• UAF Cooperative Extension Service offers Certified Food Protection Manager class by videoconference March 3 in Sitka

CFPM flyer 3-3-16-b

Wednesday, Feb. 17, is the registration deadline for a certified food protection manager workshop being taught on Thursday, March 3, by University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. This is an all-day statewide class that will be offered by videoconferencing to Fairbanks, Palmer, Juneau, Petersburg, Sitka, Craig, Angoon, Klukwan, and Tenakee.

A certified food protection manager (CFPM) is responsible for monitoring and managing all food establishment operations to ensure that the facility is operating in compliance with food establishment regulations.

A CFPM is knowledgeable about food safety practices and uses this knowledge to provide consumers with safe food, protect public health and prevent food-borne illnesses. Alaska regulations require food establishments to have at least one CFPM on staff.

This course takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with a half-hour lunch), and participants will take a computer-based exam at the end of the class. The reason the deadline is two weeks before the class is to guarantee course materials reach all the students in time for the class. The cost is $200, and the course will be taught by Julie Cascio of Palmer. Students can register here.

The Sitka videoconference for the class will take place in Room 110 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. To learn more, contact Jasmine Shaw at the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440, or contact Kathy McDougall at (907) 474-2420 (Fairbanks number) or kmmcdougall@alaska.edu. Note, this class is taught in English but textbooks are available in Korean, Chinese and Spanish, just contact Kathy at least three weeks before the class.

Also, the ServSafe book ($60) and certification exam ($75) now are available online, if people want to order the book and study independently without taking the class. Just go to this website and purchase the book and exam items.

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• Two associated with Sitka Local Foods Network win awards at Alaska Health Summit

Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein, center, of Frankenstein Productions, greets fans after the Sitka premiere of her film "Eating Alaska" in October 2008

Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein, center, of Frankenstein Productions, greets fans after the Sitka premiere of her film "Eating Alaska" in October 2008

The Alaska Public Health Association (ALPHA) honored two programs with ties to the Sitka Local Foods Network during the Alaska Health Summit banquet on Dec. 9. Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein (and her Frankenstein Productions company) and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program both won the Alaska Community Service Award. According to ALPHA, the Alaska Community Service Award “recognizes an organization, business or group making a significant contribution to improving the health of Alaskans. It is ALPHA’s intent that nominees outside the public health tradition be considered for this award. A nominee does not need to be an ALPHA member.”

Frankenstein has produced several documentary films over the years, including “Eating Alaska,” which focuses on how we choose the food we eat. Eating Alaska debuted in the fall of 2008, and Frankenstein has taken it to film festivals all over the state and country. “Eating Alaska” received funding support from the SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program and other funders, plus technical support was provided by SEARHC health educators, physicians and dietitians. Some of Frankenstein’s other films include “No Loitering,” “Carved from the Heart,” “A Matter of Respect,” and “Miles from the Border.” She currently is working on a documentary film project with Haida weaver Dolores Churchill.

“As someone who fills in the occupation blank on forms with ‘filmmaker/artist,’ this award represents the fact that labels and lines don’t matter when it comes to social change and to making our lives healthier,” Frankenstein wrote from Austin, Texas, where she was attending a screening of Eating Alaska. “It not only validates my work, but represents your open-mindedness to the potential of working collaboratively and creatively with kids and adults, using art, media and storytelling to influence well-being and healthy communities.”

Frankenstein also sent this note to her e-mail group:

EATING ALASKA: ART AND HEALTH!
We just got the news the project has been awarded The Alaska Public Health Association’s 2009 Community Service Award for Health. In the process of making this film and in its use we’ve worked with nutritionists, health educators, medical and public health practitioners to add to the conversation about what we can do to make our homes, workplaces, schools and communities healthier and more sustainable. We appreciate the help everyone has given to the project to help us “contribute to improving the health of Alaskans” and others far beyond.

The SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program, which closes this month, was honored for the work it did over the life of its five-year grant (the national Steps to a Healthier US grant has ended, so that means all of the local grants that were part of the national grant also are ending). The Steps program funded 77 projects worth just over $1.1 million in 12 Southeast Alaska communities. Steps was one of the major funders and organizers of the Sitka Health Summit, which is where the Sitka Local Foods Network originated.

The Steps program’s goals were to increase opportunities for physical activity, improve nutrition and reduce the impact of tobacco in Southeast Alaska. The program also worked to reduce diabetes, obesity and asthma in Southeast communities. To accomplish its goals, Steps developed partnerships with schools, worksites, tribes and other community groups so they could change social norms and policies, and make evidence-based and culturally relevant interventions. In addition to the projects, Steps also hosted conferences and workshops to help programs learn how to work in collaboration.

The Steps program used the socio-ecological model, which emphasizes that an individual’s health status is influenced not only by his or her attitudes and practices, but also by personal relationships and community and societal factors. Nearly half of the 77 Steps grants (37) went to community projects, with the others geared toward schools and worksites. More than three-quarters of the grants (60) focused on improving nutrition and/or increasing physical activity. Together, the projects reached 128,000 people (with many people reached by multiple projects) in the communities of Angoon, Craig, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kake, Kasaan, Klawock, Klukwan, Sitka and Wrangell.

“Overall, the Steps initiative helped build capacity within communities, worksites and schools to work collaboratively, to plan evidence-based programs, and to monitor and evaluate program success,” said Grace Brooks, Steps Grant Manager. “Steps also contributed to an overall increased understanding of the importance of policy in supporting community, school and workplace health.”

In other local foods news from around the state this past week, the Alaska Dispatch ran an article about an indoors farmers market this winter at Anchorage’s Northway Mall.

Capital City Weekly featured a story by Carla Petersen about how the search for elusive cranberries is worth the challenge.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week that it is encouraging the use of catch shares to preserve the remaining stocks of halibut (the article features a photo from Sitka).

The Anchorage Daily News featured a story about Gov. Sean Parnell proposing to spend $1.3 million to research declining Yukon River salmon runs.

The Juneau Empire had a story about how an arts advocacy group in Juneau, Arts for Kids, has teamed up with Sitka-based Theobroma Chocolate Co. to offer SmART bars as a fundraiser for art scholarships for graduating seniors in Juneau.

The publicity poster for the movie Eating Alaska

• WISEGUYS men’s health group builds a community potato patch in Klukwan

Tubs of potatoes are loaded into the back of a pick-up truck after they were picked at the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Tubs of potatoes are loaded into the back of a pick-up truck after they were picked at the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

While this site is about the Sitka Local Foods Network and projects in Sitka promoting local foods, occasionally we have news from a nearby community that’s worth reporting.

This summer, the new WISEGUYS men’s health group in Klukwan, a Tlingít community just north of Haines, decided to build a potato patch to raise potatoes and a few other vegetables for community members of the Chilkat Indian Village.

“The idea was to provide a sustainable subsistence based crop that could supply every house in Klukwan with potatoes every year,” said Mike Adams, a Community Health Practitioner at the SEARHC Klukwan Health Center. “This would also allow us to get together with the community kids, exercise and spent time together doing something for our community.”

Adams said the group started with a donated piece of land from the Chilkat Indian Village and began clearing it of debris and cleaning it up so the ground could be tilled for planting. The WISEGUYS received funding from the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program so they could purchase the potato seed and fertilizer, and the SEARHC Behavioral Health Prevention Program (a program to educate youth about drug and alcohol abuse) bought a few hand tools.

Sixty hours were spent in clearing and ground preparations, as well as 20 hours of donated heavy equipment time from Chilkat Indian village and Hank Jacquot. This got us to a 100-foot-by-100-foot piece of usable ground. The preparations for planting then began. Many of us spent several days with three Roto-Tillers tilling the area, digging furrows for planting, adding organic fertilizers and ultimately planting 1,000 potato plants. Four varieties were planted — Kennebec, Tlingít, Yukon Gold and Chippawa’s.

The summer was unseasonably hot and there was a minimal water supply from a nearby creek. To supplement the creek, watering was done using the village fire truck to spray the patch with 750 gallons of water every three to five days.

“We harvested the potatoes on Sept. 25th and had many community members participate as well as all the kids from the Klukwan school and their teachers,” Adams said. “We grossed approximately 1,500 pounds of potatoes. Every child and teacher was sent home with a large bag of potatoes and every household in Klukwan was given potatoes. Due to the prolonged unseasonable hot weather all summer the final harvest amount was a bit lower then we’d hoped, but everyone was given potatoes and we all had a great time harvesting.”

Adams said the WISEGUYS received a positive note when they applied for a small grant from RurAL CAP in August to purchase supplies and equipment, and they recently found out they were awarded the grant. He said the group plans to build a sprinkler system in the potato patch next year.

“Thanks goes to everyone for all your support,” Adams said. “We look forward to another great year in 2010!”

Potato pickers gather for the potato-picking party on Sept. 25 at the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Potato pickers gather for the potato-picking party on Sept. 25 at the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Barren land before it was cleared to become the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Barren land before it was cleared to become the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Potato plants growing in the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Potato plants growing in the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Community members pick potatoes during a potato-picking party Sept. 25 at the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Community members pick potatoes during a potato-picking party Sept. 25 at the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan

Lani Hotch and Bev Klanott stand behind a big cabbage growing at the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan. The cabbage weighed nearly 30 pounds when it was harvested.

Lani Hotch and Bev Klanott stand behind a big cabbage growing at the WISEGUYS potato patch in Klukwan. The cabbage weighed nearly 30 pounds when it was harvested.

• Sitka Local Foods Network hosts historical gardening presentation on Friday, Oct. 16

Children show off the bounty from the Klukwan School garden in 1911

Children show off the bounty from the Klukwan School garden in 1911

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a brief historical gardening presentation by Elizabeth Kunibe, “Growing in Sitka and Southeast Alaska: Food of Today, Tomorrow and 200 Years Ago,” at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Kettleson Memorial Library. This event is free and open to all, and it should last about 45 minutes.

During her presentation, Kunibe will discuss early Tlingít gardens in Southeast Alaska, Russian gardens in Sitka in the 1800s, the first USDA Agricultural Experiment Station in Alaska comes to Sitka in 1898, an agricultural fair above the Arctic Circle in Fort Yukon, the importance of potatoes (a phytonutrient study), plant diseases and new ziplock bags made from fish gelatin. Her presentation includes a colorful slideshow that features historical information on gardening in Southeast Alaska, as well as information on what is happening in Alaska’s food systems today.

Kunibe is a University of Alaska Southeast anthropology student from Juneau who has spent the past six years researching early gardens of the Tlingít, Haida and Athabascan peoples in Alaska and the Yukon Territory. She is a 2008 and 2009 National Science Foundation EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) Fellow researching food systems in Alaska.

For more information, contact Charles Bingham at 747-1065 or send e-mail to charles@sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

Gov. John G. Brady's garden in Sitka in 1900

Gov. John G. Brady's garden in Sitka in 1900

Plant geneticists Chuck Brown and Joe Kuhl of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, examine the flesh color of some potatoes being grown in Alaska. The color gives them clues to the nutrients the potatoes may contain.

Plant geneticists Chuck Brown and Joe Kuhl of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, examine the flesh color of some potatoes being grown in Alaska. The color gives them clues to the nutrients the potatoes may contain.

• Healthy Wrangell Coalition hopes to build a community garden

Some of our neighbor communities also are looking for ways to get more local foods into their diets. Last week, KSTK-FM in Wrangell ran a story about the Healthy Wrangell Coalition’s goal of building a community garden in Wrangell. A couple of days later, there was a follow-up story about the project receiving a $5,000 start-up grant from the SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program.

Here’s wishing Wrangell well with the project. We can use more locally grown food in all Southeast Alaska communities.

By the way, Wrangell and Kake both recently launched new WISEFAMILIES Through Customary and Traditional Living health and wellness programs, which are modeled after a similar WISEFAMILIES program in Klukwan that’s been around for a couple of years. These programs feature culture camps where residents learn how to harvest and preserve traditional subsistence foods, learn Tlingít language, tell stories and learn other traditional activities such as carving and weaving. The more established program in Klukwan includes a community garden and a potato patch as part of its offerings, and Kake also is working on building a community garden. The three WISEFAMILIES programs are partnerships between the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program and the local tribes in each community (Wrangell Cooperative Association, Organized Village of Kake and Chilkat Indian Village).

Click here to listen to the first KSTK-FM radio story about building a Wrangell community garden (note that link has streaming audio, so adjust your volume accordingly)

Click here to listen to the follow-up KSTK-FM radio story about the $5,000 start-up grant for the project (link also has streaming audio)

Click here to learn more about the Healthy Wrangell Coalition