Scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2022 summer

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK
Sitka Farmers Market volunteer Shannon Cellan, and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt, center, present the Table of the Day Award for Sept. 10 to Leah Piera Murphy of Spinning Moon Apothecary. Leah sold a variety of locally blended teas, tinctures, salves, and more. She received a Sitka Local Foods Network tote bag, two Sitka Farmers Market special label chocolate bars, a bag of salad greens, Foraged & Found kelp salsa, Moosetard Lead Dog BBQ sauce, and other prizes. The last Sitka Farmers Market of the summer is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). We still have room for vendors, and vendors can register online (by Thursday morning on market week) at https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com
. More details about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

We are starting to wind down the season for the Sitka Farmers Markets this year, and we hosted our sixth market on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. This was the second to last market of our 15th season of markets.

We appreciate everybody who made this market season a success, especially all of our vendors, volunteers, and customers who wore masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. When the city’s Covid-19 risk level is high, we require masks inside ANB Hall. If the city’s Covid-19 risk drops to medium or low, we recommend people wear masks inside.

We didn’t have as many booths as in previous years, but the smaller markets seemed to have worked. We still had fresh local produce, as well as a variety of Alaska Grown value-added products, local eggs, mushrooms, and arts and crafts. The Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand accepts and matches WIC coupons and SNAP EBT benefits.

Our last market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, Sept. 24, at the ANB Founders Hall, 235 Katlian Street. Potential vendors can register and pay their vendor fees by going to https://sitkafarmersmarket.eventsmart.com (please register by the Thursday morning of market week). More information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Farmers Market can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.

A slideshow of scenes from the sixth market of the summer is posted below.

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week this week with the Sitka Farmers Market

It’s National Farmers Market Week on Aug. 2-8 this year. You can celebrate by ordering produce from the Sitka Farmers Market and picking it up from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 8, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, 611 Lincoln Street). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you will need to order your produce from 5 p.m. Tuesday through 8 p.m. Thursday using the Salt and Soil Marketplace website, and then picking it up on Saturday at St. Peter’s.

This is the 13th summer of Sitka Farmers Markets, but the pandemic is forcing us to run a very scaled back operation. To limit the handling of cash, we went to an online ordering system (Salt and Soil Marketplace) where people order all of their produce during the week and then pick it up on Saturday. Since our usual venue was still closed when we were planning, we had to switch to an outdoors venue with limited space so our main vendors are produce vendors.

The theme for this year’s National Farmers Market Week is #FarmersMarketsAreEssential. When the pandemic hit, there were worries farmers markets would be closed even though they play a vital role in local food security. This article from March 19 in Civil Eats discusses some of the struggles to keep farmers markets open and labeled as essential businesses. In Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced in April that farmers markets were considered essential businesses, but they would be limited this year to just food vendors (no arts and crafts). This announcement came during the Alaska Farmers Market Association annual meeting and conference, which was online this year.

But at least we are able to be open and sell locally grown produce this year. You can learn more about how we’re operating this year at this link. The link includes information about how we are handling WIC and SNAP benefits this year. Basically there are two main produce vendors — the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand and Middle Island Gardens — selling produce each week. There are a couple of other Salt and Soil Marketplace vendors in Sitka — Raincoast Flowers sells cut flowers and distributes them at St. Peter’s most weeks, Anam Cara Family Garden sells jams and jellies and distributes them from their home, and Spinning Moon Apothecary sells teas and herbal tinctures and distributes them from their storefront.

“We really miss having the full market and the community connections it provides, but we’re just happy to be able to be able to get locally grown produce into the hands of Sitka residents,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “The Sitka Farmers Market is more than a market for local produce, and we usually have local seafood, cottage foods products, baked goods, arts and crafts, and more. It’s been a place to incubate small food businesses. The Sitka Local Foods Network mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvest food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans, and so we have to go back to supporting the food part of our mission this year. Hopefully we’ll be back to a normal market again next summer.”

By moving our market outside this year, we’re hoping to reduce the risk of spreading the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. All of our volunteers are wearing masks and gloves, and we ask that customers please wear masks or stay in their cars if you are not wearing a mask. Our greeters will bring your order to you, so you can put it into your own box or tote bags (please return out baskets).

For more information, contact sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com or sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com, or call our Sitka Farmers Market phone at 738-7310. You also can sign up for our weekly Sitka Farmers Market newsletter that comes out on Tuesday afternoons with info about what produce is available by clicking on the Sitka Farmers Market logo in the right column of the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org.