Scenes from the Community Kale Celebration held Sept. 26 at the Sitka Kitch

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bridgetkauffmanotherwomancheckoutkaledishesKale grows well in Sitka and has lots of important vitamins and minerals, but what do you do with it once it’s ready to harvest from your garden? Sitka residents were able to find out more about how to grow and prepare kale at the inaugural Community Kale Celebration on Monday, Sept. 26, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, located in the First Presbyterian Church (505 Sawmill Creek Road).

There was a variety of dishes using kale, prepared by the Sitka Kitch advisory team and the 4H Food and Nutrition club, including a crustless kale quiche, a savory kale bread pudding, kale chips, reindeer sausage kale soup, and chocolate kale cupcakes. In addition, there was kale juice (with carrots, apples, ginger and lemons) and kale smoothies (with bananas and blueberries). Participants learned how to incorporate more of this “super food” into their diets and how easy it is to grow in Sitka.

kalecupcakeskalechipskalebreadpuddingkalequicheMoney raised from this event will help the Sitka Kitch develop a scholarship fund for future Sitka Kitch classes, such as the class on making your own yogurt at home that takes place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10. To learn more about our upcoming classes and to register for them, please check out our online registration page at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (click on the class title to register).

A slideshow of scenes from the Community Kale Celebration is posted below.

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Sitka Kitch to host Community Kale Celebration on Monday, Sept. 26

communitykalecelebration

Kale grows well in Sitka and has lots of important vitamins and minerals, but what do you do with it once it’s ready to harvest from your garden? Join us for the inaugural Community Kale Celebration from 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, located in the First Presbyterian Church (505 Sawmill Creek Road).

Sitka Kitch will join the 4H Food and Nutrition club and local cooks to introduce Sitkans to the wonders and scrumptiousness of kale. Participants will learn how to incorporate more of this “super food” into their diets and how easy it is to grow in Sitka. The 4H club will prepare several recipes for people to try, and local chefs will prepare a couple of additional recipes during the event.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door (family rates are available) or online at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com (just click on the event title to sign up). Money raised will help us develop a scholarship fund for future Sitka Kitch classes. Hope to see you there.

• Highlights from 2015 for your Sitka Local Foods Network

Some carrots grown at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm communal garden on sale at the Sitka Farmers Market

Some carrots grown at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden on sale at the Sitka Farmers Market

As 2015 comes to a close, here are some highlights from the past year for your Sitka Local Foods Network. We are looking forward to a lot of new adventures in 2016, and encourage people to join us. We always need new volunteers, and please donate to us through Pick.Click.Give. when you file for your Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend starting on Jan. 1 and ending March 31. Your donations help fund a variety of Sitka Local Foods Network programs, such as the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and a host of garden and food education opportunities.

Our annual meeting and potluck will be from 5:30-8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking is off Spruce Street). This event is open to the public, just bring a dish (preferably with local foods) to share with everybody. We usually introduce new board members, confirm our new officers, and give an update on our finances and programs.

And now here are those 2015 highlights from your Sitka Local Foods Network:

Grew food at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and extension gardens

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm communal garden

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden

For the eighth straight year, the Sitka Local Foods Network expanded its produce-growing operations at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden and our extension gardens, such as the one on land owned by Pat Arvin. The food grown from these gardens is sold at the Sitka Farmers Market, where Sitka residents, including people with SNAP (food stamps) and WIC (supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children) benefits, have access to fresh local produce. In addition to supplying the Sitka Farmers Market, this year we grew enough to sell to some school lunch programs, at the Sitka Seafood Festival, at the Running of the Boots costumed fun run, and at a booth on days when Chelan Produce was in Sitka.

Hosted six Sitka Farmers Market events

Some of the booths at the Sitka Farmers Market

Some of the booths at the Sitka Farmers Market

We hosted the Sitka Farmers Market for the eighth straight summer, and this year there were six markets on alternate Saturdays from July 4 through Sept. 12. In addition to selling produce from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and our extension gardens, the Sitka Farmers Market serves as a business incubator where budding entrepreneurs sell jams/jellies, baked goods, fish, prepared food ready to eat, and a variety of local arts and crafts. Our emphasis is on local products always. The Sitka Farmers Market also provides a venue for local musicians (we hire a few to play at each market). One of the highlights this year was a brief performance by the students involved in the musical with the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Another highlight was the inaugural Sitka Slug Races, where Sitka residents brought their own slugs (or rented ones we harvested) for a series of races on a glass table.

Taught a variety of garden education classes and mentored some novice gardeners

Tammy O'Neill, a student in the garden mentor program, poses with her garden beds after her second year in the program

Tammy O’Neill, a student in the garden mentor program, poses with her garden beds during her second year in the program

The Sitka Local Foods Network education committee hosted a variety of classes this year for local food gardeners. We started out with a couple of classes about basic gardening in Sitka, and followed those with classes on starting seeds, composting, chickens, rabbits, fruit trees, potatoes, carrots, rhubarb, and more. In addition, we hosted the second year of our family garden mentoring program with funding from First Bank. In this program we provided one-on-one mentoring for four families of novice gardeners and two families returning for a second year of the program. We are hoping to bring this innovative program back in 2016 and we are recruiting for new families. This fall we received a small grant from the United Way of Southeast Alaska that we will use to develop a teaching garden at Baranof Elementary School near downtown Sitka.

Partnered with several organizations to launch and operate the Sitka Kitch

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Sitka Kitch “Cooking From Scratch” instructor Lisa Sadleir-Hart, center, helps Reba Traini and Robert Baines make homemade yogurt

This year we partnered with the Sitka Conservation Society, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, First Presbyterian Church, Sitka Food Co-op, and other organizations to help launch the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, which officially opened in March 2015. The Sitka Kitch is available for cottage food entrepreneurs to rent as they make their products, plus we have been offering a variety of food preservation and cooking classes. The Sitka Kitch also is available for people to rent who need a larger kitchen to cook a community meal.

Helped launch the Sitka Food Collaborative

Toward the end of the year, the Sitka Local Foods Network, Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka Kitch, Sitka Food Co-op, Sitka Seedling Farms, and other food groups created the Sitka Food Collaborative and then submitted an application for a USDA grant to conduct a Sitka Food Systems Assessment. This will build on the work done in 2013-14 with the Sitka Community Food Assessment, but will look at ways we can improve our local food system so we have better food security.

Fundraising and strategic planning

50-states-logoThe Sitka Local Foods Network is maturing as an organization, and this year we decided we needed to start raising money so we eventually can hire a part-time director to take care of some of the daily chores dealt with by our volunteer board of directors. We have started to set aside a little bit of money, still have a ways to go. This year we received a grant from the Alaska Community Foundation that will allow us to work with the Foraker Group in 2016 to create a fundraising and long-term strategic plan. We participated in the Pick.Click.Give. program for the second year, and we are preparing for our third year of receiving donations from Alaskans when they file for their Permanent Fund Dividends. We launched an online donation page on Razoo.com (a donation website for nonprofit groups), and hosted fundraisers for St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, the Sitka Sound Suppers (with a totally local meal) and #GivingTuesday (#GivingTuesdayAK in Alaska). This fall we received a small grant from the United Way of Southeast Alaska that we will use to develop a teaching garden at Baranof Elementary School near downtown Sitka. In December, the Sitka Local Foods Network was named Alaska’s winner in the 50 States For Good contest, hosted by Tom’s of Maine. Each of the winning community nonprofits from each state won $20,000 to improve their programming, which we should receive in January.

• Sitka Kitch sets scheduled orientation schedules for potential renters of the commercial kitchen

LisaSadleirHartKristyMillerSarahLewisDorrieFarrell

kitch_logo_mainAre you a budding entrepreneur who wants to use the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen to make cottage foods products? Are you wanting to rent the Sitka Kitch (Facebook page) to teach cooking or food preservation classes, or to host a large gathering where you need a larger kitchen than what’s in your home?

The Sitka Kitch, which is located at First Presbyterian Church (505 Sawmill Creek Road), will offer some scheduled orientation sessions for a significant price reduction for a solo orientation. The scheduled orientations every other month are $10 per person or group vs. $75 for a solo orientation. These one-hour orientations will teach you how to use the Sitka Kitch facilities and show you what items are available for your use.

The scheduled orientations will be from 4-5 p.m. on the first Fridays and 11 a.m. to noon on the first Saturdays of February, April, and June (Feb. 5-6, April 1-2, and June 3-4). Please note this orientation schedule may change if we have people wanting to rent the Sitka Kitch at these times.

For more information, contact Kristy Miller at the church at 747-3356 or millerkris50@gmail.com.

• Scenes from a series of home canning and cottage foods classes July 16-18 at Sitka Kitch

SarahLewisPlacesLidOnAllAmericanCanner kitch_logo_mainOn July 16-18, the Sitka Kitch project hosted Sarah Lewis of the Juneau District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service to host four classes in Sitka on the cottage food industry and home canning. These classes were free and paid for by a grant from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) WISEFAMILIES Traditional Foods program. In addition, Sarah had a table at the Sitka Farmers Market on July 18 where she tested pressure canner gauges.

For those who missed the classes and 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.” In addition, Leslie Shallcross from the Anchorage District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service will be in town during the Sitka Seafood Festival to teach canning classes on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 6-7, at Sitka Kitch, and on Saturday, Aug. 8, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. Watch for a class schedule to be posted soon (note, these classes will cost $15 each).

A reminder, pressure canner gauges should be tested at least once a year to make sure they are hitting the right pressures for safe food preservation. For those who couldn’t get to the July 18 Sitka Farmers Market for pressure canner gauge testing, the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service has a tester in its office and you can call Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440 to set up an appointment for testing. The office also has a variety of resources — many of them free — on home canning, gardening and other topics.

Sitka 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.

Slideshows featuring scenes from Friday’s class on canning salmon and berries and Saturday’s class on canning soups and sauces are below. Also, KCAW-Raven Radio attended the pickling and fermenting class and filed this story (which also includes a slideshow at the bottom). The Alaska Dispatch News recently posted this link on how to can salmon.

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Slideshow from the Friday, July 17, class about canning salmon and berries (above).

 

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Slideshow from the Saturday, July 18, class about canning soups and sauces (above).

• Sitka Food Co-op, Sitka Local Foods Network make plant starts available on co-op delivery days

FLYER-w tear offs-EDIT-26APR2015

IMG_9869The Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Food Co-op are teaming up to make garden starts available for Sitka food gardeners.

Plant starts from Finn Island Farm and other Sitka gardeners will be available for sale or swap on the next two Sitka Food Co-op delivery days, from 4:30-7 p.m. on Monday, May 4 and May 18, at the Sitka First Presbyterian Church, 505 Sawmill Creek Road. (NOTE: Due to a late-arriving barge, the May 4 pick-up day has been postponed until May 5.)

Finn Island Farm will be bringing the following starts — red Romaine lettuce, Tuscan kale, snap peas, sweet bell pepper, basil, Waltham broccoli, dark green zucchini, English cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, dark red and bulls blood beets, tomatoes (a large variety), and more.

The sale of these plant starts helps benefit the Sitka Local Foods Network, and we thank the Sitka Food Co-op for the opportunity to sell them on their delivery pick-up days. The plant starts are from Sitka gardeners and are of plants that do well in Sitka’s climate.

For more information, contact Keith Nyitray of the Sitka Food Co-op at sitkafoodcoop@gmail.com or go to http://sitkafoodcoop.org/

• Scenes from the March 9 ribbon-cutting celebration for the Sitka Kitch community commercial kitchen

MarjorieHennessyAndCyndyGibsonCutRibbon

kitch_logo_mainOn Monday, March 9, a couple of dozen people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Sitka Kitch community commercial kitchen, located at Sitka First Presbyterian Church (505 Sawmill Creek Road).

The new community commercial kitchen came out of a food security project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit. Sitka residents decided a community kitchen would serve several functions as a place to teach cooking and nutrition classes, a place to teach food preservation classes, a place for small cottage food businesses to have access to a rental commercial kitchen, etc. It is a place for education, business incubation, and community cultivation about food in Sitka.

The Sitka Kitch project (note, new website for scheduling) is a partnership between the Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka First Presbyterian Church, Sitka Local Foods Network, Sitka Food Co-op, Sitka Health Summit, Sustainable Southeast Partnership, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service (Sitka District Office). The kitchen recently was renovated after the church received a $13,000 community blessings grant from the Northwest Coast Presbytery.

sikta_kitch_sheet-791x1024During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Marjorie Hennessy of the Sitka Conservation Society and Sustainable Southeast Partnership discussed the history of the project and some of its goals. Then she and Cyndy Gibson, representing Sitka First Presbyterian Church, cut the ribbon.

Please check out the linked brochure for the current rental rates, which are tiered depending upon the planned use of the facility. This kitchen does meet Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation commercial kitchen food safety standards, but renters are required to get all of their other required permits (business license, food-handling permits, etc.) before renting the kitchen. Groups that already regularly use the facility for deliveries, such as the Sitka Food Co-op and Everything Organic Sitka, will continue to use the facility.

For more information about Sitka Kitch rentals, check the website, contact sitkakitch@sitkawild.org or call the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509. Eventually the management will switch over to the church.

A slideshow is posted below the brochure with photos from the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

• Sitka Kitch informational brochure

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