• Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by visiting the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 9

WhyFarmersMarkets

SitkaFarmersMarketSignU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 3-9 as National Farmers Market Week this year, as noted by the Farmers Market Coalition, and you can celebrate the week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

Farmers markets are a great way to connect with the community, while also purchasing local produce, wild fish, locally baked bread and arts and crafts. Besides providing access to fresh local produce, farmers markets create strong economic engines in communities, promote local health and bring a diverse group of people together. They also help consumers meet and get to know the people who produce their food.

SLFNGroupwLinda“The Sitka Farmers Market is a community festival where people of all walks of life come together and find great stuff, good food, amazing music, awesome produce, freshly harvested, and above all, great company!” said Debe Brincefield, one of the two Sitka Farmers Market co-managers.

Farmers markets have been growing nationally, from 2,863 in 2000 to more than 8,100 in 2014, a jump of more than 280 percent. While Alaska doesn’t have as many farmers markets as other states, it did have the highest percentage of new markets in the country in recent years, up to 35 markets in 2011 or 46 percent. The national rate of new market growth was 17 percent in 2011 and 9.6 percent in 2012.

Aug. 9 will be the fourth of six full Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, with the schedule running on alternate Saturdays (June 28, July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun.

SitkaFarmersMarketBusNEW2The Sitka Farmers Market was the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons, and we also accept SNAP EBT payments. In addition, this year we teamed up with Sitka Tours to offer free bus service on market Saturdays. The bus picks up at Sawmill Creek Apartments at 9:45 a.m., at Indian River at 9:50 a.m., and Swan Lake Senior Center at 10 a.m., with the return trip leaving ANB Founders Hall at noon.

For more information about the market or hosting a booth, contact Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Ellexis Howey or Debe Brincefield at 738-8683 or sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. By the way, we always need volunteers to help set up and take down the market before and after the event. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Also, we need volunteer harvesters from 3:30-5:30 p.m. every Friday and 8-9:30 a.m. on market Saturdays at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, which is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (the dark brown brick-and-wood church on Lincoln Street above Crescent Harbor). Fresh veggies will be available for a donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network or a WIC farmers market coupon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Mondays before a market Saturday. For more info on garden work parties, contact St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt at 738-7009 or 623-7003.

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• As you build your garden this spring, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article first appeared on this site in April 2010. It is repeated because much of the information remains current and newsworthy.)

As you start to plan your garden for this spring and summer, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry. The Plant A Row For The Hungry program (also known as Plant A Row or PAR) is a national campaign by the Garden Writers Association of America that got its start in Alaska.

In the cold winter of 1994, Anchorage Daily News garden columnist and former Garden Writers Association of America President Jeff Lowenfels was returning to his hotel after a Washington, D.C., event when he was approached by a homeless person who asked for some money to buy food. Lowenfels said Washington, D.C., had signs saying, “Don’t give money to panhandlers,” so he shook his head and kept on walking. But the man’s reply, “I really am homeless and I really am hungry. You can come with me and watch me eat,” stayed with Lowenfels for the rest of his trip.

Jeff Lowenfels

Jeff Lowenfels

The encounter continued to bother Lowenfels, even as he was flying back to Anchorage. During the flight, Lowenfels came up with an idea when he started writing his weekly garden column (the longest continuously running garden column in the country, with no missed weeks since it started on Nov. 13, 1976). He asked his readers to plant one extra row in their gardens to grow food to donate to Bean’s Café, an Anchorage soup kitchen. The idea took off.

When Anchorage hosted the Garden Writers Association of America convention in 1995, Lowenfels took the GWAA members to Bean’s Café to learn about the Plant A Row For Bean’s Café program. The Garden Writers Association of America liked the idea, and it became the national Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign (also known as Plant A Row or PAR). In 2002, the Garden Writers Association Foundation was created as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit to manage the Plant A Row For The Hungry program.

“I am not surprised by the growth of PAR,” Lowenfels wrote in an e-mail to the Sitka Local Foods Network. “It is now in all 50 states and across Canada and there are thousands of variations of the original program — from prison gardens for the hungry to botanical gardens donating their produce from public display gardens. This is because gardeners always share information and extra food, so the idea was a natural.”

It took five years for the program to reach its first million pounds of donated food, but the second million only took two years and the next eight years saw a million pounds of donated food (or more) each year. Since 1995, more than 14 million pounds of food have been donated. Not only that, the program is getting ready to expand overseas to Australia, England and other countries with avid gardeners.

“We have supplied something in the vicinity of enough food for 50 million meals,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail. “Gardeners can solve this hunger problem without the government. And we don’t need a tea party to do it! Or chemicals, I might add, as author of a book on organic gardening (Teaming With Microbes, written with Wayne Lewis)!” (Lowenfels recently released a second book, Teaming With Nutrients, which is a follow-up to his first book).

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one out of every eight U.S. households experiences hunger or the risk of hunger. Many people skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going an entire day or more without food. About 33 million Americans, including 13 million children, have substandard diets or must resort to seeking emergency food because they can’t always afford to buy the food they need. In recent years the demand for hunger assistance has increased 70 percent, and research shows that hundreds of children and adults are turned away from food banks each year because of lack of resources.

While many people credit Lowenfels for creating the Plant A Row For The Hungry program, Lowenfels says the real heroes are the gardeners growing the extra food and donating it to local soup kitchens, senior programs, schools, homeless shelters and neighbors. You can hear him pass along the credit to all gardeners at the end of this interview last year with an Oklahoma television station (video also embedded below).

“One row. That’s all it takes. No rules other than the food goes to the hungry. You pick the drop-off spot or just give it to a needy friend or neighbor. Nothing slips between the lip and the cup, I say,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail.

For people wanting to Plant A Row For The Hungry in Sitka, there are several places that would love to help distribute some fresh locally grown veggies or berries to those who are less fortunate, such as the Salvation Army, Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), local churches, Sitka Tribe of Alaska and other organizations. The food the Sitka Local Foods Network grows at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden goes to the Sitka Farmers Market.

People who participate in the Alaska Food Stamp program can use their Alaska Quest Cards to purchase produce and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets around the state. People who participate in the  WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program (operated in Southeast Alaska by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium or SEARHC) also can use special farmers market vouchers to buy fresh vegetables at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets in Alaska (this is part of the national WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program).

The Sitka Local Foods Network also takes donations of local produce to sell at the Sitka Farmers Markets, and all proceeds are used to help pay for SLFN projects geared toward helping more people in Sitka grow and harvest local food. For more information, contact SLFN President Lisa Sadleir-Hart or one of the other board members at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2011 Plant A Row For The Hungry marketing brochure

• 2009 Start a Local Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign brochure

• As you build your garden this spring, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article first appeared on this site in April 2010. It is repeated because much of the information remains current and newsworthy.)

As you start to plan your garden for this spring and summer, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry. The Plant A Row For The Hungry program (also known as Plant A Row or PAR) is a national campaign by the Garden Writers Association of America that got its start in Alaska.

In the cold winter of 1994, Anchorage Daily News garden columnist and former Garden Writers Association of America President Jeff Lowenfels was returning to his hotel after a Washington, D.C., event when he was approached by a homeless person who asked for some money to buy food. Lowenfels said Washington, D.C., had signs saying, “Don’t give money to panhandlers,” so he shook his head and kept on walking. But the man’s reply, “I really am homeless and I really am hungry. You can come with me and watch me eat,” stayed with Lowenfels for the rest of his trip.

Jeff Lowenfels

Jeff Lowenfels

The encounter continued to bother Lowenfels, even as he was flying back to Anchorage. During the flight, Lowenfels came up with an idea when he started writing his weekly garden column (the longest continuously running garden column in the country, with no missed weeks since it started on Nov. 13, 1976). He asked his readers to plant one extra row in their gardens to grow food to donate to Bean’s Café, an Anchorage soup kitchen. The idea took off.

When Anchorage hosted the Garden Writers Association of America convention in 1995, Lowenfels took the GWAA members to Bean’s Café to learn about the Plant A Row For Bean’s Café program. The Garden Writers Association of America liked the idea, and it became the national Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign (also known as Plant A Row or PAR). In 2002, the Garden Writers Association Foundation was created as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit to manage the Plant A Row For The Hungry program.

“I am not surprised by the growth of PAR,” Lowenfels wrote in an e-mail to the Sitka Local Foods Network. “It is now in all 50 states and across Canada and there are thousands of variations of the original program — from prison gardens for the hungry to botanical gardens donating their produce from public display gardens. This is because gardeners always share information and extra food, so the idea was a natural.”

It took five years for the program to reach its first million pounds of donated food, but the second million only took two years and the next eight years saw a million pounds of donated food (or more) each year. Since 1995, more than 14 million pounds of food have been donated. Not only that, the program is getting ready to expand overseas to Australia, England and other countries with avid gardeners.

“We have supplied something in the vicinity of enough food for 50 million meals,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail. “Gardeners can solve this hunger problem without the government. And we don’t need a tea party to do it! Or chemicals, I might add, as author of a book on organic gardening (Teaming With Microbes, written with Wayne Lewis)!” (Lowenfels recently released a second book, Teaming With Nutrients, which is a follow-up to his first book).

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one out of every eight U.S. households experiences hunger or the risk of hunger. Many people skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going an entire day or more without food. About 33 million Americans, including 13 million children, have substandard diets or must resort to seeking emergency food because they can’t always afford to buy the food they need. In recent years the demand for hunger assistance has increased 70 percent, and research shows that hundreds of children and adults are turned away from food banks each year because of lack of resources.

While many people credit Lowenfels for creating the Plant A Row For The Hungry program, Lowenfels says the real heroes are the gardeners growing the extra food and donating it to local soup kitchens, senior programs, schools, homeless shelters and neighbors. You can hear him pass along the credit to all gardeners at the end of this interview last year with an Oklahoma television station (video also embedded below).

“One row. That’s all it takes. No rules other than the food goes to the hungry. You pick the drop-off spot or just give it to a needy friend or neighbor. Nothing slips between the lip and the cup, I say,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail.

For people wanting to Plant A Row For The Hungry in Sitka, there are several places that would love to help distribute some fresh locally grown veggies or berries to those who are less fortunate, such as the Salvation Army, Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), local churches, Sitka Tribe of Alaska and other organizations. The food the Sitka Local Foods Network grows at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden goes to the Sitka Farmers Market.

People who participate in the Alaska Food Stamp program can use their Alaska Quest Cards to purchase produce and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets around the state. People who participate in the  WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program (operated in Southeast Alaska by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium or SEARHC) also can use special farmers market vouchers to buy fresh vegetables at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets in Alaska (this is part of the national WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program).

The Sitka Local Foods Network also takes donations of local produce to sell at the Sitka Farmers Markets, and all proceeds are used to help pay for SLFN projects geared toward helping more people in Sitka grow and harvest local food. For more information, contact SLFN President Lisa Sadleir-Hart or one of the other board members at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2011 Plant A Row For The Hungry marketing brochure

• 2009 Start a Local Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign brochure

• Christi Henthorn wins Table of the Day at sixth Sitka Farmers Market

Sitka Farmers Market assistant market manager Jasmine Shaw, left, and Sitka Farmers Market market manager Johanna Willingham, right, present the Table of the Day Award to Christi Henthorn for the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the season, on Sept. 15, 2012, at ANB Hall. Christi sold homemade baked goods, jams, veggies from her garden, jewelry and other artworks she’d made. The Sitka Local Foods Network board selects a Table of the Day winner from the vendors at each Sitka Farmers Market of the season, and the winners receive prizes such as a fifth-anniversary market tote bag, produce and a check.

The next Sitka Local Foods Network event is the annual Running of the Boots fundraiser this Saturday, Sept. 29, at Crescent Harbor Shelter. Registration opens at 10 a.m., costume judging is about 10:30 a.m. and the race starts at 11 a.m. A Sitka Farmers Market booth will be selling veggies and other items at the race. For more information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/

• Meggan Turner and Kathy Branch win Table of the Day at fifth Sitka Farmers Market

Sitka Local Foods Network Quest Card coordinator Muriel Sadleir-Hart, far left, Sitka Farmers Market assistant market manager Jasmine Shaw, second from left, and Sitka Local Foods Network board member Robin Grewe, right, present the Table of the Day Award to Meggan Turner, center, and Kathy Branch for the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the season, on Sept. 1, 2012, at ANB Hall. Meggan and Kathy sold organic bread, pasta in gift jars, jams, jellies, pie fillings, and dehydrated fruit. The Sitka Local Foods Network board selects a Table of the Day winner from the vendors at each Sitka Farmers Market of the season, and the winners receive prizes such as a fifth-anniversary market tote bag, produce and a check.

The final Sitka Farmers Market of the summer is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at ANB Hall (235 Katlian St.). The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking volunteers to help set up tables and tents before the market starts, and to tear down and pack up the market after it ends. We need volunteers for this last market. If you have a strong back and helping hands, please contact Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 for more details. Also, if you are a vendor who wants to accept Quest and debit card tokens, please contact Johanna. For more information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/

• Slack Tide to be special musical guest at the final Sitka Farmers Market of the season

The last Sitka Farmers Market of the summer will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, so the Sitka band Slack Tide will be the market’s special guest.

Slack Tide is rock and dance band that’s jamming Sitka style. The members of the group are Joe Montagna on guitar and vocals, Jen Reid on vocals, “Pignose Bob” Jacobs on guitar and vocals, Peter Apathy on bass and Colin Herforth on drums.

Also, don’t forget the Sitka Farmers Market now accepts Alaska Quest electronic benefit cards and debit cards. You can use these cards to purchase tokens, which you then can spend with participating vendors at the market. Look for the Sitka Local Foods Network booth inside ANB Hall for more details.

In addition, we always need volunteers to help us set up before the market and to take down the market after we’re done. Please contact Sitka Farmers Market coordinator Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 if you’re interested in helping out.

Finally, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Running of the Boots fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Crescent Harbor Shelter. Race registration is at 10 a.m., costume judging is at 10:30 a.m., and the race starts at 11 a.m. Paint up your Xtratuf boots and get your costumes ready for this fun event that’s great for kids and families. We will have a booth or two selling late-season produce at this event. Watch for more details coming soon.

• Carrie Hisaoka and Ben Warren win Table of the Day at fourth Sitka Farmers Market of 2012

TABLE OF THE DAY: Sitka Local Foods Network intern Courtney Bobsin, far left, volunteer Mark Partido, second from right, and volunteer Marjo Vidad, right, present the Table of the Day Award to Carrie Hisaoka (with baby Joshua Warren) and Ben Warren for the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the season, on Aug. 18, 2012, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. Carrie and Ben sold handmade jewelry, fireweed bread cookies and homemade granola. The Sitka Local Foods Network board selects a Table of the Day winner from the vendors at each Sitka Farmers Market of the season, and the winners receive prizes such as a fifth-anniversary market tote bag and check.

The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at ANB Hall (235 Katlian St.). The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking volunteers to help set up tables and tents before the market starts, and to tear down and pack up the market after it ends. We need volunteers for the two remaining markets (Sept. 1 and 15). If you have a strong back and helping hands, please contact Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 for more details. Also, if you are a vendor who wants to accept Quest and debit card tokens, please contact Johanna. For more information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/