• Community Wellness Award nominations needed for Sitka Health Summit

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt, right, accepts the 2011 Nutrition community wellness champion award from Sitka Health Summit Steering Committee Member Alyssa Sexton.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt, right, accepts the 2011 Nutrition community wellness champion award from Sitka Health Summit Steering Committee Member Alyssa Sexton.

The 2012 Sitka Health Summit is coming up, and nominations for the community wellness awards are being accepted now. These awards highlight people and groups in Sitka who are making our community a healthier place to live.

The Sitka Local Foods Network has its roots in the Sitka Health Summit. In 2008, two of the community health priorities dealt with local food security issues — starting a public market for local food and artisans, and building more community gardens and a community greenhouse. In 2010, two more community priorities dealt with local food — planting 200 fruit trees in Sitka and getting more local, wild fish into the menus at local schools.

The community health priorities from the 2011 Sitka Health Summit were to start a community composting project (Sick-A-Waste), develop plans for a new Sitka Community Playground that will be American Disabled Act-accessible, and get more Sitka people active through renewing our status as a Bicycle Friendly Community and launching a Parks Prescription program where local medical providers prescribe time outdoors in our parks.

Anyway, here is the announcement about the community wellness award nominations.

SITKA, Aug. 1, 2012 — Do you have a friend or neighbor you think is a fine example of a healthy role model or wellness champion? The steering committee for the sixth annual Sitka Health Summit, “Working Together for a Healthier Sitka,” is accepting nominations for awards that will be presented during this year’s summit, which takes place Oct. 3-6 at various locations around Sitka.

These awards are for Sitka residents who have made outstanding contributions or served as role models in one of six categories — physical activity, nutrition, safety/injury prevention, tobacco prevention/control, holistic health and general wellness. We will honor adults, youth, elders, policy makers, health care providers and Sitkans of all walks of life who make our community a healthier place to live. The awards will be presented during the Sitka Health Summit Awards celebration, which takes place on Wednesday night, Oct. 3, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi.

Each nomination should include a brief description of why this individual or group deserves an award, and it should provide us with contact information for both the nominator and the nominee. The awards are our way to recognize and thank Sitka’s unsung heroes of community wellness for their contributions to Sitka’s health.

Nominations should be received by Penny Lehmann no later than Tuesday, Aug. 28. Please e-mail nominations to sitkahealthsummit@yahoo.com, telephone them into Penny at 747-3255, or mail them to Penny Lehmann, Sitka Public Health Center, 210 Moller Dr., Sitka, AK 99835.

The Sitka Health Summit started in 2007 after officials from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Sitka Community Hospital met and decided they wanted to build a bridge of cooperation between their two organizations. SEARHC and Sitka Community Hospital continue to be major sponsors in this community event that involves other health care organizations, schools, businesses, non-profits and other groups concerned about the health and wellness of Sitka. The vision of the Sitka Health Summit is “to serve our great state as a model for community wellness by creating a healthy community where Sitkans strive for and enjoy a high quality of life.” You can learn more about the Sitka Health Summit and check out past Community Wellness Award winners by going to http://www.sitkahealthsummit.com/.

• Alaska Food Policy Council releases its 2012-15 strategic plan

The Alaska Food Policy Council recently released its 2012-15 Alaska Food Policy Strategic Plan, which was about a year in development.

This spring, the council will work on action-planning on its top five priority strategies:

  1. Develop, strengthen and expand the school-based programs and policies that educate about and provide healthy, local foods to schools (e.g., Farm to School Program, Agriculture in the Classroom, traditional foods in schools, school gardens).
  2. Strengthen enforcement language in the Local Agricultural and Fisheries Products Preference Statute (AS 36.15.050), also known as the “Seven Percent” statute and Procurement Preference for State Agricultural and Fisheries Products (Sec. 29.71.040).
  3. Advocate and participate in the development of community level and comprehensive statewide emergency food preparedness plan(s).
  4. Develop AFPC’s role as research aggregator and resource.
  5. Identify and support existing local food system leaders, projects, events, and activities that support Alaska’s food system.

“The Alaska Food Policy Council has been working toward this strategic plan since May 2010,” said Diane Peck, MPH, RD, a community and evaluation specialist with the Alaska Obesity Prevention and Control Program who leads the council. “Initial committees worked to identify Alaska’s food system issues and concerns and then the strategic planning group worked to turn those into our goals and strategies. It’s exciting to see such a broad spectrum of food system stakeholders come together to develop a clear and concise plan that will help guide local, regional and statewide food systems planning in Alaska.”

“The Alaska Food Policy Council works to strengthen Alaska’s food systems to spur local economic development, increase food security, and improve nutrition and health,” according to the council’s website. “The council serves as a resource for information on local and state food systems, and works to identify and propose policy and environmental changes that can improve the production, processing, distribution, health, security and safety of our food.”

According to the council’s website, “the long-term goals of the Alaska Food Policy Council are to identify barriers to building a viable Alaska food system, create a strategic plan to address these barriers, and make the necessary recommendations to decision makers to implement this plan. Diverse stakeholders from around the state have been invited to participate, including representatives for commercial farmers, farmers’ markets and CSAs; fisheries and fish processors; distributors; institutional purchasers; private-sector businesses; legislators; consumers; Alaska Native tribal organizations; food security organizations; environmental organizations; and local, state, and federal government agencies.

”

The Sitka Local Foods Network is represented on the Alaska Food Policy Council by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, MPH, RD, CHES, ACE, community nutrition department manager for SEARHC Health Promotion and the treasurer of the Sitka Local Foods Network.

“Being involved in the Alaska Food Policy Council has deepened my commitment to making local food a reality in Sitka,” Lisa said. “It’s also made me realize that we are already a community ‘on the map’ when it comes to food issues and creative responses. Sitka is considered to be one of the leading communities in the state, on par with Fairbanks/Ester/Delta Junction and Homer.”

The Alaska Food Policy Council will meet April 4-5 in Anchorage for a face-to-face meeting to action-plan the five priority strategies. People interested in providing feedback on the plan should contact Diane Peck at diane.peck@alaska.gov.

• 2012-15 Alaska Food Policy Council Strategic Plan

• SEARHC, UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host ‘Basics of Food Preservation’ classes

University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Tanana District Agent Roxie Dinstel demonstrates proper home canning techniques (Photo courtesy of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service)

University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Tanana District Agent Roxie Dinstel demonstrates proper home canning techniques (Photo courtesy of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service)

Are you looking for ways to safely put up your grub? Do you have extra salmon or veggies you want to preserve for eating this winter? Two “Basics of Food Preservation” classes will be taught Wednesday, Aug. 31, in Sitka.

The first class takes place at noon on Aug. 31 at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Litehouse Cafeteria conference rooms. The second class is at 7 p.m. at Kettleson Memorial Library.

Both one-hour classes will be taught by University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Tanana District Agent Roxie Dinstel of Fairbanks, who will cover safe canning and preserving for various types of foods. Roxie helped create the UAF Cooperative Extension Service‘s new Preserving Alaska’s Bounty online tutorials for home canners, which can be found at http://www.uaf.edu/ces/preservingalaskasbounty/. (Note, Adobe Flash Player required to view tutorials, but it can be downloaded from the site.) She also helped write several of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service’s publications on canning, which are available from your local UAF Cooperative Extension Service office (at the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus in Sitka) or can be downloaded online at http://www.uaf.edu/ces/publications/.

In addition to the two classes on home canning, Roxie also will be available to test pressure gauges for home canning equipment owned by Sitka residents. These tests can tell you if your gauge is still accurate, or if it needs to be replaced for safe canning.

These classes are sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, Kettleson Memorial Library and SEARHC Health Promotion. All are welcome to attend, and the classes are free. For more information, please contact Martha Pearson at 966-8783 or martha.pearson@searhc.org.

• Community Wellness Award nominations needed for Sitka Health Summit

Sitka Local Foods Network president Kerry MacLane, left, and secretary/treasurer Linda Wilson say a few words after the Sitka Local Foods Network received a Community Wellness Champion award for nutrition at the 2009 Sitka Health Summit

Sitka Local Foods Network president Kerry MacLane, left, and secretary/treasurer Linda Wilson say a few words after the Sitka Local Foods Network received a Community Wellness Champion award for nutrition at the 2009 Sitka Health Summit

The 2011 Sitka Health Summit is coming up, and nominations for the community wellness awards are being accepted now. These awards highlight people and groups in Sitka who are making our community a healthier place to live.

The Sitka Local Foods Network has its roots in the Sitka Health Summit. In 2008, two of the community health priorities dealt with local food security issues — starting a public market for local food and artisans, and building more community gardens and a community greenhouse. In 2010, two more community priorities dealt with local food — planting 200 fruit trees in Sitka and getting more local, wild fish into the menus at local schools.

Anyway, here is the announcement about the community wellness award nominations.

SITKA, Aug. 4, 2011 — Do you have a friend or neighbor you think is a fine example of a healthy role model or wellness champion? The steering committee for the fifth annual Sitka Health Summit, “Health in the Long Run,” is accepting nominations for awards that will be presented during this year’s summit, which takes place Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

These awards are for Sitka residents who have made outstanding contributions or served as role models in one of six categories — physical activity, nutrition, safety/injury prevention, tobacco prevention/control, holistic health and general wellness. We will honor adults, youth, elders, policy makers, health care providers and Sitkans of all walks of life who make our community a healthier place to live. The awards will be presented during the Sitka Health Summit Awards celebration, which takes place on Thursday night, Sept. 29, at Harrigan Centennial Hall

Each nomination should include a brief description of why this individual or group deserves an award, and it should provide us with contact information for both the nominator and the nominee. The awards are our way to recognize and thank Sitka’s unsung heroes of community wellness for their contributions to Sitka’s health.

Nominations should be received by Penny Lehmann no later than Wednesday, Aug. 30. Please e-mail nominations to sitkahealthsummit5@gmail.com, telephone them into Penny at 747-3255, or mail them to Penny Lehmann, Sitka Public Health Center, 210 Moller Dr., Sitka, AK 99835.

The Sitka Health Summit started in 2007 after officials from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Sitka Community Hospital met and decided they wanted to build a bridge of cooperation between their two organizations. SEARHC and Sitka Community Hospital continue to be major sponsors in this community event that involves other health care organizations, schools, businesses, non-profits and other groups concerned about the health and wellness of Sitka. The vision of the Sitka Health Summit is “to serve our great state as a model for community wellness by creating a healthy community where Sitkans strive for and enjoy a high quality of life.”

You can learn more about the Sitka Health Summit and check out past Community Wellness Award winners by going to http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/.

• Sitka to host five farmers markets in 2011; first market is Saturday, July 16

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its fourth summer of Sitka Farmers Markets with five markets that start on July 16 and take place on alternate Saturdays through Sept. 10. The Sitka Farmers Markets give Sitka residents a chance to buy and sell locally produced food and crafts.

The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27 and Sept. 10, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun. We are the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons. You also can vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest by following the links at https://sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/2011/07/06/%E2%80%A2-don%E2%80%99t-forget-to-vote-for-the-sitka-farmers-market-in-this-year%E2%80%99s-america%E2%80%99s-favorite-farmers-markets-contest/.

“The Sitka Farmers Market is like a carnival every other Saturday,” Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Kerry MacLane said. “It’s a fun community space to enjoy with your family or to meet your friends for fresh coffee and baked goods. There is live music, cooking demonstrations, art, and, of course, fresh veggies, fruit and seafood.”

The Sitka Farmers Market started as a community project that came out of a health priority planning meeting at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. This event is sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network, Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1, Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4, Baranof Island Housing Authority, Sitka Conservation Society, the Alaska Farmers Market Association and the SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes Prevention programs.

“This is our fourth year for the Sitka Farmers Market and thanks to our great vendors we look forward to another successful season,” said Linda Wilson, Sitka Local Foods Network VP and Sitka Farmers Market Coordinator. “Outdoor vendors will enjoy a new paved parking lot with landscaping, thanks to BIHA. A tent will be set up for outdoor dining where you can listen to live music and enjoy some great food. New this year is a vendor selling Sitka Sea Salt. Look forward to fresh snap and snow peas for snacking, rhubarb goodies and many other edibles.”

Vendor fees are $2.50 per foot for table space, or $2.00 per foot for vendors with their own outside tents. The fees help us cover the costs of renting ANB Hall and its kitchen, hiring musicians and other expenses. To learn more about being a vendor or to sign up for a table, contact Sitka Farmers Market Coordinator Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings and weekends) or by e-mail lawilson87@hotmail.com. Vendor rules, registration forms and other information for potential vendors can be found at https://sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/2011/06/01/%E2%80%A2-vendors-need-to-start-registering-for-booth-space-at-this-years-sitka-farmers-markets/.

• Fourth annual Sitka Health Summit takes place on Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 4-5

Sitka residents are invited to join their community in honoring our local wellness champions and planning our health priorities for the next year during the fourth annual Sitka Health Summit, “Working Together for a Healthier Sitka,” on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 4-5, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The Sitka Local Foods Network got its start as two community food security projects from the 2008 Sitka Health Summit — to create a local foods market and to create a community greenhouse/expand local community gardens. In 2009 the Sitka Local Foods Network received a community wellness champion award for nutrition.

There are two main community events during the Sitka Health Summit — the Sitka Community Dessert and Awards Ceremony on Monday, Oct. 4, and the Planning Day: Real Ideas Into Action on Tuesday, Oct. 5.

Julien Naylor, MD, MPH

Julien Naylor, MD, MPH

Doors open for Monday’s program at 6 p.m., with the program starting at 6:30 p.m. The event features a selection of free local and organic desserts provided by Sitka Spuce Catering for the first 200 people. The keynote presentation will be by Dr. Julien Naylor, an internal medicine/diabetes specialist at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital who will speak about the importance of creating a healthy community in Sitka and how to help people move toward a more healthful life. Following the presentation will be an awards ceremony honoring our community wellness champions. This event is free, but donations will be accepted for the Sitka Health Summit’s new Health Initiatives Fund. Also, raffle tickets for a watercolor by local artist Pat Kehoe and other prizes are being sold for $5 each to raise money for the Health Initiatives Fund.

Sitka Local Foods Network president Kerry MacLane, left, and secretary/treasurer Linda Wilson say a few words after the Sitka Local Foods Network received a Community Wellness Champion award for nutrition at the 2009 Sitka Health Summit

Sitka Local Foods Network president Kerry MacLane, left, and secretary/treasurer Linda Wilson say a few words after the Sitka Local Foods Network received a Community Wellness Champion award for nutrition at the 2009 Sitka Health Summit

Tuesday’s program from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will allow Sitka residents to set the community’s health and wellness goals for 2010-11. Some of our recent past goals were to make Sitka more bicycle friendly and to start a market for local foods, and they resulted in Sitka becoming Alaska’s first official Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008 and the creation of the Sitka Farmers Market. This year’s top goals and priorities will receive seed money from the new Health Initiatives Fund. There also will be a community health and wellness resource room open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Exhibit Room. Snacks and lunch will be available.

The Sitka Health Summit is brought to you by Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), with major financial help from Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, the City and Borough of Sitka, Scott Insurance Services, White’s Inc./Harry Race Pharmacy/White’s Pharmacy and the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus. The Sitka Health Summit’s vision is “to serve our great state as a model for community wellness by creating a healthy community where all Sitkans strive for and enjoy a high quality of life.”

For more information about the Sitka Health Summit, contact Holly Keen at 738-2707 or sitkahealthsummit@gmail.com, or go to our Web site at http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/.

• Sitka Health Summit poster (PDF file, feel free to print out and post around town)

• Sitka Farmers Market’s third season opens on Saturday, July 17, at ANB Hall

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its third summer of Sitka Farmers Markets with five markets that start on July 17 and take place on alternate Saturdays through Sept. 11. The Sitka Farmers Markets give Sitka residents a chance to buy and sell locally produced food and crafts.

The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 17, 31, Aug. 14, 28 and Sept. 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun. You also can vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest by following the links at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

Sitka Local Foods Network board members Natalie Sattler, left, with parsnips, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, center, with turnips, and Doug Osborne, right, with turnips, show off some of the produce for sale at the final Sitka Farmers Market of 2009.

Sitka Local Foods Network board members Natalie Sattler, left, with parsnips, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, center, with turnips, and Doug Osborne, right, with turnips, show off some of the produce for sale at the final Sitka Farmers Market of 2009.

As a bonus, Medicine For The People, one of the bands in Sitka for this weekend’s Homeskillet Fest 2010, will play during this Saturday’s Sitka Farmers Market.

“The Sitka Farmers Market is like a carnival every other Saturday,” said Kerry MacLane, Sitka Local Foods Network Board President and Co-Coordinator of the Sitka Farmers Market. “It’s a fun community space to enjoy with your family or to meet your friends for fresh coffee and baked goods. There is live music, cooking demonstrations, art, and, of course, fresh veggies, fruit and seafood.”

“In 1970 there were only 340 farmers markets in America, and by 2006 there were more than 4,385. I think this dramatic growth is attributed to the many layers of social and economic benefits these markets offer,” said Doug Osborne, a health educator at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). “Last year, several participants said Sitka’s markets were among the highlights of their summer.”

The Sitka Farmers Market started as a community project that came out of a health priority planning meeting at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. This event is sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network, Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1, Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4, Baranof Island Housing Authority, Sitka Conservation Society, the Alaska Farmers Market Association and the SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes Prevention programs.

Vendor fees are just $15 per market. Due to construction in the parking lot, only indoor booth space is available this year. We are the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons. To learn more or to sign up for a table, contact Sitka Farmers Market Co-Coordinator Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings and weekends) or e-mail lawilson87@hotmail.com. Vendor rules, registration forms and other information for potential vendors can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

• Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) warning issued for Southeast Alaska

The enclosed copy is courtesy of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) website.

A cockle has deep ridges similar to a Ruffles potato chip (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

A cockle has deep ridges similar to a Ruffles potato chip (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

This past week has seen five cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in Alaska, including two cases in Southeast Alaska that resulted in the June 17 death of a Juneau woman who ate a cockle and the June 22 death of a Haines man who ate a Dungeness crab. The other three cases were in Kodiak and they resulted in illness from eating butter clams.

The two Southeast deaths, if confirmed by autopsy, will be the first paralytic shellfish poisoning deaths in Alaska since 1997. In 2009 there was just one reported case of PSP in Alaska, and there were no cases of PSP in 2008 and one in 2007. There have been periodic outbreaks of PSP over the years, with the most deadly instance coming when clams and mussels gathered from Peril Straits near Sitka killed more than 100 Russians and Aleuts in 1799.

According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the 57-year-old Juneau woman reportedly ate cockles she gathered on June 14 from the Point Louisa end of Auke Bay. She died June 17 after being hospitalized at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation tested cockles from Auke Bay after the woman was hospitalized and DEC found the Auke Bay cockles had much higher levels of PSP than acceptable (they should not have more than 80 parts per million, and the cockles had 2,044 parts per million).

The 57-year-old Haines man reportedly ate Dungeness crab on June 18 that he caught off Jenkins Rock near the Chilkat Inlet of Lynn Canal. He was hospitalized at Bartlett Regional Hospital on June 18 and released from the hospital on June 21. He died in his Haines home early on June 22. Dungeness crab meat does not contain PSP, but the viscera (guts) can have the toxin, health officials said. People should not eat crab viscera. The Department of Environmental Conservation plans to test crabs from Southeast for PSP.

What is paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)?

Paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP, is a potentially lethal toxin that can lead to fatal respiratory paralysis, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The toxin comes from algae, which is a food source for clams, mussels, crabs and other shellfish found across Alaska. This toxin can be found in shellfish every month of the year, and butter clams have been known to store the toxin for up to two years. The toxin cannot be seen with the naked eye, and there is no simple test a person can do before they harvest. One of the highest concentrations of PSP in the world was reported in shellfish from Southeast Alaska.

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

Symptoms of PSP can begin almost immediately, or they can take several hours after eating the affected shellfish before they appear. Symptoms include shortness of breath, tingling, dizziness and numbness. If you suspect someone has symptoms of PSP, get that person to a medical facility fast (an Alaska Sea Grant link below has first aid for PSP). Death is rare from PSP, but some people have died after eating just one clam or mussel with the PSP toxin, while in other cases it took eating many clams or mussels to get enough of the poison to cause death.

Are Southeast beaches safe for subsistence or recreational shellfish harvesting?

The Department of Environmental Conservation recommends harvesting of shellfish only from DEC-certified beaches, and the only certified beaches in the state are located in the Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay areas of Southcentral Alaska. According to DEC, there are no certified beaches in populated areas of Southeast Alaska, Kodiak or the Aleutian Islands. The only beaches DEC can certify as safe for shellfish collecting are those where state-certified testing of clams and mussels is done regularly.

The littleneck clam has two sets of rings that cross each other at 90 degree angles (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The littleneck clam has two sets of rings that cross each other at 90 degree angles (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

“Do not eat shellfish from uncertified beaches,” DEC Program Specialist George Scanlan said. “Anyone who eats PSP-contaminated shellfish is at risk for illness or death.”

The DEC warning does not apply to commercially grown and harvested shellfish available in grocery stores and restaurants. Commercially grown and harvested shellfish goes through a regular testing program before it goes to market.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) resources

DEC page about paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and how it works, http://www.dec.state.ak.us/eh/fss/seafood/psp/psp.htm

DEC links page with more info about PSP,
http://www.dec.state.ak.us/eh/fss/seafood/psphome.htm

DEC page about identifying butter clams, littleneck clams and cockles (has photos),
http://www.dec.state.ak.us/eh/fss/seafood/psp/shellfish.htm

Current DEC warning about PSP in Alaska (dated June 16, 2010),
http://dec.alaska.gov/press_releases/2010/2010_06_16_psp%20final.pdf

Joint DH&SS/DEC press release about Haines case of PSP (dated June 21, 2010),
http://www.hss.state.ak.us/press/2010/Additional_case_of_PSP_reported_062110.pdf

DH&SS  fact sheet about paralytic shellfish poisoning, http://www.hss.state.ak.us/pdf/201006_shellfish.pdf

Twitter feed for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services,
http://twitter.com/alaska_DHSS

Alaska Sea Grant page with links about paralytic shellfish poisoning,
http://seagrant.uaf.edu/features/PSP/psp_page.html

Alaska Sea Grant page with first aid for PSP victims (get victim to medical facility fast),
http://seagrant.uaf.edu/features/PSP/PSP_aid.html

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention page on marine toxins (including PSP),
http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/marine_toxins/

• Sitka Local Foods Network hosts Ed Hume for two sustainable gardening presentations on Memorial Day

Ed Hume

Ed Hume

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host Northwest garden guru, author, TV personality and seed company owner Ed Hume for two Memorial Day presentations on sustainable gardening.

The two presentations take place on Monday, May 31, at Grace Harbor Church, 1904 Halibut Point Road (the gray building across from SeaMart). The first presentation is from 3-5 p.m. and the topic will be “Preparing the Northwest Garden: Soil preparation and garden design for the Pacific Northwest climate.” The second presentation is from 7-9 p.m. with a topic of “Vegetables and Ornamentals: Sustainable solutions for common problems, variety selection and ideas for ornamental gardening.”

Tickets are $15 per session, or $20 for both sessions, and they are available at Old Harbor Books or White’s Pharmacy (at AC Lakeside Grocery). The two “Sustainable Gardening with Ed Hume” presentations are fundraisers for the Sitka Local Foods Network (http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/), a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the use of locally grown, harvested and produced foods in Sitka. Event sponsors include White’s Inc., True Value, Garden Ventures, and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Health Promotion, Diabetes and Lifestyle Balance programs.

A separate event for SEARHC patients and their families living with diabetes or prediabetes is being planned for Tuesday, June 1. Details about that event will be announced later.

“I remember first hearing about Ed Hume and his year-round vegetable garden a couple of years ago at a Northwest Flower and Garden Show,” said SEARHC Diabetes Grant Coordinator Maybelle Filler, who is organizing the event for the Sitka Local Foods Network. “This seemed impossible since he lives in the same climate zone as Sitka and as far as I knew once winter hits, even fall time, there aren’t any vegetable gardens to be found. But as I sat there listening to his presentation and looking at his slides, it definitely was true. I was so impressed, and I thought what a great opportunity for Sitkans to listen to what he’s been able to do so we can extend the growing season for our own vegetable gardens.”

Hume is host of the weekly “Gardening in America” television show, the longest continuously running TV show on gardening at 42-plus years. He also hosts a weekly radio show. He is a member of the Garden Writers Association’s “Hall of Fame,” and won the National Garden Communicator’s Award in 1977. He has written several books on gardening, including “Gardening With Ed Hume: Northwest Gardening Made Easy.” He owns Ed Hume Seeds (http://www.humeseeds.com/), manages a children’s educational garden in Puyallup, Wash., and also is an internationally known speaker on gardening.

“Ed’s seed firm has a reputation for quality and reliability that is second to none,” said Kerry MacLane, Sitka Local Foods Network Board President. “We’re pretty lucky that such a famous expert is coming to Sitka. People do like to come to Sitka. Last year we hosted Ciscoe Morris (for a sold-out Memorial Day gardening presentation). This is getting to be a great tradition.”

No stranger to Southeast Alaska, Hume has visited Sitka and other communities in our region several times. His son used to fish out of Elfin Cove, and Hume said he conducted some of the trials for his seeds in an Elfin Cove garden to see if the plants were hardy enough for our climate.

During his presentations, Hume said he will discuss soil preparation and he will show how to improve vegetable garden soil since successful gardens need to start off with high-quality soil. Another topic includes the advantages of growing vegetables in raised beds, which provide warmer soil temperatures and better drainage. For those gardeners who have limited space, Hume will discuss the concept of the wide row to make small spaces more productive. Other topics will be the importance of garden layout for better light exposure and air circulation, fertilization issues and the environment, what types of vegetables to plant, and more.

At the two presentations on May 31, Sitka strawberry plant starts will be available for sale at $2 each as a fundraiser for the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden (a Sitka Local Foods Network project). For information about the presentations and Ed Hume, contact Maybelle Filler at 966-8739. For information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and its projects, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

Ed Hume sustainable gardening event flier (feel free to print out and post around Sitka)

• St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm hosts first planting party of the season

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The first of three scheduled planting parties this month took place on Saturday, May 15, at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden (located by the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street). In addition to the slideshow above (which also includes some photos from a SEARHC WISEGUYS men’s health group work party the same day at its plot in the Blatchley Community Garden), click here and scroll down for a similar slideshow on our Shutterfly site.

The volunteers planted a variety of plant starts, including many that were grown by local residents who signed contracts at the Let’s Grow Sitka garden show in March. Residents who have plant starts from their Let’s Grow Sitka contracts can drop them off at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm planting parties.

Food grown at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden is sold at the Sitka Farmers Markets. This summer the Sitka Farmers Markets take place on five alternate Saturdays starting on July 17 and running through Sept. 11.

Two more planting parties are planned, from 2-4 on Saturday, May 22 and 29. Tools and gloves will be provided. For more information on the planting parties, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or 3akharts@acsalaska.net, or contact Doug Osborne at 747-3752 or doug_las@att.net.