Juneau’s Food Festival keeps on growing

Juneau’s ability to become more sustainable continues to grow.


On Saturday, Aug. 26, the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council is prepared to bring some amazing vendors to the 10th Annual Food Festival hosted at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. This festival has seen an evolution over the years from more craft centered vendors and has expanded into the fresh world of locally grown produce and baked goods. This entire event is focused on creating a sustainable community through the encouragement of backyard gardening and small business initiatives.

Rachael Juzeler started working in the world of farmer’s markets “way back when,” when the Autumn Festival ran here in town. Four years ago Juzeler became a proud team member of the Food Festival as the rental director and program assistant.

“I do the organizing here,” Juzeler said. “I’m all about farmer’s markets and local sustainability. That’s what we’re pushing for and I think it’s especially important on an island community. It’s so exciting to see how many vendors and people are producing these days!”

This year the town can expect to see a new array of shellfish and salmon vendors to choose from, as well as some seaweed, canned goods and even more produce than last year’s festival.

There will be many vendors attending who are also a part of the Salt and Soil Marketplace. Salt and Soil is an online marketplace that is geared toward supporting the local economy and providing high quality locally grown foods to the community.

“Salt and Soil has been such a great thing,” Juzeler said. “It’s just that the vendors are having a hard time keeping up with the demand. But they are all prepared for this (Festival).”

Marms and Meeks

This is the second year of attendance for Marms and Meeks, a locally owned business that features prints, canvas totes, cards, and more crafted items that are all printed on repurposed or recycled materials. The two women behind Marms and Meeks are Tayler Jarvis and Meghan Chambers. Both work full time jobs, Chambers as an executive assistant with the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and Jarvis as a marine biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Juneau. Chambers and Jarvis find the time to work on their business on weekends and evenings.

Chambers said that they enjoy getting creative and celebrating the natural environment using recycled materials. This year, for the Food Festival, Marms and Meeks is bringing a line of prints designed toward looking at forged and locally grown foods in a creative way.

“For us this is a really great way to start and get our name out there. Our first big market inspired us to make new prints and new designs,” Chambers said. “(The festival) is a community of local artists with everything from crafts to produce. It’s a great community atmosphere… the customers seemed happy and all the vendors seemed happy.” Chambers mentions that many of the vendors take time to walk around and see other’s products and share things from business cards to recipes. Read more about Marms and Meeks at www.marmsandmeeks.com.

Tommaso Shellfish

A newcomer to Juneau’s Food Festival is Katie Bode and James Greeley’s Tommaso Shellfish business. Greeley does all of the dirty work on his dad’s oyster farm located on Prince of Wales Island. Greeley’s father started the farm 10 years ago from the ground, or water, up.

“We didn’t buy a float. I’ve had to build the float house and all that fun stuff from scratch,” Greeley said. He grew up in Seattle, went to school for photography, and somehow ended up working on an oyster farm in Southeast Alaska.

There’s a lot of handwork that goes into oyster farming from sorting to scrubbing. Greeley’s farm suspends the oysters in trays and grows them off of racks. He buys them when they are spats and is in charge of tumbling what he calls his “big pile of edible rocks” and constantly sorting them.

“I’ve gone to a lot of (farmers markets) just as a person over the years and I’ve always wanted to have a booth,” Greeley said. “I was up there for the Folk Fest and they had some line dancing going on at the JACC. It seemed like a really cool place so when (Bode) told me about the festival I was all for it. Now the fun part is putting together the booth.”

Because Tommaso Shellfish was created from scratch it’s taken some time for them to build their own customer base. They mainly sell locally on the island but have recently become a part of the Salt and Soil Marketplace.

“…We’re excited to build more cliental from the Food Festival,” Greeley said.

They have a new website up and running that can be found at https://www.tommasoshellfish.com.

At Food Fest

There will be a few free workshops during the festival such as “Foraging and Cooking,” “Pickling and Canning” and even a workshop on primroses. None of the workshops require a sign-up.

Some of the other vendors this year are Ed’s Edibles, Merryweather Farms, Juneau Composts, Alaska Coastal Seaweed, Harbor Tea & Spice, Tidal Wood Food & Forage, Fun Guy Foraged Products, and many other locally sustainable vendors promise to be present.

“It’s incredible all the vendors that are attending and how many producers we have in town,” Juzeler said. “This provides an outlet where they are all at, talking face to face with people in the community and creating an even stronger network for sustainability.”

• Mackenzie Fisher is a freelance writer living in Juneau.


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