During the weekend of July 17th , over 40 children and adults from Prince of Wales came together in Kasaan for three days to process and celebrate local bounties of the island.
The second Kasaan Community Harvest was coordinated by the Organized Village of Kasaan, Southeast Conference and the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. Communities participating included Kasaan, Hydaburg, Craig, Klawock, Thorne Bay, and Coffman Cove. In addition, we were honored to have Dolly Garza participate for a second year from Haida Gwaii. Garza and participants were also being filmed in Kasaan by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council about the importance of clean water!
The goal of the event was to build community around harvesting, processing, and celebrating local wild foods. During the Kasaan Community Harvest participants gathered at the Totem Trail Café to share family recipes and methodologies for jarred smoked sockeye and coho, plain packed coho, and venison. They were also able to visit a nearby smokehouse to see firsthand how to brine, hang and smoke the salmon. Participants picked thimbleberries and elderberries and learned how to make jam and jelly. They also prepared Devil’s Club salve using bark that was harvested during the 2014 event.
There was a wide range of experience brought by the participants. For some it was the first time touching a salmon, while others offered decades of experience, traditions, and family recipes. The weekend offered a time to revisit and practice Haida traditions of harvesting and celebrate the resources offered by the sea and land of Southeast.
Harvesting and preserving local foods encourages carrying on traditions and the responsible management of local resources, a practice that encourages sustainable harvesting of wild local foods for future generations.
A significant portion of food readily available to Southeast Alaskans is imported, thus the harvesting and preserving of wild, local foods builds self-reliance on a household and community level. The more imported foods that we can displace with local sources the less dependent we are on these vulnerable sources.
Overall, the harvest event was a great success and there are plans to have it as an annual event!
Below are some of the recipes, photos, and resources that were used over the weekend.
General Canning Resources (UAF Cooperative Extension Service)
Photo Slideshow: Preparing Devils Club Salve
Recipes and Methods
Cottage Foods Exemptions Information
The processing of non-hazardous foods that fall under Alaska’s Cottage Food Exemptions is a great opportunity for rural communities to participate in local commerce. Under these exemptions non-hazardous items such as the jams and can be sold.
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Resources
Cooperative Extension Service Resources
- Guide to Operating a Successful Home-Based Food Business (University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service)
Photo Slideshow: Preparing Smoked Salmon at the 2015 Kasaan Harvest
Access to fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins in Alaska can be a daily challenge.Alaska imports ninety five percent of its food. This means that families pay high prices for processed and typically unhealthy foods, communities are vulnerable to delays and complications with importing from far away places and the state of Alaska unnecessarily exports money out of a region that is thirsty for economic stimulation.
This doesn’t need to be the case and a growing force of communities and entrepreneurs are working to challenge the status quo and localize our food systems. While greenhouses and garden initiatives are important elements, revitalizing our food system doesn’t end with cultivation. In Alaska, we are surrounded by wild food sources as diverse and vibrant as the cultures and communities that call this state home….
Learn about a growing community of Alaskan residents, communities and organizations who are dedicated to invigorating Alaska’s Food System with wild foods.
The Kasaan Wild Foods Harvest will be continued in 2015 with a weekend salmon smoke-out! Click here to register and learn more.
In Kasaan, a Haida community, food is culture and serves to instill a sense of pride in identity and culture. Traditional foods serve as medicines for physical, spiritual, and mental well-being and reconnect people to the land, nature, and their traditions. Revitalizing this for Kasaan people is important to understanding food origins; the relevance of traditional foods to diet and culture, and for encouraging preference for locally harvested foods.
A series of events were held in Kasaan with the purpose of engaging community members in the harvesting, processing and consumption of wild and traditional foods, medicines, and materials. Additionally an evening class was offered on food preservation and Cottage Foods Businesses (led by Sarah Lewis from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service). This evening workshop was followed by a three-day harvest event led by Carrie Sykes, Kasaan Community Catalyst, and Dolly Garza, UAF professor Emerita.
Over the course of three days 27 people (primarily from Kasaan and Hydaburg) congregated to learn about identification, proper harvesting techniques, and processing methods of wild foods, medicines, and materials. Participants congregated at the Totem Café and were transported to the sites of the plants to be harvested. Over the first two days participants learned to pick Hudson Bay Tea or in Haida, Xíl kagan, and Devil’s Club, Ts’íihlanjaaw. The kids especially enjoyed the picking of the Hudson Bay Tea, and bags were quickly filled with the fragrant, leathery leaves to be dried in the sun. Devil’s club was also harvested, and the more involved technique for processing the medicinal bark was practiced by everyone.
Day two was filled with beach asparagus and goose tongue. An early start to the day led to a hard earned lunch and seven cases of pint jars filled with pickled and plain canned beach asparagus. We learned the importance of “picking clean” the first time around to expedite the processing…
Dolly Garza, an expert on traditional use of marine resources by Alaska Native cultures and intertidal foods led a beach walk and shared her knowledge of edible seaweeds on the third day. Almost all of the seaweeds we found were edible and tasted great if prepared in the proper way. Most seaweeds, with the exception of fucus can be dried and then stored in airtight containers for up to a year. Dolly brought all sorts of samples to share that she had already prepared– including kelp salsa, kelp pickles and an assortment of dried seaweeds.
Everything prepared was distributed among the participants and a portion was set aside for community events.
Check out Dolly’s book here.
Check out the identification guide created for the event here.