A day on the farm: Nevada County Farm Bureau hosts annual Ag Tour (PHOTO GALLERY) | TheUnion.com

A day on the farm: Nevada County Farm Bureau hosts annual Ag Tour (PHOTO GALLERY)

Jennifer Nobles
Staff Writer

For 100 years the Nevada County Farm Bureau has given ranchers, farmers, and other agriculturally minded folks a place to gather, helping each other stay informed and contribute to the management of the county's resources.

On Wednesday the bureau held its annual Ag Tour, a day-long event that toured a number of Nevada County agricultural entities. The tour stops included Nightingale Farms, Dinner Bell Farm, Bakbraken Acres and Montoliva Vineyard & Winery.

Three chartered buses transported participants from farm to farm, experiencing the variety of unique and local agricultural entities.

"The purpose of the tour is to provide interest and education to anybody who wants to know more about agriculture and the diversity of that in our county," said Nevada County Farm Bureau secretary/manager Debora Totoonchie.

The tour's first stop was Nightingale Farms, a farm that raises Oberhasli goats for milk and for show. They also sell a selection of lotions, soaps and powders made from their goats' milk.

Next on the tour was Dinner Bell Farms, where Molly Nakahara and Paul Glowaski raise heritage pigs in addition to organic cut flowers.

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Nakahara said many flowers offered in florists and grocery stores are often dipped in fungicide in an effort to reduce any contamination from unknown soils. By selling their flowers at local markets such as SPD and Briar Patch, she and Glowaski can bring their vision to life of providing safe, non-toxic flowers to those who enjoy nature's bounty.

John Drew of Bakbrken Acres, an organic farm which was established 45 years ago, welcomed the tour for lunch which was provided by Nevada Union's FFA students.

"There is nothing more important than agriculture in our community," Drew said.

Drew and his daughter raise a number of organic crops including garlic, turnips, and greens.

The final destination was Montoliva Vineyard & Winery, a small, award-winning winery that produces approximately 1,500 cases of wine per year and an assortment of Italian varietals.

Instead of the common merlots and chardonnays, the vineyard turns out varieties like Primitivo, Dolcetto and Sangiovese. Nevada County's climate and soil are comparable to that of certain regions of central and southern Italy, according to the vineyard.

"There's been a whole uptick of small farms," said the farm bureau's Totoonchie. There's a new generation that's becoming interested in agriculture. In the past it's been handed down from the parents and inherited but one of the problems here in Nevada County is the cost of land is so high."

Totoonchie said there are a number of pilot programs that offer young farmers the chance to lease land or borrow land in a spinoff of the sharecropping idea. The programs allow budding farmers the chance to learn how to effectively manage the land before making a full commitment.

Those interested can contact the Nevada County Farm Bureau for more information.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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