Food evolution:Mountain Bounty meets demand with locally supplied winter CSA
Special to The Union
After a long evolution of gradually extending the growing season to meet demand for local produce, Mountain Bounty Farm — located on the San Juan Ridge — will supply 10-15 percent of the veggies in this year’s winter Community Supported Agriculture box to 700 loyal members in Western Nevada County, Truckee, Tahoe and Reno.
This is a big change from the way the 20-year organic farm has done things. For the past eight years, Mountain Bounty has partnered with Riverdog Farm in the fertile Capay Valley to provide winter produce difficult to grow in Nevada County.
“This is a huge and exciting change for us,” said Farmer John Tecklin. “We’ve had the greenhouses for several years, and have been experimenting with various winter cropping ideas. What’s coming to fruition now is that at Mountain Bounty we have a critical mass of very experienced farmers who are eager to continue pushing our limits.”
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a model where consumers buy a share of their farm’s harvest for a growing season. First introduced in the U.S. in the 1980s, the model has long been economically important to Mountain Bounty Farm, offsetting costly early season financing for capital investments before revenue from harvesting is available.
This winter, besides Riverdog, the farm will partner with Pinnacle Organic Produce in San Juan Bautista and Route 1 Farms in Santa Cruz to hand-select the remainder of the produce for the winter CSA boxes. Mountain Bounty is also looking to partner with some Nevada County farms.
“This will allow us to choose to include more of what people want in the CSA boxes. We expect that the boxes will be more abundant and diverse than they have been in the past,” said Tecklin.
With demand for local food on the rise, more and more farmers are learning to adapt to winter production. For the first time, Nevada City Farmers Market will offer a winter market and Nevada County Growers’ Market will extend their Penn Valley market at Western Gateway Park to Dec. 22.
Winter produce in Nevada County consists of late fall crops held in the field or greenhouse and harvested later; early spring crops that are planted as early as possible under protective coverings; and storage crops that are harvested in the fall and stored carefully through the winter. A few crops can be planted in fall, overwintered and harvested in spring.
It’s a gradual process and Nevada County farmers are making the move to winter gardening one step at a time.
“Production will probably always lag behind demand because of the inherent limitations of growing here in the winter. Growing in the winter is even more risky than the summer and requires resources that many farmers may not have,” Tecklin said.
This winter, Mountain Bounty will grow: carrots, cabbage, broccoli, many different bunched greens, leeks, salad mix, arugula, radishes, braising mixes and spinach. Storage crops include potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, onions, and dry beans.
In winters past, Mountain Bounty has sold winter carrots, potatoes, lettuces, spinach and leeks to BriarPatch Co-op and Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Company. When people buy from local farmers, they help the local economy, said Three Forks Owner Shana Mazaiarz.
“We spend about $273 million dollars on food per year in Nevada County. Of that, at least $250 million is spent on products produced outside of Nevada County. If each of us spent just $5 more per week on local food that would inject an additional $26 million into our local food economy. On the whole, farmers in Nevada County farm at a significant loss. We can and must change this equation,” said Maziarz.
Besides supporting a local economy, eating seasonally is healthier, better for the environment and more affordable than relying on standard grocery store fare, said Tecklin.
This week, the community is invited to visit the farm and learn more about the winter farming transition during a tour of the main fields on Birchville Road at 11 a.m. Oct. 14. Bring water, a hat, sunscreen and sturdy shoes and for folks who want to stay and picnic under the big oak tree, bring a bag lunch.
Mountain Bounty’s first winter delivery is early November, but late signups can be pro-rated. Options for smaller and low income families are also available.
For more information, contact CSA Manager Mielle at (530) 292-3776, at email@example.com, or visit online at mountainbountyfarm.com.
Contact freelance writer Laura Petersen at 530-913-3067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User