Growing a tradition: Farm Trail Weekend to showcase area producers | TheUnion.com

Growing a tradition: Farm Trail Weekend to showcase area producers

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union

"This is going to put Nevada County on the map for agritourism."

That's the prediction of Kwong Chew, President of Nevada County Grown. The nonprofit agriculture advocacy group, which also produces the popular Bounty of the County event each fall, is organizing this weekend's inaugural Farm Trail Weekend.

The event is a self-guided and self-paced tour of 12 unique farms and ranches. The tour will include workshops for the home gardener and amateur farmer, weaving demonstrations, educational speakers, and live music. There will also be crafts, games, face painting and other children's activities. Refreshments and farm products will be available for purchase. Guests can even help out with routine farm chores. Maps and a full list of activities are available online.

"Our long-range plan is that through our activities, we will promote Nevada County as a destination for specialized, local agricultural products," said Chew. "I see this as part of the future of our economy. Others are bringing in high tech. We need to brand, define and make agriculture a more powerful sector of our economy."

Samantha Bass is a lifelong Nevada County resident, Nevada County Grown board member, and Farm Trail Weekend event coordinator.

"This is all about bringing attention to local farmers and ranchers and recognizing them as the rock stars of our community," said Bass. "They provide us fresh, healthy, local, food. We want our tour guests to feel connected to the land, and our farmers and ranchers. Our goal is to make it a celebration of the farming culture because we have such a beautiful, blossoming agricultural community.

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"I hope our guests find pride in the land and their neighbors who have chosen to work the land."

Participating farms and ranches include:

AM Ranch, a family-owned and -operated ranch selling sustainable grass-fed beef, pork, and eggs.

Blue Oaks Ranch, raising and selling breeding stock Lowline Cattle, Katahdin Sheep, Nubian Dairy Goats, and Friesian Dairy Sheep, along with Great Pyrenees guardian dogs to protect the herds.

Cosmic Roots Ranch, offering non-GMO, pasture-raised, and antibiotic-free Mangalista pigs and selling eggs from free-range chickens, plus handmade lard soaps and candles.

Chapman Family Farm, providing nutritious meat, vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers using low- and no-till farming methods.

Laughing Oak Farm, selling mixed bouquets and flowers, organic produce, and alpaca fiber products by incorporating biodynamic methods, permaculture principles, perennial crops, and a focused market garden.

Love Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit that nurtures rescued animals such as Hank the pig, Bo the donkey, Mojo the goat, Macchiato the alpaca, Panda the llama, Future the cow, Stuart the steer, and 40 other friends.

Nightingale Farms creates lotions and soaps with the milk from its sustainably-raised Oberhasli dairy goats.

Starbright Acres Family Farm produces and supports production of ecologically-sustainable, chemical-free vegetables, plants, and animal products.

Sierra Harvest's Food Love Farm is an educational farm devoted to promoting nutrition education, food security, and community involvement in growing fresh food; it hosts 2,000 visitors every year.

Tres Jolie Lavender Farm is a family-owned lavender farm producing pesticide-free, hand-harvested lavender and lavender products such as oil, lotion, soaps, and sachets.

Mountain Bounty Farm, open for the Farm Trail only on Sunday, has offered heirloom vegetables, fruits, and herbs through its Community Supported Agriculture weekly subscription program for more than two decades.

On Saturday, the Nevada County Food Bank will celebrate the life and charitable works of its founding director with the grand opening of the Toni Thompson Memorial Garden from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. On Sunday, the Food Bank garden will be open for tours.

Organizers recommend tour guests choose their favorite stops and map a route in advance. Guests may pack their own picnic and enjoy it at one of the designated "picnic-friendly farms" or purchase food at one of the farm-to-table restaurants. Ice chests are welcome but pets are not. Other recommendations include extra water, sunscreen and comfortable shoes.

"The plan is to give more visibility to local farms and ranches in the same way garden tours do," said Nevada County Grown past president Debbie Gibbs. "People see wonderful products at groceries and farmers' markets, but they rarely get to see what is involved in getting that food to market. It is so important for the community to get immersed in the farm experience and understand why locally grown food is so special."

Gibbs added that tour guests will see a different type of agriculture than the large-scale, commercial farms commonly featured in the news.

"These local farms are diverse in their products, and are artisanal in the sense that you will not see acres of plowed fields with one crop or type of livestock," she said. "Our farms and ranches blend into their environment, in balance with Mother Nature."

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.

KNOW & GO

What: Inaugural Farm Trail Weekend

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 7 and 8

Details: Tours of 12 Farms & Ranches

Price: $25

Website: NevadaCountyFarmTrail.com

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