• Scenes from the 2015 Sitka Seafood Festival events held Saturday, Aug. 8

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ssflogo2There were tote races, a parade, a marathon/half-marathon, food booths, live music, canning classes, salmon-head bobbing, halibut-head tossing, the Sitka Highland Games, and scores of other events Saturday during the sixth annual Sitka Seafood Festival at Sheldon Jackson Campus.

There also was nice weather — a little cloudy with light rain for the marathon/half-marathon, followed by warm sunny weather for the tote races, parade, and marketplace events later in the day.

A few scenes from the 2015 Sitka Seafood Festival are in a slideshow below.

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• Scenes from a series of Sitka Seafood Festival food preservation classes at the Sitka Kitch

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ssflogo2On Aug. 6-8, the Sitka Seafood Festival hosted Leslie Shallcross from the Anchorage District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service to teach a series of food preservation classes at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (Aug. 6-7) and Sweetland Hall on Sheldon Jackson Campus (Aug. 8).

Leslie taught a class on Thursday at the Sitka Kitch about how to make low-sugar jams and jellies (a class on preserving local garden greens was canceled), and on Friday she taught a class on making kelp pickles and sauerkraut and a class on canning salmon. On Saturday, she moved over to the Sweetland Hall to be closer to the Sitka Seafood Festival events and she taught another canning salmon class and a class on the process of smoking salmon.

For those who missed the classes but still want to learn more about home canning, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service has a series of online tutorials on its website called “Preserving Alaska’s Bounty.”

Also, don’t forget to make sure your pressure canner gauge is tested at least once a year. Jasmine Shaw from the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service has a tester in her office and you can call her at 747-9440 to schedule a test.

kitch_logo_mainSitka Kitch is a community wellness project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit designed to improve food security in Sitka. The different parts of the project include creating a community kitchen Sitka residents can rent to prepare food for their small businesses or to preserve their family harvest of fish, game, or garden veggies; expanding Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity; and providing education about preserving food and building family emergency food pantries.

For more information about the Sitka Kitch project, go to the Sitka Kitch website or Facebook page. For rental information, contact Kristy Miller at sitkakitch@sitkawild.org. Click this link to take a quick tour of the facility.

A slideshow with scenes from the various classes is posted below.

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• Sitka Local Foods Network to host booths at Sitka Seafood Festival and Chelan Produce on Saturday

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Sitka residents wanting to buy some fresh local produce will have two opportunities this weekend, even though no Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled.

The Sitka Local Foods Network will have a booth selling produce and SLFN swag at the Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace from noon to 6 p.m. (or until it runs out) on Saturday, Aug. 8, at Sheldon Jackson Campus. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve hosted a booth at the Sitka Seafood Festival, so we’re looking forward to being at this local-foods-oriented event.

We also will host our regular table on Saturday and Sunday at the Chelan Produce truck on Katlian Street across from AC Lakeside Grocery. For the last couple of years we’ve had a table with fresh local veggies at the Chelan Produce truck on weeks where we didn’t have a Sitka Farmers Market. We appreciate Chelan Produce giving us a chance to sell some local produce when it brings in its produce from Washington State.

• Scenes from the third Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer

Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Linda Wilson of Sea View Garden at the third Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Wilson is a longtime vendor at the market, selling rhubarb and other veggies from her garden, rhubarb jams and jellies, banana bread, rhubarb black tea, and her homemade jewelry. Wilson received a gift bag with fresh greens and fresh rhubarb. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Don’t forget Aug. 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week, so even though we don't have a full market scheduled the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce booth at the Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, at Sheldon Jackson Campus. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield, left, and Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Linda Wilson of Sea View Garden at the third Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Wilson is a longtime vendor at the market, selling rhubarb and other veggies from her garden, rhubarb jams and jellies, banana bread, rhubarb black tea, and her homemade jewelry. Wilson received a gift bag with fresh greens and fresh rhubarb. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Don’t forget Aug. 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week, so even though we don’t have a full market scheduled the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce booth at the Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, at Sheldon Jackson Campus. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka kicked off National Farmers Market Week (Aug. 2-8) with its third Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

Blessed by warm, sunny weather, we had the highest number of vendors for the season, giving customers a wide variety of local products to purchase.

Since we don’t have a Sitka Farmers Market scheduled during the official National Farmers Market Week, the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a booth at the Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Sheldon Jackson Campus. We also will host our usual table with local produce Aug. 8-9 when the Chelan Produce truck is in town.

A reminder, due to health codes we can’t allow any pets in the ANB Hall or the parking lot other than service dogs. We also don’t allow smoking at the Sitka Farmers Market because this is a health event (our event started out as a Sitka Health Summit project).

Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to be a vendor you can learn more by clicking this link or sending an email to sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We always need new vendors, especially those selling produce from their home gardens, commercially caught fish or locally baked bread.

A slideshow from the third Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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• Food preservation classes to be offered in conjunction with Sitka Seafood Festival

Sitka food preservation classes

ssflogo2Leslie Shallcross from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service‘s Anchorage District Office will be in Sitka to offer a series of food preservation classes on Aug. 6-8 as part of the Sitka Seafood Festival.

The classes on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 6-7, will take place at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (inside First Presbyterian Church, 505 Sawmill Creek Road), while the Saturday, Aug. 8, classes will be at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. Each of the classes will cost $15, but jars and other materials will be provided by the Sitka Seafood Festival.

The class schedule is:

  • Thursday, Aug. 6, 2-4:30 p.m., at Sitka Kitch — Low-sugar jams and jellies — Learn how to use a boiling water bath canner for preserving fruit by making low-sugar jams and jellies.
  • Thursday, Aug. 6, 6-8 p.m., at Sitka Kitch — Local garden greens — Learn how to cook with and preserve your garden greens.
  • Friday, Aug. 7, 10 a.m. to noon, at Sitka Kitch — Kelp pickles and sauerkraut — Learn how to make kelp pickles. You will “start” some sauerkraut as well as learn some of the science of fermentation.
  • Friday, Aug. 7, 3-5 p.m., at Sitka Kitch — Canning salmon — Learn how to use a pressure canner for preserving fresh, frozen or smoked fish.
  • Saturday, Aug. 8, 10 a.m. to noon, at Sweetland Hall — Canning salmon — Learn how to use a pressure canner for preserving fresh, frozen or smoked fish.
  • Saturday, Aug. 8, 1-2:30 p.m., at Sweetland Hall — Process of smoking salmon — Learn the steps in smoking fish.

kitch_logo_mainFor those who might miss the classes but still want to learn more about home canning, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service has a series of online tutorials on its website called “Preserving Alaska’s Bounty.” Also, don’t forget to make sure your pressure canner gauge is tested at least once a year. Jasmine Shaw from the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service has a tester in her office and you can call her at 747-9440 to schedule a test.

To register for the classes, please contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu.

 

• Schedule firming up for 2015 Sitka Seafood Festival on Aug. 7-8

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ssflogo2While the official schedule for the 2015 Sitka Seafood Festival still hasn’t been posted on the event’s website at the Sheldon Jackson Campus, the schedule is firming up.

The Friday night, Aug. 7, Sitka Seafood Festival Extravaganza banquet is close to selling out, so if you haven’t gone online to reserve your tickets you better do it now. Tickets are $65 each for this special seafood dinner event (cooked by guest chefs) at Allen Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus, but there are only a handful left. This event starts at 6:30 p.m. and will feature a variety of seafood dishes prepared by guest chefs Caleb France of Indianapolis, Dave Thorne of Anchorage, Rob Kinneen of Anchorage, Jeren Schmidt of Sitka, and SSF culinary scholarship winner Adam Kanayurak. Don’t forget to get your VIP cocktail hour tickets ($35) from 5:30-6:30 p.m., too.

OK, got your banquet tickets? Here is information on the other events.

Sitka cooks can participate in the banquet by entering the dessert contest, which will feature cakes, cupcakes and pies (no refrigerated desserts, please). The desserts will be auctioned off at the banquet, and the top desserts will receive prizes. Rules and entry forms are at the link above. The entry forms must be submitted by Wednesday, Aug. 5. For more information, contact contest coordinator Megan Pasternak at 738-2290 or mwpstnk@ptialaska.net.

As usual, the bulk of the sixth annual Sitka Seafood Festival events take place on Saturday (Aug. 8, this year). The fish tote races usually start at 11 a.m. at Crescent Harbor, with the parade following afterward from Crescent Harbor to the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

The Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace opens at noon, and this year all of the booths will be outdoors on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. The booths usually stay open until 6 p.m., but some may close earlier if they run out of product. You can find out more information about hosting a booth here.

highland gamesIn addition to the marketplace, there will be kids games on the lawn, live music and other entertainment until 5 p.m., and the Sitka Highland Games until 6 p.m. The highland games participants already are practicing their events, and potential participants can check out the Sitka Highland Games group on Facebook for practice times (usually 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, depending on weather and work schedules).

There will be other events announced over the next week or two, and some may happen on Thursday, Aug. 6, or Sunday, Aug. 9.

The festival also is looking for volunteers to help prior, during and after the festival. There are countless ways to help, such as kitchen help, banquet help, parade, contests, games, highland games, booths, tent set-up and take down, stage help for bands and cooking demos, etc. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Alicia Olson Haseltine at alaska_al33@hotmail.com. For more info on the festival, go to http://www.sitkaseafoodfestival.org.

 

• Sitka residents team up to run neighborhood chicken coop co-ops

Some of the members of Le Coop, one of Sitka's chicken coop co-ops, pose with a few of their birds. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson, other photos in story are by Charles Bingham)

Some of the members of Le Coop, one of Sitka’s chicken coop co-ops, pose with a few of their birds. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson, other photos in story are by Charles Bingham)

Many Sitka families joined the backyard agriculture movement by starting gardens, but they hesitated when it came time to take the next step — raising chickens.

Chickens require daily feeding and watering, protection from predators, and other care that can be daunting for novices. However, a few Sitka families found an easier way. There now are a couple of chicken coop-co-ops in town, where neighbors or friends team up to share the duties and expense of raising chickens.

LeCoopOne of these chicken coop co-ops, Le Coop, is hidden in a back corner of the Sheldon Jackson Campus, where seven families are raising about 30 hens and one rooster. Le Coop is about 15 feet by 80 feet, with a hen house flanked by two outdoor chicken runs. The fence surrounding Le Coop is electrified (buried at least a foot below the surface to keep out varmints), with netting over the top to protect the chickens from eagles and other raptors. Inside the hen house are a dust bath for the hens, food and water buckets, an egg-laying box, and shelf space to store supplies such as extra feed.

“The advantage are only being responsible one day a week for regular chores such as feed, water, opening/closing, etc. Everything else is done at the whim of individual enthusiasms, and occasional work parties,” said Jud Kirkness, one of the co-op members. “Plus seven families means that many more people finding useful materials and resources and splitting the feed bill seven ways.”

LauraSchmidtWatchesChickensFeedLaura Schmidt, who Jud called the lead organizer/treasurer of the group, said there are six families of four and one couple, so 26 people. “About one person per hen,” she said. ” Each family typically gets about 18-30 eggs on their chicken duty day, with the hens laying more eggs in the summer.

Most of the hens were purchased as chicks last spring, and there are 15 each of red leghorns and black stars. The white rooster is of indeterminate origin, and he was added to the flock when another coop was culling its flock. Many people who raise chickens don’t like to keep roosters, but Laura said this one is small and the hens seem to be able to handle him.

The members of Le Coop have various levels of experience with raising chickens, and Erika Knox said Laura and Jud are the most experienced so they have been mentoring the other families. Erika said she wouldn’t be able to raise chickens at her house because there isn’t enough space, and lately she had to stop composting at home due to rats and other varmints getting into it.

EggsInLayingBox“This is a nice place to bring my compost, and the chickens love it,” Erika said. “It’s nice to have eggs that are fresh and organic. I give some away.”

Roger Schmidt and Kristen Homer called themselves the weak links of the group. “We just collect eggs,” Kristen said. “We let them (Laura and Jud) tell us what needs to be done.”

“It’s great because we have chicken experts like Jud and Laura, and we’ve got building experts,” said Roger, Laura’s brother and the director of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, which owns the Sheldon Jackson Campus where Le Coop is located. He said there have been a couple of occasions when he was in a meeting on campus and suddenly remembered he had chicken duty that day.

RedLeghornAndRoosterBesides being able to share duties and costs with the chicken coop co-op, another advantage to having Le Coop on campus is the learning experiences it provides.

“It’s good for the kids. They learn a lot about chickens,” Roger said. “I bring the Head Start kids back here all the time to check on the chickens.”

“The kids love it,” Kristen said. “Razie Guillory (Laura’s daughter) did a science project charting the growth of the hens, and Asa Dow is doing a project about the economics of the co-op.”

Jud said as soon as he gets this chicken coop to where he wants it, he plans to start another chicken coop co-op for other Sitka families. “I hope it provides some inspiration.”

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