• Sitka Local Foods Network says thanks to those who helped with September’s Running of the Boots

(NOTE: A version of this letter to the editor appeared in the Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

The Sitka Local Foods Network would like to take this end-of-the-year opportunity to thank some of the folks who helped Sitka get more local food into the lives of our residents.

Helping us celebrate the end of the season at the Running of the Boots on Sept. 24 were a couple of hundred hardy Sitkans, as well as Jesuit Volunteers and AmeriCorps members who joined 2012 Health Summit awardee Laura Schmidt and Lynnda Strong in the early morning light to harvest produce for the Sitka Farmers Market table.

Sitka Conservation Society interns, Sitka Global Warming Group/Sustainable Sitka folks and Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop staff provided bike tune-ups and education to folks that took up the challenge to Bike to the Boots and participate in the international 350.org Moving Planet energy conservation day on Sept. 24, 2011.

The Sitka Blues Band was rockin’ the scene by the time the faithful sponsor’s (Honeywell International) XtraTuf boot was thrown in the air. Everyone got 10-percent off at Harry Race’s soda fountain and the first to reach the store got wooden tokens for free soda treats.  The fastest runner was Ben Sargeant, the host of the national cooking show Hook, Line and Dinner on the Cooking Channel that was filming the event for a February 2012 episode about Sitka. He won a new pair of XtraTufs from Russell’s.

Other wonderful sponsors included Harris Air, AC Lakeside, SeaMart, the Westmark, the Dock Shack, F/V Coral Lee, Gimbal Botanicals, Orion Sporting Goods, the Fur Gallery, Old Harbor Books, Salon 264, Rain Country, Sitka Sound Seafood and the Nugget Cafe.

Costume judges Kiki Norman, Jude Reis, and Sheila Finkenbinder excelled in hooking up the great runners and Lip Sync singers with the terrific prizes that were so bigheartedly donated.

Special thanks to the Daily Sitka Sentinel, KCAW, K11VG TV and KIFW for promoting our events all year long.  There are more people and businesses to thank, and I apologize if I have overlooked somebody. Thank you for a great year and here is to a bountiful 2012, including the March 11 “Let’s Grow Sitka!” spring fair.

Thank you,
Kerry MacLane, President
Sitka Local Foods Network, Inc.

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• Don’t forget the Running of the Boots is this Saturday, and there’s a small Sitka Farmers Market, too

Don’t forget the 16th annual Running of the Boots fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network takes place at 11 a.m. (registration opens at 10 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 25, as part of the third annual Summer’s End Celebration hosted by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Association. This fun run for people sporting XtraTuf rubber boots features a run from the Crescent Harbor shelter through downtown Sitka and around St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

Since St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and several other local gardeners have late produce, the Sitka Local Foods Network will have a table or two of produce for sale at the Running of the Boots, with all proceeds going to the non-profit Sitka Local Foods Network to help us with our various projects. The produce tables won’t be as big as they are during a typical Sitka Farmers Market, but WIC clients will be able to use their farmers market produce coupons. The market opens at 10 a.m., and local gardeners who have extra produce available should show up at 9:30 a.m. to barter, donate or sell it to the Sitka Local Foods Network for the produce booth.

More details on Saturday’s Running of the Boots are posted elsewhere on this site, or call Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 for more information. Click here for historical information on the Running of the Boots.

• Click here to download a copy of our flier to post around town (legal size paper needed)

• Running of the Boots on Saturday, Sept. 25, raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network

High school exchange students dressed as aliens won the best group costume category in the 2009 costume contest

High school exchange students dressed as aliens won the best group costume category in the 2009 costume contest

It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and paint them up. The 16th annual Running of the Boots takes place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Crescent Harbor shelter.

The Running of the Boots is part of the thid annual Season’s End Celebration, an event sponsored by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Association that includes a free lunch for Sitka residents. The Chamber’s board donates money raised by the Running of the Boots to the Sitka Local Foods Network, the non-profit group that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners.

The 2008 winner of the fastest boots award

The 2008 winner of the fastest boots award

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” But unlike the Pamplona spectacle, humans do the running in Sitka and they wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $5 per person and $20 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10 a.m. There is a lip synch contest after the race, which costs $10 to enter.

The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Categories include best dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and many others. The course includes a loop around St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral before returning to Crescent Harbor for families with children, or a run from Crescent Harbor to the corner of Katlian and Lincoln streets and back for Sitka’s hardier souls.

“This event is the highlight of our Season’s End Celebration, after which Sitkans can partake of the Alaska Cruise Association’s free lunch,” said Sheila Finkenbinder, executive director of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce. Finkenbinder started the ‘run’ 16 years ago, inspired by an idea from KCAW-Raven Radio general manager Ken Fate.

“This is a really fun way to advance the Sitka Farmers Market and our other Sitka Local Foods Network projects,” Sitka Local Foods Network President Kerry MacLane said. “And just like at the market, there will be live music by the Sitka Blues Band.”

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or by e-mail at maclanekerry@yahoo.com. Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/. Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-09) is on this site (either click “Running of the Boots” under Categories in the right-hand column, or type “Running of the Boots” into the search engine at the very top of the page).

• Aliens from Running of the Boots fundraiser show up in Daily Sitka Sentinel and Juneau Empire

Screenshot of the Daily Sitka Sentinel site on Monday with the aliens photo from the 2009 Running of the Boots

Screenshot of the Daily Sitka Sentinel site on Monday with the aliens photo from the 2009 Running of the Boots

Screenshot from Tuesday's Juneau Empire featuring the aliens photo from the Running of the Boots

Screenshot from Tuesday's Juneau Empire featuring the aliens photo from the Running of the Boots

The green-headed aliens were the hit of the Running of the Boots on Saturday, earning spots on the front page of the Daily Sitka Sentinel on Monday and in Tuesday’s issue of the Juneau Empire. The Running of the Boots is a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network, and we greatly appreciate race founder Sheila Finkenbinder and the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce donating the proceeds from the event to our organization. A photo gallery from the race is posted just below this one, or click here to go directly to the gallery.

In other recent local foods news, Sitka filmmaker Ellen Frankenstein and her movie, “Eating Alaska,” are featured in Wednesday’s Anchorage Daily News. Ellen will be in Anchorage to show her film on Sunday night at the inaugural Alaska Local Food Film Festival, which runs Oct. 2-8 at Anchorage’s Beartooth Theatrepub and Grill.

Click here to read a “Local Flavor” column by chef Ginny Mahar about chanterelles from Sunday’s Juneau Empire, which local mushroom enthusiasts can find throughout Southeast Alaska about this time of the year. Ginny, who works for Rainbow Foods in Juneau, writes the Food-G blog where she has posted several recipes that use chanterelles. Chanterelles are popular this week, because Carla Peterson also writes about them in Capital City Weekly.

Click here to read a letter to the editor in Tuesday’s Juneau Empire about how to eat healthy foods on a budget. The letter, written by staff members from the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, was in response to a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story (that appeared later in the Juneau Empire) about Alaska lawmakers trying to live on food stamps for a week.

Click here to read a Seattle Times article about how Northwest cooks are falling in love with the sablefish (aka, black cod), a fish frequently caught in Sitka waters and available at the Sitka Farmers Market. The article includes a recipe.

Click here to read a blog post on The Atlantic Food Channel called “Local Food Comes To Alaska,” by New York University nutrition, food studies and public health professor Marion Nestle (author of “Food Politics,” “Safe Food,” “What To Eat,” and “Pet Food Politics,” as well as the “Food Matters” column for the San Francisco Chronicle).

If you haven’t visited the “Eat Local Northwest” blog, it’s worth a look. This blog is maintained by two friends — Stephen lives in the Mat-Su Valley and works in Anchorage, while Audrey is from the Seattle area. In the most recent post (as of Tuesday night), Stephen writes about his happy discovery that some of the prices at the South Anchorage Farmers Market actually were comparable or lower than what he was finding at several of local grocery stores. There is a link to this blog in our blog roll on the right side of the page.

Click here to read a story from KTUU-TV (Anchorage NBC affiliate) about Meyer’s Farm in Bethel, a project started by Tim Meyers that now involves a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program where local residents pay a fee and get weekly boxes of fresh, local produce. You can click a video link in the upper right corner, too. Meyer’s Farm was featured in the April 2009 issue of Alaska Magazine (link opens a PDF file of the article). There also is a Flickr photo gallery that shows nearly 100 photos of Meyer’s Farm.

Finally, the new farmers market near the White House isn’t about Alaska food, but it does promote and encourage people to eat local food. Click here for a story about the new farmers market on National Public Radio and click here for an article from the Washington Post. Click here for an article from USA Today about the growth of farmers markets across the nation.