Shirl Mendonca
Lake Wildwood columnist

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May 5, 2014
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Nevada County farm guide offers options for great food while supporting local farmers

With concern about water shortages and higher food prices, now may be the time to learn what is available in our own area and to get to know the farmers who make it all happen.

Nevada County Grown, a local membership organization, has recently published the Nevada County California 2014 Farm Guide, a great resource featuring the many local farms, ranches, orchards, vineyards, farmer’s markets and farm stands that are located in Nevada County.

According to the farm guide, there are six different ranches with their own unique offerings in Penn Valley alone:

The Johansen Ranch (530-432-4344) is celebrating 100-plus years as a family ranch and is a great source for fruits, veggies and herbs. Rich and Mila Johansen are known for their fruit, especially the Satsuma and clementine mandarins that are grown at their solar-powered family ranch in Orland.

At their Penn Valley ranch, they also grow squash, hot peppers and medicinal herbs. Their produce is available locally at BriarPatch Co-op and Natural Selections.

The Laughing Dogs Farm (530-274-7638) is located off of Indian Springs Road. You can often find them at the North Star House farmers market on Saturday mornings with a wide array of veggie starts, eggs, cut flowers and perennial plants or call the farm for information about special orders and delivery. Their farm is agriculturally sustainable and nonchemical.

The Lazy Valley Ranch (530-432-2234) is on Lazy Valley Road just off of Penn Valley Drive. They are well known for their u-pick blueberrie,s but they also have thornless blackberries and live calves raised on mother’s milk and grass, without antibiotics or hormones. The Blueberry Barn store opens for the season in June, but you can also find their fruit at BriarPatch Co-op, Natural Selection and Natural Valley. Call the ranch directly if you are interested in a live 6-month-old calf.

Robinson’s Indian Springs Ranch (530-432-2456) has been a family ranch for over 150 years. They raise and sell their own feeder cattle and eggs and everything is antibiotic, hormone and pesticide free. They sell by appointment direct from the farm.

The Buckeye Ranch (805-680-3159) seeks to farm and ranch holistically and offers 100 percent grass-fed lamb, along with garlic and shallots for kitchen use and seeds for fall planting. Look for them at the Nevada City Market on Saturday mornings or by appointment at the ranch.

The James Ranch (530-432-3306) is off of Highway 20 on the western edge of Penn Valley. The Columbel family farms 200 acres of Sierra foothills property that includes one of the original pioneer homesteads. For over 30 years, this has been the perfect habitat for breeding and raising hormone- and pesticide-free lambs. In addition to grass-fed lambs, they also sell compost and manure to local gardeners. Contact them directly or watch for them at the North Star House Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

The next time you are in Berkeley, have lunch at Chez Panisse and try a lamb dish. Alice Walters has been buying their lamb for her restaurant for over 27 years.

Additional information on each of these farmers and ranchers is available at As custodians of the land, they are all helping to preserve the beauty of our rural landscape. By supporting them in their efforts, we can help maintain our rural way of life and continue to have fresh and healthy food for our families.

Got a tip about someone or something in Lake Wildwood or Penn Valley? Contact Shirl Mendonca at

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The Union Updated May 5, 2014 01:13AM Published May 5, 2014 04:17PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.