SITKA - The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its third summer of Sitka Farmers' Markets with five markets that start on July 17 and take place on alternate Saturdays through Sept. 11.
The Sitka Farmers' Markets give Sitka residents a chance to buy and sell locally produced food and crafts.
The market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 17, 31, Aug. 14, 28 and Sept. 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, 235 Katlian St. Vendors will feature local seafood, locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. Overall, the emphasis is on local products and fun.
Fans may show support for the market by voting in the America's Favorite Farmers' Markets contest by following the links at www.sitkalocal foodsnetwork.org.
"The Sitka Farmers' Market is like a carnival every other Saturday," Kerry MacLane, Sitka Local Foods Network Board President and Co-Coordinator of the Sitka Farmers' Market, said. "It's a fun community space to enjoy with your family or to meet your friends for fresh coffee and baked goods. There is live music, cooking demonstrations, art, and, of course, fresh veggies, fruit and seafood."
Doug Osbourne, a health educator at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium said farmers' markets are cropping up all over the nation.
"In 1970 there were only 340 Farmers' markets in America, and by 2006 there were more than 4,385." he said. "I think this dramatic growth is attributed to the many layers of social and economic benefits these markets offer. Last year, several participants said Sitka's markets were among the highlights of their summer."
The Sitka Farmers' Market started as a community project that came out of a health priority planning meeting at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. This event is sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network, Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1, Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4, Baranof Island Housing Authority, Sitka Conservation Society, the Alaska Farmers' Market Association and the SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes Prevention programs.
Vendor fees are $15 per market. Due to construction in the parking lot, only indoor booth space is available this year. In addition, this is the first farmers' market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons.
To learn more or to sign up for a table, contact Sitka Farmers' Market Co-Coordinator Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings and weekends) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Vendor rules, registration forms and other information for potential vendors can be found at www.sitkalocalfoods network.org.