Sitka Local Foods Network launches Sitka food business innovation contest

A sampling of current food products grown, manufactured or processed in Sitka

Do you think you have a great idea for a food business or product from Sitka? The Sitka Local Foods Network is launching the inaugural Sitka food business innovation contest in an effort to spark local food entrepreneurs so we can make more local food available to residents and visitors.

This contest will provide two $1,500 kicker prizes — one for established food businesses and one for start-up businesses (no older than two years) — to help entrepreneurs launch or expand their food businesses. The contest is open to food businesses and individuals making and selling food products in Sitka, Alaska. All food business ideas must be geared toward getting more locally grown, harvested and/or produced food into the Sitka marketplace through sales in grocery stores, the Sitka Food Co-Op, the Sitka Farmers Market, restaurants, or individual marketing (such as a community supported agriculture/CSA or community supported fisheries/CSF program).

“The Sitka Local Foods Network’s mission is to get more locally harvested and produced food into the diets of Southeast Alaskans,” said Charles Bingham, Sitka Local Foods Network board president. “For the past decade we’ve offered a entrepreneurs a chance to sell their produce, bread and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market, grown produce to sell at the market through St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and provided a garden education program to residents. We think this contest is the next step toward getting more local food into the Sitka marketplace.”

Participants in this contest are eligible and encouraged to enter other food business innovation contests, such as the Path To Prosperity or Symphony of Seafood contests. All participants retain the proprietary rights to their products and ideas. This contest is open to new and existing food businesses in Sitka. Student businesses (such as those fostered by Junior Achievement or similar programs) are welcome.

There is a small $25 entry fee for this contest. All participants (business and individual) must complete and submit our contest entry form by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018 (by snail mail so it arrives before the deadline to Sitka Local Foods Network, Food Business Innovation Contest Entries, 408-D Marine Street, Sitka, Alaska, 99835, or by email with the Subject Line of “Food Business Innovation Contest Entries” to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com). Submitting a business plan (up to 20 pages) is recommended, but not required.

Our entry form will have room for you to describe your food business idea in a few paragraphs, but submitting a business plan will give you more room to outline your plans for funding and marketing the idea and will help your overall score. Judging will be based on how your food business idea provides new local food options in Sitka, how novel is your food business idea, how feasible is your food business (can it make a profit and be sustainable), and how professional is your presentation. At some time about the third week of April, the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a pitch presentation where judges will interview the contest entrants and try samples of the food products. Our judging panel will score your presentation and entry form based on how your idea has a measurable impact on providing local food in Sitka (25%), has the potential for commercialization (25%), provides new employment in Sitka (25%) and fills a need in the Sitka marketplace (25%).

If we find additional sponsors, we may add additional prizes and categories (such as fish or farm). Depending on the number of entries and interest of the participants, we may host a reception where contestants can demonstrate their products to Sitka residents. If the reception happens, there will be a chance for people to vote on their favorite products with the winner receiving the People’s Choice Award (this will be separate than the two main prizes selected by our judging panel). We are hoping to find a sponsor for the People’s Choice Award.

• Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest Entry Form 2018

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Sitka Food Co-op one of 12 finalists in 2017 Path to Prosperity business development contest

The Sitka Food Co-op is one of 12 finalists in the 2017 Path to Prosperity (P2P) business development contest for Southeast Alaska food businesses.

The Co-op now moves into Round 2, where the 12 finalists will attend a business boot camp in Juneau this fall for mentoring and a chance to better develop their business models and plans. Two of the 12 finalists will be selected as winners in December, earning $25,000 in seed funding for consulting and technical services to develop their businesses.

The Sitka Food Co-op is the only Path to Prosperity finalist from Sitka, joining businesses from Craig, Haines (2), Hoonah, Juneau (2), Ketchikan, Klawock (2) and Wrangell (2). There were 38 food businesses from 10 Southeast Alaska communities that entered the contest this year, which is sponsored by Spruce Root Inc. (formerly Haa Aaní Community Development, a subsidiary of Sealaska), The Nature Conservancy, and joining as sponsor this year, the Southeast Alaska Watershed Council (SAWC). This is the fifth year of the Path to Prosperity contest, but the first year the contest has been focused only on food businesses.

“Being selected as one of the twelve finalists in the Path To Prosperity competition is quite an honor,” said Keith Nyitray, Sitka Food Co-op general manager. “Win or lose, it will be exciting to meet and network with the other 11 finalists, especially since we’re all food-related. Hopefully some of those finalists will even become local/regional suppliers to the Co-op.”

After encouraging a variety of businesses over the past few years, this year the focus was on building food security in the region. Eligible applicants this year had to be involved in the growing, harvesting, processing, aggregation, preparation or distribution of food. Local food systems and community food security are of critical importance to the region and the sponsors.

“Creating access to local foods is essential to building sustainable economies and resilient communities in Southeast Alaska,” says SAWC Local Foods Director Lia Heifetz. “We are excited to empower entrepreneurs and businesses who want to provide and catalyze local foods for our region in a way that balances the stewardship of land and water and positive social and cultural impact.”

“Alaskans import 95% of the food we consume each year, yet we’re surrounded by nature’s bounty,” says Path to Prosperity program manager Paul Hackenmueller. “The P2P program has a chance to kick-start innovative food entrepreneurs in southeast by providing key resources that will help grow our regional food economy. This is a great group of finalists with some creative and promising business concepts.”

The 12 finalists are:

Business Name Location Applicant
1. Beaver Sisters Kombucha Craig Bettina Brentano
2. PermaFoodScaping Haines Andrew Cardella
3. Sarah J’s Espresso Shoppe Haines Sarah Jaymot
4. Game Creek Family Orchard Hoonah Robert Bishop
5. Happy Camper Juneau Amanda Kraft
6. Panhandle Produce Juneau Eli Wray
7. H20 Grow Ketchikan Kenneth White
8. Klawock Cooperative Association Klawock Quinn Aboudara
9. Wildfish Cannery Klawock Mathew Scaletta
10. Sitka Food Co-Op Sitka Keith Nyitray
11. The Local Isle Wrangell Holly Padilla
12. Mighty Bear Roots Wrangell Dixie Booker

“The Sitka Food Co-op has always believed there was a demand for the services it could provide and these past six years have proven that to be true,” Nyitray said. “We’ve grown and in ways that were almost unimaginable at the very beginning and we are proud to have achieved the level of success and community involvement that we have so far.”

All 12 finalists will participate in a three-day business boot camp Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in Juneau. All expenses including airfare and lodging will be covered by P2P for the businesses. The intense weekend of workshops covers topics such as business plan writing, sustainable business practices, and accessing financial capital. Spruce Root Executive Director, Ed Davis, highlights the importance of the workshop to building the regions entrepreneurial ecosystem. “The goal of the workshop is to deliver as much value as possible to the business owners, so when they return to their communities they’re able to implement what they’ve learned and build successful businesses, regardless of whether or not they win the competition,” says Davis. “This capacity development is how we build a culture of entrepreneurship in Southeast Alaska.”

“Of course, the next step in the competition is to focus on developing a detailed and forward looking business plan — our own personalized path to prosperity if you will,” Nyitray said. “Should we become one of the two winners of the competition that plan — along with all the technical and financial help the award will bring — will definitely be a huge boost to improving our operation and it would most certainly increase our ability to ‘Bring Good Food and Community Together.'”

Path To Prosperity contest seeks innovative food businesses for 2017 competition

Two Southeast Alaska businesses were recognized as innovative entrepreneurs in the 2016 Path To Prosperity sustainable business competition. Skya’ana Coffee Company of Klawock (Tina Steffen, left) and Wild Alaska Kelp Company of Juneau (Matt Kern, right) will each receive up to $40,000 in seed money for consulting/technical assistance to develop the business concept, along with support in finding investor funding. (Photos by Michael Penn, Juneau Empire)

Are you trying to launch or grow a food business?  The 2017 Path To Prosperity Competition (P2P) sustainable business competition aims to identify and support innovative Southeast Alaska food businesses.  Supporting local food businesses reduces Southeast Alaska’s dependence on imports, strengthens community resiliency, and promotes sustainable use of the region’s natural bounty.

Path To Prosperity is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Spruce Root, Inc. (formerly the Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, Inc.). Spruce Root and TNC are committed to strengthening local food systems by supporting food entrepreneurs from across the region. In previous years, the Path To Prosperity competition included a variety of businesses, such as locally made skis and guitars, but this year the competition is focused on food.

“We’re excited to try something a little different for the next round and connect with the growing local foods movement in Southeast Alaska,” says P2P competition administrator Paul Hackenmueller. “This year’s competition will provide resources to help local food entrepreneurs incorporate social, economic, and environmental sustainability techniques into their business models.”

Eligible businesses must operate primarily in Southeast Alaska and be involved in the growing, harvesting, processing, aggregation, preparation or distribution of food. “P2P applicants can be existing businesses or start-ups, but do not need to submit a full business plan in the first round of the application process,” said Paul Hackenmueller, P2P competition administrator. “We want to encourage new entrepreneurs to apply, even if they haven’t started their business yet, so the Round 1 application doesn’t require a full business plan.  We only ask for a basic description of the business concept.” P2P helps entrepreneurs identify ways to make their businesses profitable, while also having positive social and environmental impacts on their communities.

Twelve applicants will be selected as finalists to advance to Round 2 of the competition and attend P2P’s innovative Business Boot Camp weekend in Juneau. All 12 finalists receive one-on-one mentorship and consulting that they can use to help write their business plans and grow their businesses after they return to their communities. The Boot Camp experience is valuable for all finalists who attend, whether or not they win the competition.

“Thanks to P2P, I have a clear vision of where I am headed and a solid business plan that I developed as the roadmap to the future of our company,” said Tina Steffen of Skya’ana Coffee Company in Klawock, one of two winners of the 2016 competition.

Timeline for 2017 Path To Prosperity Competition

  • April 1, 2017 – Application Period Opens
  • May 9, 2017 – Webinar
  • May 31, 2017 – Applications Due
  • July 7, 2017 – Announce Finalists Advancing to Round 2
  • Sept. 29 to Oct.1, 2017 – Boot Camp Weekend in Juneau
  • Dec. 3, 2017 – Business Plan Submissions Deadline
  • February 2018 –Two Winners Announced

The competition is open to all Southeast Alaska residents.  This includes individuals, for-profit businesses and tribal entities.

For more information on how to apply or learn more, click here.

Local food ventures from Sitka, Petersburg win 2015 Path to Prosperity competition

PathToProsperity

2015 Path to Prosperity competition winners Mindy Anderson of the Salty Pantry in Petersburg (fourth from left) and Bobbi Daniels of the Sawmill Farm in Sitka (fifth from left) pose with the organizers of the annual Southeast Alaska-based economic development contest, which is sponsored by Haa Aaní CDFI and The Nature Conservancy. Mindy and Bobbi each won $40,000 in technical support to help develop and improve their business plans. (Photo courtesy of Bethany Goodrich from Sustainable Southeast)

P2P_logoThe Path to Prosperity (P2P) has announced the winners of this year’s sustainable business development competition. The Sawmill Farm in Sitka and The Salty Pantry in Petersburg were selected as the winning businesses for the 2015 competition. Winners were featured at the 2016 Innovation Summit Feb. 8 at Centennial Hall in Juneau, where they received a $40,000 award, as well as one year of business development support.

Bobbi Daniels with two goats (Photo courtesy of Lori Adams of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Gardens)

Bobbi Daniels with two of her goats (Photo courtesy of Lori Adams of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Gardens)

“Anyone who has ever started a business knows how overwhelming it is to manage the whole picture and move forward, and doing that has you too busy to connect with the help that you need to make your job easier. P2P closes that gap,” said Bobbi Daniels of The Sawmill Farm, who was making her third appearance as a finalist in the competition.

The Sawmill Farm uses cast-off food from grocery stores and restaurants to feed locally raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free livestock. “Winning this award radically changes how quickly we will be able to grow The Sawmill Farm,” Daniels said.

Mindy Anderson, owner of The Salty Pantry, agrees. “The Path to Prosperity competition has taught me to take an in-depth look into my business idea of opening a small market and deli in Petersburg, by guiding me through the process of completing a business plan I can use as a valuable tool for planning, operating my business, recruiting, and for driving my business in the future,” said Anderson.

SaltyPantry

The Salty Pantry (photo from The Salty Pantry page on Facebook)

The Salty Pantry will be a family-owned deli in Petersburg, specializing in rustic comfort dishes made with seasonal produce from local producers. The commercial kitchen will be available for local artisans to create products to sell and for educating the community through cooking classes, demonstrations and on the job training.

The Sawmill Farm and The Salty Pantry were selected from several applications from Southeast Alaska businesses. In July, 12 finalists were chosen and they received technical support to develop their business plans. That included a three-day boot camp held in Juneau. In addition to The Sawmill Farm, there was a second Sitka project among the 12 finalists, Matthew Jackson’s Sitka Seedling Farms.

Continued Success

P2P is a partnership between Haa Aaní CDFI (Community Development Fund) and The Nature Conservancy. The contest targets Southeast Alaska residents with ideas for triple-bottom-line-oriented businesses; those that will have a positive economic, social, and environmental impact on their communities. Over three competition cycles, the program has received applications from more than 105 businesses and start-ups from across Southeast Alaska, and has provided intense management training to 36 entrepreneurs during the signature business boot camp weekend in Juneau.

The program’s success has garnered attention from beyond Southeast. In 2015, Path to Prosperity was presented a Silver Award for Excellence in Economic Development by the International Economic Development Council. Joe Morrison of Biz21 Consulting in Anchorage has praised the program for its results. “Path to Prosperity is a results-driven competition — you can see the impact it’s having by looking at its outcomes, and the businesses that have been through the program. It is the best-in-class business development program in Alaska,” said Morrison.

A unique feature of the program is that the resources at boot camp weekend benefit all twelve finalists, regardless of whether or not they go on to win the program. “Although I did not win the competition, the information, education and consulting that I received was invaluable,” said 2015 finalist Tina Steffen of Skya’ana Coffee Company in Klawock. “This competition has changed the way I run my businesses. I am so thankful for everything that I learned through P2P. Be it a start-up or an existing business, participating in the Path 2 Prosperity Competition is a valuable experience.”

Looking Toward the Future

Haa Aaní CDFI and The Nature Conservancy are excited with the level of entrepreneurial activity the competition has inspired, and as sponsors, they are seeking funding to continue the program.“The number of participants receiving technical assistance and training resources from our rural communities has been increasing,” said Ed Davis, director of Haa Aaní CDFI. “The strong relationships Haa Aani has built across the region has helped bring this program and its resources to our communities. Program participants and partners recognize this, and it is a key component of P2P’s success.”

Norman Cohen, Southeast Alaska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy, is eager to see Path to Prosperity supporting innovative regional entrepreneurs. “The businesses making sustainable use of local natural resources are the ones that will form the backbone of sustainable economies and vibrant rural communities for years to come,” said Cohen.

This year’s winners are just happy for the support. “I am in awe of the long-term vision of Haa Aaní and The Nature Conservancy to understand that the future of sustainability lies in entrepreneurship,” said Daniels. “We are honored to be able to count them in our corner.”

The 2016 competition will launch in March and April, when the program will visit several villages in the region to recruit participants. Those in larger Southeast Alaska communities can contact the contest organizers for information about how to participate. To learn more, please visit http://www.p2pweb.org/ or email p2p@sealaska.com.

• Path to Prosperity economic development contest semifinalists include two Sitka-based agriculture projects

P2P_logo

Two Sitka residents with agriculture projects have been named among the 12 semifinalists in the annual Path to Prosperity economic development contest for Southeast Alaska.

This is the third year of the contest, and Bobbi Daniels’ The Sawmill Farm project has been a semifinalist each year. New to the program is the Sitka Seedling Farms project by Sitka Local Foods Network Vice-President Matthew Jackson (who goes by Jackson). A total of 28 projects promoting economic development in Southeast Alaska were entered this year, and more details about the 12 semifinalist projects can be found here.

The year-long Path to Prosperity program provides budding entrepreneurs with the technical assistance they need to develop business plans and follow them through to successful businesses. The program is sponsored by Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, Inc. and The Nature Conservancy, with the goal to develop community resiliency by supporting Southeast Alaska entrepreneurs with creating a business plan.

Applications were solicited in March, with an informational webinar in April and application due date of May 31. The entries were whittled down to 12 semifinalists in July. The semifinalists will attend a three-day business boot camp in September, then they have until Dec. 1 to submit a business plan.

A panel of five judges from the business community will select two winning business plans in February, which each receive $40,000 seed funding for consulting and technical assistance to develop their businesses. The remaining 10 semifinalists will then compete through social media for the People’s Choice Award, which will give an additional $40,000 to one semifinalist.

Here is the list of the 2015 Path to Prosperity semifinalists:

  1. Alaska Accessible Adventures, Juneau, Lindsay Halvik
  2. AlaskaSmart Biodiesel, Hoonah, Jeff Hastings
  3. Columbine Farm, Haines, Spencer Douthit
  4. Micki’s House, Hydaburg, Margaret O’Neil
  5. Northern Edge Craftworks, Juneau, Reid Harris
  6. Petersburg Indian Association, Petersburg, Marco Banda
  7. Sandbar Bed and Breakfast, Metlakatla, Karen Thompson
  8. Sitka Seedling Farms, Sitka, Matthew Jackson
  9. Skya’ana Coffee Co., Klawock, Tina Steffen
  10. The Salty Pantry Market and Deli, Petersburg, Mindy Anderson
  11. The Sawmill Farm, Sitka, Bobbi Daniels
  12. Wrangell Cooperative Association, Wrangell, Aaron Angerman

• Rabbit, goat highlight Sawmill Farm’s farm-to-table dinner at Ludvig’s Bistro

ColetteGarnishesRabbitThighs

Locally raised rabbit and goat meat from Ketchikan were the highlights of a fundraising farm-to-table dinner for the Sawmill Farm on Jan. 31 at Ludvig’s Bistro.

In an effort to raise seed money for her Sawmill Farm project, Bobbi Daniels worked with Ludvig’s Bistro owner/chef Colette Nelson to create a five-course meal featuring locally sourced food from Sitka and Southeast Alaska. Tickets were $75 per plate for the function.

Bobbi already is raising rabbits in town, and she said goats also do well in Sitka. Bobbi hopes to find a large enough lot so she can grow enough rabbits to supply local stores with meat. She said rabbit meat is one of the cleanest meats as far as toxins, and it only takes 10 weeks to raise a rabbit to harvest size. The Sawmill Farm was one of 12 semifinalists in the recent Path to Prosperity economic development contest sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, and now is competing for the people’s choice award.

Working with local farmers and gardeners, Bobbi and Colette created five-course meal that featured:

  • rabbit terrine with farm egg, beach asparagus and mustard;
  • leek, heirloom tomato, zucchini and rabbit consommé with sprouted wheat bread;
  • Moroccan goat stew with ginger, preserved lemons, potatoes, dates and almonds, served with white satin carrot salad and balsamic beets;
  • grilled rabbit thigh served with aioli, Inca Bella potato purée and sautéed garlic kale; and
  • Russian pavlova with huckleberry, rhubarb, currants and Sitka rose sugar.

A variety of gardens and farms provided the food used for the meal. The Sawmill Farm supplied the rabbits and wheat berries, Sivertsen Farm in Ketchikan provided the goat, Lori Adams of Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden supplied winter kale, Sara Taranof provided farm eggs, Linda Walker provided garlic, huckleberries, rhubarb and currants, and Florence Welsh of Forget-Me-Not Garden supplied white satin and orange carrots, heirloom tomatoes, red rose potatoes, Inca Bella potatoes, leeks, zucchini, beets, raspberry preserves and beach asparagus.

Scenes from the meal are in a slideshow below:

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• The Sawmill Farm to host Farm-to-Table Dinner on Jan. 31 at Ludvig’s Bistro

Bobbi Daniels of The Sawmill Farm grooms a rabbit at The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber store on Katlian Street. Bobbi raises some rabbits for their hair (to make yarn) and others for meat.

Bobbi Daniels of The Sawmill Farm grooms a rabbit at The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber store on Katlian Street. Bobbi raises some rabbits for their hair (to make yarn) and others for meat.

Want to see and taste some of the local food possibilities in Sitka? The Sawmill Farm will host a Farm-to-Table Dinner with two seatings (at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) on Saturday, Jan. 31, at Ludvig’s Bistro (256 Katlian St.). Ludvig’s Bistro owner/chef Colette Nelson will be preparing the meals.

“We will be featuring locally grown foods as much as possible,” said Bobbi Daniels, co-owner of The Sawmill Farm. “This will include rabbit, eggs and vegetables, among other things.”

Tickets are $75 each, and seating is limited with only 25 people per session. To make reservations, call Bobbi at 738-4481 or send a message to The Sawmill Farm’s Facebook page.

p2p-bobbi-daniels-560x400The Sawmill Farm is bringing commercial agriculture to Sitka, and supporting Sitkans who are maintaining their own backyard operations. The farm will raise rabbits, chickens, goats, pigs, and more. It also has a feed store. The Sawmill Farm is one of 12 semifinalists for fledgling Southeast Alaska businesses in the Path to Prosperity contest sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and Haa Aaní LLC (the economic development arm of Sealaska). The three winners, which will be announced in late January, will each receive $40,000 to help their businesses grow.

“The Sawmill Farm is working to produce locally and humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free livestock and poultry in Sitka using the cast-off food from the grocery stores and restaurants,” Bobbi said. “Currently the city is paying highest disposal rate that is charged to have this food barged as ‘non-recyclable garbage’ to a landfill in eastern Washington. The bottom line is Sitka pays out a fortune to barge perfect pig food to Washington and then we barge corporate factory farmed pork chops back to Sitka. The Sawmill Farm wants to stop the insanity, keep that food and money local, create jobs and produce healthy meat.

“The Sawmill Farm also will support Sitkans who have their own backyard poultry and livestock. We will be selling feed, hay and straw, along with poultry chicks, and baby and adult rabbits. We have started carrying Scratch and Peck organic poultry and goat feeds, and will shortly be adding hay and straw.”

The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber store opened in August 2014, on Katlian Street, across from the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. A photo slideshow of The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber Store is posted below.

“The feed store is stocked with assorted organic poultry and goat feeds, and straight grains for mixing feeds, to supplement livestock diets or for growing fodder,” Bobbi said. “We also have non-organic rabbit feed, hay and straw, and supplemental products such as poultry grit and diatomaceous earth (DE). We still do not have any set retail hours so, again, message us on Facebook or call 738-4481 and we’ll meet the customer there and get them taken care of.”

• The Sawmill Farm Feed and Fiber price list from August 2014

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