Scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer

Table of the Day: Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, left, presents the Table of the Day award to Peter Williams of Humpback Farms during the second Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer, held Saturday, July 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Peter sold lettuce, salad mixes, micro-greens and rhubarb. He received a Sitka Local Foods Network apron, a Biorka Beets t-shirt, some walking onions and some rhubarb.

There was a strange blue cast to the sky and a bright, hot thing beaming down on us when we held our second Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer season on Saturday, July 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

While our cold weather this spring means we don’t have as much produce as we like, we still 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.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at the ANB Founders Hall. There also are markets scheduled for Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9. To learn how to be a vendor at the market, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 (new number) or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a new kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our new Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

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

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Scenes from the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer season

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK

Sitka Farmers Market Manager Nina Vizcarrondo, left, presents the Table of the Day Award to 10-year-old Abigail Ward, who was participating in the new kids vendor program at the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer season, held Saturday, July 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Abigail won a certificate, a Sitka Local Foods Network tote bag, some rhubarb, a bag of Alaska Flour Company barley chocolate chip cookie mix, and some Alaska Grown stickers. She sold homemade baked goods, some handmade first aid kit pouches and candles. 

It was a crowded house, despite the wind and rain, as we held our first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer season on Saturday, July 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

While our cold weather meant we didn’t have as much produce as we would have liked, we still 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 beach asparagus, chaga tea, etc.), homemade baked goods, banana-Nutella crepes, hot seafood dishes, fresh smoothies, reindeer hot dogs, blackcod tips, arts and crafts, and you could even screenprint your own Sitka Farmers Market t-shirt or hoodie. We also had an expanded selection of Alaska Grown products at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, at the ANB Founders Hall. There also are markets scheduled for July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9. To learn how to be a vendor at the market, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 (new number) or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a new kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger.

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

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Sitka Local Foods Network to host seven Sitka Farmers Markets in 2017 summer

The Sitka Local Foods Network is bringing the excitement back to the Sitka Farmers Market, which opens its 10th season of markets on Saturday. There will be some new innovations at the market, and some of the vendors who skipped last year’s markets are back this summer.

“Last year was a learning experience for us,” said Sitka Local Foods Network president Charles Bingham, who is assisting Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo. “We tried to make the market’s focus be more on local food and less on arts and crafts, but we didn’t have enough local food producers to make up for the lost craft vendors. We lost some of the community-gathering feel to the market with the lost vendors. This year we returned to our 2015 vendor rates, which is bringing back many of lost vendors. We want the market to be a community happening again. The market is a great way to connect with neighbors and support local entrepreneurs.”

Other new innovations this year include 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. 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, and Kahiltna Birchworks birch syrup products from Palmer. 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 our local farmers, artisans and musicians,” Vizcarrondo said. “By keeping our money local, we create a more sustainable economy.”

The first Sitka Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, 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 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9, 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.

“In recent years we’ve been proud to welcome Alaska Quest EBT and WIC shoppers at the market,” 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 the 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, contact Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 (new number) or 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), and the Sitka True Value.

Celebrate local farmers and gardeners on Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 2

Alaskans will celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 2. On this day, Alaskans are encouraged to support local agriculture by seeking out and purchasing products produced in Alaska and educating youth about the vital role that agriculture plays in our economy. This is Alaska’s version of National Ag Day (which took place on March 21 this year, when many parts of Alaska were still thawing out).

Here are a few ideas from the Division of Agriculture on how to celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day:

In Sitka, you can celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day by starting a food garden (even a couple of containers on your deck can provide you with potatoes, carrots or greens). Teachers are encouraged to offer a lesson plan or two about the importance of agriculture in Alaska and in Sitka. Here’s a link to an article about how Sitka was Alaska’s original garden city back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Also, the Sitka History Minute feature on KCAW-Raven Radio has had several episodes about agriculture in Sitka (click here to listen to a feature about the potato in Sitka, click here to listen to a feature about the Sitka Agricultural Station, and click here to listen to a feature about the cows of Iris Meadows).

During the growing season, please support the Sitka farmers and production gardeners listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book (chief contact in parentheses) — Anam Cara Family Garden (Lisa Sadleir-Hart), Blatchley Community Gardens (David Nuetzel, this garden closed in 2016 and there is a group seeking a new location for what will be called Sitka Community Gardens), Down To Earth U-Pick Garden (Lori Adams, switched to a CSA in 2017 and no longer is a public u-pick garden), Finn Island Farm (Keith Nyitray), Sprucecot Gardens (Judy Johnstone), and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (Laura Schmidt/Sitka Local Foods Network). There also are a few Sitka farms and production gardens not listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book, such as Humpback Farm (Peter Williams), Middle Island Organic Produce (Andrea Fraga/Kaleb Aldred), Sea View Garden (Linda Wilson), The Sawmill Farm (Bobbi Daniels), Sitka Seedling Farms (Matthew Jackson) and Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Garden(Florence Welsh).

Many of these farms and gardens will be vendors during the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

Looking for volunteers to help us get St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden ready

The Sitka Local Foods Network is creating a pool of volunteers to help us get the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden and our satellite gardens ready to grow food for the summer.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (611 Lincoln St.). This communal garden is where we grow most of the produce sold at the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s The People’s Garden program. The People’s Garden works across USDA and with partners to start and sustain school gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural and urban areas with the mission of growing healthy food, people and communities.

If you want to help us prepare the garden for planting, amend soil, clean up the garden, and plant seeds, contact St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt at 738-7009 to let her know about your availability. During the spring, Laura usually is working in the garden most week days, and she’s looking for a couple of assistants each day instead of hosting a big work party on the weekends.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm still producing veggies this month, and they’re for sale

zucchini

Do you have a need for locally grown zucchini? How about some other veggies grown here in Sitka? Even though the Sitka Farmers Market is over for the year, we still have some veggies for sale.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt said we still have enough produce growing that she can sell 5-10 weekly boxes of produce through the next month. She said the boxes will run $30, and will likely contain about four pounds of carrots, two pounds of potatoes, two pounds of beets, one bundle of chard, one head of lettuce, with other possibilities such as cucumbers, basil, a half-dozen eggs, etc. She also has an excess of zucchini.

To learn more, contact Laura at ljschmidt835@hotmail.com.

Scenes from the 22nd annual Running of the Boots held on Sept. 17

jumborunningbootsbychurch

Angie and Ryan Hutchins make for a jumbo-sized pair of XtraTufs as they run past St. Michael The Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral during the Running of the Boots on Sept. 17, 2016, in Sitka.

It was rainy in Sitka on Saturday, Sept. 17 (stop the presses), but the rain abated long enough for us to hold the 22nd annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network.

racestartThis year there was a new start-finish line and course, as our big tent was set up in Totem Square park and runners ran along Lincoln Street from Totem Square to the stoplight and back. We had a shark and fisherman, a jumbo-sized pair of XtraTufs, a young lad as Captain America, a young lady as Strawberry Shortcake, and more in the costume contest.

The Running of the Boots is an annual fundraising event for the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. The Sitka Local Foods Network operates the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, the Sitka Farmers Market, and hosts an education program that includes the family garden mentoring project.

The Running of the Boots is part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association, where Sitka residents were served hamburgers, hot dogs, salmon and cole slaw to celebrate the end of the summer.

The Sitka Local Foods Network also hosted a produce booth at the Running of the Boots, with produce from the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden. By the way, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt said we still have enough produce growing that she can sell 5-10 weekly boxes of produce through the next month. She said the boxes will run $30, and will likely contain about four pounds of carrots, two pounds of potatoes, two pounds of beets, one bundle of chard, one head of lettuce, with other possibilities such as cucumbers, basil, a half-dozen eggs, etc. She also has an excess of zucchini. To learn more, contact Laura at ljschmidt835@hotmail.com.

A slideshow of scenes from the 22nd annual Running of the Boots is posted below. Click this link for a story on KCAW-Raven Radio about the event.

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