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The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and Alaska Sea Grant program are teaming up to offer a four-session online-only class on how to start and operate a specialty food business. The four classes are from 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, May 15-18, and the classes will cost $50 for all four sessions. To register, go to http://bit.ly/SpecialtyFoodBusiness.

This course outlines the development and management of a successful specialty food business from inception to operation. Participants will learn about the practical application of business planning, obtaining
financing, permitting, feasibility analysis and marketing along with the operational aspects of a specialty food business.

This course will be delivered primarily by lectures, with four homework assignments that are individualized to help you develop an action plan for your business. At the end of this course, the student will understand and use the appropriate managerial and decision-making tools that are needed to start and run a specialty food business.

The course is available statewide from any computer with a reliable connection. We will be using Zoom to deliver class content. Students must have access to a video camera, speakers and microphone to actively participate. To learn more about the system requirements for Zoom, visit https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362023-System-Requirements-for-PC-and-Mac.

For more information, contact Sarah Lewis of the Juneau District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at (907) 523-3280, Ext. 1, or sarah.lewis@alaska.edu, or Quentin Fong of the Alaska Sea Grant program at (907) 486-1516 or qsfong@alaska.edu.

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The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking a manager to coordinate the 2017 Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. This is a contract position, and the manager receives a small compensation depending on experience for his or her work organizing the farmers markets this summer.

SLFNBoothGroupPhotoThis will be the ninth year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features seven markets during the summer from July through September. The markets will be 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. The farmers markets feature booths from local farmers/gardeners, local fishermen, and artisans and craftspeople. These events are great Sitka gathering places, and we promote local foods and other local goods at the markets.

This year we have new leadership for the market from within the Sitka Local Foods Network, and we are trying to streamline things so it’s easier for the market manager and vendors. We are not hiring an assistant manager this year, so all applicants will need to commit to be at all seven markets this year. In addition, the market manager needs access to a vehicle (for hauling signs and supplies around) and to the Internet.We have gone back to our 2015 vendor pricing, so hopefully we’ll be able to rekindle and bring the fun back to the market this year.

A detailed description of the market manager duties can be found at the link below. For more information or to submit applications, contact Charles Bingham at 1-907-623-7660, or you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com (please put “Sitka Farmers Market Manager” in the subject line).

Applications should include a cover letter, resumé and three recommendations, and they are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 31 (Deadline extended to Saturday, April 15). The market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market is a seasonal contract position that reports to the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors via a board liaison (Tiffany Justice).

Once we sign a contract with our market manager, we will announce a couple of meetings for potential vendors. We also will announce in the next few days an April class on cottage food business basics for those thinking about starting a home-based food business, and students taking that class will receive a reduction on their first table fee from the Sitka Farmers Market in 2017.

• Description of duties for market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market Manager (2017)

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It rained heavily the day before and even the early morning of the market, but after we’d already set up inside we looked out and saw it was nice and sunny. So we decided outside was the best place to hold the seventh and final Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer, on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

slfnboothyounggirlwithcarrotsOther than one booth using the Alaska Native Sisterhood Kitchen in ANB Hall to make Indian tacos, all of our booths were outdoors in the Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA) parking lot next to ANB Founders Hall. This week we also had three ladies who had antiques and other vintage items for sale.

Since it was the last market, it was nice to see some of the booths selling out. The Sitka Local Foods Network produce stand sold out of all its produce, and even its pork products from Mat-Valley Meats. The Salvation Army bread booth sold out, and Reindeer Redhots ran out of hot dog buns.

Now that the market season is over, we will be looking for new ways to try and revitalize the market. If you have ideas, please contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or jackson.mw08@gmail.com.

The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration. The voting deadline is Sept. 21, and we were leading for Alaska in several of the categories.

Also, mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 17, which is the tentative date of the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun-run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Click this link for more details.

A slideshow of scenes from the seventh Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Charlie Bower brought a variety of mushrooms for sale this week.

It was nice and sunny, so we decided outside was the best place to hold the sixth of seven Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer, on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

Other than one booth using the Alaska Native Sisterhood Kitchen in ANB Hall to make Indian tacos, all of our booths were outdoors in the Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA) parking lot next to ANB Founders Hall.

YoungGirlDancesToMusicians

Sometimes you just need to dance.

We always welcome new vendors who want to sell produce they’ve grown, fish they’ve caught, and local cottage food products they’ve made. To learn more about how to be a vendor, contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 orjackson.mw08@gmail.com.

We only have one market left, which will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration.

Also, mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 17, which is the tentative date of the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun-run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Click this link for more details.

A slideshow of scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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SitkaFarmersMarketCrowdAtEntrance

For the first time in eight years, the Sitka Local Foods Network hosted Sitka Farmers Markets in back-to-back weeks, with our fifth of seven Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer taking place on Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. We also had a rainy market on Aug. 13, so it was nice to see a bit of sun for this week’s market.

SitkaSalmonSharesBoothGenevieveCrowOne of our new vendors this week was Sitka Salmon Shares, a community-supported fishery program that sells a variety of fish caught in Sitka and other parts of Southeast Alaska to 2,500 subscribers in six Midwest states. Sitka Salmon Shares, which sells fish in 23 farmers markets in the Lower 48, brought out some of its new smoked salmon products to the Sitka Farmers Market.

We always welcome new vendors who want to sell produce they’ve grown, fish they’ve caught, and local cottage food products they’ve made. To learn more about how to be a vendor, contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or jackson.mw08@gmail.com.

AudreySaizAnnaSaizHomemadeFudgeThe two remaining markets this summer are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, Sept. 3, and Sept. 10 at the ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration.

Also, mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 17, which is the tentative date of the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun-run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. We’ll post more details later, once we get the event organized.

A slideshow of scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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SitkaFarmersMarketSignLast week was National Farmers Market Week (Aug. 7-13), but someone forgot to tell the weatherman. So we had a bit of rain and inclement weather during our fourth of seven Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer on Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

Things will be a bit different, as we host another Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, at the ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). That’s right, we’re having markets on back-to-back Saturdays for the first time in history.

SalvationArmyBreadDavidKitkaMajorTurnieWrightWe always welcome new vendors who want to sell produce they’ve grown, fish they’ve caught, and local cottage food products they’ve made. To learn more about how to be a vendor, contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or jackson.mw08@gmail.com.

The other markets this summer are on Saturdays, Sept. 3, and Sept. 10. The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration.

A slideshow of scenes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Andrea Fraga, left, and partner Kaleb Aldred, hosted their Middle Island Organic Produce booth at the July 16 Sitka Farmers Market.

(Editor’s Note: The Sitka Local Foods Network’s Bulldog on Baranof intern this summer, Claire Chang, is writing the Building a Local Food System series of articles about Sitkans working to improve food security. This is the fourth article of the series.)

WP_20160704_11_00_23_ProAndrea Fraga grew up in Hawaii and lived in Oregon for 10 years before she moved to Sitka. While in Oregon, she met a friend from Sitka who invited her to visit, and after her third trip she decided to embrace the rainy weather and move here. Sitka’s tremendous opportunities for subsistence appealed to her desire to become more self-sufficient. “I had been really interested in leading more of a subsistence lifestyle for a while” Fraga said.

Fraga lives on Middle Island with her partner, Kaleb Aldred. They started with a small garden on the beach, and then established a garden with a greenhouse behind their home. They have since expanded to a lot due south of their house. “We had always lusted to have that space as an ideal garden spot,” she said.

Creating the “small farm or large garden” on Middle Island was not an easy task. They had to cut down trees and rent a machine to pull the stumps out. When they tried to dig the stumps out by hand, removing one stump took a whole week. The machine that removed the stumps compacted the soil, so they then had to dig a trench and fill it with gravel to provide the boggy field with adequate drainage. “I never thought I’d be someone to say, ‘Yeah, let’s cut down all the trees,’ but it’s necessary if you want to garden here,” Fraga said. Removing trees created a sunnier space and also has enabled Fraga to plant fruit trees along the perimeter of her garden.

MiddleIslandOrganicProduceKalebAldredAndreaFragaWithCustomersOn occasion, Fraga sells vegetables at the Sitka Farmers Market through their Middle Island Organic Produce stand. She and Aldred hope to grow garlic commercially one day, although they are well aware that “weather and crop failure coalesce and can slow plans down.”

Currently, they have planted about a quarter of their garden in garlic so that they can harvest enough to plant a larger area in the future. Seed garlic costs about $25 dollars a pound from most sources, so generating seed on site will help save a significant amount of money. Fraga said growing garlic commercially makes sense because deer and slugs do not eat it and it is not highly perishable. Furthermore, unlike most garden vegetables she plants in the spring, garlic goes in the ground in the fall, so she can distribute her labor throughout the year.

At a commercial growers conference last spring, Fraga learned about using plastic mulch on garlic to control moisture levels and minimize weeds. The infrared- transmitting plastic transmits heat wavelengths of sunlight that warm the soil and absorbs the wavelengths that plants require for photosynthesis, so weeds cannot grow beneath it. Fraga has begun using the plastic mulch on her own garden this year.

Having farmed in Oregon where one can cultivate a wider variety of plants with greater ease than in Sitka, Fraga does find adapting to Sitka’s weather challenging. Living on an island also has its challenges. For example, in the fall and winter, storms and darkness can restrict travel to and from town. However, Fraga views these challenges as small tradeoffs that allow her to live and garden in a “beautiful, quiet place away from all the noises and distractions of town” and where she is “more in touch with the environment.”

WP_20160707_18_03_42_ProExperiencing beauty is, in large part, what Fraga finds so appealing about subsistence. She explained that gardens, berry thickets, and areas where she forages for mushrooms and seaweed are all beautiful places to spend time. For her, gardening “is just such a beautiful process.” She appreciates the exercise and fresh air involved in gardening, as well as the taste and nutritional value of fresh food. Fraga especially appreciates when she can refer to her dinner as a “Middle Island meal” because all of its components, apart from perhaps the fish,” came from the island that is her home. “It’s really satisfying to eat something that’s entirely grown or harvested yourself.”

Fraga is also a part of a gardening group that meets at one member’s garden every week to work there together. “It’s really great because garden projects that seem daunting end up being fun when you have people to work with,” Fraga said.

For those who find the prospect of starting a garden daunting, Fraga recommends “starting small and simple.” For example, one could begin by growing hearty plants like kale and potatoes that do not require extremely fertile soil. Learning about wild edibles also intimidates many people. Fraga took a class on mushroom identification through University of Alaska Southeast, but she also pointed out one can learn by reading field guides and talking with individuals who willing to share their knowledge on the subject. Gardening and foraging “are really rewarding,” she said. “They don’t have to be discouraging.”

For questions about her garden on Middle Island, contact Andrea Fraga at 738-5135.

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