Middle school students can learn to cook in the 4H and Blatchley Cooking Club

Are you a middle-school student who wants to learn how to cook delicious and healthy food? The 4H and Blatchley Cooking Club is for you.

This program is for students in grades 6-8. It meets from 3:30-6 p.m. on Mondays (starting Oct. 30) at the Blatchley Middle School Home Economics Room. This program will be led by Hannah Westfall.

Participants need to register with the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club if they already aren’t a part of the Blatchley Middle School after-school program. For more details, contact Claire Sanchez at claire@sitkawild.org or 747-7509.

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Sitka Kitch provides opportunities for education, entrepreneurship

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Lisa Sadleir-Hart, left center, watches as Julie Platson, Cheryl Call, Libby Stortz and Kristen Homer heat milk during a Nov. 14, 2016, Cooking From Scratch class on making homemade yogurt held at the Sitka Kitch.

(NOTE: The following article appeared in the Daily Sitka Sentinel‘s Weekender section on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. It was written by Sitka Local Foods Network board president and Sitka Kitch advisory team member Charles Bingham, who also took the photos.)

By CHARLES BINGHAM
For the Daily Sitka Sentinel

kitch_logo_mainWith a mission to “Educate, Incubate, Cultivate,” the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen serves a variety of functions to improve food security in Sitka. It’s a classroom, a maker space and a community meeting place.

The Sitka Kitch project was a result of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit and is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society. Located inside the First Presbyterian Church (505 Sawmill Creek Road), the Sitka Kitch is best known for the variety of cooking and food preservation classes it regularly hosts.

Right now, registration is open for five classes in a Cooking Around The World series, where a variety of instructors will teach students international dishes from Morocco, Chile, Thailand, Austria (strudel), and Turkey. Registration also is open for a five-class series called “Nourish: Using Food As Medicine For Optimum Health,” taught during National Nutrition Month (March) by Sitka nutritionist Holly Marban.

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Jasmine Shaw and Joyce Pearson add brine to a jar of squash during a July 18, 2016, Preserving The Harvest class on simple pickles and sauerkraut held at the Sitka Kitch.

The Sitka Kitch plans a series of food preservation classes this summer, and may host a cottage foods entrepreneurship class in the future. It also has offered basic culinary skills and Cooking From Scratch classes in recent months. In addition, the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club has hosted cooking and food preservation classes for kids at the Sitka Kitch.

The Sitka Kitch offers a full schedule of classes because learning how to cook and preserve your own food allows Sitkans to improve their nutrition and extend their food budgets.

“The Sitka Kitch programming team already has plans underway for a dynamic 2017 Preserving the Harvest series,” said Lisa Sadleir-Hart, a member of the Sitka Kitch advisory team. “In addition to some old time favorites like pickling, jam, jelly and fruit butter classes, the Sitka Kitch team is hoping to offer classes focused on local foods and medicinals like seaweed, devil’s club, rhubarb and rosehips. June will showcase a ‘Clean Out Your Freezer’ class and an ‘Introduction to Food Dehydration’ class as well.”

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Lisa Sadleir-Hart, left, shows Lavina Adams, Sue Falkner and Cheryl Call how to knead and pinch their dough during a Nov. 28, 2016, Cooking From Scratch class on baking whole-grain breads using the Tassajara bread technique held at the Sitka Kitch.

While it isn’t as well known as the classes, the Sitka Kitch also provides an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation-certified commercial kitchen for local cottage food entrepreneurs to use as a maker space. One of the businesses that rents the Sitka Kitch (by the hour) is Simple Pleasures, a Sitka company that sells jams, jellies, kelp pickles and other products around the state. In addition, other groups have used the Sitka Kitch as a meeting venue, such as the Sitka Conservation Society, which hosted its 2016 annual meeting in the Sitka Kitch.

“The Sitka Conservation Society is proud of the Sitka Kitch’s work to build community connection and celebrate local, healthy and delicious food,” said Sitka Conservation Society Community Catalyst Chandler O’Connell, another member of the Sitka Kitch advisory team. “We hope that the community kitchen will continue to be a positive space for Sitkans to come together and share their skills.”

The Sitka Kitch has a website where people can learn how to rent the kitchen, http://www.sitkakitch.org/, and a Facebook page which posts class updates and other info, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaKitch. To learn more about and register for classes, go to the online registration page, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/, and click on the class title. You can pay for classes online using credit/debit cards or PayPal, or you can call Chandler or Clarice at the Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange a time to pay with cash or check.

Local businesses can sponsor upcoming classes for $300 per class, which helps cover the instructor stipend, facility rental and food/supply costs. Contact Chandler at 747-7509 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org for more info.

Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program to hold open house on Thursday, Oct. 20, at UAS Sitka Campus

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Sitka youth ages 5-18 and their parents are invited to an open house from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 12, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus for the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program.

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program offers a variety of programs for kids, including gardening, biking, photography, hiking/expeditions, healthy living, climbing, shooting sports, and environmental stewardship. The program focuses on the Alaska Way of Life, with a variety of activities common to life in Sitka.

The program is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the Sitka District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service (which operates the Alaska 4-H program throughout the state). For more information about the Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H program, contact Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service in Sitka at 747-9440 or jdshaw2@alaska.edu.

Sitka Spruce Tips-Alaska Way of Life 4-H club to host Wild Edibles Series this fall

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The Sitka Spruce Tips-Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club will begin a six-week Wild Edible Series  starting on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Kids will get outside and explore the bounty of wild edibles in Southeast Alaska. Activities include picking berries, identifying mushrooms, hiking through the muskeg, smoking salmon, and making jam and fruit leather. Get ready to taste the Tongass.

4-H members ages 5-8 will meet from 3:30-5 p.m. on Wednesdays and ages 9 and older will meet from 3:30-5 p.m. on Thursdays (the location will be revealed once you have registered). The registration fee is $20 and scholarships are available. Please register by Sept. 2.

For more information, email Julia Tawney at julia@sitkawild.org or call the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509.

Sitka Spruce Tips 4H club to host 4H Fair at July 30 Sitka Farmers Market

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SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe Sitka Spruce Tips 4H club will host its inaugural 4H Fair at the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4H club is co-sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and the Sitka Conservation Society. It provides a variety of programming promoting the Alaska Way of Life for youth and their families.

According to event organizer Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office, the 4H members are going to be submitting projects in six different divisions:

  • Division 1 — Food Preservation (jams, jellies, preserves, canned goods, smoked fish, jerky)
  • Division 2 — Baked Goods (pies, cakes, cookies, donuts/frybread, breads)
  • Division 3 — Produce (fruits and vegetables) and Flowers
  • Division 4 — Arts and Crafts (knitting, basketry, natural products, recycled crafts, woodworking, sewing)
  • Division 5 — Art (photography, drawings, paintings)
  • Division 6 — Presentations (posters, reports, displays)
Only one entry per individual per category is allowed, so we are asking members to choose your best item. Other items can be displayed but not entered for judging.
“This is a chance for community members to see what 4H has been up to all year and become involved if they want,” Shaw said. “(We will have registration forms).
“Some members will have items for sale alongside the fair display,” Shaw added. “I’m not sure all of what will be for sale yet, but I do some of our members in our natural product series will be making lotion and lip balm.”

Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club to celebrate Arbor Day on May 20 with tree planting at Swan Lake

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Friday, May 20, is the 50th anniversary of Arbor Day in Alaska, and the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club will celebrate by planting a few trees from 3-5 p.m. at the Swan Lake recreation area (near the corner of Lake Street and DeGroff).

We will be planting maples, but giving away fruit trees for people to plant at home, said Molly Johnson, who helps coordinate the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club for the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office.

“4H is excited to host a celebration in honor of Alaska Arbor Day to celebrate how important trees are in our lives,” Molly said. “We see the significance of trees in the clean air and great habitat they provide whenever we explore the Tongass (National Forest). This will be a fun event to honor that significance closer in town. It is a great opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate trees!”

This event is co-sponsored by the Alaska Community Forestry Council, the USDA Forest Service, and the Alaska Division of Forestry. Because of its commitment to trees in town, the City and Borough of Sitka has been recognized as one of the Tree City USA award-winners from the Arbor Day Foundation.