• Sitka Assembly to give second reading Dec. 9 on plan to allow home horticulture stands

Sitka Local Foods Network President Lisa Sadleir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden, which she and husband Tom Hart cultivate.

Sitka Local Foods Network President Lisa Sadleir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden, which she and husband Tom Hart cultivate.

The Sitka Assembly will take up a plan to allow temporary home horticulture stands in residential areas during its Dec. 9 meeting at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This will be the second reading for the proposal, which passed unanimously on first reading during the Sitka Assembly’s Nov. 25 meeting. (EDITOR’S NOTE: This ordinance passed 6-0 on second reading Dec. 9, with one member absent, and will now be added to the Sitka General Code. There was some discussion about the business license requirement, but the Assembly left the requirement in.)

Ordinance 2014-38 streamlines the permitting process for home gardeners who want to set up a temporary produce stand in front of their homes to sell their extra veggies. Instead of having to go all the way to the Assembly for approval, under this proposal the Sitka Planning Commission can make the decision.

“This is an example of something that we can do very specifically to improve our food system here in Sitka,” said Sitka Local Foods Network Lisa Sadleir-Hart, who first proposed the change to the Planning Commission this summer with her husband Tom Hart. “Secondly, it’ll increase economic opportunities for Sitkans who garden or are in small farm production. Third, it’ll keep produce dollars circulating locally. Fourth, it increases neighborhood access to fresh fruits and vegetables. And fifth, it may spur other Sitkans to consider growing for more than their families and lead to further increases in our food security.”

The ordinance will allow garden stands in residential areas, but they’d be limited to six feet by eight feet. And to reduce the impact on neighbors, stands can only operate four hours a day, two days a week, between May and October. The ordinance specifically doesn’t include livestock or animal products. Home gardeners who set up produce stands in front of their homes will be required to have a business license and pay city sales tax.

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• Sitka Assembly to hear proposal to allow temporary front-yard produce stands for local gardeners

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

The Sitka Assembly is scheduled at its Tuesday, Nov. 25, meeting a proposal that will allow local gardeners to host temporary front-yard produce stands in residential areas.

Lisa Sadeir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

Lisa Sadeir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

The proposal will modify city code to change commercial use horticulture from a conditional use in residential and island zones to a permitted use. It was passed unanimously by the Sitka Planning Commission during that group’s Oct. 21 meeting, with a change that will allow an expedited review and permitting process from the Planning Commission, so home gardeners don’t have to go all the way to the Assembly for a permit. The current zoning code allows for you-pick gardens, such as Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden, but doesn’t allow for temporary home produce stands.

Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart and her husband, Tom Hart, who operate Anam Cara Garden, first proposed the idea in August. They felt home gardeners can go through the permitting process during the winter, so they can operate their front-yard produce stands during the summer. The Planning Commission included a variety of rules on size, hours, neighbor notification, parking needs, etc., and it will review each proposed produce stand.

“I believe the public collaboration process works — it was good being able to work with the commission to make adjustments it was concerned about,” Sadleir-Hart said, according to an Oct. 22 article in the Daily Sitka Sentinel. “It will move us closer in terms of increasing the presence of locally produced food in our community. It will give Sitkans an opportunity to sell their produce to their neighbors, and benefit their pocketbooks as well.”

• Panel looks at allowing garden sales at homes

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

Tom Hart at Anam Cara Garden

(The following article appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 3, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

By TOM HESSE
Sentinel Staff Writer

A potential zoning change that would allow gardeners to sell their extra produce from home started to take shape at Tuesday night’s Planning Commission meeting.

Lisa Sadleir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

Lisa Sadeir-Hart works in Anam Cara Garden

The proposal was brought forth by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and Thomas Hart [who own Anam Cara Garden] during an August meeting. The idea is to allow Sitkans with large gardens to sell their produce from their homes, which would include those in R-1, R-1 MH, R-2, R-2 MHP, GI and LI zoned districts. Since the zoning revision was first proposed, the city planning department has been trying to shape the rules, and Planning Director Wells Williams told commission members that there are a number of forms they could take.

“Like anything else, it’s a fairly simple concept but it gets complicated fairly quickly,” Williams said.

Currently, you-pick style gardens are allowed under a conditional use permit. Williams said the new proposal, which is being called commercial home horticulture, could follow a similar path. The big difference would be that gardeners could sell their produce and have a small stand in their yards where they could sell it. Those differences could be an issue in some neighborhoods, said commissioner Chris Spivey.

“There are definitely a lot of concerns about the sheer fact of having anything commercial in an R-1,” Spivey said.

Because of that, requests for commercial home horticulture permits would be done on a case-by-case basis under the proposals now being considered. Planning staff tentatively proposed a conditional use system whereby applicants would need to notify neighbors and take their applications through the planning process.

Sadleir-Hart said a four-week process to obtain a permit would be appropriate for gardeners who are looking ahead to the next growing season.

“Most people who would be moving through this process would be moving fall through winter,” she said. “To me that would be plenty of time and just being a good neighbor.”

Some of the issues commission members raised were about the days and times when sales would be allowed, how large garden stands could be, and how best to handle applications.

After a discussion, the commissioners decided the best system may be to set hours on a permit-to-permit basis.

“It’s that way with a lot of conditional use permits that we do. It varies from neighborhood to neighborhood,” commission member Richard Parmalee said.

Specifics are far from being concrete, but stands 6 feet by 8 feet in size, with an awning, are in the current proposal. They would be temporary, so they would be up only during the growing season.

“You’re going to have people in the neighborhood that want something that is aesthetically pleasing or temporary and easily broken down,” Spivey said.

Commissioners did take out a items from the original proposal, regarding greenhouses and sheds.

Williams said the planning office would take the comments from Tuesday night’s meeting and start drawing up a draft proposal with more specifics. The issue will be discussed further when the panel meets on Sept. 16.

• July work parties set for St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host work parties from 2-4 p.m. each Saturday in July at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (if there isn’t a Sitka Farmers Market scheduled that Saturday).

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm provides vegetables, herbs and fruit for the Sitka Farmers Markets, which start in July (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27 and Sept. 10 at ANB Hall). The communal garden is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street.

In addition to helping get the communal garden ready to grow veggies this summer, volunteers can meet Laura Schmidt, who is the lead gardener for St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm this year and will coordinate most of the summer’s work parties. Laura said the work parties will be kid-friendly and there will be several activities to keep the kids busy.

To learn more about the garden work parties, please contact Laura Schmidt at 623-7003 or 738-7009. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Markets, contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (nights or weekends) or by e-mail at lawilson87@hotmail.com.

• June work parties set for St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host work parties from 2-4 p.m. each Saturday in June at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm provides vegetables, herbs and fruit for the Sitka Farmers Markets, which start in July (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27 and Sept. 10 at ANB Hall). It is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street.

In addition to helping get the communal garden ready to grow veggies this summer, volunteers can meet Laura Schmidt, who is the lead gardener for St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm this year and will coordinate most of the summer’s work parties. Laura said the work parties will be kid-friendly and there will be several activities to keep the kids busy.

To learn more about the work parties, please contact Laura Schmidt at 738-7009.

• Time changes for Saturday’s planting party at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

The time has changed to 1-3 p.m. for the planting party on Saturday, May 14, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. The times also have changed for the next two planting parties, from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 and 28.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm provides vegetables, herbs and fruit for the Sitka Farmers Markets, which start in July (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27 and Sept. 10 at ANB Hall). It is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street.

In addition to helping get the communal garden ready to grow veggies this summer, volunteers can meet Laura Schmidt, who is the lead gardener for St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm this year and will coordinate most of the work parties and May planting parties. Laura said the work and planting parties will be kid-friendly and there will be several activities to keep the kids busy.

People who picked up seed starter kits at Let’s Grow Sitka in March should check the date they are scheduled to bring their started seeds in for planting. If you can’t bring them in on that date, please contact Laura Schmidt (623-7003) or Lisa Sadleir-Hart (747-5985) to make arrangements for someone else to bring them in on the scheduled date.

• St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm work party scheduled for Wednesday, May 4

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

Volunteers are need to help out at a special work party from 5:15-6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. This work party will be to build a couple of new raised garden beds and to do other preparation work before a series of planting parties scheduled for May.

From 1-4 p.m. on each Saturday in May (May 7, 14, 21 and 28), volunteers are needed for planting parties at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, which is a communal garden located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm provides vegetables, herbs and fruit for the Sitka Farmers Markets, which start in July (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27 and Sept. 10 at ANB Hall).

In addition to helping get the communal garden ready to grow veggies this summer, volunteers can meet Laura Schmidt, who is the lead gardener for St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm this year and will coordinate most of the work parties and May planting parties. Laura said the work and planting parties will be kid-friendly and there will be several activities to keep the kids busy.

People who picked up seed starter kits at Let’s Grow Sitka in March should check the date they are scheduled to bring their started seeds in for planting. If you can’t bring them in on that date, please contact Laura Schmidt (623-7003) or Lisa Sadleir-Hart (747-5985) to make arrangements for someone else to bring them in on the scheduled date.