One of the oldest and largest organic farms in Nevada County may go out of business this year unless actions are taken by our community to preserve it.
SunSmile Farms in Grass Valley has had a very difficult couple of years. In August 2011, problems with the irrigation supply pipe stopped the delivery of water to the farm. Confusion surrounding the ownership of the pipe delayed repairs, and by the time that NID personnel acknowledged that they owned the pipe and were responsible for repairing it, nearly a year had passed.
During that time, SunSmile Farms lost over 450 cherry trees, 100 peach trees, 370 blueberry bushes, 700 black raspberry bushes and 400,000 vegetable plants and starts. In addition, the farm was forced to lay off employees, had significantly reduced harvests and thus losses of revenue. In the spring of 2013, the farm still was without irrigation water. SunSmile brought in a water truck to try to reduce damage to its perennial crops. Without water, last year SunSmile was forced to cancel its CSA and greatly reduce plans for the 2012 season. In the summer of 2012, SunSmile was told by NID to file a claim for the damages resulting from the lack of irrigation water. George Loftus, owner of SunSmile Farms, did his due diligence, hired an accountant and compiled his claim, which he turned into NID in January of 2013. His claim was dismissed by NID due to “timeliness.” SunSmile farms appealed the dismissal of the claim and currently the insurance company for NID is “investigating and reviewing” the claim.
Unfortunately, these events have exhausted SunSmile’s orchard trees, the farms savings account and the energy of the farm’s owners and staff. But they are not willing to give up and they are asking for our help. Many people in the community have already stepped up to help in any way they can. Over 500 people a day have signed a petition on behalf of SunSmile. Last weekend they had a big boost in traffic at their farm stand and u-pick peaches and blackberries. More can still be done!
It would be a terrible shame for this community to lose one of its largest and longest-running farms. All of our local farms are a great asset to this community. By coming together to help save SunSmile, we not only keep one great farm in our community, but we also show that we are a community that values all of our farms and farmers. Please help this local farm to get back on it’s feet in any way you can.
Here’s how you can help save SunSmile Farms:
1.) Sign the petition asking NID to compensate SunSmile for the outage that NID has acknowledged responsibility for. Go to http://www.TinyURL.com/SunSmileNID to sign the petition.
2.) Buy produce from their farm stand and u-pick off Rough & Ready Highway, at the end of West Drive. The peaches and berries are great; we got 50 pounds of peaches last weekend and canned them. At $1.50 a pound, they are well worth it.
3.) Attend the NID board of directors meeting. At 9 a.m. today, the NID board of directors will have a regular meeting where they accept public comment at the beginning of the meeting. Attend this meeting and show your support for SunSmile by asking the directors to resolve the issue as soon as possible. The meeting will be held at 1036 West Main St. in Grass Valley.
4.) Send an email or postcard to the NID board of directors. Postcards are available at SunSmile and at Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply. Or email division directors at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
Eric Lee Dickerson lives in Rough and Ready.