Alaska Food Policy Council: Spring 2019
All about last month's 2019 Alaska Food Festival & Conference, Upcoming Events, & Alaska Food System Stories!
On March 8th and 9th, the Alaska Food Policy Council and the Alaska Farmers Market Association/ Cook Inletkeeper partnered to hold the 4th biennial Alaska Food Festival and Conference at the Land’s End Resort in Homer. The conference was well attended with 170 participants and presenters from around the state. Attendees were a diverse group with farmers, producers, market managers, academics, advocates, and foodies from all around the Alaska food system. The agenda was packed with incredible information about our food system and at many points, during the day the hallways of the hotel were full of lively discussions and sharing.
We kicked Friday off with a Keynote talk from Courtney Long, on Creating Community Driven Local Food Systems. Highlights of the day included a recorded welcome by Senator Lisa Murkowski and an in-person address from Senator Dan Sullivan. Keynote Ben Feldman of the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) inspired attendees on how we can work together to be stronger and the role of Farmers Markets and food security. Lunch on Friday included pollock noodles donated by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
(AFPC Board Members with US Senator Dan Sullivan)
During the social event held Friday night, Alaska Food Hero awards were announced and presented, the String Alongs provided live music, Alaskan made cocktails and wines were served, and there was a rousing outcry auction with auctioneer Jodie Anderson- who combined with the bidders in the silent auction raised a record amount of money for both the Alaska Food Policy Council and the Farmers Market Association.
Saturday morning attendees returned for more educational sessions, including sessions on farmers market management, farming techniques, kelp businesses, food security and tools to make our food system more vibrant. Representative Geran Tarr shared her work in the legislature and House Resources Committee. She encouraged attendees to send her input on the proposed State budget and cuts that could weaken our food system, including elimination of the Division of Agriculture and the State Dairy inspection program. Representative Tarr stayed throughout the day and met with many of the attendees. Mayor of Homer Ken Kastner addressed attendees and highlighted some of the area’s local food initiatives.
Saturday afternoon rounded out with Chef demos on fermentation, sourdough, sausage, and cheese-making. Chefs Mandy and Kirsten Dixon shared their experiences at Tutka Bay and Winterlake Lodges and their travels to Morocco. They brought their resort chefs along, one of whom is an intern from Morocco who shared his mother’s argan oil paired with Alaska barley, fresh herbs and variety of Alaska grown vegetables. Two Sisters Bakery owners and Chefs Carri Thurman and Sharon Roufa shared sourdough from start to finish and participants were able to go home with their own sourdough starter. Lovely kombucha and a variety of sauerkrauts and fermented veg was demonstrated by Nikki Love. Cooperative Extension Agent Sarah Lewis inspired attendees to make a simple cheese spiced with herbs, and Jeff Lockwood, of KBBI’s “Check the Pantry” fame demonstrated sausage-making.
The conference also hosted pre- and post-conference sessions. On Thursday, March 7th, over 20 people attended a free Produce Safety Training, provided by DEC Produce Safety Program. The conference concluded on Sunday, March 10th with the first-ever Annual Meeting of the Alaska Farmers Market Association. Over 30 representatives from markets around the state were present. Board of Directors highlighted efforts made throughout the first year of AFMA’s operation, while FMC Director Ben Feldman guided the group in strategic planning and goal setting.
The most important point expressed by attendees of the conference was the rich networking- meeting others passionate about strengthening Alaska and our food system. We hope that in our future conferences that we can build on this amazing networking opportunity. What an incredible success! We are already planning for our next Alaska Food Festival and Conference and have many ideas to make it even better.
“We are all climbing the same mountain” as Jodie Anderson expressed in an eloquent and passionate soliloquy, “Let’s work together instead of bushwhacking our own trails.”
The 2017 Census of Agriculture data was released last week
Alaska is up to 990 farms- a 29.9% increase from 2012 - the largest percent increase in the country! Alaska is once again leading the nation in the percent of producers who are beginning farmers (have ten or less years of farming experience).
"The seafood bounty of Alaska is unrivaled. With five species of salmon, several varieties of whitefish, and numerous shellfish species, Alaska offers mouthwatering seafood options for every taste and cooking method."
"Spring Creek Farm, located on Alaska Pacific University’s Kellogg Campus, is an educational farm located in Palmer, AK. We grow vegetables on a 6-acre plot to support a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers market, dining services and various educational programs involving APU students and the wider community."
Meyers Organic Farm In Bethel Stars In New History Channel Documentary Series
“The American Farm” is an eight-part documentary series following the hard work, struggles, and triumphs of five farming families across the nation. The series includes farmers from Virginia, Utah, New Hampshire, and Tim and Lisa Meyers in Bethel, Alaska.
“We’re the first farm ever developed out here,” Tim Meyers tells the camera in a video released by the History Channel to promote the series.
“Tim is most definitely a dreamer," says Lisa Meyers in the same video. "He doesn’t dream small. He dreams big.”
The video shows snow blowing across the Meyers’ subarctic fields, the Meyers harvesting and cleaning potatoes, and how Tim Meyers separates seeds for seedlings using a homemade device created from a box and a vacuum cleaner.
A small but growing company in Alaska’s state capital, Juneau, is harvesting kelp from local waters and turning it into tasty products like salsa, pickles and seasonings. Barnacle Foods is owned and operated by Lia Heifetz, Max Stanley, and Matt Kern, who were born and raised in Southeast Alaska. The team started the company in 2016 with the goal of providing delicious, locally harvested and sustainable food. Their long-term vision is to create jobs and help Alaska boost its food security.
“There are so many high-quality foods in Alaska. Our seafood, for example, is world-renowned for its quality and sustainability. But many of our foods are abundant for very, very short periods of time. We want to help play a role in harvesting and processing local ingredients and turn them into shelf-stable foods that are available throughout the year,” said Kern.
The Introduction to Farming and Ranching on Kodiak Conference is one of two events to be held in 2019 that aim to assist Kodiak's communities in developing ways to grow and sell produce locally. The conference includes a range of sessions on all aspects of the process –– from tutelage on soil-building to learning about which grant and loan programs are available for financial assistance.
The conference was organized by Kodiak Archipelago Leadership Institute. According to a news release, a long term goal of KALI is "is supporting the availability of fresh, locally grown organic food, including produce, eggs, meatand poultry, through the establishment of a network of community based farms and ranches in our region."
As you build your 2019 garden this spring, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry!
Contact your Local Food Bank to see how you can donate help meet their fresh food needs.
USDA, EPA, and FDA Recognize
April as Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) kick off Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month by calling for greater collaboration with public, private, and nonprofit partners as well as state and local officials to educate and engage consumers and stakeholders throughout the supply chain on the need to reduce food loss and waste.
In the U.S., more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste. Food is the single largest type of waste in our daily trash. In recent years, great strides have been made to highlight and mitigate food loss and waste, but the work has just begun. When food is tossed aside, so too are.
Most people don't realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. About 94 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. In 2015,wedisposed 37.6 million tons of food waste. By managing food sustainably and reducing waste, we can help businesses and consumers save money, provide a bridge in our communities for those who do not have enough to eat, and conserve resources for future generations.
Too many children who rely on school meals do not have access to meals in the summer. Are there children in your community who will go hungry this summer? The Alaska Department of Education & Early Development’s Child Nutrition Programs works with school districts, parks, and recreation departments, non-profit organizations, and churches to operate Summer Food Service Program feeding sites for children and youth in low-income areas in Alaska.
In 2018, only 8% of Alaskan children that participate in the National School Lunch Program, participated in the Summer Food Service Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps provide nutritious meals to individuals 18 years and under in low-income areas when school lunchrooms close for the summer.
Do You Grow Specialty Crops? Are you looking for technical assistance? Apply now for Community Specific Specialty Crop Assistance!
To enhance the competitiveness of Alaska Grown specialty crops, the Division of Agriculture uses funds to travel to priority rural locations where we know specialty crop production is occurring. We work with community contacts to identify specialty crop technical assistance priorities and send out relevant staff.
Possible areas of need include produce safety training, soil and compost education, fruit and vegetable expertise, and closed environment farming education. If you are looking for assistance please fill out this survey.
Alaska Grown Marketing Materials Price List
We are very excited to unveil a price list for the most often requested marketing supplies! One thing we don’t know is what the demand will look like, so we are asking for your patience as we learn more. We are very thankful for all the input we have received and the enthusiasm we hear for supporting the Alaska Grown program by paying for marketing resources. You can see the Alaska Grown Marketing Materials Price List below, or find it on the Alaska Grown website at http://buyalaskagrown.com/buy/
New Alaska Grown App
Checkout the new Alaska Grown App featuring a directory of our growers and producers, as well as restaurants that serve Alaska Grown produce in their dishes. The app is free and available for download in the Google Play or Apple App Store. Just search for "Alaska Grown".
Alaska Agriculture Day is May 7th!
Join us in celebrating this year’s theme: Farm Animal Fun! Hop on over to buyalaskagrown.com and let us know how you or your community will be celebrating. You’ll be entered into a drawing for Alaska Grown apparel, and also receive a shout-out on our Facebook page. For more information, or for Alaska Ag Day activity ideas, visit the Alaska Grown.
Upcoming Local Food Festivals & Events
From Tundra to Table: The Seal Oil Project
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
This webinar will look into the work it has taken a team of individuals to add seal oil to the menu for the elders at the Utuqqanaat Inaat nursing home in Kotzebue, AK. Seal oil is an integral part of the Inupiat diet, but it is prohibited from being served in an institutional setting due to the risk of botulism. The project, if successful, has the potential to impact the elders in Kotzebue and the whole state of Alaska.