Rita de Quercas is not a local farmer, but she does know the value of supporting them.
That's why, when Nevada County Grown was in just the germination stage in 2008, de Quercas and residents like her joined local farmers to work toward the common goal of creating a sustainable local agricultural economy.
Now heading into its third year as a nonprofit organization, Nevada County Grown has sprouted a membership that boasts 87 producers raising food and other products.
"It's not really a good thing to be reliant on someone far away for something as vital as food," said de Quercas. "This has always been a rural place, and it used to have quite a good agricultural economy.
"If we value that and want to have those kind of qualities we enjoy, the only way to do that is to rebuild the local food economy. That means the community has to understand it has an invested interested in supporting local farmers," she added.
"You've got to put your money where your values are."
Nevada County Grown is geared to help county consumers do that. Taking a quick look at the 2011 Farm Guide (inserted in today's edition of The Union) or visiting the website www.NevadaCountyGrown.org, shoppers can see the variety of ways to buy locally grown products.
In addition to a complete list of producers, the site also includes a list of local restaurants, grocery stores and western Nevada County markets where local foods and goods are sold.
Customers can subscribe to organizational newsletters and sign on with farms that provide a weekly box of seasonal produce. Nine Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms - Four Frog Farm, Fowler Family Farm, Living Lands Agrarian Network, Mooney Flat Farm, Mountain Bounty Farm, Riverhill Farm, Sunsmile Farms, Sweet Roots Farm and Willow Springs Farm - offer direct sales of produce through a membership subscription from spring through fall.
Grass Valley Grains offers the same sort of arrangement for grains, edible seeds and milled flours from fall to spring.
"The net goal to support local farmers is mutually beneficial," said Joan Clappier, board member and owner of Opus Two Alpacas. "Buying direct from the farmer, whether at a farm stand, through a CSA, at a local restaurant or grocery store - you know you're getting fresh, good quality produce, and you're keeping money and jobs in the county."
News headlines reporting problems with commercially grown produce and goods only emphasizes the importance of local farmers, Clappier said.
"We don't produce enough food to feed our county," Clappier added. "But it would be nice if we did. That's only going to happen by members of the community supporting the farmers and believing being able to feed ourselves locally is important."