CHECKING IT OUT – Fia Turczynewycz, a visitor from Ohio, walks her dog,  Mani, past the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center this morning. Tlingit master carver Tommy Joseph’s newly completed yellow cedar Waas’go pole, pictured in the background, was moved out of the park’s carving shed Thursday to make room for Joseph’s latest project – carving a Tlingit canoe with the aid of an apprentice. Joseph’s Waas’go pole is the third version of the Haida pole in the past century – a reproduction of a reproduction made in the 1930s by George Benson, which is placed inside the visitor center. Rangers are working on approval for a location along the park’s trail system for the new pole. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka’s On-Site Farmers Market Goes Online

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

The Sitka Farmers Market is continuing to make fresh local produce available to Sitkans this summer, although the pandemic has forced changes in distribution methods and the products offered for sale.

“This year our Farmers Market is quite a bit different,” said Charles Bingham, president of the Sitka Local Foods Network. “There were a couple of things that played into it. Obviously the COVID deal, but when we were in planning mode, our usual venue, ANB Hall, wasn’t available. So that meant we had to find a new venue.” 

That dilemma was solved with the food network’s decision to take orders online, and an agreement by the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm Garden to be the pickup site.

“People are ordering during the week and then they come by on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and pick up their food” Bingham said. “People do need to order early – you’re going to have a lot more selection (by ordering) on Tuesday.”

Another problem that remains to be solved is accommodating the non-food vendors selling home-made arts and crafts, and who made up the majority at pre-pandemic farmers markets.

The online program Salt and Soil Marketplace is used for ordering, and although the site normally involves a subscription fee, Sitkans can use it free this year. The web address is saltandsoilmarketplace.com/sitka.

Items for sale this year range from teas and bouquets to greens and jams, Bingham said. The farmers market accepts food assistance programs such as WIC.

The ordering period is 5 p.m. Tuesday to 8 p.m. Thursday. Food pickup runs from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the St. Peters Fellowship Farm Garden, behind the St. Peter’s See House on Lincoln Street.

The new venue allows for better physical distancing, Bingham said.

“We ask that people when they come in to pick up produce, they pull up, park, and stay in their vehicle, especially if they don’t have a mask,” he said.

Andrea Fraga, who has sold produce from Middle Island Farms at the Sitka Farmers Market for four years, said this year’s shift to online ordering has complicated things for her.

“You have to predict on Tuesday what’s going to be ready to harvest on Friday for Saturday’s market, so I’m always looking at the weather,” Fraga said.

She added that weather conditions, from a spike of 82-degree heat to the present long spell of cool temperatures and rain, have hampered crops this season.

She said she plants greens, as well as potatoes and carrots, which are ideal for long-term storage.

The co-manager of the farmers market, Ariane Goudeau, said the shift to an all-food market has been a major change.

“It’s totally different,” Goudeau said. “Unlike other farmers markets, this market isn’t heavily food based.... Our market is like, hey, we have three (food vendors) and everyone else is an arts and crafts type of thing. That helps pay for the rental space. And so it has impacted the model in that we can’t financially have a farmers market without the arts and crafts vendors.”

However, she emphasized the market’s role in local food security.

“The priority for us is food,” she said.

Bingham agrees.

“Our big deal is food security, and as much as the arts and crafts vendors really help with the farmers market, this year, because our mission is geared to food, we had to step back and just focus on the food this year,” he said.

Farmers market co-manager Nalani James said that after a slow start, business has picked up.

“The first week of starting was a slow transition but now we are sold out weekly and hope to add more vendors to the site to have more diversity in local foods... People have a sense of nature and pureness in these trying times more than ever,” James said.

James described the market as a “glimmer of hope that things will come back to normal one day.”

Goudeau said she misses mingling with the crowds who always turn out at the ANB Founders Hall for the farmers market.

“With this pandemic ... your community has gone from a couple hundred people to these are the three families you hang out with,” she said.

“We all miss it,’ said Fraga. “Besides folks buying produce from us, a lot of people come up and just want to chat about gardening.”

 

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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 9-17-21)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 10:47 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 875

Total statewide – 96,002

Total (cumulative) deaths – 454

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 2,207

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 14 new COVID cases in the past 7 days, a rate of 187.73 per 100,000 population. Alert status will be high until the rate per thousand is below 100. Case statistics are as of Thursday.

New cases in Sitka – 5

Cases in last 7 days – 16

Cumulative Sitka cases – 946

Positive cumulative test results in Sitka, as of 9/10/21 – 1,090

Deceased (cumulative) – 3

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

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Sitka Vax Stats 

The State of Alaska DHSS reported Friday the following statistics on vaccinations for Sitka.

Partially vaccinated – 6,132 (83.03%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,991 (81.12%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 89.85 percent of its senior population (1,478 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data for the City and Borough of Sitka can be found online at: https://cityofsitka.org

 

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20 YEARS AGO
September 2001

Alaska Pacific Bank has opened an account for donations to be directed to the families of the World Trade Center attack of Sept. 11. The account has been opened with a $2,000 contribution from the bank and an anonymous donor.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1971

At the Sitka Historical Society’s meeting Sunday, Mrs. Esther Billman of Sheldon Jackson College presented a “surprise package” of recent donations to the Sheldon Jackson Museum by Mr. Hugh Brady, youngest son of former Territorial Gov. John Brady.

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