Celebrate local farmers and gardeners on Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 7

Alaskans will celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 7. 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 14 this year, when many parts of Alaska were still thawing out). The 2019 Alaska Ag Day theme is Farm Animal Fun. Don’t forget Monday, May 6, is the third annual Drive Your Tractor To Work Day in Alaska.

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, the Buy Alaska Grown website is still using this information even though it is somewhat dated) — 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, but its 2019 status is unknown), 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, this farm closed), Sprucecot Gardens (Judy Johnstone, this may be closed), 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 Beyond Leafy LLC (Jimmy and Leslie Kranz, this hydroponic basil growing operation may be closed in 2019), Middle Island Gardens (Andrea Fraga/Kaleb Aldred), 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 seven Saturdays — July 6, July 27, Aug. 10, Aug. 17, Aug. 31, Sept. 7, and Sept 21 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). We are in the process of scheduling a Sitka Farmers Market vendors meeting or two where rules and responsibilities will be discussed.

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Sitka Farmers Market vendor registration information for 2019 now available

Registration for the 2019 Sitka Farmers Markets is open, and vendors looking to sell local food, arts and crafts, and other items at the markets can find all the vendor forms, information sheets, rules and regulations for this year by going to the Documents page on this site (scroll down to vendor forms), or look at the bottom of this post for the documents. The forms include information about how to register your table for this year’s markets.

The 2019 Sitka Farmers Market manager is Nina Vizcarrondo, who managed the market the past two years and before that helped manage a New York City farmers market. She can be reached at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or (907) 738-9301 during the market season. Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham is assisting with the market again this year.

The dates for our 2019 Sitka Farmers Markets will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 6, July 27, Aug. 10, Aug. 17, Aug. 31, Sept. 7, and Sept. 21 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall at 235 Katlian Street. We hope to schedule a vendor information meeting or two before the markets, which might be attended by Bruce Gazaway of the Food Safety Program from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. We also hope to schedule another cottage foods basics class with Sarah Lewis of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service’s Juneau office, which in past years has been done through videoconference at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

This year we don’t have many changes from our last 2-3 years, when the Sitka Local Foods Network rolled back its Sitka Farmers Market table prices to 2015 levels and simplified them. We hope this helps us reclaim and keep some of the vendors we lost in previous years. The table fees will be $40 for a full table (slightly longer than eight feet) or $20 for a half table per market. We also have a deal where vendors who reserve space for and participate in all seven markets can receive a refund of one market fee after the season (so get seven markets for the price of six). There no longer is a price differential between indoor and outdoor booths (outdoor booths are charged the full table rate). We want to bring back some of the excitement to the markets, where it returns to being a community gathering place, and that means we have to make the market attractive to vendors.

If you are an Alaska food vendor and don’t have the time to host a table at the market, we might be interested in buying your products at wholesale rates or selling them on consignment at our Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand. Most of the produce we sell at the SLFN farm stand is grown at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden and its satellite gardens, but we do sell some donated local produce. We also offer a matching program for people using WIC and SNAP benefits at our SLFN farm stand.

We want to show Sitkans the variety of local food products available in our community and state. In recent years we expanded our Alaska Grown products at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, selling Chugach Chocolates from Girdwood, barley products from Alaska Flour Company of Delta Junction, fermented foods from Evie’s Brinery of Anchorage, and kelp pickles and salsa from Barnacle Foods of Juneau. This year we plan to try some new products in addition to keeping the rest of these brands in stock.

We are hosting a third year of the children’s vendor program, where kids get to become entrepreneurs and sell their own locally made food or arts and crafts. This program is modeled after the city’s program where children younger than age 12 buy a season permit to sell items near Harrigan Centennial Hall on cruise ship days. In our children’s vendor program, the fee is $10 for the full market season.

Nina is available to answer questions and to make suggestions that will help new and returning vendors adjust to any food regulation changes from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, updates to the Alaska Quest electronic benefits program and WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program, etc.

We have updated the 2019 vendor rules and responsibilities, but the only major changes are we won’t have access to the Alaska Native Sisterhood Kitchen (if you want to use it to cook something for the market, you will have to contact ANS to rent the kitchen) and vendors will not be able to store equipment at ANB Founders Hall between markets. The last page of the rules and responsibilities packet has the vendor registration form for adult and child vendors.

In addition, we are trying to increase our labor pool of volunteers to help out with the market. We need people to help us set up, take down, sell produce at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, and more. If you are interested in volunteering, send us a note with your contact info. We usually have musicians play at the market, so we are gathering a list of music groups that want to perform.

For more information, contact Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com, or you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Amanda Anjum is the SLFN board liaison to the market (and board treasurer) and Charles Bingham is the SLFN board president, and both will assist with the market.

Sitka Farmers Market vendor forms

• 2019 Vendor Rules and Responsibilities (with Registration Form, updated April 26, 2019)

• Sitka Farmers Market vendor agreement to accept Alaska Quest SNAP EBT tokens (2017)

• Link to 2015 Farmers Market Resource Fact Sheets from Alaska Division of Agriculture

• 2015 City and Borough of Sitka Sales Tax Form for Sitka Farmers Market Vendors

• Cottage Food Fact Sheet — “Understanding Alaska’s Cottage Food Exemptions”

• Cottage Food Exemptions

• Washington Farmers Market Vendor Marketing Guide (March 2014)

• Guide to Operating a Successful Home-Based Food Business (March 2014 document from UAF Cooperative Extension Service and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation includes Alaska food safety information and regulations for farmers markets and other food sales)

Sitka Local Foods Network seeks volunteer instructors for 2019 spring garden education classes

Are you an experienced Sitka gardener who wants to share your knowledge with the community? The Sitka Local Foods Network is looking for a few volunteer instructors to teach garden education classes this spring.

Classes typically last about 1 1/2 to two hours, and they can cover a variety of Sitka garden topics. In past years we’ve had people teach classes such as Sitka Gardening 101, How to Extend Your Garden Season, How to Grow Potatoes, How to Grow Rhubarb, How to Grow Fruit Trees, How to Grow Garlic (this class was in the fall), How to Raise Chickens, How to Container Garden, How to Compost, and more. The past two years we even had a class on Cottage Food Business Basics (with the help of the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service) to help vendors prepare for the Sitka Farmers Market.

Most of the classes tend to be low-key, and the class sizes have ranged from 2-35 depending on the topic. Some classes have been hands-on (with students planting starts in trays), while others have been lectures or group conversations. It depends on the instructor and class. A few classes have been taught at people’s home gardens, but we also have hosted others at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (Thursday nights work best for this venue). Most of our classes are offered for free, except for a couple that had a small supply fee. If you need help preparing a lesson plan, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service provides a variety of free and low-cost publications on Alaska gardening topics that can be downloaded from the Publications part of its website.

If you are available to teach a course or two, please contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com so we can build a schedule.

Thank you for supporting the Sitka Farmers Market during the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, left, presents the Table of the Day Award to Andrea Fraga, center, and Kaleb Aldred of Middle Island Gardens during the seventh and final market of the summer held Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Andrea and Kaleb sold a variety of salad greens, lettuce, turnips, carrots, and other veggies. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, Andrea and Kaleb received a pair of Sitka Farmers Market t-shirts, a Chugach Chocolates bar, and a package of Alaska Flour Company pancake mix, and more. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 24th Running of the Boots costumed fun run on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Race registration opens at 10:30 a.m., with costume judging at 11 a.m. and the race at 11:30 a.m. This event benefits the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka. To learn more, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We hosted our seventh and final Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Sept. 15, with a full slate of booths and a decent crowd. We thank everybody who supported the Sitka Farmers Market this summer, and hope to see you again next year.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling frozen salmon, home-baked bread, jams and jellies, garlic, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a food truck outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines this year at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

 

Even though the Sitka Farmers Market season is over for 2018, we will have one final farm stand this year. The Sitka Local Foods Network will co-host the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run (with Youth Advocates of Sitka) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m., costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and the race starts at 11:30 a.m. We plan to have a farm stand at the event, and YAS will have the Smoothie Truck. The entry fee is $10 for individuals and $30 for families. There will be door prizes and live music, too. This event is part of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce’s annual End-Of-Season Celebration, which includes a community lunch for a donation (which usually goes for school activities).

Unfortunately, we don’t have our usual slideshow of the last farmers market as Sitka Local Foods Network president and event photographer Charles Bingham was out of town at a conference, missing his first Sitka Farmers Market in 11 years.

Again, thanks for supporting us this summer at the Sitka Farmers Market. If you liked the market and want to help us plan the markets for next summer and help on other projects, the Sitka Local Foods Network has openings on its board of directors. To learn more, contact Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com, or click this link.

Scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market volunteer Mohan Arul, left (an exchange student from India), presents the Table of the Day Award to Emily Davis during the sixth market of the summer held Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Emily sold a variety of homemade vegan treats. As Table Of The Day Award-winner, Emily received aSitka Farmers Market t-shirt, birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub, a jar of Barnacle kelp salsa, and a package of Alaska Flour Company flour, and more. The last Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), with the last market scheduled for Sept. 15. Also, don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 24th Running of the Boots costumed fun run on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Race registration opens at 10:30 a.m., with costume judging at 11 a.m. and the race at 11:30 a.m. This event benefits the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We hosted our sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Sept. 1, with a full slate of booths and a decent crowd. The weather was a bit rainy, so most of the booths were inside.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling home-baked bread, jams and jellies, garlic, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a food truck outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines this year at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

Our last Sitka Farmers Market of the summer takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the ANB Founders Hall.

Also, the Sitka Local Foods Network will co-host the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run (with Youth Advocates of Sitka) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m., costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and the race starts at 11:30 a.m. We plan to have a farm stand at the event, and YAS will have the Smoothie Truck. The entry fee is $10 for individuals and $30 for families. There will be door prizes and live music, too. This event is part of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce’s annual End-Of-Season Celebration, which includes a community lunch for a donation (which usually goes for school activities).

To learn how to be a vendor at the market or how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

A slideshow of scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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Scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market volunteer Hannah Green, right, presents the Table of the Day Award to Gracelynn Friske, left, and Andrew Friske, center, of the FV Adria during the fifth market of the summer held Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. The FV Adria had a few live Dungeness crab at their booth, and customers were directed to their boat in the harbor to purchase crab to take home. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, the Friske family received two Sitka Farmers Market t-shirts, some birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub, a Chugach Chocolates bar, and a package of Alaska Flour Company cookie mix, and some locally grown beets and salad mix. The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), with the last market scheduled for Sept. 15. Also, don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 24th Running of the Boots costumed fun run on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Race registration opens at 10:30 a.m., with costume judging at 11 a.m. and the race at 11:30 a.m. This event benefits the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We hosted our fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Aug. 25, with a full slate of booths and a decent crowd. The weather was a bit rainy, so most of the booths were inside.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. We even had a vendor selling live crab (note, they had a few display crab at the market and customers went to the boat to pick their Dungeness crabs to take home). Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling fhome-baked bread, jams and jellies, sea veggies and teas, garlic, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a couple of food truck outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines this year at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at the ANB Founders Hall. There last market of the summer is scheduled for Sept. 15.

Also, the Sitka Local Foods Network will co-host the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run (with Youth Advocates of Sitka) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m., costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and the race starts at 11:30 a.m. We plan to have a farm stand at the event, and YAS will have the Smoothie Truck. The entry fee is $10 for individuals and $30 for families. There will be door prizes and live music, too. This event is part of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce’s annual End-Of-Season Celebration, which includes a community lunch for a donation (which usually goes for school activities).

To learn how to be a vendor at the market or how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

A slideshow of scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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Scenes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, third from left, and Sitka Farmers Market volunteer Nisreen Jehka, right, an exchange student from Thailand, present the Table of the Day Award to Vivian Mork, left, and Aakatchaq Schaeffer, second from left, of Planet Alaska during the fourth market of the summer held Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Planet Alaska sold jams and jellies, tinctures and salves made from local plants, and artwork. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, Vivian and Aakatchaq received a Sitka Farmers Market t-shirt, a Sitka Local Foods Network apron, some birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub, a jar of Barnacle kelp salsa, and a package of Alaska Flour Company Great Alaska Pancake Mix, and some locally grown carrots. This was National Farmers Market Week, so they also received two farmers market pins. The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), with other markets scheduled for Sept. 1, and Sept. 15. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We celebrated National Farmers Market Week during our fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Aug. 11, with a full slate of booths and a big crowd. The weather even cooperated, clearing up to blue skies after a morning of clouds and threats of rain and heavy wind.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. We also had a visit by a couple of baby goats. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling frozen and jarred fish, home-baked bread, jams and jellies, sea veggies and teas, garlic scapes, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a couple of food trucks and a hot dog vendor outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines this year at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the ANB Founders Hall. There also are markets scheduled for Sept. 1, and Sept. 15.

To learn how to be a vendor at the market or how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

A slideshow of scenes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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