Sitka Local Foods Network one of 11 Alaska organizations in the 2016 Good Food Org Guide

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good-food-org-guide-2016The Sitka Local Foods Network is one of 11 Alaska food organizations included in the Food Tank and James Beard Foundation‘s 2016 Good Food Org Guide, released on Oct. 17. This year’s third annual guide expands on last year’s second list and is more than triple the size of last year’s inaugural offering.

According to the Food Tank website, ‘This definitive guide highlights nonprofit organizations that are doing exemplary work in the United States in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice. Only nonprofit, scholarly, and municipal initiatives have been selected in order to spotlight efforts that are focused on community building and engagement, advocacy, and service.”

The guide is meant to be a definitive resource that highlights the exemplary work non-profit organizations in the United States are doing on food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice.

In addition to the Sitka Local Foods Network, the other Alaska groups included in the guide for the third straight year are the Alaska Food Coalition, the Alaska Food Policy Council, the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, and Kids’ Kitchen, Inc of Anchorage. Making the guide for the second year are the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust/Alaskans Own Seafoods of Sitka, the Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District of Juneau, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, and Alaska Community Agriculture of Fairbanks. New to the guide this year are the Alaska Farmland Trust of Palmer and the Calypso Farm and Ecology Center of Fairbanks.

You can view the online version of the 2016 Good Food Org Guide by clicking this link, or you can download a hard copy of the 2016 Food Org Guide by clicking the link below.

• Food Tank and James Beard Foundation’s 2016 Good Food Org Guide

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• Sitka Local Foods Network one of nine Alaska organizations in the 2015 Good Food Org Guide

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2015_GFOG_SEAL_HIRESThe Sitka Local Foods Network is one of nine Alaska food organizations included in the Food Tank and James Beard Foundation‘s 2015 Good Food Org Guide, released on Oct. 16. This year’s second annual guide is more than triple the size of last year’s inaugural offering.

According to the Food Tank website, ‘This definitive guide highlights nonprofit organizations that are doing exemplary work in the United States in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice. Only nonprofit, scholarly, and municipal initiatives have been selected in order to spotlight efforts that are focused on community building and engagement, advocacy, and service.”

The guide is meant to be a definitive resource that highlights the exemplary work non-profit organizations in the United States are doing on food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice.

In addition to the Sitka Local Foods Network, the other Alaska groups included in the guide for the second straight year are the Alaska Food Coalition, the Alaska Food Policy Council, the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, and Kids’ Kitchen, Inc. New to the guide this year are the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust/Alaskans Own Seafoods of Sitka, the Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District of Juneau, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, and Alaska Community Agriculture.

You can view the online version of the 2015 Food Org Guide by clicking this link, or you can download a hard copy of the 2015 Food Org Guide by clicking the link below.

• Food Tank and James Beard Foundation’s 2015 Good Food Org Guide

• Hoonah Healing Community Garden helps Hoonah improve health and prevent diabetes

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Terrence McCrobie builds three Hoonah Healing Community Garden plots for the Hoonah Senior Center in May 2015. (Photo by Kathy McCrobie)

By Kathy McCrobie
SEARHC Traditional Foods Project Assistant

Creating the Hoonah Healing Community Garden was Bob Starbard’s idea. He is the Hoonah Indian Association‘s (HIA) Tribal Administrator. He worked with Bob Christensen from Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), and by 2012 our first plots had been built.

I was hired by SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) as the Traditional Foods Project Assistant. When I took over for the 2013 growing season, I really had no gardening experience. I posted notices for the community to let them know the garden was available. We had 22 plots available for growing, and that summer half were in production.

Many community members made important contributions; our gravel business donated two large loads of fine sand and the time and skills shared made building the garden easier. Soon there was a dirt sifter to screen out the many rocks in the local dirt and heavy equipment leveled the ground. The Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District in Juneau sold us 14 berry plants at a discounted price. A community member donated 30 strawberry plants. Our space was soon coming together.

Most of our gardeners have prior gardening experience. Some used their own soil. Last year the zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, beets, bush beans and snap peas did well. The biggest challenge came from the ravens. After putting in starts, out of their curiosity, they would fly down when everyone left and pull them up.

We ask that our gardeners not use fish in their compost so the bears won’t come by to check us out and so far the deer have left the plots alone. Lia Heifetz from the Sustainable Southeast Partnership was a big help with our garden last year; she acquired some fence to protect our plots from critters. We hope to get the fence up this year. Lia also came to the William and Mary Johnson Youth Center to teach the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hoonah about composting with her worm bin and then we gathered seaweed for the garden.

For 2015 we are off to a great start with six returning and four new gardeners. Community members donated 20 raspberry plants and 20 gooseberry plants. Through the program, I purchased and planted a Nadine plum tree and a Terry Berry apple tree. My husband volunteers at the Hoonah Senior Center and is helping me with the traditional foods plot, as well as planting three plots for the seniors.

I just received an email from Lauren Hughey, a Community Health Educator based out of SEARHC Sitka. What exciting news! They just received a diabetes grant carry-forward. With the approval of this grant, Hoonah will receive $1,650 with the main goal of reducing the financial barriers to gardening for American Indian/Alaska Native diabetic patients. This grant will pay for plot fees and gardening supplies in the community garden: soil, seeds, raised-bed repair supplies, shovels, pots, gloves, buckets, and cold frames.

If you are ever in Hoonah please stop by to see us.   The garden is in town next to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Sharing about the Hoonah Healing Community Garden lets our and other communities be informed that food security starts with us. Also that it really does work! For additional information, feel free to contact me at kathymc@searhc.org.

A slideshow of Hoonah community garden photos from former Sitka Local Foods Network board member Cathy Lieser is posted below.

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• Kake to host three-day shellfish mariculture workshop on May 1-3

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The Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District (SESWCD) will host a comprehensive three-day shellfish mariculture workshop on Thursday through Saturday, May 1-3, in Kake.  (NOTE: Capital City Weekly ran an article covering this event, http://capitalcityweekly.com/stories/051414/new_1206564746.shtml).

This program will be aimed at teaching best management practices to beginning oyster farmers. The workshop curriculum will consist of lectures, labs, and hands-on field operations on working oyster farms. This workshop is open to the public and the District anticipates participation from shellfish farmers in Kake, Hoonah, and Angoon. Participants will learn from experts about nearly every aspect of oyster farming in Southeast Alaska.

The workshop also features a shellfish-oriented educational program at the Kake Community School, as well as a community presentation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 1, at the Kake Community Hall Kitchen. Topics at the community presentation include: food security and mariculture, shellfish enhancement activities for subsistence use, indirect economic benefits of mariculture in the community, and commercial aquaculture diversity.

The District’s partners in this project are the Organized Village of Kake and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. Other participating organizations include the Hoonah Indian Association, Haa Aaní LLC, Alaska Division of Economic Development (Alaska Department of Commerce, Communities and Economic Development), and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

One of the SESWCD’s strategic focus areas is mariculture development (shellfish farming). The intent is to facilitate increased mariculture development in Southeast Alaska to increase food security and support rural economies. This shellfish farming workshop will be the district’s first project in its mariculture program. The Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District is a statutorily authorized quasi-state agency that leverages public funding with private sources to help the communities of Southeast Alaska become more sustainable and self-sufficient.

To register or receive more info, contact James Marcus at 1-907-586-6878 (Juneau number) or districtmanager@seswcd.org.

• Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District Shellfish Mariculture Workshop in Kake press release (with tentative schedule on second page)

• Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report helps define Sitka’s food culture

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SitkaCommunityFoodAssessmentLogoThe Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report was released on Monday, and the findings will help guide future food system planning in Sitka.

A 2012 Sitka Health Summit project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment has examined where Sitka residents get their food, what types they eat, what they grow, what they hunt and fish for, where they shop, what type of access people have to healthy food, and other questions about Sitka’s food supply. The findings of the food assessment will help Sitka improve its food security.

After Sitka residents chose the Sitka Community Food Assessment as a project at the September 2012 Sitka Health Summit, the work group received a grant to hire a coordinator and contract with a data person. A revised version of a questionnaire from a similar project on the Kenai Peninsula was posted online, available at the library, and discussed in focus groups, with more than 400 residents answering the 36 questions. In November 2013, some of the initial data was presented at the Sitka Food Summit, where about 60 residents discussed the results and noted any further research that needed to be done. Since then, the work group, in partnership with The Island Institute and others, fine-tuned the data before writing and editing the indicators report.

“We hope the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report can guide future food system planning and plant seeds for innovative responses that will strengthen Sitka’s food landscape,” project coordinator Lisa Sadleir-Hart wrote in the 26-page document’s introduction. “The Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report uncovers many weaknesses in our food system as well as some incredible assets that define Sitka’s food culture — a rich ecosystem filled with nutritious gems from the land and sea plus a generous spirit of sharing with our neighbors. Now that we’ve defined the current foodscape in Sitka, let’s work together to build a more resilient food system that can deeply nourish the entire community for generations to come.”

The Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report opens with Sitka’s demographics and several Sitka food facts. It then features data about how many people in Sitka hunt, fish, gather, and/or grow their own food, as well as some barriers. Next is information about where people in Sitka shop for their food, followed by how many people in Sitka are on some form of food assistance. The report also includes information about food in the schools, and local food manufacturing.

The findings will be presented to the community during an upcoming meeting of the Sitka Assembly, and the report will be posted online here (see below) and on The Island Institute’s website.

• Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicator Report (April 14, 2014, opens as PDF file)

• Sitka Community Food Assessment findings to be presented Nov. 14 at inaugural Sitka Food Summit

Sitka Food Summit Flyer

SitkaCommunityFoodAssessmentLogoThe Sitka Community Food Assessment work group will present its findings during the inaugural Sitka Food Summit, from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

A 2012 Sitka Health Summit project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment has examined where Sitka residents get their food, what types they eat, what they grow, what they hunt and fish for, where they shop, what type of access people have to healthy food, and other questions about Sitka’s food supply. The findings of the food assessment will help Sitka improve its food security.

“The Sitka Community Food Assessment work group decided early on that there needed to be an opportunity for Sitka to engage with the food data and shape the writing of the food assessment indicator report,” project coordinator Lisa Sadleir-Hart said. “The inaugural Sitka Food Summit will use a format that was first tested in the late 1990s when the Island Institute was developing Sitka’s initial indicator report.  We’ll interact individually with the data, then use a conversation café model to discuss what the data brings up for us as Sitkans.  The working group wanted to create a venue that meets the needs of a wide range of citizens.”

The event sponsors include the Sitka Community Food Assessment Work Group from the Sitka Health Summit, Alaskans Own Seafood, the Sitka Food Co-op, Sitka Community Hospital, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Community Transformation Grant and Diabetes Prevention programs, the Sitka Local Foods Network, the Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District, and Sitka Tribe of Alaska. There also will be refreshments thanks to Sitka Community Hospital’s Basement Bistro, St Peter’s Fellowship Farm and Sitka Conservation Society staff.

For more information, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5895 or sitkafoodassessment@gmail.com. (Editor’s note: A few photos from the Sitka Food Summit are posted below.)

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