• Mark your calendar for several upcoming meetings about local food projects

As we near spring, it’s time to start marking your calendar with meetings, workshops and garden preparation events. Here is a list of some of the upcoming events, so you can add them to your calendar. All of these events are open to the public and new volunteers are more than welcome to join each project.

  • The Sitka Seafood Festival planning committee meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, at the Baranof Island Brewing Company, 212 Smith St. The Sitka Seafood Festival is May 20-21 this year, and there are several fundraising events (such as the Sitka Culinary Tour Passport event on March 10-13) in the months leading up to the festival. For more info, contact Alicia Olson at 1-928-607-4845 or sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com.
  • The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative work group will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. For more info, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or Doug Osborne at 747-3752.
  • The Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 7, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship building, 408 Marine St. For more info, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.
  • The Sitka Farmers Market planning group meets at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship building, 408 Marine St. For more info, contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (nights, weekends).
  • The Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event starts at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, 456 Katlian St. Master Gardener Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau will be at the Let’s Grow Sitka event to discuss fruit trees. Buyarski also will give a pruning workshop at a time and location TBA on Saturday, March 19; and he will give a talk about fruit trees at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 20, at ANB Hall. For more info, contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (nights, weekends).

• Save the date — ‘Let’s Grow Sitka’ gardening education event is Sunday, March 20, at ANB Hall

The view from above at closing time of the 2010 Let's Grow Sitka garden education event.

The view from above at closing time of the 2010 Let's Grow Sitka garden education event.

Mark your calendars, because the 2011 “Let’s Grow Sitka” gardening education event opens at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street. Celebrate the first day of spring and get ready to garden.

This annual event brings together local garden supply stores, local gardeners, landscapers and anybody who is interested in learning how to grow food and/or flowers. This year’s theme is “Adding edibles to your landscape — focus on fruit trees and berry bushes.”

The Sitka Local Foods Network encourages people to share their knowledge by hosting a booth or posting an educational display about a specific garden topic. We especially want people with experience growing fruit trees to share their knowledge about growing apple, cherry or crabapple trees in Sitka; growing strawberries; growing rhubarb; growing unusual berry varieties that do well in our climate such as aronia, sea buckthorn, honeysuckle (fruiting), gooseberry, currant and elderberry; and how to legally transplant and cultivate wild berry bushes to your property.

Young girls check out a baby chick at the 2010 Let's Grow Sitka event. Andrew Thoms will have egg-producing chicks and information about how to raise them available this year, but he suggests anybody wanting to buy chicks contact him as soon as possible so he can start incubating the eggs. He can be reached at 747-3747 or andrew@sitkawild.org.

Young girls check out a baby chick at the 2010 Let's Grow Sitka event. Andrew Thoms will have egg-producing chicks and information about how to raise them available this year, but he suggests anybody wanting to buy chicks contact him as soon as possible so he can start incubating the eggs. He can be reached at 747-3747 or andrew@sitkawild.org.

In addition, you can learn about home greenhouses, how to prepare your soil, how to raise chickens and what to do with all those slugs. Buy seeds and plant starts. Swap ideas and tips. Come learn, share, and get ready to grow your garden. Learn about plans for the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. Let’s Grow Sitka is organized by the Sitka Local Foods Network and is part of the Arti Gras Sitka Music and Arts Festival, which takes place March 6-20.

Master gardeners are encouraged to sign up to share their personal experience on how to create a successful garden in Sitka. Also, anyone with a garden-related product or service to sell is invited to participate. Some of the expected booths are from the True Value Garden Center (type Sitka or 99835 into store locator box), Andrew Thoms (chickens, see note with photo above), White’s Inc./Harry Race Pharmacy, St. Peters Fellowship Farm (seed starter kits), Sitka Local Foods Network, University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, the Sitka Fruit Tree Planting Initiative and many others. Master Gardener Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau also will be on hand to provide expertise.

There still are a few FREE tables available for vendors, education and demonstrations. For more information or to reserve table space, contact Linda Wilson at lawilson87@hotmail.com or call her at 747-3096 (in the evenings or on weekends only).

• FISH, Tree work groups set meetings to continue Sitka Health Summit project work

FISH (Fish In School, Hooray!) will hold an informal meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the front desk at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center to make plans for its next school meal featuring locally  caught wild fish. The other local-food-related project from the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative, also has an upcoming meeting, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The FISH project served its first special fish lunch at Blatchley Middle School in January, a red snapper fishwich. About 20 percent of the students chose the fish entrée (24 out of 120 lunches served), so the FISH group wants to look at ways they can better market the health and economic benefits of eating locally caught fish to the students. The informal meeting is scheduled during Tuesday’s open house/reopening event at Hames (5-7 p.m.) since many group members already were planning to attend the event. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or maclanekerry@yahoo.com.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative will be trying to set where it plans to plant fruit trees around Sitka later this spring, with the ultimate goal of planting 200 new apple, crabapple and cherry trees in Sitka. A brief description of the project is available in the document posted below. To learn more about the project, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or 3akharts@acsalaska.net.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative brief project description

• Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative planting group to meet on Tuesday, Jan. 18

Apples are still on the tree in front of a house on Sawmill Creek Road in early December 2010.

Apples are still on the tree in front of a house on Sawmill Creek Road in early December 2010.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative planting work group will meet from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. All members of the public are welcome to attend.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative hopes to plant 200 apple, crabapple or cherry trees in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011. The group just turned in an order of 40 “project” apple trees — 30 Williams Pride and 10 Pristine — with Garden Ventures. Penny Brown, owner of Garden Ventures, also has an order of 60 fruit trees coming for her regular supply.

A key agenda item will be updating the list of possible locations to plant the fruit trees. Several local residents already have expressed interest in purchasing trees to grow in their yards, and the group has worked with local businesses, churches and other landowners to see if they are interested in trees.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative continues to host fundraising events where Sitka residents can buy shares of fruit trees for $100 (full), $50 (half) or $25 (quarter). They also can buy shares in fruit-producing berry bushes ($25). The fruit tree shares make nice alternative gifts, and purchasers receive a certificate to give. To learn more, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 747-5985. The gift information brochure is posted below as a PDF file.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Project gift information brochure

• Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative to meet on Monday, Dec. 13

Apples are still on the tree in front of a house on Sawmill Creek Road in early December 2010.

Apples are still on the tree in front of a house on Sawmill Creek Road in early December 2010.

Folks working on the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 13, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative hopes to plant 200 apple, crabapple or cherry trees in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011. The group just turned in an order of 40 “project” apple trees — 30 Williams Pride and 10 Pristine — with Garden Ventures. Penny Brown, owner of Garden Ventures, also has an order of 60 fruit trees coming for her regular supply.

In the meantime, the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative continues to host fundraising events where Sitka residents can buy shares of fruit trees for $100 (full), $50 (half) or $25 (quarter). They also can buy shares in fruit-producing berry bushes ($25). The fruit tree shares make nice alternative gifts this holiday season, and purchasers receive a certificate to place under the Christmas tree. To learn more, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 747-5985. The gift information brochure is posted below as a PDF file.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Project gift information brochure

• Sitka fruit tree shares to be sold at two markets this weekend (Dec. 3-5)

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative will be at two market/bazaar booths this weekend to sell shares in fruit trees that will be planted this spring in Sitka.

The group will be part of Linda Wilson’s jewelry booth (Booth 5 in the Exhibit Room) at the Sitka Artisans Market from 4-9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 3-5) at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The fruit tree shares also will be sold at the St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church ECW (Episcopal Church Women) Christmas Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 4) at the Sea House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, 611 Lincoln St.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative is selling shares in fruit trees as a fundraiser to get the money the group needs to purchase the 200 apple, crabapple and cherry trees it plans to plant in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit (Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011). The tree shares will be sold as quarter shares ($25), half shares ($50) and full shares ($100). People also can buy a share in fruit-bearing bushes ($25 each). This is one of four community health priority projects decided at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit on Oct. 4-5, 2010.

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

People who buy shares in the fruit trees will receive a gift certificate that can be given as an alternate present this holiday season. The trees will be planted around town this spring, with the idea that not only will the fruit trees beautify Sitka but they also will provide people with a tasty treat as they walk by. Once the trees are planted and start bearing fruit, a portion of the fruit will be donated to local organizations that provide free or reduced-cost meals to people in need.

For more information, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 747-5985. For those who can’t attend this weekend’s market/bazaar, the PDF file posted below has information on how to order tree shares.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Project gift information brochure