• Sitka Local Foods Network to host six Sitka Farmers Market events in 2015

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Celebrate your independence from store-bought and factory-processed food this year by joining the Sitka Local Foods Network as it hosts the eighth summer of Sitka Farmers Markets in 2015. There will be six markets this year, starting on July 4 and taking place on alternate Saturdays through Sept. 12. The Sitka Farmers Markets give Sitka residents a chance to buy and sell locally produced food and crafts.

The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 4, July 18, Aug. 1, Aug. 15, Aug. 29, and Sept. 12 at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked goods, locally made jams and jellies, live entertainment and music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun. We are the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons and Alaska Quest EBT for SNAP (food stamp) users. Debe Brincefield is the Sitka Farmers Market manager, with Francis Wegman-Lawless serving as assistant manager.

“The Sitka Farmers Market is a great way to connect with community members and support local entrepreneurs,” Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart said. “Spending your dollars locally has a multiplying effect and helps your neighbors. We also encourage Sitkans to join the $5 Per Week Alaska Grown Challenge and support your local producers each week with $5. Dollars spent locally multiply in our community to the tune of about $3 for each dollar spent. So you get great local food and support your neighbors by spending locally.”

The Sitka Farmers Market started as a community wellness project that came out of a health priority planning meeting at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. The markets are sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network, Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1, Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4, Baranof Island Housing Authority, the Alaska Farmers Market Association, the Alaska Division of Public Health Cancer Control Program, and the SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes Prevention programs.

“As with the past three seasons, we invite Sitkans who participate in food stamps to use their QUEST card at the market and we will match up to $20 per market for each food stamp participant in a household until resources are exhausted,” Sadleir-Hart said. “So for a family of four that could mean up to $80 extra dollars to shop at each market. Additionally, the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm stand will be working with the SEARHC Health Promotion program to debut a new fruit and vegetable prescription program at the market. SEARHC’s nutritionist will provide eligible beneficiaries with $5 vouchers to use at the farm stand to access local, fresh produce. The farm stand also will accept WIC farmers market and fruits and vegetable vouchers (FVV).”

To learn more about the market and how to be a vendor, contact Sitka Farmers Market Manager Debe Brincefield at 738-8683 or by e-mail sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. Vendor rules, registration forms and other info for potential vendors can be found on the Documents page at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

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• Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by visiting the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 9

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SitkaFarmersMarketSignU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 3-9 as National Farmers Market Week this year, as noted by the Farmers Market Coalition, and you can celebrate the week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

Farmers markets are a great way to connect with the community, while also purchasing local produce, wild fish, locally baked bread and arts and crafts. Besides providing access to fresh local produce, farmers markets create strong economic engines in communities, promote local health and bring a diverse group of people together. They also help consumers meet and get to know the people who produce their food.

SLFNGroupwLinda“The Sitka Farmers Market is a community festival where people of all walks of life come together and find great stuff, good food, amazing music, awesome produce, freshly harvested, and above all, great company!” said Debe Brincefield, one of the two Sitka Farmers Market co-managers.

Farmers markets have been growing nationally, from 2,863 in 2000 to more than 8,100 in 2014, a jump of more than 280 percent. While Alaska doesn’t have as many farmers markets as other states, it did have the highest percentage of new markets in the country in recent years, up to 35 markets in 2011 or 46 percent. The national rate of new market growth was 17 percent in 2011 and 9.6 percent in 2012.

Aug. 9 will be the fourth of six full Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, with the schedule running on alternate Saturdays (June 28, July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun.

SitkaFarmersMarketBusNEW2The Sitka Farmers Market was the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons, and we also accept SNAP EBT payments. In addition, this year we teamed up with Sitka Tours to offer free bus service on market Saturdays. The bus picks up at Sawmill Creek Apartments at 9:45 a.m., at Indian River at 9:50 a.m., and Swan Lake Senior Center at 10 a.m., with the return trip leaving ANB Founders Hall at noon.

For more information about the market or hosting a booth, contact Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Ellexis Howey or Debe Brincefield at 738-8683 or sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. By the way, we always need volunteers to help set up and take down the market before and after the event. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Also, we need volunteer harvesters from 3:30-5:30 p.m. every Friday and 8-9:30 a.m. on market Saturdays at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, which is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (the dark brown brick-and-wood church on Lincoln Street above Crescent Harbor). Fresh veggies will be available for a donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network or a WIC farmers market coupon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Mondays before a market Saturday. For more info on garden work parties, contact St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt at 738-7009 or 623-7003.

• Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by going to the Sitka Farmers Market on Saturday, Aug. 18

Aug. 5-11 is National Farmers Market Week this year, as noted by the Farmers Market Coalition. The Sitka Farmers Market didn’t quite line up its dates with National Farmers Market Week this year, but if you didn’t attend our market on Saturday, Aug. 4 you still can celebrate the week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.).

Farmers markets are a great way to connect with the community, while also purchasing local produce, wild fish, locally baked bread and arts and crafts. Besides providing access to fresh local produce, farmers markets create strong economic engines in communities, promote local health and bring a diverse group of people together. They also help consumers meet and get to know the people who produce their food.

“The Sitka Farmers Market serves as a family friendly place for people to meet and to visit with other members of the community,” Sitka Local Foods Network Vice-President Linda Wilson said. “Some people spend an hour or two just going around mingling with folks and chatting, catching up on the local news, telling jokes, and sharing ideas and information. There is a lot of good energy around during the market.”

Farmers markets have been growing nationally, from 2,863 in 2000 to 7,864 in 2012, a jump of more than 270 percent. While Alaska doesn’t have as many farmers markets as other states, it did have the highest percentage of new markets in the country last year, up 35 markets in 2011 or 46 percent. The national rate of new market growth was 17 percent in 2011 and 9.6 percent in 2012.

Aug. 18 will be the fourth of six full Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, with the schedule running on alternate Saturdays (July 7, 21, Aug. 4, 18, Sept. 1 and 15). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun. We are the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons. You also can vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest by following the links at https://sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/2012/06/22/%E2%80%A2-dont-forget-to-vote-for-the-sitka-farmers-market-in-this-years-americas-favorite-farmers-markets-contest/.

For more information about the market or hosting a booth, contact Sitka Farmers Market Manager Johanna Willingham at 738-8836 or johanna.willingham@gmail.com. By the way, we always need volunteers to help set up and take down the market before and after the event. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Also, there will be a couple of work parties from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 8, and  from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, which is located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church (the dark brown brick-and-wood church on Lincoln Street above Crescent Harbor). Fresh veggies will be available for a donation to the Sitka Local Foods Network or a WIC Farmers Market Coupon. For more info on garden work parties, contact St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Lead Gardener Laura Schmidt at 738-7009 or 623-7003.