Another update about the 2021 Sitka Farmers Market and our plans for a safe event

We’re not ready to take vendor registrations yet, but the Sitka Local Foods Network is closer to having its plans set for our 14th season of the Sitka Farmers Market. We do have dates and a location now, but we have to rewrite our vendor agreements to discuss our new COVID-19 reality and we’re waiting to hear if we received a grant that will help us reduce our vendor fees.

Right now we are looking at hosting eight markets, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 3, July 17, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 21, Aug. 28, Sept. 11, and Sept. 18, on the plaza outside the museum end of Harrigan Centennial Hall. This year’s market will be entirely outdoors to limit the spread of COVID-19, and we still will need people to mask up.

Last year we were able to host a very scaled back market, using the Salt and Soil Marketplace online ordering system during the week and having customers pick up their produce on Saturdays. This year we plan to have a hybrid format, where some produce will be posted online during the week for early ordering and then pick-up at the market, with regular day-at-market sales also taking place where people pick and choose what veggies they want to buy while at the market. In addition, in our non-market weeks we plan to have a small-scale online sales program with either a delivery or pick-up service planned (we are still deciding how this will work).

Now that vaccines are available and more people in Sitka are becoming vaccinated, we feel like we can do more this year such as allow socializing and having more people around. At the same time we have COVID-19 and its variants in our midst, so we still plan to require masks and hand-washing to help prevent the spread.

Our main reason for holding the market outside is because we worry being inside puts too many people on top of each other and probably isn’t safe. We still need to work out our configuration for the plaza outside Harrigan Centennial Hall, so we know how many booths we can support, but we should be able to have people use the benches around the outside of the building. Vendors will need to provide a two-foot-by-six-foot table, but there is an overhang so most booths should be protected from the rain. There are a limited number of electrical outlets outside, for those booths needing power.

We also should be able to host food trucks, which can park next to the plaza with their windows facing the building (most of them have already done this at other events). If you are planning to cook food at the market, your booth will have to be at least 10 feet away from any of the overhangs, so they will need to set up a table and 10×10 farmers market/event tent (about $115-$120 at Sitka True Value) on the plaza. They also will need to provide their own small camp stove or BBQ grill for cooking, and may need a generator for power since we can’t have long cords creating a trip hazard.

We have big plans to grow even more produce than before at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden. Last year, we bought a second high tunnel so we can extend our growing season and have a little help with climate control. That worked so well, we bought a third high tunnel this winter and we’re already planting veggies inside it.

Laura Schmidt has been our lead gardener for more than a decade, and deserves a lot of respect for how much produce she grows on the small patch of land we have access to behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church. We thank St. Peter’s for allowing us to continue growing food for the community on its property. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm has received a Certified Naturally Grown designation the past two years.

The Sitka Farmers Market is about local food, but it’s so much more. It’s about community and providing local entrepreneurs with a place to sell their products. We really enjoy seeing everybody come together to see their neighbors and friends at the market. That’s a big reason we want to host the market. One aspect of the market is it serves as a business incubator, a place for people to try out a new business, and we lost that last year when we had to scale things back to just our produce vendors.

We are excited to bring the market back to Sitka, and hope people enjoy our eight markets this summer. The full markets will allow non-produce vendors to participate, and maybe even some arts-and-crafts vendors.

Since we will have to increase the space between booths around the market, we will have some space limitations. The Sitka Local Foods Network’s main focus is on local food, so food booths who book by a certain date will have priority, with arts-and-crafts booths filling leftover open spaces. We want to be able to involve as many vendors as possible, so hopefully we’ll be able to fit everybody in the space without making it too crowded.

We are working with state WIC and SNAP programs to see if we can accept benefits every week, or only when we have our larger markets. Our goal is to provide fresh local produce to all residents, especially those low-income residents who might not be able to afford it. Anyway, we still are trying to finalize details and hope to have an update soon.

If you have any questions, feel free to call Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham at 623-7660 or email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Nalani James will be our Sitka Farmers Market manager this year. We will need volunteers to help set up and take down the market each week, and to sell produce at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand.

Sitka Conservation Society to host annual Wild Foods Potluck on Sunday, Nov. 17

The Sitka Conservation Society is hosting its annual Wild Foods Potluck on starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. 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 info@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Current members should be able to pick up their 2020 SCS calendar at the dinner.

Sitka Mermaid Festival and Sitka Seafood Festival combine to host big weekend events

The Sitka Mermaid Festival and the Sitka Seafood Festival are joining forces this year to host several events this weekend. The Sitka Mermaid Festival started last year as a way to celebrate seaweed and other sea veggies, while the Sitka Seafood Festival has been around for about a decade and celebrates the fish in our area.

The Sitka Seafood Festival launched some events as early as July, but for the next week or so the events will be co-hosted by both organizations.

Things kick off from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 24, with a youth Paint and Snack event featuring Tsimshian artist Mark Sixbey at the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association office at 304 Baranof Street (the former Island Institute office). The cost for this event is $10.

Meet from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Aug. 25, at Halibut Point Recreation Area for a beach clean-up. Participants are encouraged to bring gloves. (The Sitka Kitch class about cooking with seaweed originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26, has been canceled.)

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Rio’s Wine Bar (above Ludvig’s Bistro), there is an adult Paint and Sip led by Sarah Dart. This event costs $40 and includes one class of wine.

From 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Evergreen Natural Foods is a Mermaids Love Seaweed! seaweed cosmetics and bath make-and-take event.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Sitka Sound Science Center is a Food For Thought: Where Art and Science Connect panel discussion on drawing creative inspiration from science.

The Umami Banquet: A Tasting Event Sourced From The Sea takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This event features guest chef Cassandra Victoria Kelly from California. Tickets are $65 for the full tasting menu and $40 for standing-room only, and are available at Old Harbor Books. This event features performances by the Sitka Cirque aerial silks team, live music and a silent auction.

The big day is Saturday, Aug. 31, with the Marketplace open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall. There is a Mermaid Promenade costume parade down the Sitka Sea Walk from the Sitka Sound Science Center to Crescent Harbor Shelter that starts at 11:30 a.m. (meet at 11 a.m. at the science center). There are food booths, kids’ games and other activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crescent Harbor Shelter, followed by fish tote races from 4-6 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter. The day closes with the free Rock the Dock concert/dance event from 5-11 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter (this event, which includes a beer garden for adults, is co-hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society).

Don’t forget the Sitka Local Foods Network also has a Sitka Farmers Market scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

The Marketplace continues for a second day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The Sitka Seafood Festival also includes Wet Feet: Sitka Tells Tales from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Beak Restaurant (co-hosted with ArtChange, Inc.), with a suggested donation of $5. The Sitka Seafood Festival schedule concludes with a marine safety inspector course taught by the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, Sept. 23-27, and 8-10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Public Safety Training Academy (this event is free for qualified commercial fishermen and $995 for all others, register at the link above).

For more information, contact Amelia Mosher at sitkamermaidfestival@gmail.com or Tara Racine at director.asft@gmail.com.

 

Scenes from the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit held Feb. 15-17

Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit event organizer Jennifer Nu (Juneau), far right, introduces the members of the planning committee after the final session on Sunday. From left are Colin Peacock (Juneau), Lori Adams (Sitka), Joe Orsi (Juneau), Bo Varsano (Petersburg), Marja Smets (Petersburg), Andrea Fraga (Sitka) and Laura Schmidt (Sitka).

The 2019 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit came to Sitka last week, with events Feb. 15-17 at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp’s Sweetland Hall and downtown at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Started in 2015 in Petersburg as a way to bring the farmers and commercial food and flower growers in Southeast Alaska together, the Summit provides them with a forum to discuss what works and doesn’t work in their communities. The Summit takes place every other year, and in 2017 it was in Haines.

A variety of small farms around the region made presentations about how they grow food. There also was a vendor showcase and educational talks by farmers from outside the region.

The event was organized by Jennifer Nu and Colin Peacock of the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition out of Juneau, with support from the Sitka Local Foods Network, Sitka Kitch, Sitka Food Co-Op, and other groups.

A slideshow of scenes from the Summit is posted below.

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Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training to take place Feb. 18 in conjunction with Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit

The State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Office of the State Veterinarian is hosting a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 18, in the Raven Conference Room at the Aspen Suites Hotel in Sitka (210 Lake Street). This course is being held in conjunction with the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit, which takes place on Feb. 15-17 at various locations around Sitka.

This FDA-approved course satisfies the Grower Training curriculum requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

There is no charge for class participants. Funding is provided by an FDA-State of Alaska Cooperative Agreement. Growers will receive a free certificate of attendance for completing the course.

Who should register for this course? Commercial fruit & vegetable growers, farmers market vendors, and all others interested in learning about produce safety, the FDA Produce Safety Rule, and good agricultural practices should attend. Participants will gain a basic understanding of:

  • Microorganisms relevant to produce safety and where they may be found on the farm;
  • How to identify microbial risks, practices that reduce risks, and how to begin implementing food safety practices on your farm; and
  • Requirements of the FDA Produce Safety Rule and how to meet them.

This class covers these seven modules:

  • Introduction to Produce Safety;
  • Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training;
  • Soil Amendments;
  • Wildlife, Domesticated Animals, and Land Use;
  • AgriculturalWater (Part I: Production Water; Part II: Postharvest Water);
  • Postharvest Handling and Sanitation; and
  • How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan

This course is being held in conjunction with the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit, which has early bird registration deals that end on Dec. 31 (after Jan. 1, the price goes up). This event is hosted by the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition and the Sustainable Southeast Partnership.

To register for the course or for more information, contact Barbara Hanson at the DEC Office of the State Veterinarian at (907) 375-8278 or barbara.hanson@alaska.gov.

Early registration deadline is Dec. 31 for Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit in Sitka

The Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit will be in Sitka on Feb. 15-17, and the early registration deadline is Dec. 31. After that, the price goes up.

This event takes place every other year in various locations around Southeast Alaska (2015 in Petersburg, 2017 in Haines), and it provides a chance for farmers and backyard gardeners to meet and learn ways to make their businesses more profitable and efficient. More program details can be found at the event’s main link.

Early bird registration currently is available through Dec. 31 on the summit website at $40 per person, with the price rising to $60 after Jan. 1. This fee does not include meals, which are $100 for all three days if purchased before Dec. 31 and $120 after that. Accommodations are $85 a night in the Sweetland Hall dorms, and details can be found on the summit website.

This year’s summit is being coordinated by the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition out of Juneau (with SAWC local foods coordinator Jennifer Nu being the main contact), and the Sitka Local Foods Network and other Sitka groups are supporting the event. For more information about the summit, contact Jennifer at jennifer@sawcak.org.

The Sitka Local Foods Network has been asked to help coordinate a community potluck or catered local foods dinner on Friday night, and to help provide transportation between the airport or ferry terminal and the summit housing site at Sweetland Hall on the Sitka Fine Arts Camp/old Sheldon Jackson College campus. We will need volunteers to help with these requests. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a short meeting for Sitka volunteers at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 1612 Sawmill Creek Road (Laura Schmidt’s house). Please click this link to RSVP for the meeting

For more information about volunteering, contact Sitka Local Foods Network board chairman Charles Bingham at charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit coming to Sitka in February 2019

 

The Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, Feb. 15-17, 2019, in Sitka, with an extra all-day on Feb. 18 for an optional produce grower safety training.

Most of the events at this year’s summit will take place at Sweetland Hall on the Sitka Fine Arts Camp (old Sheldon Jackson College) campus or at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The summit opens at 1 p.m. on Friday, and closes at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Full details can be found on the summit website, https://www.saltandsoilmarketplace.com/farmers-summit/

This event takes place every other year at various locations throughout the region, with the previous events taking place in Petersburg (2015) and Haines (2017).

“This gathering began in 2015 when commercial farmers and producers in Southeast Alaska decided to come together to learn from one another about producing local food in a challenging growing environment and how to bring these products to market,” event organizers posted on their website. “Since then, this summit has met every other year in a different community to reconnect, expand their knowledge, and share their experiences with a growing network of local food producers. The 2019 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit will be the third annual gathering for current commercial produce growers and for those who would like to explore this potential in our region.”

Friday’s schedule highlights include reports from various growers around Southeast Alaska about what is working and what isn’t working where they are. On Saturday, there will be in-depth presentations on pest disease management, composting in Juneau and Petersburg, farming in Fairbanks, employees and interns, cover crops, and growing gourmet mushrooms. Sunday’s schedule includes more in-depth presentations, as well as side sessions on hydroponics, composting, entrepreneurship/business consulting, and more.

Early bird registration currently is available through Dec. 31 on the summit website at $40 per person, with the price rising to $60 after Jan. 1. This fee does not include meals, which are $100 for all three days if purchased before Dec. 31 and $120 after that. Accommodations are $85 a night in the Sweetland Hall dorms, and details can be found on the summit website.

This year’s summit is being coordinated by the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition out of Juneau (with SAWC local foods coordinator Jennifer Nu being the main contact), and the Sitka Local Foods Network and other Sitka groups are supporting the event. For more information about the summit, contact Jennifer at jennifer@sawcak.org.

The Sitka Local Foods Network has been asked to help coordinate a community potluck or catered local foods dinner on Friday night, and to help provide transportation between the airport or ferry terminal and summit site. We will need volunteers to help with these requests. To help with the Friday night meal or ground transportation, contact Sitka Local Foods Network board chairman Charles Bingham at charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

 

Sitka Conservation Society to host annual Wild Foods Potluck on Sunday, Nov. 18

The Sitka Conservation Society is hosting its annual Wild Foods Potluck on starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. 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.

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 info@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Current members should be able to pick up their 2019 SCS calendar at the dinner.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game to host Chinook Salmon Symposium in Sitka on Monday

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) invites the public to attend a Chinook Salmon Symposium from 5-8 p.m. on Monday, May 21, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Attend this free symposium and learn about the status of Southeast Alaska chinook salmon, research and management, the Pacific Salmon Treaty, and participation in the public process.

Hosted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, this event features:

  • Chinook salmon research — what we know about how local stocks are performing, as well as Pacific Northwest Chinook salmon stocks coastwide.
  • A look at the last 10 years of chinook salmon management for the commercial and sport fisheries — annual allocations, actual harvest, and performance relative to the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
  • Conservative actions — management measures in response to poor chinook salmon production.
  • Treaty transparency — a summary of the treaty past, present, and future.
  • Public process and participation — an overview of the public regulatory process and how to get involved.
  • Public question and answer session.

ADF&G encourages those interested in chinook salmon issues to join this evening of informative presentations by our fisheries research and management team. For more details, contact ADF&G.

In conjunction with this meeting, the Chinook Futures Coalition will host a fundraiser from 4-8 p.m. on Monday, May 21, in the Harrigan Centennial Hall Steelhead Room (across from the Chinook Salmon Symposium in the Auditorium). Alaska Trollers Association raffle tickets will be available at the fundraiser.

The Chinook Futures Coalition supports the troll fishery, and it is rallying troll fishermen to make their voices be heard at the symposium. Please plan to speak up and tell Commissioner Sam Cotten and Alaska Pacific Salmon Treaty Commissioner Charlie Swanton about the way the troll fishery is being managed and the loss of harvest opportunity on treaty chinook. A CFC planning meeting will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday May 19 in the Steelhead Room at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

For more information, call Chinook Futures Symposium executive director Deborah Lyons at 907-738-3362.

Sitka Conservation Society to host annual Wild Foods Potluck on Sunday, Nov. 12

The Sitka Conservation Society is hosting its annual Wild Foods Potluck, starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. It’s more important than ever to come together to celebrate all the ways the Tongass National Forest feeds and sustains us. Please bring a dish that features ingredients that were fished, foraged, hunted, or cultivated in Southeast Alaska.

Did you know that Sitka Conservation Society is celebrating its 50th year? At the potluck, SCS will have an amazing photography display showcasing 50 years of grassroots conservation activism. SCS dug through its archives to find old photos and videos from the early days of Sitka Conservation Society to pair with newer photos, illustrating the enduring legacy of conservation in Sitka. Also, if you’re a SCS member or want to become one, you can pick up your 2018 SCS calendar at the potluck.

The potluck is open to the entire community, especially SCS members, friends, family, and anyone else interested in learning about the Sitka Conservation Society. Come celebrate Alaska’s wild food bounty with your friends and neighbors.

Interested in volunteering at the potluck or want more information? Contact info@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509.