Sitka Tribal Enterprises to host open house Monday for new commercial kitchen

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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 reservations@sitkatribe-nsn.gov and soon will be posted on the Sitka Tribe of Alaska website at http://www.sitkatribe.org.  

• A quick tour of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen

Sitka Kitch Advisory Team Members, from left, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Kristy Miller, Sarah Lewis, and Dorrie Farrell go through the orientation packet before a recent series of canning and cottage foods classes taught by Lewis.

Sitka Kitch Advisory Team Members, from left, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Kristy Miller, Sarah Lewis, and Dorrie Farrell go through the orientation packet before a recent series of canning and cottage foods classes taught by Lewis.

kitch_logo_mainDid you know Sitka has a community rental commercial kitchen?

The Sitka Kitch, located inside First Presbyterian Church at 505 Sawmill Creek Road, officially opened in March and is available for cottage food businesses needing a commercial kitchen, people wanting to put up their own harvest, cooking and canning classes, and even groups who want to cook a dinner for friends and family that’s too large to hold in someone’s home.

The Sitka Kitch is a rental community commercial kitchen project coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network, located inside the First Presbyterian Church. The Sitka Kitch was a project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit designed to improve food security in Sitka while also providing a space for people wanting to get into the cottage food business or wanting to preserve their harvest for storage in the home pantry. Sitka Kitch (Facebook page) officially opened after a series of renovations to make the church kitchen pass Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation commercial kitchen food safety standards.

The Sitka Food Co-op and Everything Organic Sitka regularly use the facility for deliveries and distribution.

Kristy Miller, the facilities manager for First Presbyterian Church, serves as the manager of Sitka Kitch and helps with scheduling and communal supplies. If you are interested in learning more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to this website, http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_kitch, and the best way to schedule a rental is by email at sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

The slideshow below provides a quick tour of the facility.

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