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).

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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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Sitka Kitch to host National Nutrition Month Class Cooking the Mediterranean Diet with Dietitian Katie Carroll

March is National Nutrition Month, and SEARHC dietitian Katie Carroll will teach a class about Cooking the Mediterranean Diet, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen. The class takes place at the Sitka Kitch, located at the Sitka Lutheran Church, 224 Lincoln Street (enter through the back door, through the alley next to Bev’s Flowers & Gifts off Harbor Drive, and please park in regular street parking and not behind the church). This class is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Katie grew up in Nashville, Tenn., and lived there until she moved to Knoxville to complete her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee with a B.S. in Nutrition. She then worked for two years for East Tennessee (Women, Infant, Children) WIC as a nutrition educator and Certified Lactation Counselor. She completed her Dietetic Internship through Priority Nutrition Care out of Boston, Mass., where she focused on clinical dietetics and after completion became a registered dietitian.

“I believe in a lifestyle approach to health where no one size fits all,” Katie said. “Outside of work I enjoy hiking, dancing, reading and cooking.”

The Mediterranean diet pattern is one of the most well-researched diet patterns in the world. It has been shown to reduce risk for heart disease, preserve cognitive function, manage diabetes and even reduce risk of certain types of cancer. It is relatively easy to follow and is rich in produce, healthy fats and whole grains. Katie will teach students how to make lemon orzo pasta with veggies and garlic shrimp and a Mediterranean flatbread appetizer.

The registration deadline for the Mediterranean diet cooking class is 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 24 (deadline extended), so register now since space is limited. 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 Claire Sanchez or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment. 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 Claire 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 Bev’s Flowers and Gifts). 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.

Sitka Kitch to host Cooking Around the World class Indian Cooking With Dr. Supriya Mathur (POSTPONED TO APRIL 26)

Learn how to make chicken curry during the Sitka Kitch class, Indian Cooking with Dr. Supriya Mathur, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Friday, April 26 (note, this is a change from the original date of March 22 due to a death in Dr. Mathur’s family) at the new location of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen at the Sitka Lutheran Church (224 Lincoln Street, please use the back entrance through the alley by Bev’s Flowers & Gifts, off Harbor Drive). This class is part of our Cooking Around the World series and is a fundraiser for the Sitka Kitch.

Dr. Mathur works at SEARHC in Sitka as an ear, nose and throat specialist. She received her doctorate from Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, India.

Dr. Mathur grew up in India and did not leave home until age 25. She says: “Coming to the United States caused my food world to expand and grow at an explosive pace; however after living here for 20 plus years and having kids , my go-to food is Indian. I am now more aware of all the health benefits of the different Indian spices that are used and my background as a physician and a mother makes me strive to find healthy, flavorful meals that are not very labor intensive. I grew up on lentils and rice but chicken curry or goat curry was always a treat in my house.”

The menu will include chicken curry — a staple of many Indian households and a versatile dish that can be tweaked to make many other kinds of — recipes, a dip, and a side dish.

The registration deadline for the Indian cooking class is 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, so register now since space is limited. 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 Claire Sanchez or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment. 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 Claire 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 Bev’s Flowers and Gifts). 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.

Sitka Kitch to host ‘Indian Cooking With Mohan Raj Arul’ class rescheduled for Feb. 19 as part of Cooking Around The World Series

Learn how to make chicken biryani during the Sitka Kitch class Indian Cooking with Mohan Raj Arul from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the new location of the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen at the Sitka Lutheran Church (224 Lincoln Street, please use the back entrance through the alley by Bev’s Flowers & Gifts, off Harbor Drive). This class is part of our Cooking Around the World series.

(UPDATE: Mohan is back in town and this class has been rescheduled for 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Sitka Kitch. Since there were a couple of the original students who weren’t able to make the rescheduled class, we have opened three new spots for late additions. The new registration deadline is the night of Saturday, Feb. 16.)

(NOTE: Due to a death in the family this weekend, Mohan had to return to India for the funeral and we’re having to postpone the class until a time TBA. We’re hoping Mohan will be back in Sitka by the end of the month, but right now we don’t know if or when he will be up for teaching the class. The registered students are being notified, and they should contact Claire at Sitka Conservation Society about refunds. If the class is rescheduled, the registered students will get first crack at signing up for the new class date.)

Mohan Raj Arul, left, presents the Table of the Day Award during a Sitka Farmers Market this summer.

Chicken biryani is a classic dish from India and Pakistan, featuring chicken, rice and a variety of spices. Mohan said his version of chicken biryani will be spicier than most. A Pakistani exchange student taught a similar class at the Sitka Kitch in March that was well-received.

Mohan is an AFS exchange student from Chennai, India, who is a junior at Sitka High School. He said his interests are to make scientific new things using old materials. He ran cross country for Sitka High School this fall, and he is playing basketball now and plans to play soccer in the spring. Mohan also helped out at the Sitka Farmers Market this summer.

The registration deadline for the Indian cooking class is 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, so register now since space is limited. 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 Claire Sanchez or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment. 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 Claire at SCS for more details about the scholarship.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church through the back entrance (through the alley off Harbor Drive by Bev’s Flowers and Gifts). 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.

Scenes from the Sitka Kitch class ‘Making Zarzuela With Chef François Sanchez’

Sitka’s seafood resources are world-class, and several Sitkans learned a new way to use those resources at the “Making Zarzuela With Chef François Sanchez” class Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen. The class was part of the Sitka Kitch‘s Cooking Around The World series.

Zarzuela is a Spanish/Mediterranean seafood stew, and the students learned an Alaskan version using shrimp, Dungeness crab, salmon, halibut and cod. Chef Sanchez has owned restaurants in St. Charles, Ill., and was in town visiting his daughter, Claire. He was born in Spain and trained as a chef in France.

Future Sitka Kitch classes include Preserving Leftovers and Making Holiday Gifts, from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, with Sarah Lewis of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Juneau District Office (taught by distance delivery, registration deadline is late Thursday night) and Indian Cooking With Mohan Arul from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15. Both classes will be at the new Sitka Kitch location at Sitka Lutheran Church. Watch our online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on class title to register), for upcoming class details. The cost is $40 all-inclusive (we no longer have a separate class registration fee and food/supply fee).

A slideshow featuring some scenes from Tuesday’s class on making zarzuela is posted below.

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Sitka Kitch to offer Preserving Leftovers and Making Holiday Gifts With Sarah Lewis class on Dec. 15

After a large holiday meal, many cooks wonder what to do with all the leftover food. This Sitka Kitch class will teach students how to safely preserve the leftovers for later. Instructor Sarah Lewis also will teach students how to make holiday gifts, using water-bath and pressure canners.

Sarah is the home, health and family development agent for the Juneau District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. She will teach this class by videoconference, and she will teach about 5-8 different recipes so students will be able to take half-pint jars of various products home to sample (the jars are included in the fees). This is a five-hour class.

An expert in safe home food preservation, Sarah will teach students which foods need to be canned in a pressure canner (for example, meats and some soups) and which can be canned in a water-bath canner (eg, jams and jellies).

This will be the third Sitka Kitch class in our new Sitka Lutheran Church location. We opened the series with a Cajun cooking class on Nov. 26, and the second class is Making Zarzuela (a fish stew) With Chef François Sanchez from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11. We plan to have additional classes in the Cooking Around The World series in January, February and March. Watch our website and Facebook page for more details when they become available.

The registration deadline for this class is 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, so register now since space is limited. 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 Claire Sanchez or Clarice Johnson at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a payment. We do offer one potential scholarship spot per class for people with limited incomes, so long as we already have enough students registered to make the class happen. Contact Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office (747-9440) or Claire at SCS for more details.

Students should enter the Sitka Lutheran Church through the back entrance (through the alley off Harbor Drive by Bev’s Flowers and Gifts). 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.