As a small community surrounded by an abundance of natural resources, Sitka has an opportunity to be a leader in community sustainability. The Sitka Conservation Society originally formed around outrage at the large-scale clearcutting practices of local logging companies in the late 1960s and concern about pollution from the Sitka pulp mill. As SCS has grown, our goals and interests have grown with us, but we have remained committed to the improvement of Sitka's greater community. We are especially invested in environmental education, in promoting local business that use locally sourced materials, and in helping Sitkans reduce their energy consumption and transition to clean energy sources.
See the articles below for information on our most recent community projects or take a look at our blog.
The Sitka Conservation Society is involved with a diverse set of environmental education programs that reach hundreds of people from preschool age through retirement age every year. Some of these programs, such as Fish to Schools and Kids Energy Awareness, take place in the classroom. Others, such as 4H and Stream Team, are designed to get Sitkans excited about the outdoor science lab surrounding them. Stay tuned for more public seminars, after-school programs, and even public boat trips!
At the Sitka Conservation Society, we are working towards creating a more robust local food system. We are leading efforts to protect the habitat of wild foods, support traditional or subsistence harvesting, increase local food production, and to make local foods more accessible to the community. Recent successes include the Wild Foods Potluck and the Sitka Kitch.
While Sitka is a small town, the Sitka Conservation Society firmly believes that it can be a national leader in taking on climate change. If small-town Alaska can take meaningful progressive steps, why not any other community? SCS has successfully advocated to increase the city’s hydroelectric capacity and organized programs to help locals reduce their energy consumption.
The Sitka Kitch is a DEC certified community kitchen that seeks to foster a sustainable and healthy community and food system through education, business incubation and community building. The Kitch is located at the Sitka Lutheran Church at 224 Lincoln Street.
EDUCATE / Providing cooking classes and skill building on a broad range of topics
INCUBATE / Providing hourly rentals of our DEC certified commercial kitchen on a case by case basis
CULTIVATE / Providing a space for community events and connections
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The Sitka Kitch is a collaborative effort that would not be possible without the support of of our partners. We are deeply grateful to the Sitka Lutheran Church, the First Presbyterian Church, Sitka Local Foods Network, Sitka Food Co-op, UAF Cooperative Extension, and Sitka Health Summit and to all Kitch Instructors for their leadership and contributions to this vibrant community initiative.
Part of my work here at SCS is my role as a community catalyst with the Sustainable Southeast Partnership (SSP). The SSP focuses on the triple bottom line approach to solving many of the challenges rural communities face in SE Alaska. 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. We had the added bonus of welcoming Amy Gulick to class (Salmon in the Trees) who was on hand to photograph people interacting with salmon! The courses were held at our partner facility, the FIrst Presbyterian Church of Sitka and at Sitka High School.
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. 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, creativeways to produce and preserve local berries and food products Class cost was $20 per participant, 3 hours
Sitka Kitch will be kicking off some classes this month. From July 25-27th Sitka Kitch welcomes Sarah Lewis from UAF Cooperative extension. Sarah is theFamily & Community Development Faculty for the Southeast Districts. Beginning Friday evening, Sarah will lead a 'Cottage Food Industry' class. This class is geared towards those wishing to produce value added products for the cottage food industry. Saturday, July 26th Sarah will be at the Sitka Farmer's Marketassisting vendors and answering questions. Starting at 3:00pm Sarah will lead a 'canning the harvest' course, focusing on canning and preserving fish and veggies. The weekend will wrap up Sunday with a 'Soups and Sauces' workshop beginning at noon.
Classes will be held at Sitka High School and run several hours.
- Friday, 5:30-8:00pm
- Saturday, 3:00-8:00pm
- Sunday, 12:00-5:00pm
Sitka Kitch will be partnering with Sitka Tribe of Alaska to offer a pickled salmon course on in August.This class is offered free of charge, but space is extremely limited. More details on date and location will be available soon.
To register for any course please contact Marjorie or Tracy at 747-7509.
Sitka Kitch is a new community food project in Sitka. We seek to provide community education, training, small business development and access to commercial kitchen space with the end goal of improving our local food security. This is the first series of classes to increase community knowledge and awareness around nutrition and local foods.