017. It will no longer be a u-pick garden open to the public and will become a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program where local residents can subscribe and receive regular boxes of fresh veggies, berries, eggs and other items.

“After eight years of business Down To Earth U-Pick Garden will no longer be open to the public,” Lori wrote in an email. “Starting this year we will be selling weekly CSA shares to a select group of customers who are committed to supporting locally grown food.”

At this time, Lori said she has 20 subscribers to get through her first season and isn’t looking for new subscribers. She didn’t say if she will continue to have a booth (or farm truck) at the Sitka Farmers Market this summer to sell extra produce. Her book, Gardening in Southeast Alaska, is still available at local book and garden stores.