Celebrate local farmers and gardeners on Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 7

Alaskans will celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 7. On this day, Alaskans are encouraged to support local agriculture by seeking out and purchasing products produced in Alaska and educating youth about the vital role that agriculture plays in our economy. This is Alaska’s version of National Ag Day (which took place on March 14 this year, when many parts of Alaska were still thawing out). The 2019 Alaska Ag Day theme is Farm Animal Fun. Don’t forget Monday, May 6, is the third annual Drive Your Tractor To Work Day in Alaska.

Here are a few ideas from the Division of Agriculture on how to celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day:

In Sitka, you can celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day by starting a food garden (even a couple of containers on your deck can provide you with potatoes, carrots or greens). Teachers are encouraged to offer a lesson plan or two about the importance of agriculture in Alaska and in Sitka. Here’s a link to an article about how Sitka was Alaska’s original garden city back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Also, the Sitka History Minute feature on KCAW-Raven Radio has had several episodes about agriculture in Sitka (click here to listen to a feature about the potato in Sitka, click here to listen to a feature about the Sitka Agricultural Station, and click here to listen to a feature about the cows of Iris Meadows).

During the growing season, please support the Sitka farmers and production gardeners listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book (chief contact in parentheses, the Buy Alaska Grown website is still using this information even though it is somewhat dated) — Anam Cara Family Garden (Lisa Sadleir-Hart), Blatchley Community Gardens (David Nuetzel, this garden closed in 2016 and there is a group seeking a new location for what will be called Sitka Community Gardens, but its 2019 status is unknown), Down To Earth U-Pick Garden (Lori Adams, switched to a CSA in 2017 and no longer is a public u-pick garden), Finn Island Farm (Keith Nyitray, this farm closed), Sprucecot Gardens (Judy Johnstone, this may be closed), and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (Laura Schmidt/Sitka Local Foods Network). There also are a few Sitka farms and production gardens not listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book, such as Beyond Leafy LLC (Jimmy and Leslie Kranz, this hydroponic basil growing operation may be closed in 2019), Middle Island Gardens (Andrea Fraga/Kaleb Aldred), and Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Garden (Florence Welsh).

Many of these farms and gardens will be vendors during the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 6, July 27, Aug. 10, Aug. 17, Aug. 31, Sept. 7, and Sept 21 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). We are in the process of scheduling a Sitka Farmers Market vendors meeting or two where rules and responsibilities will be discussed.

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Sitka Farmers Market vendor registration information for 2019 now available

Registration for the 2019 Sitka Farmers Markets is open, and vendors looking to sell local food, arts and crafts, and other items at the markets can find all the vendor forms, information sheets, rules and regulations for this year by going to the Documents page on this site (scroll down to vendor forms), or look at the bottom of this post for the documents. The forms include information about how to register your table for this year’s markets.

The 2019 Sitka Farmers Market manager is Nina Vizcarrondo, who managed the market the past two years and before that helped manage a New York City farmers market. She can be reached at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com or (907) 738-9301 during the market season. Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham is assisting with the market again this year.

The dates for our 2019 Sitka Farmers Markets will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 6, July 27, Aug. 10, Aug. 17, Aug. 31, Sept. 7, and Sept. 21 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall at 235 Katlian Street. We hope to schedule a vendor information meeting or two before the markets, which might be attended by Bruce Gazaway of the Food Safety Program from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. We also hope to schedule another cottage foods basics class with Sarah Lewis of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service’s Juneau office, which in past years has been done through videoconference at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

This year we don’t have many changes from our last 2-3 years, when the Sitka Local Foods Network rolled back its Sitka Farmers Market table prices to 2015 levels and simplified them. We hope this helps us reclaim and keep some of the vendors we lost in previous years. The table fees will be $40 for a full table (slightly longer than eight feet) or $20 for a half table per market. We also have a deal where vendors who reserve space for and participate in all seven markets can receive a refund of one market fee after the season (so get seven markets for the price of six). There no longer is a price differential between indoor and outdoor booths (outdoor booths are charged the full table rate). We want to bring back some of the excitement to the markets, where it returns to being a community gathering place, and that means we have to make the market attractive to vendors.

If you are an Alaska food vendor and don’t have the time to host a table at the market, we might be interested in buying your products at wholesale rates or selling them on consignment at our Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand. Most of the produce we sell at the SLFN farm stand is grown at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden and its satellite gardens, but we do sell some donated local produce. We also offer a matching program for people using WIC and SNAP benefits at our SLFN farm stand.

We want to show Sitkans the variety of local food products available in our community and state. In recent years we expanded our Alaska Grown products at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, selling Chugach Chocolates from Girdwood, barley products from Alaska Flour Company of Delta Junction, fermented foods from Evie’s Brinery of Anchorage, and kelp pickles and salsa from Barnacle Foods of Juneau. This year we plan to try some new products in addition to keeping the rest of these brands in stock.

We are hosting a third year of the children’s vendor program, where kids get to become entrepreneurs and sell their own locally made food or arts and crafts. This program is modeled after the city’s program where children younger than age 12 buy a season permit to sell items near Harrigan Centennial Hall on cruise ship days. In our children’s vendor program, the fee is $10 for the full market season.

Nina is available to answer questions and to make suggestions that will help new and returning vendors adjust to any food regulation changes from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, updates to the Alaska Quest electronic benefits program and WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program, etc.

We have updated the 2019 vendor rules and responsibilities, but the only major changes are we won’t have access to the Alaska Native Sisterhood Kitchen (if you want to use it to cook something for the market, you will have to contact ANS to rent the kitchen) and vendors will not be able to store equipment at ANB Founders Hall between markets. The last page of the rules and responsibilities packet has the vendor registration form for adult and child vendors.

In addition, we are trying to increase our labor pool of volunteers to help out with the market. We need people to help us set up, take down, sell produce at the Sitka Local Foods Network farm stand, and more. If you are interested in volunteering, send us a note with your contact info. We usually have musicians play at the market, so we are gathering a list of music groups that want to perform.

For more information, contact Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com, or you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Amanda Anjum is the SLFN board liaison to the market (and board treasurer) and Charles Bingham is the SLFN board president, and both will assist with the market.

Sitka Farmers Market vendor forms

• 2019 Vendor Rules and Responsibilities (with Registration Form, updated April 26, 2019)

• Sitka Farmers Market vendor agreement to accept Alaska Quest SNAP EBT tokens (2017)

• Link to 2015 Farmers Market Resource Fact Sheets from Alaska Division of Agriculture

• 2015 City and Borough of Sitka Sales Tax Form for Sitka Farmers Market Vendors

• Cottage Food Fact Sheet — “Understanding Alaska’s Cottage Food Exemptions”

• Cottage Food Exemptions

• Washington Farmers Market Vendor Marketing Guide (March 2014)

• Guide to Operating a Successful Home-Based Food Business (March 2014 document from UAF Cooperative Extension Service and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation includes Alaska food safety information and regulations for farmers markets and other food sales)

Scenes from the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser

It was cloudy in Sitka on Saturday, Sept. 22 (stop the presses), but the rain held off and didn’t dampen the fun during the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka.

Runners and others met under a large tent in Totem Square park, where we also had a small farm stand with fresh, local veggies from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, music from the Sitka Blues Band, a table with info about Youth Advocates of Sitka, and more.

In recent years, the Running of the Boots has been an annual fundraising event for the Sitka Local Foods Network, whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans. The Sitka Local Foods Network operates the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, the Sitka Farmers Market, and hosts an education program that includes the family garden mentoring project.

This year, Youth Advocates of Sitka helped co-host the event. Youth Advocates of Sitka is an organization that provides mental and behavioral health services for youth, and it also runs a youth-run food-based business (the Smoothie Truck) during the summer.

The Running of the Boots is part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association, where Sitka residents were served hamburgers and hot dogs to celebrate the end of the summer.

A slideshow of scenes from the 24th annual Running of the Boots is posted below.

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Thank you for supporting the Sitka Farmers Market during the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo, left, presents the Table of the Day Award to Andrea Fraga, center, and Kaleb Aldred of Middle Island Gardens during the seventh and final market of the summer held Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Andrea and Kaleb sold a variety of salad greens, lettuce, turnips, carrots, and other veggies. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, Andrea and Kaleb received a pair of Sitka Farmers Market t-shirts, a Chugach Chocolates bar, and a package of Alaska Flour Company pancake mix, and more. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 24th Running of the Boots costumed fun run on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Race registration opens at 10:30 a.m., with costume judging at 11 a.m. and the race at 11:30 a.m. This event benefits the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka. To learn more, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We hosted our seventh and final Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Sept. 15, with a full slate of booths and a decent crowd. We thank everybody who supported the Sitka Farmers Market this summer, and hope to see you again next year.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling frozen salmon, home-baked bread, jams and jellies, garlic, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a food truck outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines this year at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

 

Even though the Sitka Farmers Market season is over for 2018, we will have one final farm stand this year. The Sitka Local Foods Network will co-host the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run (with Youth Advocates of Sitka) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m., costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and the race starts at 11:30 a.m. We plan to have a farm stand at the event, and YAS will have the Smoothie Truck. The entry fee is $10 for individuals and $30 for families. There will be door prizes and live music, too. This event is part of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce’s annual End-Of-Season Celebration, which includes a community lunch for a donation (which usually goes for school activities).

Unfortunately, we don’t have our usual slideshow of the last farmers market as Sitka Local Foods Network president and event photographer Charles Bingham was out of town at a conference, missing his first Sitka Farmers Market in 11 years.

Again, thanks for supporting us this summer at the Sitka Farmers Market. If you liked the market and want to help us plan the markets for next summer and help on other projects, the Sitka Local Foods Network has openings on its board of directors. To learn more, contact Charles Bingham at (907) 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com, or click this link.

Scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market volunteer Mohan Arul, left (an exchange student from India), presents the Table of the Day Award to Emily Davis during the sixth market of the summer held Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. Emily sold a variety of homemade vegan treats. As Table Of The Day Award-winner, Emily received aSitka Farmers Market t-shirt, birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub, a jar of Barnacle kelp salsa, and a package of Alaska Flour Company flour, and more. The last Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), with the last market scheduled for Sept. 15. Also, don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 24th Running of the Boots costumed fun run on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Race registration opens at 10:30 a.m., with costume judging at 11 a.m. and the race at 11:30 a.m. This event benefits the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We hosted our sixth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Sept. 1, with a full slate of booths and a decent crowd. The weather was a bit rainy, so most of the booths were inside.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling home-baked bread, jams and jellies, garlic, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a food truck outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines this year at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

Our last Sitka Farmers Market of the summer takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the ANB Founders Hall.

Also, the Sitka Local Foods Network will co-host the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run (with Youth Advocates of Sitka) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m., costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and the race starts at 11:30 a.m. We plan to have a farm stand at the event, and YAS will have the Smoothie Truck. The entry fee is $10 for individuals and $30 for families. There will be door prizes and live music, too. This event is part of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce’s annual End-Of-Season Celebration, which includes a community lunch for a donation (which usually goes for school activities).

To learn how to be a vendor at the market or how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

A slideshow of scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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24th annual Running of the Boots raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka

It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and paint them up. The 24th annual Running of the Boots begins at 11:30 a.m. (registration opens at 10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the big tent near Totem Square park on Lincoln Street. This year the costumed fun run fundraiser benefits two local nonprofit organizations — the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka.

This year, there will be more food, music and other tents staged near the start of the Running of the Boots, so it will have a more festive atmosphere. This change allows the race to be a bigger part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association. In addition to the Running of the Boots, the Season’s-End Celebration includes a lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for Sitka residents featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, and fish. People are asked to make a $2 donation when they get their lunch, and the money raised will go toward a local community group or nonprofit to be announced.

THIS JUST IN: Russell’s has donated 10 pairs of XtraTufs for door prizes at the Running of the Boots. Thanks, Russell’s.

“We’re happy to share this event with Youth Advocates of Sitka this year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “The Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted this event for the past decade, but this year we weren’t sure if we had enough board members in town to keep the event going. It’s a great event, and I’m happy Youth Advocates of Sitka decided to partner with us to keep it around for a 24th year. We lost our co-sponsor from last year when the organization closed its Sitka office and we needed to find a partner to continue this event. We wanted to honor the kid-friendly aspect of the event, and Youth Advocates of Sitka serves that role, as well as operating a youth-run food business (the Smoothie Truck) during the summer.”

“Youth Advocates of Sitka is proud to be involved with the Sitka tradition, Running of the Boots,” Youth Advocates of Sitka executive director Charlie Woodcock said. “Our vision is to empower youth to grow into healthy, happy, and productive members of our community. What a wonderful opportunity for us to support our youth and community with a fun and original celebration!”

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). For the past decade, the Running of the Boots raised funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners. This year, it also will raise funds for Youth Advocates of Sitka, which provides a variety of mental and behavioral services for youth and their families in Sitka.

The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The course starts at Totem Square park, and runners will run from one end of Lincoln Street to the other and back to Totem Square park (or, we may just run from Totem Square down Lincoln Street to St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, where runners will loop around the church and head back to Totem Square). There will be lots of prizes, including some new pairs of XtraTufs. There also is live music, and fun for the entire family. Some of the better costumes in recent years have been worn by adults.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $10 per person and $30 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10:30 a.m. Costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11:30 a.m. (NOTE: these times are a half-hour later than in recent years). As usual, local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a farm stand booth with fresh veggies for sale from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Alaska Quest (SNAP) electronic benefit cards. The Smoothie Truck also will be at the event.

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Charlie Woodcock of Youth Advocates of Sitka at 747-2910 or by email at charlie.woodcock@sitkayouth.org, or contact Charles Bingham of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 623-7660 or by email at charleswbingham3@gmail.com. We also need several volunteers to help set up and take down the race (at least two needed) and to judge the costumes (two needed). Contact Charlie Woodcock or Sydney Carter of YAS (747-2848 or sydney.carter@sitkayouth.org) to learn how to volunteer.

Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/. Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-17) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (type Running of the Boots into the search bar near the top of the page). Click this link to see a slideshow of scenes from the 2017 Running of the Boots.

Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and follow our Twitter page at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods (@SitkaLocalFoods) to stay updated on Sitka Local Foods Network activities. The Youth Advocates of Sitka page on Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/sitkayouth.

Scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2018 summer

Sitka Farmers Market volunteer Hannah Green, right, presents the Table of the Day Award to Gracelynn Friske, left, and Andrew Friske, center, of the FV Adria during the fifth market of the summer held Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. The FV Adria had a few live Dungeness crab at their booth, and customers were directed to their boat in the harbor to purchase crab to take home. As Table Of The Day Award-winners, the Friske family received two Sitka Farmers Market t-shirts, some birch syrup products from Kahiltna Birchworks, a jar of Inga’s Spice Rub, a Chugach Chocolates bar, and a package of Alaska Flour Company cookie mix, and some locally grown beets and salad mix. The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at ANB Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street), with the last market scheduled for Sept. 15. Also, don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 24th Running of the Boots costumed fun run on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Race registration opens at 10:30 a.m., with costume judging at 11 a.m. and the race at 11:30 a.m. This event benefits the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how to be a vendor, go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org, or check out our Facebook pages for the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Farmers Market.

We hosted our fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Aug. 25, with a full slate of booths and a decent crowd. The weather was a bit rainy, so most of the booths were inside.

We had lots of produce this time, as the growing season has progressed so more is ready to pick. We even had a vendor selling live crab (note, they had a few display crab at the market and customers went to the boat to pick their Dungeness crabs to take home). Our vendors had a wide range of products for sale. We had vendors selling fhome-baked bread, jams and jellies, sea veggies and teas, garlic, carrots and other produce, locally produced medicinal herbs and tinctures, arts and crafts, and more. We also had a couple of food truck outside. And we introduced a couple of new Alaska Grown product lines this year at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand.

The next Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at the ANB Founders Hall. There last market of the summer is scheduled for Sept. 15.

Also, the Sitka Local Foods Network will co-host the 24th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run (with Youth Advocates of Sitka) on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Totem Square Park. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m., costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and the race starts at 11:30 a.m. We plan to have a farm stand at the event, and YAS will have the Smoothie Truck. The entry fee is $10 for individuals and $30 for families. There will be door prizes and live music, too. This event is part of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce’s annual End-Of-Season Celebration, which includes a community lunch for a donation (which usually goes for school activities).

To learn how to be a vendor at the market or how to be a volunteer, contact market manager Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or assistant manager Charles Bingham (907) 623-7660, or email us at sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We also have a kids vendor program at the market for young entrepreneurs age 12 or younger. Don’t forget to like our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook.

A slideshow of scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of 2018 is posted below.

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