Scenes from the Sitka Kitch’s ‘Cooking With Wild Mushrooms’ class on Sept. 13

Students learned how to identify, clean, and cook a variety of wild and cultivated mushrooms during the Sitka Kitch’s “Cooking With Wild Mushrooms” class on Friday, Sept. 13, at the new Sitka Kitch location in the Sitka Lutheran Church. This class was a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

This class was taught by Beak Restaurant owner/chef Renée Jakaitis Trafton and University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus assistant professor Kitty LaBounty, who teaches an annual mushroom identification class at the university in September. After a quick primer on how to identify and clean mushrooms from Kitty, Renée taught students a variety of recipes so they can use their foraged finds.

The next class at the Sitka Kitch is a special free class, “Bees, Pollinators, and Honey, Oh, My!,” from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, at the Sitka Kitch, which is located inside the Sitka Lutheran Church. This class will be taught by former Sitka resident Christi (Wuerker) Henthorn, who now lives in North Carolina where she keeps bees. Brinnen Carter of the Sitka National Historical Park will assist Christi.

The registration deadline for the bees and pollinators class is 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, so register now since space is limited. Even though this class is free, we are asking for people to pre-register so we know how many people are coming.

Most Sitka Kitch classes now cost $40 per person, which is part of our new all-inclusive fee system (you no longer have to pay a class fee to register, then a separate food/supply fee). You can register and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal on our EventSmart page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Chandler O’Connell or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment.

For more information about this class and future classes, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440. We do offer one potential scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, so long as we have enough students registered to make the class happen. Contact Chandler at SCS for more details about the scholarship. These classes are fundraisers for the Sitka Kitch.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church through the back entrance (through the alley off Harbor Drive by the old Bev’s Flowers and Gifts location). The door on the right should be open for students to enter. Please do not park in the church’s back parking lot. Please use the public parking lots off Harbor Drive.

The Sitka Kitch also has a new class cancelation policy. If you register for a class, then find out you can’t attend, please email us at sitkakitch@sitkawild.org and we may be able to help fill your slot through our waiting list. If you cancel from the class at least five days in advance (eg, by Wednesday for a Monday class), you are eligible for a partial refund of your class fee, minus $5 for processing (in this case, $35). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.

A photo slideshow of scenes from the Cooking With Wild Mushrooms class is posted below.

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Sitka Kitch to host ‘Cooking With Mushrooms’ class Sept. 13 with Renée Trafton and Kitty LaBounty

Have you harvested some edible mushrooms in Southeast Alaska, but don’t know how to cook them?

Join Beak restaurant chef/owner Renée Jakaitis Trafton and University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus Assistant Professor Kitty LaBounty for the Sitka Kitch‘s Cooking With Mushrooms class from 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (located at the Sitka Lutheran Church kitchen, 224 Lincoln Street, enter back door through alley off of Harbor Drive).

The menu is to be determined, but it also will involve a discussion on how to properly cook mushrooms in general. Renée will teach students a variety of methods of cooking wild edible mushrooms, while Kitty will help students identify which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous.

Beak restaurant owner Renée Jakaitis Trafton

This class is being held in conjunction with Kitty’s annual mushroom identification class at UAS Sitka Campus, and it costs $40 (the UAS class costs $50 and is a separate fee). The registration deadline is 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Space is limited, so register early to secure your place in the class.

We need at least eight students to register and pre-pay to make this class happen. The class costs $40, which is part of our new all-inclusive fee system (you no longer have to pay a class fee to register, then a separate food/supply fee). You can register and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal on our EventSmart page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com(click on class title). For those wanting to pre-pay with cash or check, please call Chandler O’Connell or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment.

Kitty LaBounty

For more information about the class, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440. We do offer one potential scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, so long as we have enough students registered to make the class happen. Contact Chandler at SCS for more details about the scholarship. This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church through the back entrance (through the alley off Harbor Drive by the old Bev’s Flowers and Gifts location). The door on the right should be open for students to enter. Please do not park in the church’s back parking lot. Please use the public parking lots off Harbor Drive.

The Sitka Kitch also has a new class cancelation policy. If you register for a class, then find out you can’t attend, please email us at sitkakitch@sitkawild.org and we may be able to help fill your slot through our waiting list. If you cancel from the class at least five days in advance (eg, by Wednesday the week before for a Monday class), you are eligible for a partial refund of your class fee, minus $5 for processing (in this case, $35). If you need to cancel with less than five days advance notice, there is no refund.

 

Sitka Mermaid Festival and Sitka Seafood Festival combine to host big weekend events

The Sitka Mermaid Festival and the Sitka Seafood Festival are joining forces this year to host several events this weekend. The Sitka Mermaid Festival started last year as a way to celebrate seaweed and other sea veggies, while the Sitka Seafood Festival has been around for about a decade and celebrates the fish in our area.

The Sitka Seafood Festival launched some events as early as July, but for the next week or so the events will be co-hosted by both organizations.

Things kick off from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 24, with a youth Paint and Snack event featuring Tsimshian artist Mark Sixbey at the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association office at 304 Baranof Street (the former Island Institute office). The cost for this event is $10.

Meet from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Aug. 25, at Halibut Point Recreation Area for a beach clean-up. Participants are encouraged to bring gloves. (The Sitka Kitch class about cooking with seaweed originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26, has been canceled.)

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Rio’s Wine Bar (above Ludvig’s Bistro), there is an adult Paint and Sip led by Sarah Dart. This event costs $40 and includes one class of wine.

From 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Evergreen Natural Foods is a Mermaids Love Seaweed! seaweed cosmetics and bath make-and-take event.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Sitka Sound Science Center is a Food For Thought: Where Art and Science Connect panel discussion on drawing creative inspiration from science.

The Umami Banquet: A Tasting Event Sourced From The Sea takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This event features guest chef Cassandra Victoria Kelly from California. Tickets are $65 for the full tasting menu and $40 for standing-room only, and are available at Old Harbor Books. This event features performances by the Sitka Cirque aerial silks team, live music and a silent auction.

The big day is Saturday, Aug. 31, with the Marketplace open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall. There is a Mermaid Promenade costume parade down the Sitka Sea Walk from the Sitka Sound Science Center to Crescent Harbor Shelter that starts at 11:30 a.m. (meet at 11 a.m. at the science center). There are food booths, kids’ games and other activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crescent Harbor Shelter, followed by fish tote races from 4-6 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter. The day closes with the free Rock the Dock concert/dance event from 5-11 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter (this event, which includes a beer garden for adults, is co-hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society).

Don’t forget the Sitka Local Foods Network also has a Sitka Farmers Market scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

The Marketplace continues for a second day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The Sitka Seafood Festival also includes Wet Feet: Sitka Tells Tales from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Beak Restaurant (co-hosted with ArtChange, Inc.), with a suggested donation of $5. The Sitka Seafood Festival schedule concludes with a marine safety inspector course taught by the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, Sept. 23-27, and 8-10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Public Safety Training Academy (this event is free for qualified commercial fishermen and $995 for all others, register at the link above).

For more information, contact Amelia Mosher at sitkamermaidfestival@gmail.com or Tara Racine at director.asft@gmail.com.

 

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

The Annual Fish to Schools Coho Donation Drive starts on Monday, Aug. 19.

The Sitka Fish to Schools program brings communities together around a food that is culturally, traditionally, and economically important to Sitka. By integrating locally caught seafood into Sitka school lunch programs, Fish to Schools fosters a deeper youth understanding of local seafood, teaching children that salmon require respect in both harvest and habitat. Coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, the hope is this program will lay the groundwork on how fishing works and inspires children to either support or become involved in the industry.

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 Fish to Schools program (click here to see short video) started as a community wellness project of the 2010 Sitka Health Summit. It quickly spread from providing one monthly fish option in one Sitka school lunch to providing weekly fish options at all Sitka schools (including some not in the Sitka School District). The Sitka Fish to Schools program has been used as a model for school districts all over the state, and helps teachers with lesson plans about fishing in Alaska. The program also seeks photos of commercial fishermen at work, which can be used to teach the students more about how the fish got to their plates.

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.

While the donation drive targets commercially caught FAS (frozen at sea) coho salmon, there is room for yelloweye rockfish donations. But please don’t target yelloweye rockfish for the program — it only wants yelloweye that are accidentally caught.

The drive will run from Aug. 19 through Sept. 5. To donate, tell scale operators how many fish you would like to donate as you offload at Seafood Producers Cooperative or Sitka Sound Seafoods. The program can only accept commercially caught fish (no sport or subsistence fish).

If you have any additional questions, please contact Heather Bauscher of the Sitka Conservation Society at (907) 747-7509 or heather@sitkawild.org.

Celebrate the Fourth Annual Wild Alaska Salmon Day on Saturday, Aug. 10, in Sitka

The Fourth Annual Wild Alaska Salmon Day(s) are Aug. 8-11 this year around the state, and Sitka can celebrate Wild Alaska Salmon Day from 5-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10, at Beak Restaurant. This event is co-sponsored by the Sitka Conservation Society and Beak Restaurant.

“Salmon bring us together. Catching them, cleaning them, smoking them, and eating them,” event organizer Carly Dennis wrote on the Facebook event page. “Join us Saturday, August 10th at Beak Restaurant for a Wild Alaska Salmon Day celebration. There will be a Wild Alaska Salmon Day special, information, art, and opportunities to learn and take action to protect this resource we all love. Thank you to Renee (Trafton) and Beak Restaurant for co-hosting this event.”

There are a variety of Wild Alaska Salmon Day events around the state this week, including Aug. 8 in Anchorage; Aug. 10 in Sitka, Juneau, Homer, and Fairbanks; and Aug. 11 in Palmer. More events may be added to the slate. Remember, friends don’t let friends eat farmed salmon. We like our salmon wild.

Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club hosts summer harvest fair July 17 at Sitka Public Library

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club is hosting a summer harvest camp from 3-4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17, at the Sitka Public Library.

All are invited to stop by the library to enjoy summer harvest-themed snacks made by 4-H kids from their berry and garden harvests. They also will have recipes, stories and lessons learned from their week at 4-H camp.

For more information, contact Claire or Kevan at 747-7509 (Sitka Conservation Society).

Moby the Mobile Greenhouse to spend rest of year at Pacific High School in Sitka

Pacific High School gardening class teacher Maggie Gallin, center right facing camera, shows Moby the Mobile Greenhouse to her students during Friday’s class.

During the Pacific High School gardening class last Friday (Feb. 15), school social worker Maggie Gallin, who teaches the class, was showing the students around Moby the Mobile Greenhouse when she asked the students to visualize what they wanted to grow in the greenhouse this year. Moby arrived in Sitka earlier in the week, just in time for the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit.

The students already have raised garden beds outside the school where they grow more traditional food crops for Sitka, such as lettuce, kale, potatoes, carrots, etc. So the students were a bit more daring in their choices.

George wants to try growing citrus. Hannah wants to grow peppers, Doug wants to grow bell peppers, while Karl and Jayvan want to try growing corn. These are crops that need a greenhouse to grow in Sitka, and they won’t grow well outside. Our climate isn’t hot enough.

“Our culinary program is really strong,” Gallin said. “But we have a garden program and a subsistence program that we want to get stronger. This will be a mini-learning lab for us on a small scale, and the students want to experiment.”

Pacific High School gardening class students discuss what crops they want to grow in the garden beds inside Moby the Mobile Greenhouse.

Pacific High School is Sitka’s alternative high school, which promotes different styles of learning and more personal attention. Principal Mandy Summer, who taught gardening classes before she became principal, said the school built its first raised garden bed in 2010 after Phil Burdick’s English class read the Paul Fleischman novel Whirligig, and the garden bed served as a place to put the whirligigs the class made where they could catch the wind. To supplement the novel, the class read articles about how to grow plants.

Over time the project grew into two classes, including one on how to build things such as more garden beds, a composter, a sifter and other items for the garden. There now are about a half-dozen raised garden beds behind the school.

The addition of Moby the Mobile Greenhouse will elevate the garden class project at Pacific High School. Moby the Mobile Greenhouse is a tiny house greenhouse project that travels to different schools in Southeast Alaska by Grow Southeast in partnership with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, Spruce Root and the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition. It was built with support from the University of Alaska Southeast, the Juneau School District, the Nature Conservancy and the Sitka Conservation Society. Before coming to Sitka, Moby spent a year each in Kake, Hoonah and Yakutat.

“Our (Pacific High’s) theme this year is growth and legacy, and Moby fits our theme,” Gallin said. “The students will be leaving something behind, and they’ll be contributing something that’s individually fulfilling.”

Moby is the size of a tiny house, and it can be pulled behind a pick-up truck. There are six small garden beds inside about waist height (three on each side), plus there are places for hanging baskets. In addition, there are rain gutters to catch rainwater to use in the garden beds. The program’s link includes a handout about Moby and a downloadable curriculum for the teachers to use.

The Pacific High School garden program already has several student-built raised garden beds, a composter, a sifter, and a small older greenhouse (from a kit) behind the school.

“Part of having Moby here is for our partnership with Baranof Elementary School, where our kids can be mentors,” Summer said, adding that in time the school hopes to grow enough food for the school lunches at both Pacific High and Baranof Elementary. There is a plot of land behind the school where Summer, Gallin and others at the school are hoping to expand the garden program, and that includes having a greenhouse or high tunnel to extend the garden season. “The plan is to have a more permanent structure.”

“Moby the Mobile Greenhouse travels to a different rural Southeast Alaska community, each growing season to kickstart interest in growing local produce, especially among young people,” said Jennifer Nu, a local foods director for the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition and a community food sustainability catalyst for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. “We hope that the greenhouse inspires a new wave of vegetable gardeners, builders, local food system advocates in Sitka and beyond. Pacific High School was chosen for strong leadership, commitment to hands-on, place-based, project-centered learning that also has wellness and community at the heart of its mission. Students at Pacific High will share their learning experience with children at Baranof Elementary school and possibly students even younger. Moby will mobilize a longer-term vision as a local food system learning center for educators around the region.”

Pacific High School garden class students and class teacher Maggie Gallin (in stocking cap with back to camera) check out Moby the Mobile Greenhouse during their class on Friday, Feb. 15.

Pacific will have Moby through October, when the garden season ends. The students will still work through the summer, even though school won’t be in session. While Moby is in Sitka, the students discussed dressing up the mobile greenhouse with Native formline drawings.

“I’m excited for more fresh produce in lunch, and working with kids,” sophomore Melissa Gibson said.

“I want to grow stuff and take care of it,” sophomore George Stevenson added.

While in Sitka, Claire Sanchez of the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program will work with Gallin. There also will be other gardeners who might help with the class. The staff at Pacific hopes having Moby in Sitka will encourage more people in town to garden.

“One of the stats Sustainable Southeast Partnership wants us to track is how many gardens are inspired by Moby,” Gallin said.

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