Things have been heating up in Sitka! The summer is proving, as always, to be a busy time of year for us. At SCS we have several new interns devoted to wilderness, story telling, organizing and sustainability initiatives. Personally, I have been focusing on three main pushes: our Young-Growth initiatives, Sitka Kitch and affordable housing.
SCS has been pursuing young-growth initiatives for quite some time. We have also been working with small, local outfitters to help build markets for local wood products. Past projects have included using National Forest Foundation Funds to get red alder into the high school wood shop program. That initiative has steadily grown and led to a new bike shelter and the renovation of a valued community theater space. We have once again been awarded an NFF grant and are partnering with UAS Sitka and the construction technology program to construct a ‘tiny home‘. I have been working with professors from UAS Sitka and Juneau, the City and Borough of Sitka Planning department, Sitka Sound Science Center, community members and small millers to gather information and input into the planning of the project.
The project will be built over the course of the fall and spring semesters at UAS this coming academic year. We hope that this project will serve as an exploration and eventually finely tuned model for small, efficient, affordable housing options that incorporate local, Tongass products. In addition to this project, I have been sitting on the housing committee with the Sitka Community Land Trust. SCS was able to connect the SCLT with the Alaska State Division of Economic Development. That partnership led to the SCLT getting some professional design and planning services from the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. Currently the SCLT are reviewing three design concepts and once one is selected they will receive design plans, a concept narrative and details for the house. This house will be constructed on a currently empty lot that the City of Sitka gave to the Community Development Corporation, the organization that houses the Land Trust.
The next big project on the horizon is the ‘Sitka Kitch’ project. I have submitted two proposals for funding. First to the Agriculture Marketing Service through the USDA for their Local Food Marketing Program. This proposal would provide some funding to support a part time manager and get initial programming going. This includes community classes and offering commercial kitchen time on a limited basis to entrepreneurs. I also submitted a letter of interest to another program, Local Food-Local Places. If we are invited to apply this funding would lead to some much needed technical assistance and planning for the project. We will also be offering our first classes later this month. The classes will be led by UAS Extension Officer Sarah Lewis and revolve around cottage industry foods, canning of fish and vegetables, and prepping soups and sauces. Students will pay a small fee of $20 and take home what they prepare.
Stay tuned for more exciting updates, with all of the harvesting going on this summer we hope to provide more classes through Sitka Kitch. We are planning a pickled salmon class and partnering with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska later this summer!