Sitka Farmers Market ranked as top market in Alaska in annual Farmers Market Celebration

The results are in, and the Sitka Farmers Market ranks as the top market in Alaska and among the leaders nationally in the American Farmland Trust’s ninth annual Farmers Market Celebration.

This summer the Sitka Local Foods Network hosted seven markets, and one of our goals was to rebuild the market by increasing the number of vendors, launching a kid vendor program, and adding new Alaska Grown products to our farm stand. Nina Vizcarrondo was the market manager, and Charles Bingham was the assistant manager.

The Sitka Farmers Market ranked No. 1 in Alaska in all five categories — People’s Choice, Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community, and Champion for the Environment. Sitka also ranked among the top 50 markets nationally in several categories, earning Best Of Class honors.

Nationally, the top three markets finished in the same 1-2-3 order in all five categories. The top market was Winter Gardens Farmers Market of Winter Gardens, Fla., followed by Charlottesville City Market of Charlottesville, Va., and Williamsburg Farmers Market of Williamsburg, Va.

Shoppers were encouraged to use Instagram and join the local food community in saving farmland with their forks, as part of AFT’s “#OnMyFork” social media campaign. Supporters are encouraged to post pictures or videos of their farmers market to Instagram using the hashtag #OnMyFork. We asked people who posted anything about the Sitka Farmers Market to please tag our Sitka Local Foods Network page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, tag our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaFarmersMarket, and/or share it on our Twitter page, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. Please use the hashtags #SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and #SitkaFarmersMarket if you share a photo.

In past Farmers Market Celebrations, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, the Sitka Farmers Market has been at or near the top among the Alaska rankings. In 2015, the Sitka Farmers Market was the top Alaska market in this contest. In 2016, the Sitka Farmers Market earned Best In Class honors in the contest after finishing second among Alaska markets and cracking the top 50 nationally in a couple of categories.

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Sitka Farmers Market among the leaders in the ninth annual Farmers Market Celebration

Have you voted yet in the American Farmland Trust’s ninth annual Farmers Market Celebration? They just released the first standings in the national contest, and the Sitka Farmers Market ranks among the leaders nationally and is No. 1 in Alaska.

The celebration calls on shoppers to identify the best farmers markets in the country. It launched on June 21, and runs through Friday, Sept. 22. So far we’ve hosted five Sitka Farmers Markets this season (on July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, and Aug. 19), and our last two markets of the season take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, Sept. 2 and Sept. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

The Sitka Local Foods Network also will host a farm stand at the 23rd annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser which starts at 11:30 a.m. (registration at 10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Totem Square, and this year the event benefits both the Sitka Local Foods Network and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska.

“The Celebration encourages market customers, family farmers, community activists – anyone who believes they’ve got the best farmers market in the country – to endorse their market in four special areas: Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community, and Champion for the Environment,” said Susan Sink, American Farmland Trust vice president of development and external relations.

Shoppers are encouraged to use Instagram and join the local food community in saving farmland with their forks, as part of AFT’s “#OnMyFork” social media campaign. Supporters are encouraged to post pictures or videos of their farmers market to Instagram using the hashtag #OnMyFork. If you do post something about the Sitka Farmers Market, please tag our Sitka Local Foods Network page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork or share it on our Twitter page, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. Please use the hashtags #SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and #SitkaFarmersMarket if you share a photo.

To vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the national contest, just go to http://markets.farmland.org/market/sitka-farmers-market/ and recommend our market. In past Farmers Market Celebrations, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, the Sitka Farmers Market has been at or near the top among the Alaska rankings. In 2015, the Sitka Farmers Market was the top Alaska market in this contest. In 2016, the Sitka Farmers Market earned Best In Class honors in the contest.

We made a few improvements in 2017 (vendor rates back to 2015 levels, a new Alaska Grown booth featuring products from around the state, a kids vendor program, etc.), so this year’s markets have been better than in the recent past. Stop by on Sept. 2 and Sept. 9 and check things out, then support us in the online contest voting.

What you put #OnMyFork matters during ninth annual Farmers Market Celebration

What you put #OnMyFork matters. That’s the message behind American Farmland Trust’s ninth annual Farmers Market Celebration. The celebration calls on shoppers to help identify the cream of the crop — the best of America’s farmers markets — and in Alaska we think that’s the Sitka Farmers Market.

The celebration calls on shoppers to help identify the best of America’s farmers markets. The summer-long event launched June 21 and runs through Sept. 22. The first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2017 summer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. The other six Sitka Farmers Markets this summer are on Saturdays, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9.

“The Celebration encourages market customers, family farmers, community activists – anyone who believes they’ve got the best farmers market in the country – to endorse their market in four special areas: Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community, and Champion for the Environment,” said Susan Sink, American Farmland Trust vice president of development and external relations.

Shoppers are encouraged to use Instagram and join the local food community in saving farmland with their forks, as part of AFT’s “#OnMyFork” social media campaign. Supporters are encouraged to post pictures or videos of their farmers market to Instagram using the hashtag #OnMyFork. If you do post something about the Sitka Farmers Market, please tag our Sitka Local Foods Network page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork or share it on our Twitter page, https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. Please use the hashtags #SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and #SitkaFarmersMarket if you share a photo.

“While farmers markets have been growing in popularity, keeping family farmers on farmland remains a nationwide challenge,” Sink says. “Many family farmers are struggling to stay financially afloat and face daily pressure from development to sell their land. Farmers markets provide a wonderful opportunity for family farmers to sell directly to consumers and to help make a living on their land.”

bigcabbagewsFarmers markets have a lot to offer. Beyond the beautiful array of fresh and local food, farmers markets help family farmers thrive, connect us as a community and can be catalysts for both environmental and social good. That is why American Farmland Trust is giving away awards to farmers markets who are the Best in Class in four special areas — Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community, and Champion for the Environment. There also is a People’s Choice category.

If you have ever been to the Sitka Farmers Market, you may already know it as setting the gold standard for farmers markets in these areas. If you haven’t been to the market before, here are a few reasons why the Sitka Farmers Market deserves to be named one of America’s top markets:

  • Focus on Farmers — The Sitka Local Foods Network, which sponsors the Sitka Farmers Market, has been working with local gardeners and small farmers to increase the amount of locally grown fruits and veggies in Sitka. Not only is locally grown food fresher and better tasting, but it’s better on the environment because it doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles to get to Alaska.
  • Healthy Food for All — The Sitka Farmers Market was the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP (food stamps/Alaska Quest cards) and WIC vouchers for people benefitting from those programs. In addition, we have matching dollars of up to $20 per person per market available for SNAP-eligible foods (produce, fish, baked goods, barley products, etc.).
  • Pillar of the Community — The Sitka Farmers Market not only serves as a community gathering place, but it also is a business incubator. It’s a good place for budding entrepreneurs to test ideas and products before going into full production. The Sitka Farmers Market emphasizes local, local, local, which helps put the focus on products from Sitka.
  • Champion for the Environment — It’s estimated that Alaska residents import about 90-95 percent of their food from the Lower 48 or foreign countries. By encouraging people to grow or harvest food locally, we’re cutting down on thousands of miles of transportation costs. That means less fuel is used, and fewer pollutants in the air.

To help shine a light on the Sitka Farmers Market, just go to http://markets.farmland.org/market/sitka-farmers-market/ and recommend our market. In past Farmers Market Celebrations, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, the Sitka Farmers Market has been at or near the top among the Alaska rankings. In 2015, the Sitka Farmers Market was the top Alaska market in this contest. In 2016, the Sitka Farmers Market earned Best In Class honors in the contest. We have a couple of new wrinkles in 2017 (vendor rates back to 2015 levels, a new Alaska Grown booth featuring products from around the state, a kids vendor program, etc.), so this year could be the best yet.

A thank you to those people who donated to us through Pick.Click.Give.

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We recently received a check from Pick.Click.Give. for donations from the 2016 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) community giving program. This year there were 42 donors giving the Sitka Local Foods Network $2,800.

Thank you. We appreciate your support for our mission to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans.

This was the third year the Sitka Local Foods Network participated in the Pick.Click.Give. program, which allows people to donate in $25 increments to their favorite statewide and local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations when they file their PFD applications. When you choose to donate part of your PFD to the Sitka Local Foods Network, you support the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, education programs about growing and preserving food, the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen, community gardens, the sustainable use of traditional foods, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, the Sitka Food Summit, the Fish-To-Schools program, and a variety of other projects designed to increase access to healthy local foods in Sitka.

Unfortunately, due to a clerical snafu, we will not be participating in the 2017 Pick.Click.Give. program. We hope to be back for 2018, though.

You still can donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network, even if we’re not in the 2017 Pick.Click.Give. program. To donate, send your check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408 Marine St., Suite D, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. Our EIN is 26-4629930. 

11-29-2016givingtuesdayOn Tuesday, Nov. 29, we will launch our second annual #GivingTuesday fundraising campaign. Giving Tuesday is a day set aside to donate to various causes you care about after the consumer-oriented Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday events. Our Giving Tuesday campaign will take donations through Dec. 31, for those wanting another donation for tax purposes.

You also can make an online donation through our Razoo.com crowdfunding page. Please let us know if you need a receipt for tax purposes. The Sitka Local Foods Network now has a Bronze rating from the GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Service, and we are listed with the Benevity Causes Portal used by larger corporations for employee giving programs. For more information about donating, you can send an email to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

Sitka Farmers Market earns Best In Class honors in 2016 Farmers Market Celebration

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This week marked the end of American Farmland Trust’s summer-long Farmers Market Celebration — an annual effort to rally support for local farms and family farmers by calling on shoppers to identify the best of America’s farmers markets, During the summer-long voting, the Sitka Farmers Market was rated top 50 best in class nationwide and/or top three in Alaska.

FARMMARKETCELEB_LOGO_D“Farmers markets are critical for new and beginning farmers,” says Susan Sink, American Farmland Trust’s Vice President of Development and External Relations. “Next generation farmers selling directly to consumers at farmers markets have nearly a 10 percent greater chance of staying in business than those selling goods through traditional retail. And when family farmers thrive – our community, economy and families thrive.”

This year’s Celebration encouraged market customers, family farmers, community members – anyone who believed they had the best farmers market in the country – to endorse their market in four unique areas: Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community and Champion for the Environment.

The Sitka Farmers Market’s national rankings are:

  1. People’s Choice: 57th nationally, second in Alaska
  2. Focus on Farmers: 55th nationally, second in Alaska
  3. Healthy Food for All: 55th nationally, second in Alaska
  4. Pillar of the Community: 52nd nationally, second in Alaska
  5. Champion for the Environment: 50th nationally, second in Alaska

“While farmers markets have been growing in popularity, keeping family farmers on farmland remains a nationwide challenge,” Sink says. “Many family farmers struggle to stay financially afloat and face daily pressure from development to sell their land. Farmers markets provide a wonderful opportunity for family farmers to sell directly to consumers and keep their farmland in farming.”

The United States has been losing more than 40 acres of farmland per hour to development. Farms closest to America’s cities—often the providers of the delicious local food found at farmers markets—are directly in the path of that destruction. American Farmland Trust has helped slow this trend over the last 35 years by permanently protecting over five million acres of fertile farmland and contributing to conservation improvements on millions more.

To visit the full list of top rated markets nationwide, visit http://www.lovemyfarmersmarket.org today.

Scenes from the seventh and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer

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It rained heavily the day before and even the early morning of the market, but after we’d already set up inside we looked out and saw it was nice and sunny. So we decided outside was the best place to hold the seventh and final Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer, on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

slfnboothyounggirlwithcarrotsOther than one booth using the Alaska Native Sisterhood Kitchen in ANB Hall to make Indian tacos, all of our booths were outdoors in the Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA) parking lot next to ANB Founders Hall. This week we also had three ladies who had antiques and other vintage items for sale.

Since it was the last market, it was nice to see some of the booths selling out. The Sitka Local Foods Network produce stand sold out of all its produce, and even its pork products from Mat-Valley Meats. The Salvation Army bread booth sold out, and Reindeer Redhots ran out of hot dog buns.

Now that the market season is over, we will be looking for new ways to try and revitalize the market. If you have ideas, please contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or jackson.mw08@gmail.com.

The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration. The voting deadline is Sept. 21, and we were leading for Alaska in several of the categories.

Also, mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 17, which is the tentative date of the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun-run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Click this link for more details.

A slideshow of scenes from the seventh Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer

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CharlieWithHisMushrooms

Charlie Bower brought a variety of mushrooms for sale this week.

It was nice and sunny, so we decided outside was the best place to hold the sixth of seven Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer, on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

Other than one booth using the Alaska Native Sisterhood Kitchen in ANB Hall to make Indian tacos, all of our booths were outdoors in the Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA) parking lot next to ANB Founders Hall.

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Sometimes you just need to dance.

We always welcome new vendors who want to sell produce they’ve grown, fish they’ve caught, and local cottage food products they’ve made. To learn more about how to be a vendor, contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 orjackson.mw08@gmail.com.

We only have one market left, which will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration.

Also, mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 17, which is the tentative date of the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun-run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Click this link for more details.

A slideshow of scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.