Tasting the Nevada County’s bounty | TheUnion.com

Tasting the Nevada County’s bounty

Laura Brown
Special to The Union

This weekend, Nevada County Grown will host its first public fundraising event — pairing 15 area farmers and ranchers with a dozen chefs in a showcase of local food called "Bounty of the County."

Admission to the Nevada County Fairgrounds is free from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and will coincide with the Draft Horse Classic. For $5, folks can buy two tasting tickets and sample food grown on local farms prepared by chefs from local restaurants and catering companies.

"This is what really good food tastes like," said Joan Clappier, president of Nevada County Grown.

For example, Chef Antonio Ayestaran will prepare watermelon gazpacho with kale and fennel chips from Sweet Roots Farm; Emily's Catering and Cakes will prepare caprese wraps from First Rain Farm and Ike's Quarter House Café will prepare corn bread with peppers such as Jimmy Nardello, Shishito and Padron.

Other farm and chef pairings include: Diego's and Greg's Organics, Family Affair Catering and Tumbling Creek Farm, Summer Thyme's and Ohlala Farms, Bear River Pasta and Cedar Creek Farms, South Pine Café and Moonstone Farm, Happy Apple Kitchen and Bierwagen Donner Trail Farm, Tofanelli's Gold Country Bistro and Starbright Acres.

Matthew Willoughby from Pit Stop BBQ will fire up the grill to cook local meats from Nevada County Free Range Beef, Family Friendly Farms, Fowler Friendly Farms, Back 2 Basics and Dinner Bell Farms.

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"A lot of these chefs already have this relationship with local farmers … They really like to work with as much local food as they can. We just want to keep it growing," Clappier said.

Tastings can lead to an increase in sales for farmers, as seen by the tastings held by University of California Cooperative Extension this summer at area farmers markets.

Farmer Molly Nakahara of Dinner Bell Farm noticed a direct link in increased sales when tastings were hosted at the Auburn Farmers Market last winter.

"After tastings of the kale sauté recipe were provided, my kale sales went through the roof. We would sell out of kale at every market," Nakahara said.

Since 2008, Nevada County Grown has worked on a shoestring budget to promote local agriculture. Best known for its member-supported annual Farm Guide, the nonprofit group with the pretty logo is a regular fixture at Farmers Markets and other community gatherings and supplies area farms and markets with "Nevada County Grown" twist ties.

Currently, the organization has 90 members.

Recently Nevada County Grown took over ownership of a Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (poultry trailer) available for rent to area farmers who want to process chickens at the farm.

The idea for Bounty of the County is one more way to promote local food and strengthen connections between farmers and consumers.

"It was kind of an evolutionary process. It grew out of our discussions of wanting to do more to market our farmers and ranchers," Clappier said.

Buying locally grown products supports area farmers who in turn protect open space, said Grass Valley City Councilman Howard Levine. Levine, a founding member of Nevada County Grown, sat on the advisory board for this year's Bounty of the County.

"Just come on out, buy some tickets, try some food," Levine said, a longtime supporter of buying local.

For 13 years, Levine ran Grass Valley's popular Thursday Night Market when he headed up the Downtown Association, and in the mid-'90s, he and his wife, Peggy, featured a small local shop with Sunsmile Farms produce and local wines when they owned Holbrooke Hotel.

Besides tastings, Bounty of the County will include supervised children's activities such as planting, pot decorating and crafts like beading and stamping.

The band Ragged but Right will provide live music. Bierwagen and Happy Apple Kitchen will sell jams, apple cakes and fresh fruit pies; Nightingale Farms will sell goat's milk lotion, The Buckeye Ranch will sell garlic braids, Sweet Roots Farm will sell bouquets of fresh flowers, A Star Alpacas, Heronview Fiber Ranch and Opus Two Alpacas will sell yarn and wool products, and Grizzly Hill Farm will sell greenhouses and high tunnels.

UCCE and The Banner Grange will also attend. Nevada County Fair Foundation will provide beverages. Organizers hope the event will raise enough money to fund more labeling and brand identification projects for local agriculture.

"We're after brand identification, so the community will associate Nevada County products with quality," Clappier said.

To learn more, visit http://nevadacountygrown.org/

Contact freelance writer Laura Brown at laurabrown323@gmail.com or 530-913-3067.

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