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Extension agent Sarah Lewis leads a class on canning and food preservation. PHOTO: Amy Gulick

In keeping with two of the SSP’s key directives, focus on local food and economic development, Sitka Kitch was developed. Sitka Kitch is the community project that was born out of the Sitka Health Summit being led by Sitka Conservation Society (SCS) and a devoted committee of local volunteers. The goal is to tap into local food resources, provide education and foster the development of new jobs and industries.  This will fill a missing niche in Sitka and the region, training students to fill existing jobs in industries related to our region’s tourism and food based industry. Sitka Kitch will also provide emergency preparedness and home economic based classes to increase food security at the household level. Programming and outreach will encourage community wide collaboration to address food-based issues while simultaneously improving economic development.

The long term project goal is the development of a sustainable food system for Sitka through empowerment and education. Expected outcomes include an increase in local food production, small business development, and improved household-level food security and local food consumption. This will ideally be achieved through the establishment of a shared-use commercial kitchen. Sitka Kitch does not have a permanent facility yet but is currently partnering with the First Presbyterian Church to provide  limited access. The Sitka Kitch Committee prepared a proposal to the Church’s national organization and received a $13,000 grant to upgrade the facility for commercial use and we hope to start working with small businesses in the fall.

“Sitka Kitch” also offered three classes in July (exceeding one of our goals for the 2014 health summit!). We were able to bring in Sarah Lewis from the UAS Cooperative Extension office to run the classes. Class themes revolved around the primary objectives of Sitka Kitch –  cottage food industry development and maximizing household level food security through preservation of food.

Overall class metrics:
Total student hours: 136
Total students/participants among classes: 34
Individual participants: 25 ( a few students took multiple classes)

Cottage Food Industry: 8 in attendance, 7 female, 1 male.
Class focus was on cottage food industry (rules and guidelines for what you can sell, how it must be prepared)
Kitch goal: educate locals on small, local food based business to encourage product development for farmers market and other ‘booth’ vending type events.
Class cost was $20 per participant, 3 hours

Canning the harvest: 17 in attendance, 13 female, 4 male. Ages ranged from early 20s to late 50s+
Class focused on handling and processing of meat, fish and vegetables for canning preservation.
Kitch goal: educate community members about proper canning techniques and how to maximize preservation of subsistence and other harvests, as well as store bought or bulk purchased produce. This was partly in response to the community food assessment information that found 90% of food preservation methods in Sitka was reported as freezing.
Class cost was $20 per participant, 5 hours

Jams and Jellies: 9 in attendance, all female
Class focused on multiple recipes for preparing jams, jellies, catsups.
Kitch goal: a fun twist on conventional canning, creative ways to produce and preserve local berries and food products
Class cost was $20 per participant, 3 hours