As the calendar turns over to September, collectively we are all hoping to breathe some fresh air and feel some normalcy. Whether or not this is true doesn’t mean we can’t hope! Living in the foothills is not easy right now. And luckily for all of us, there is some solace in the form of autumn’s bounty. Just look around on a walk — plums are falling off trees, apples are ripening, birds are eating elderberries and there are even some wild blackberries left hanging on dusty brambles. And these are just the uncultivated treasures!
All spring and summer, our local farmers have been working hard in above average temperatures (and now smoke) to grow an incredible variety of food for this community, and the harvest is ready. At this time of year, it’s easier than ever to eat local, which benefits our health, environment and economy in a myriad of ways.
Earlier this year, Sierra Harvest’s Nevada County Food Policy Council launched the 20% Whole-sum food by 2025 Challenge. “The goal”, said Miriam Limov, the council coordinator, “is that by 2025 at least 20% of the food that Nevada County residents consume will be local or regional, fair trade, ecologically produced and/or humanely raised.” According to their recent Food System assessment only 10-15% of the food we eat falls into one of these categories.
With this challenge in mind, this article aims to share practical ways you as a consumer can access the abundance of local foods available right now. Local farmer’s markets will continue through the fall and winter, while the Upicks will go another month or two. Contact local farms directly if you are planning to visit, as direct sales may be impacted by smoke or other issues.
RESOURCES FOR EATING LOCAL
Tuesdays: Grass Valley Raley’s Pine Creek Center, Freeman Lane, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursdays: Penn Valley Western Gateway Park, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturdays: Downtown Nevada City, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturdays: Grass Valley K-Mart/McKnight Crossing, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Farm Stands and U-Picks
Stone’s Throw Farm: Tuesday and Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. 1175 Alpine Way, Colfax
Food Love Farm: Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. 16200 Lake Vera Purdon, Nevada City, accepts EBT
Riverhill Farm: Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m.13500 Cement Hill Rd, Nevada City — occasional berry U-picks on Sundays from 9 to 11 a.m.
Peardale Farm: Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 14209 Colfax Highway, Grass Valley
Starbright Acres Farm Store: Everyday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 12575 Polaris Dr. Grass Valley
CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture -“veggie box”)
Mountain Bounty Farm offers weekly half and whole veggie boxes as well as fruit and flower shares
Starbright Acres has boxes left through mid-October
Peardale Farm with three pickup locations
As this is a time of abundance, there is food available beyond what local farmers are producing, you just have to look around! Gardens are dripping with produce and most gardeners love to share.
Are you one of those gardeners who is overloaded? Consider donating excess produce to Sierra Harvest’s gleaning program! In partnership with Interfaith Food Ministry, the Gold Country Gleaning Program helps get fresh produce into the bellies of those who need it most. So far this year, the gleaners have diverted over 10 tons of food that would have otherwise gone to waste! They are always looking for sites to glean from and volunteers to help with the harvest, so the opportunity is there for those who want to get involved.
Speaking of gardens, now is the time to get those last starts in if you want to have a fall/winter garden! It’s a little late to direct seed most things but depending on where you live it’s possible to still seed arugula, radishes, and lettuces. Now is also a great time to consider if you will be cover cropping, the plan for dividing perennials, and where to plant garlic (that goes in October/Novemeber).
In many ways, this can be a challenging place to live, but it’s also an incredible one. We have a robust local food system, and access to irrigation water that many areas do not. Year after year, this community shows how resilient it can be and our agricultural producers are no different. Let’s enjoy the abundant fruits of the season and support those who have worked so hard to bring us local bounty, farmers, and gardeners alike!
For more information or to get involved sign up online on the Food Policy Council website page at: https://sierraharvest.org/connect/food-policy-council/ or contact email@example.com. Look for this continued series which is informed by the Nevada County Food Policy council’s recent food system assessment every month.
Amanda Thibodeau writes for the Nevada County Food Policy Council as part of the Food System Assessment series