Scenes from the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, center, presents the Table of the Day Award to Rachel Henderson, left, and Liz Maric of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 Clam Chowder Booth during the first market of the summer held Saturday, July 7, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. ANS served bowls and cups of homemade clam chowder with pilot bread or crackers. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, Rachel and Liz received two Sitka Farmers Market t-shirts, some Evie’s Brinery fermented food, some birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, and a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub. The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We held our first Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, July 7, with a full slate of booths and a big crowd. The weather even cooperated, providing just a few light sprinkles even though the forecast was for rain showers.

We kept running out of fresh produce at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, even though our lead gardener made two extra runs back to the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden to restock our supplies. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale, including frozen fish and canned salmon (we’ve been without a regular fish vendor for a couple of years). We had vendors selling homemade clam chowder, home-baked bread, jams and jellies, sea veggies and teas, garlic scapes, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a couple of food trucks and a hot dog vendor outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, at the ANB Founders Hall. There also are markets scheduled for Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15. To learn how to be a vendor at the market or how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

Also, join the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Food Co-Op at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at the Sitka Public Library, as we host a free community conversation about our food and food systems with nationally known food policy/food systems expert and author Mark Winne. Mark is in town researching a book where he’s looking at the local food systems of 8-10 small communities around the country, and he chose Sitka. Healthy snacks will be provided.

A slideshow of scenes from the first Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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Sitka Local Foods Network to host seven Sitka Farmers Markets in 2018 summer


The Sitka Local Foods Network is bringing the excitement back to the Sitka Farmers Market, which opens its 11th season of markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). We rebuilt some of the vitality of the market last year, and now we’re hoping to build on that momentum.

“We learned a lot over the past couple of years, and we hope we’ve been able to move on from our mistakes and make the markets better,” said Sitka Local Foods Network president Charles Bingham, who is assisting Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo for the second year. “We regained a lot of the vendors we lost in 2016, and that brought back a lot of the community-gathering-place feel to the market. We still want to see more local food producers at the market, but we know now we need to develop those outside the market, which is one reason we launched the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest this spring. We want the market to be a great way to connect with neighbors and support local entrepreneurs.”

Other new innovations last year included a kids vendor program for youth ages 12 and younger, and new Alaska Grown food products for sale at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand. Both are continuing in 2018. In addition to freshly grown produce from the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, there will be Alaska Flour Company barley products from Delta Junction, Evie’s Brinery fermented foods from Anchorage, Barnacle Foods kelp salsa and kelp pickles from Juneau, and Chugach Chocolates from Girdwood. We also have fish vendors back this season. There still is a focus on local and Alaska food products, with the Alaska Grown products being a way to inspire Sitka food entrepreneurs to try making new food items locally. The more local products we have, the more the money circulates in Sitka’s economy.

“Come support your community at our farmers markets,” Vizcarrondo said. “By working toward Sitka’s food sovereignty, shopping local reduces our food miles. Food doesn’t get any fresher than this.”

The first Sitka Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The other markets this summer take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 21, Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15, at ANB Founders Hall.

The markets feature a variety of locally grown produce, seafood, cottage foods, a hot lunch, locally made arts and crafts, live music and fun. The Sitka Farmers Market was the first market in Southeast Alaska to accept Alaska Quest (SNAP) electronic benefits transfers (EBT) and WIC coupons. We have a matching program where SNAP and WIC clients can double up to $20 of their benefits in local produce. This year we received a grant from the Sitka White Elephant Shop (the White E) to help with the matching program.

“In recent years we’ve been proud to welcome Alaska Quest EBT and WIC shoppers at the market, and this year the White E is helping us match those produce benefits,” Bingham said. “It is so important to make sure local food is accessible to everyone.”

The April 2008 Sitka Health Summit planted the seeds for the Sitka Farmers Market, as Sitka residents chose starting a local foods market as one of their community wellness initiatives for the year. About the same time, St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church was looking for a way to put some recently cleared land behind the church’s See House into use for a community project. St. Peter’s offered to lease the land to the group that became the Sitka Local Foods Network for $1 a year, and in May 2008 a group of Sitka residents built raised garden beds and planted a variety of crops. Later that summer, there was enough produce grown at St. Peter’s to supply our first three Sitka Farmers Markets starting in August 2008.

There were five markets in 2009, followed by six markets each year from 2010-15 and now seven markets in 2016. Led by lead gardener Laura Schmidt, the production of local produce at St. Peter’s has grown each year, and there now are satellite gardens, such as one on land owned by Pat Arvin. Most of the food grown at St. Peter’s and the satellite gardens is sold at the Sitka Farmers Market, but there has been enough for the Sitka Local Foods Network to also have a table when Chelan Produce is in town and to sell to local school lunch programs and restaurants. The money raised helps support the Sitka Local Foods Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in its mission “to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans.”

To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how you can become a vendor or volunteer, contact Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or Charles Bingham at 623-7660, or email us sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. The Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, has more info on the markets and links to vendor rules and registration forms.

The Sitka Local Foods Network receives sponsorship funding from the Alaska Comprehensive Cancer Partnership, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), the Sitka White Elephant Shop (the White E), Charles Bingham, the Sitka True Value, Harry Race Pharmacy, ALPS Federal Credit Union, Beth Short-Rhoads and Jeff Budd.

Sitka Farmers Market to host meeting May 17 for prospective and past vendors

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a meeting for prospective and past vendors of the Sitka Farmers Market from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street).

There are a few changes to the vendor rules and table rates this year, so this is a good time to learn about them. We hope to have Bruce Gazaway, the Sitka food safety inspector from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, at the meeting to go over food safety practices.

This is the 11th year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features seven markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 7, July 21, Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). The Sitka Farmers Market was a community health initiative from the 2008 Sitka Health Summit.

The farmers markets feature booths from local farmers and gardeners, local fishermen, local bakers, and local artisans and craftspeople. Our emphasis is on local products from Sitka and Southeast Alaska. The farmers markets also are great Sitka gathering places.

A detailed description of the farmers markets and vendor forms can be found our website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (scroll down or look in the right-hand column). If you have any questions, please email Sitka Farmers Market Manager Nina Vizcarrondo at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or call her at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660.

• 2018 Vendor Rules and Responsibilities (with Registration Form, updated April 30, 2018)

Alaskans Own seafood program opens 2018 membership sales

Alaskans Own (AO), a community-supported fishery (CSF) program run by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA), has opened and is receiving subscription orders for the 2018 season.

Alaskans Own was the first community-supported fishery (CSF) program in Alaska. Now in its ninth year, AO was created to connect consumers to small-boat fishermen, ensure that more fish caught in Alaska stays in Alaska, and create a sustainable source of revenue to support ALFA’s Fishery Conservation Network, which engages fishermen and scientists in conservation and research initiatives.

Similar to community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, CSF programs address an important environmental and socio-economic need by strengthening consumer-producer relationships. By forward-funding a season of seafood, subscribers invest in sustainable harvest and the rural fishermen who catch their fish, as well as supporting the web of seafood-related jobs that provide the economic backbone for our coastal communities.

There are four-month and six-month subscriptions available starting in May. The six-month subscriptions allow people to keep receiving fish through October instead of August, when the traditional four-month subscriptions end. Subscriptions include a mix of premium locally hook-and-line caught black cod (sablefish), halibut, king salmon, coho salmon, lingcod and rockfish, depending on the commercial fishing season and prices.

Alaskans Own has just released its prices — choose either monthly installments or pay all at once and receive 5 percent off.

Sitka CSF Prices:

  • Four-Month Feed-A-Few share (5 lbs/month, May-August, 20 lbs total), $355 paid in full or $94 monthly payment
  • Four-Month Feed-A-Family share (10 lbs/month, May-August, 40 lbs total), $668 paid in full or $176.25 monthly payment
  • Four-Month Feed-A-Neighborhood share (20 lbs/month, May-August, 80 lbs total), $1,240 paid in full or $327.50 monthly payment
  • Six-Month Feed-A-Few share (5 lbs/month, May-October, 30 lbs total), $535 paid in full or $94 monthly payment
  • Six-Month Feed-A-Family share (10 lbs/month, May-October, 60 lbs total), $970 paid in full or $170.83 monthly payment
  • Six-Month Feed-A-Neighborhood share (20 lbs/month, May-October, 120 lbs total), $1,880 paid in full or $323.33 monthly payment

Non-Sitka CSF Prices (available in Juneau, Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Seattle):

  • Four-Month Feed-A-Few share (5 lbs/month, May-August, 20 lbs total), $375 paid in full or $99 monthly payment
  • Four-Month Feed-A-Family share (10 lbs/month, May-August, 40 lbs total), $708 paid in full or $186.25 monthly payment
  • Four-Month Feed-A-Neighborhood share (20 lbs/month, May-August, 80 lbs total), $1,320 paid in full or $347.50 monthly payment
  • Six-Month Feed-A-Few share (5 lbs/month, May-October, 30 lbs total), $565 paid in full or $99 monthly payment
  • Six-Month Feed-A-Family share (10 lbs/month, May-October, 60 lbs total), $1,030 paid in full or $180.83 monthly payment
  • Six-Month Feed-A-Neighborhood share (20 lbs/month, May-October, 120 lbs total), $2,000 paid in full or $343.33 monthly payment

“AO’s model is unique from other CSFs because it is not only connecting customers to the fishermen that caught their fish, it is supporting a range of fishermen-sourced conservation initiatives,” says Alyssa Russell, ALFA’s Communications Director. “We’re so excited to be bringing customers another year of sustainably-caught, delicious seafood.”

Customers who don’t live in one of Alaskans Own’s CSF cities (Sitka, Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Seattle) can also partake by setting up a custom order with the Alaskans Own staff, who can be reached at alaskansownfish@gmail.com or (907) 747-3400.

Shares and seafood boxes can be purchased on our online store at alaskansown.com

Alaskans Own is a non-profit, community supported fisheries program.  Joining Alaskans Own is about a lot more than buying great fish. It’s an investment in the health of both fish and fisherman, in a cleaner environment, more vibrant local economies and a better future for Alaska. Learn more about our Fishery Conservation Network at alfafish.org

ALFA wins major grant to improve, expand electronic monitoring on fishing boats

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association executive director Linda Behnken’s longliner, the Woodstock (Photo Copyright Josh Roper)

A photo taken from electronic monitoring camera

The Sitka-based Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) has been awarded a major grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to improve at-sea monitoring of Alaska’s longline fisheries through the use of electronic monitoring technologies.

At-sea electronic monitoring (EM) technology uses video cameras aboard fishing vessels to monitor catch and bycatch in lieu of a human observer.  Since many small boats do not have the capacity to take an additional person aboard during fishing trips, EM can be more operationally compatible for the vessel, and potentially more cost effective. After several years of research and pre-implementation, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved electronic monitoring as an option for small fixed-gear vessels in the partial coverage sector of the Observer Program in 2016. The grant — awarded by NFWF with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Kingfisher Foundation — will provide ALFA $577,959 to improve Alaska’s longline electronic monitoring program for vessels participating in sablefish, halibut and Pacific cod fixed-gear fisheries.

With this support, ALFA will assist the National Marine Fisheries Service’s work to provide electronic monitoring hardware and field service support for vessels joining the EM program, and also support stakeholder engagement in the program’s development. The project will result in electronic monitoring of up to 120 hook and line vessels and will improve the utility of electronic monitoring data for fishermen and fishery managers alike.

“In Alaska, fishermen pay a large part of the at-sea monitoring costs needed to support our fisheries. By offsetting start-up costs and helping fishermen equip their vessels with EM systems, we can meet at-sea monitoring needs in a way that is more compatible with small vessels and improve cost effectiveness,” says Dan Falvey, Program Director at ALFA.

This is the second NFWF grant that ALFA has received to assist with EM implementation, which will help provide the equipment and field services needed to expand the program to the new vessels.

Over the next two years, 120 longline vessels in Alaska will use electronic monitoring while fishing.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundations’ Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program seeks to catalyze the implementation of electronic technologies in U.S. fisheries in order to systematically integrate technology into fisheries data collection and modernized data management systems for improved fisheries management. This year, it awarded a total of more than $3.59 million in grants. The 12 national awards announced generated $3.15 million in match from the grantees, providing a total conservation impact of more than $6.75 million. 

Alaska Sea Grant program offers online class on direct marketing of seafood

The Alaska Sea Grant program will offer an online class, Introduction to Starting and Operating a Seafood Direct Marketing Business, from 5:30-8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6 via distance delivery. The class costs $125.

This introductory course presents content on the development and management of a successful seafood direct marketing business from inception to operation. The practical application of business planning, obtaining financing, permitting, feasibility analysis, marketing, and operational aspects of a seafood direct marketing business will be introduced.

The course will be delivered primarily by lectures and in-class discussions, supported by four homework assignments that are individualized to assist you in developing an action plan for your business.

At the end of the course, the student will understand and be able to use the appropriate managerial and decision-making tools that are needed to start and run a seafood direct marketing business.

Note: The course is designed for commercial fishermen with little or no experience in direct marketing, who want to onboard or custom process and direct market their catch in various ways. The course will be taught in five sessions: Oct. 23, Oct. 25, Oct. 30, Nov. 1, and Nov. 6, from 5:30-8 p.m.

To register, click this link. To see a course syllabus, click this link and scroll to the bottom. For more information, contact Quentin Fong at 907-486-1516 or qsfong@alaska.edu.

Scenes from the seventh and last Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer

TABLE OF THE DAY — Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) Jesuit Volunteer Clare Kelly, center, presents the Table of the Day award to Dawn McMaster, left, and Maren Tucker, right, of Latitude 57 Smoothies, Coffee and More during the seventh Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Sept. 9 at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. The Latitude 57 smoothie truck is a work-skills program of Youth Advocates of Sitka, selling smoothies, lattés, and other drinks this summer. Dawn and Maren received a couple of Sitka Local Foods Network t-shirts, some Inga’s Spice Rub, some carrots, and a box of Sweet Sisters Caramels. This was the last Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer. But, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the 23rd annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Totem Square park, which this year benefits the Sitka Local Foods Network and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska. For more information, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org. We also have a Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaFarmersMarket.

It was raining hard when we held our seventh and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer season on Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), but we still had a decent crowd.

While our cold weather this spring slowed down some of our produce production this year, we are starting to get some decent crops in. We also have had several other local produce vendors at the market. We also had about three dozen vendors at the market (between those inside ANB Founders Hall and those outside in the Baranof Island Housing Authority parking lot) so there was a nice variety of items being sold. Vendors sold harvested foods (such as chaga tea and traditional medicinal tinctures), homemade baked goods, banana-Nutella crepes, hot seafood dishes, fresh smoothies, reindeer hot dogs, blackcod tips, arts and crafts, and home-baked bread. We also had an expanded selection of Alaska Grown products at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand.

This was the last Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer season, and we hope you enjoyed the markets this year. Don’t forget to like our new Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

Also, mark your calendars for the 23rd annual Running of the Bootscostumed fun run fundraiser, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 23, and this year will benefit the Sitka Local Foods Network and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska. More details on the Running of the Boots will be posted in the near future.

A slideshow of scenes from the seventh Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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