Sitka Conservation Society to host annual Wild Foods Potluck on Sunday, Nov. 18

The Sitka Conservation Society is hosting its annual Wild Foods Potluck on starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Please bring a dish featuring ingredients that were fished, foraged, hunted, or cultivated in Southeast Alaska. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and dinner will begin at 5:45 p.m.

This event is open to the entire community. Come celebrate Alaska’s wild food bounty.

The Sitka Conservation Society could never pull off an event this big without help from volunteers, members, and our community. Interested in volunteering at the potluck or want more information? Contact info@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Current members should be able to pick up their 2019 SCS calendar at the dinner.

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Sitka Health Summit planning day set for Thursday, Oct. 4

The 12th annual Sitka Health Summit planning day is planned for 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, in Room 229 on the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. All ideas and people are welcome, and lunch is provided.

Participants will brainstorm, evaluate and select two community wellness goals to pursue over the next year, and then plan steps to launch the new initiatives. The two chosen community wellness goals will be eligible for $2,000 in seed money. This year’s theme is “Working Toward an Equitable Future.”

There have been several food-related Sitka Health Summit community wellness goals over the years, such as starting a local foods/farmers market, compiling the Sitka Community Food Assessment, planting fruit trees around town, launching the Fish to Schools program, starting the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, and more. Other past Sitka Health Summit community wellness goals include building an ADA-accessible community playground and becoming a more walk-friendly and bike-friendly community, among other projects. In 2017, Sitka residents chose reducing Sitka’s carbon emissions and starting a series of trauma-informed community conversations as the two Sitka Health Summit projects.

“The Sitka Health Summit planning day provides a great chance to turn a good idea into a practical goal that has funding and support,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital health promotion director. “For 12 years, the motto has been all ideas and all people are welcome. If you can’t make it, but would like to submit an idea for consideration, please call me at 747-0373 so it can be shared on the big day.”

The Sitka Health Summit is coordinated and funded by a coalition of local groups that includes the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka Community Hospital, Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services, and the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. Additional support is provided by the State of Alaska Division of Public Health-Section of Public Health Nursing, Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, White’s Pharmacy, the Sitka Food Co-Op, ALPS Federal Credit Union, Sitka Vision Center, Dr. Marley’s Family Dentistry, the Sitka Community Hospital Foundations, and the Sitka Health Summit Coalition.

For more information about the Sitka Health Summit, contact Loyd Platson at 747-3636, or go to the website at http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org or the Sitka Health Summit page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaHealthSummit.

Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club to host six-week Wild Edibles Series for youth

Want to learn more about the food growing around you? The Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club will host a six-week Wild Edibles Series for youth from Sept. 11 through Oct. 24 at a variety of locations around Sitka.

Participants will interact with wild edibles in a variety of ways, including identification, harvest, local importance, and preparation. Ages 5-8 will meet from 3-4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, while ages 9-older will meet from 3:30-5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Spots are limited, and the cost of the series is $10 per person. The registration deadline is Thursday, Sept. 6. All participants must be registered with 4-H, which is $25 for the full year. Scholarships are available.

To learn more, contact Claire Sanchez with Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or claire@sitkawild.org.

Fish to Schools program launches coho salmon and rockfish donation drive for commercial fishermen

The Fish to Schools program needs help from Sitka’s commercial fishermen. The program needs a few hundred pounds of coho salmon and rockfish to help make Fish to Schools meals for Sitka students during the upcoming 2018-19 school year. The program also is seeking photos of commercial fishermen at work, which can be used to teach the students more about how the fish got to their plates.

The coho salmon donation period is Monday. Aug. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 2. To donate, commercial fishermen can sign up and indicate how many pounds they want to donate when they offload at Seafood Producers Cooperative or Sitka Sound Seafoods during the donation period. The program can only accept commercially caught fish (no sport or subsistence fish). The hope is to get enough coho salmon and rockfish donated that locally caught fish can be offered to students at least once a week. Sign-up sheets will be posted at the scale shacks and in the main offices. Only coho salmon and rockfish will be accepted.

Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School student Naomi Capp, age 9, talks with fisherman Steve Lawrie Wednesday (April 25, 2018) during lunch at the school. The elementary school was hosting fishermen who donated part of their catch to the Fish to Schools program. The program is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society and provides fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School, Sitka High School, Pacific High School, the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

The Sitka Fish To Schools project (click here to see short video) got its start as a community wellness project at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, and now is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society. It started by providing a monthly fish dish as part of the school lunch as Blatchley Middle School, and since then has grown to feature regular fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary SchoolKeet Gooshi Heen Elementary SchoolBlatchley Middle SchoolSitka High SchoolPacific High School (where the alternative high school students cook the meals themselves), the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School.

In addition to serving locally caught fish meals as part of the school lunch program, the Fish To Schools program also brings local fishermen, fisheries biologists and chefs to the classroom to teach the kids about the importance of locally caught fish in Sitka. The program received an innovation award from the Alaska Farm To Schools program during a community celebration dinner in May 2012, and now serves as a model for other school districts from coastal fishing communities. In May 2014, the Fish to Schools program released a guidebook so other school districts in Alaska could create similar programs.

For more information, contact Chandler O’Connell of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or email chandler@sitkawild.org. If you would like to donate FAS (frozen at sea) fish, please call or text Lexi Fish Hackett at 738-5684.

Scenes from the Sitka Kitch cooking with seaweed class held in conjunction with the Sitka Mermaid Festival

Students made a no-bake mini-cheesecake with agar agar (a red seaweed derivitive) and tried some wheat and seaweed pasta during the Sitka Kitch’s cooking with seaweed class held Tuesday, Aug. 14, as part of the inaugural Sitka Mermaid Festival.

One of the focus areas of the Sitka Mermaid Festival is how to cultivate, harvest and use seaweed, kelp and other sea veggies as a food source and as a commercial enterprise.

This class was team-taught by Sitka Mermaid Festival organizer Amelia Mosher and Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals, with assistance from Roby Littlefield.

Amelia grew up in Sitka and recently returned to town after living in the Lower 48. She has worked as a health educator and also in commercial kitchens in Hawai’i. She taught the cooking portion of the class.

Hope is the owner of Gimbal Botanicals, which sells a variety of seaweed, beach asparagus, sea veggies, teas and other products around town. Hope and Roby taught students about harvesting seaweed, including traditional harvest methods, while also providing samples of various types of seaweed for the students to try.

A slideshow of scenes from the class is posted below.

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Scenes from the Sitka Kitch class on how to fillet a salmon held Aug. 7 with the Sitka Seafood Festival

Students learned how to fillet a salmon during a Sitka Kitch class held Tuesday, Aug. 7, in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival. The class took place at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church).

Renée Jakaitis Trafton, owner/chef at Beak Restaurant, taught the class. Not only did she show students how to get more meat in their fillets, but she also showed them how to pick pinbones and skin the fillet (for those wanting salmon skins to use for arts and crafts.

The salmon used in the class were hatchery kings donated from the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association’s (NSRAA’s) Medvejie Hatchery, and each student in this class received a fillet knife to take home.

The next Sitka Kitch class is a cooking with seaweed class held from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, as part of the Sitka Mermaid Festival. This class will be taught by Sitka Mermaid Festival coordinator Amelia Mosher and Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals. They are still finalizing their plans for the class, but they plan to make something using agar agar (a red seaweed derivative used for jellies and other products). They also could teach a no-bake cheesecake using seaweed and seaweed smoothies.

The cooking with seaweed class costs $27.50, plus a supply/food fee split among the students. The class size is limited, so register early to guarantee your spot in the class. The registration deadline is 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11. Register online at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title) using a debit or credit card or PayPal account, or call Claire, Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange the drop-off of a cash or check payment. For more information, contact Amelia Mosher at (707) 672-2909, Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440, Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

A slideshow of scenes from the how to fillet a salmon class is posted below.

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Sitka Kitch to host ‘cooking with seaweed’ class Aug. 14 as part of Sitka Mermaid Festival

As part of the inaugural Sitka Mermaid Festival, learn how to cook with edible seaweed products and local favorites from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church). One of the focus areas of the Sitka Mermaid Festival is how to cultivate, harvest and use seaweed, kelp and other sea veggies as a food source and as a commercial enterprise.

This class will be team taught by Sitka Mermaid Festival organizer Amelia Mosher and Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals. They are still finalizing their plans for the class, but they plan to make something using agar agar (a red seaweed derivative used for jellies and other products). They also could teach a no-bake cheesecake using seaweed and seaweed smoothies.

Amelia grew up in Sitka and recently returned to town after living in the Lower 48. She has worked as a health educator and also in commercial kitchens in Hawai’i. Hope is the owner of Gimbal Botanicals, which sells a variety of seaweed, beach asparagus, sea veggies, teas and other products around town.

This class costs $27.50 per student, plus a food/supply fee that will be split among all the registered students. The class size is limited, so register early to guarantee your spot in the class.

The registration deadline is 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11. Register online at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title) using a debit or credit card or PayPal account, or call Claire, Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange the drop-off of a cash or check payment. For more information, contact Amelia Mosher at (707) 672-2909, Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440, Claire Sanchez at 747-7509 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.