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Crop values growing

A boomlet in fruit and vegetables grown on small farms, coupled with consumer demand for locally grown food, has bumped up the value of crops in Nevada County, according to agriculture officials.

Local fruit and vegetable production values rose by $744,300 to $2.6 million and represents a shift away from long declining timber production ” still the biggest agriculture product in the county.

“There’s been more interest in local foods. That’s an actual shift in agriculture.” said Jeff Pylman, county agriculture commissioner, commenting on the 2007 agriculture report.



Produce was sold to local restaurants and retailers and to consumers through local farmers markets and farm stands. The county fairgrounds, Grass Valley and now Nevada City have their own weekly farmers markets.

Wine grapes from local vineyards ” including Indian Springs, Lucchesi, Nevada City, Pilot Peak, Sierra Star and others ” represented the highest value within fruit and vegetables by rising $531,300 in value.




Among the small farms popping up around Nevada County, 28 are registered organic farms, representing 137 acres of organic crops.

“Agriculture is growing,” said Ray Diggins, owner of Grizzly Hill Farm. “There’s a lot of hope out there.”

In recent years, nonprofit groups such as Nevada County Grown and the Local Food Coalition have sprung up along with new growers markets and farms.

Consumer demand for local food also is showing up in grocery stores and enrollment in community supported agriculture programs, Pylman said.

Other crops saw a decline in revenue, with the timber industry suffering the biggest drop of $577,900, largely due to lowered prices fetched per board foot of timber.

“The housing market has something to do with it,” Pylman said.

The value from timber production stands at $6.7 million, down from $19 million in 1998.

Irrigated pasture acreage fell 20 percent in 2007 from the previous year, resulting in a decreased value amount of $302,000, according to the report.

“There’s been a trend in the cattle industry. There is less grazing land available,” Pylman said.

Pylman will present findings of the report at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday during a Board of Supervisors meeting held in the board chambers of the Rood Center, 950 Maidu Ave. in Nevada City. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.

The total value of the county’s crop production in 2007 was $16.3 million, down from $25 million in 1998. All figures represent gross production values and do not account for the cost of production or reflect a net return to the producers.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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