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Farm stand rules weighed

Beginning this spring, heavy zoning restrictions may be lifted on Nevada County farmers, making it easier for them to market fresh, locally grown produce.

If the change is approved by the county Board of Supervisors, farmers like Chris Bierwagen of Donner Trail Fruit would be able to sell his peaches along with squash and onions from neighboring farms.

Individual farmers would be able to market their products at farm stands in locations that are more visual or accessible than their own farms, even teaming up with other producers. They also would be able to set up farmers markets on noncommercial property, such as churches and schools.



“I think the change is a good one because it allows local farmers to supplement their neighbors,” said farmer John H. Drew of Bakbraken Acres.

If approved, the new zoning also would create more opportunities for consumers to enjoy one-stop shopping for fresh-picked produce.




“There is interest to have availability of local food produced closer to home,” Bierwagen said. He noted that produce for sale at the typical grocery store is shipped an average of 1,500 miles from the place it was harvested.

Nevada County planning commissioners approved the new zoning ordinance last week.

The ordinance was drafted by the county Planning Department, Agriculture Advisory Commission and Environmental Health as a way to enhance the marketing of local agricultural products.

In 2006, more than 84 percent of Nevada County farms generated less than $10,000 each in gross sales, according to a report issued by county Farm Advisor Roger Ingram. The report also found that 75 percent of all farms in the county are losing money.

County supervisors will take up the ordinance early next month. If they approve it, the change will go into effect in time for the growing season.

Current agricultural zoning restricts farm stands to selling produce grown on-site. At stands on commercially zoned property – the kind seen throughout town – produce from more than one grower can be sold.

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


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