Sitka Tribal Enterprises (STE), the business arm of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, will host an open house from noon until 4 p.m. on Monday, May 17, at its new Cottage Industry Development Center, which is located in its former tannery space at 4608 Halibut Point Road (behind the Blueberry Inn). The new space includes a rental commercial kitchen and a classroom, which can be used by people to process and preserve their fish and game, foraging, and garden harvests, as well as for lessons.
“Due to Covid 19, food security was identified as a real concern, especially for the island community of Sitka that is highly dependent on transportation,” Sitka Tribe of Alaska Economic Development Director Camille Ferguson said.
Ferguson, who was born and raised in Sitka, said the tribe “looked within our community and realized that we have an abundant amount of resources right in our own backyards. Sitkans have been harvesting seafood, game, and edible foods from shorelines and forest. What was missing for the community was a place to process foods that would maintain a safe shelf life, and benefit should we be faced with a shortage of foods. STE also realized harvesting and properly packaging for local stores would help with small business and create a cottage industry stimulating the economy.”
Sitka Tribal Enterprises used CARES Act funding to convert part of its former tannery space into the commercial kitchen and classroom. STE hired James Sturm and his crew at Dubs Handyman (Conner and Cory Nelson, with subcontractor Terry Elixman of Liberty Construction) to transform the space.
“The Dubs team went above and beyond to create the kitchen, putting in the extra effort and thinking of how people harvest and the type of commercial equipment that would be needed,” Ferguson said. “One highlight to the kitchen is the walk-in cooler that can hold up to six deer — perfect for aging the meat at a controlled temperature and keeping the meat safe from bears.”
Prices for renting the facility are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and soon will be posted on the Sitka Tribe of Alaska website at http://www.sitkatribe.org.