• Participants selected for Sitka Local Foods Network’s 2015 garden mentoring program

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The Sitka Local Foods Network has selected the 2015 participants for its garden mentoring program, and plans are being made for six classes each this summer at the homes of our four new participants and two returning families.

This is the second year of the program, which launched last year with two participants — the families of Tami O’Neill and Anna Bradley. This year our program expands with four new families (Josephine Dasalla, A.J. Bastian, Rebecca Kubacki, and Breezy), and our two 2014 families are back for a second year. Michelle Putz has been contracted to coordinate the program and design lesson plans, after the Sitka Local Foods Network received a community development grant from First Bank.

The Sitka Local Foods Network garden mentoring program is designed for first-time gardeners, and the first year of the program involves participants learning how to grow four simple crops that grow well in Sitka (lettuce, kale, rhubarb and potatoes). The participating families learn how to find the best spot on their land (for sun and drainage), how to build raised garden beds, how to amend the soil, how to plant, how to maintain their garden, and how to harvest their crops.

The two returning families will learn how to grow more difficult crops, such as carrots and onions, plus they’ll have refreshers on their first-year crops. The goal of the program is to teach people low-cost ways to grow healthy food in Sitka. When selecting our families, we wanted to make sure there were multiple generations involved, especially kids. The classes, when announced starting in mid-April, will be open to the public. Several experienced gardeners volunteer as mentors for the selected families.

 

• Sitka Local Foods Network seeks a coordinator for our garden mentoring education program

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The Sitka Local Foods Network is looking to contract with a Sitka resident to coordinate our garden mentoring education program.

This contract run from spring through fall 2015, and the coordinator will be in charge of developing curricula, teaching classes, obtaining supplies, and providing evaluation of the program. A full list of job duties and expectations can be found in the linked document at the bottom of this article.

Applicants should have at least 3-5 years of varied vegetable gardening experience, preferably in Southeast Alaska. They also should have 3-5 years of project coordination experience, as well as demonstrated communication, organizational, and teaching/mentoring skills.

The garden mentoring project began in 2014 when two families of first-time gardeners were chosen to receive help planning and building a simple garden to grow four relatively easy plants for Sitka (kale, rhubarb, potatoes, lettuce). In 2015 the program is expanding to provide mentoring service to four new first-time gardening families, plus the two families from 2014 will receive a second year of mentoring as they learn a few more difficult to grow plants (such as carrots). There are six classes with each family, and they usually are open to the public.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume by Wednesday, Jan. 28, to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Please put “Garden Mentor Coordinator” in your email subject line. The contract pays $1,500 in three installments of $500 each over the summer. Questions about the contract can be directed to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• SLFN garden mentoring coordinator contract information

 

• Sitka Local Foods Network to host another free late-harvest/winter-garden-preparation class

 

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Late harvests and preparing your vegetable garden for winter is the subject of the fifth class in the 2014 Sitka Local Foods Network education committee’s garden mentoring program.

The public is invited to join one of our current garden-mentoring families to learn about harvesting and storing potatoes, harvesting lettuce and kale into fall and winter, and preparing vegetable gardens for winter (and spring).

This free class will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 6, at Tami O’Neill’s house, 2309 Merganser Dr. The class is open to all first-time gardeners in Sitka.

Families that might be interested in participating in the garden mentor program are encouraged to come and learn about 2015 garden mentoring opportunities.

For more information, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708 ormichelleputzfood@yahoo.com.

• Sitka Local Foods Network education committee seeks new families for garden mentor program

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???????????????????????????????For a second year (2014-15), the Sitka Local Foods Network (SLFN) education committee wants to help families in Sitka learn how easy it can be to grow some of their own food. We are looking for up to four families who would like to learn about and try vegetable gardening in their own backyard through our Family Garden Mentor project.

Through a series of six workshops to be held at the families’ homes, Sitka Local Foods Network education committee volunteers will help the families:

  • Choose a location for a vegetable bed (learning about sun, drainage, etc.),
  • Build (or find) a planter/container or raised bed, and acquire soil and soil amendments,
  • Learn about soil and prepare the soil for planting,
  • Plant 2-4 easy-to-grow plants — specifically potatoes, lettuce, kale, and maybe a perennial edible such as rhubarb or fruit bushes,
  • Learn to take care of their plants over the summer — teaching how to care for and pick the vegetables (without killing the plant),
  • Harvest potatoes, and
  • Cook a meal using the vegetables they have grown.

IMG_0005The Sitka Local Foods Network will provide all materials — soil, lumber, seeds, etc. — free to the participating families. Families will be expected to provide the labor, enthusiasm for gardening, and healthy appetites to eat the vegetables they grow.

The requirement to own your property or home has been dropped for 2015. Interested families must meet only three requirements:

  1. They must be first-time vegetable gardeners (this project is meant to help people who are just starting to garden),
  2. They must want to try vegetable gardening and be committed to participating throughout the summer, and
  3. They must agree to let others come and attend classes at their property.

Other criteria, such as availability and interest in a second year of mentoring, will also be used to help select the final four families. Families that are not selected will be placed on a waiting list in the hope of future continuation and expansion of this project.

IMG_0751The Sitka Local Foods Network has expanded the program this year to include more families and to include at least two households living in rental housing that will garden in portable containers or planters appropriately sized for their space (in case moving is necessary). We also will offer a second year of mentoring to previous participants, so families can expand their knowledge and try growing more “difficult” vegetables such as carrots and green onions.

Workshops may start as early as this fall or winter with selecting the site, ramp up in the spring of 2015 and run through September’s late harvest. First-year classes will focus on the easiest-to-grow vegetables (and fruit) in Sitka — potatoes, lettuce, kale, and rhubarb.

Families interested in participating should contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708, and provide a name, address, and contact phone number. Please contact Michelle by Monday, Oct. 6, if you hope to participate in the 2014-15 family garden mentor project.

• Sitka Local Foods Network education committee to host fourth classes in new garden mentor program

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Harvesting vegetables will be the theme of the fourth round of classes in the Sitka Local Foods Network’s new garden mentoring program.

This year, the SLFN education committee chose two families from a list of first-time gardeners to mentor for the summer. The two families agreed to allow other first-time gardeners to attend the six proposed classes at their homes, in exchange for help building their gardens from more experienced Sitka gardeners.

IMG_0005These free classes are open to all first-time gardeners in Sitka. The classes will be similar at each location, so people wanting to participate only need to sign up for one class. New classes will be added as the spring/summer progress, so keep watching for more. New participants are welcome, and a review of previous classes will be available.

The first class was on garden preparation, the second class was on planting, and the third class was on garden maintenance. The fourth round of classes will focus on early season harvest. Gardeners will learn about harvesting plants in a way that ensures the continued health of the plants and a long-term harvest throughout the summer. Uses and recipes for harvested plants will also be discussed.

The two vegetable harvest classes will be:

  • Friday, June 20, 4:30 p.m. at Anna Bradley’s house, 4764 Halibut Point Road.
  • Monday, July 7, 7 p.m. at Tami O’Neill’s house, 2309 Merganser Drive.

For more information, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708 or michelleputzfood@yahoo.com.

• Sitka Local Foods Network education committee to host third classes in new garden mentor program

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Garden maintenance will be the theme of the third round of classes in the Sitka Local Foods Network’s new garden mentoring program.

This year, the SLFN education committee chose two families from a list of first-time gardeners to mentor for the summer. The two families agreed to allow other first-time gardeners to attend the six proposed classes at their homes, in exchange for help building their gardens from more experienced Sitka gardeners.

These free classes are open to all first-time gardeners in Sitka. The classes will be similar at each location, so people wanting to participate only need to sign up for one class. New classes will be added as the spring/summer progress, so keep watching for more.

The first class was on garden preparation, and the second class was on planting. During the third round of classes on garden maintenance we will review choosing easy vegetables to plant and how to plant them, and then discuss and do garden maintenance (weeding, thinning, spacing plants/transplanting, inspecting for good and bad bugs, disease, slugs, deeper watering, hilling/propping up potatoes, etc.). If new people attend, we will review garden preparation, too.

The two garden maintenance classes will be:

  • Sunday, May 25, 4 p.m. at Tami O’Neill’s house, 2309 Merganser Drive.
  • Friday, June 6, 4:30 p.m. at Anna Bradley’s house, 4764 Halibut Point Road.

For more information, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708 or michelleputzfood@yahoo.com.

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