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Farmers markets hit Nevada County

Jennifer Terman
Staff Writer
Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

Nevada County has a new farmers market with Brunswick Farmers Market, offered from 4:40-8 p.m. Friday through Oct. 31.

The market, which launched just a few weeks ago, offers farm-fresh produce and serves as a hub for Farm Fresh Online, where produce can be sourced and purchased online and picked up at designated hubs.

“It’s a distribution point for our online farmers market,” said Ray Diggins, owner of Grizzly Hill Organic and market manager. “It’s easy access for food for people, and we aggregate a lot of different farms.”

The market is operated by the Yuba Foodshed Alliance, a group of growers in the area of the Yuba River Watershed. All participating farmers pledge to use sustainable farming methods and be available to peer review by the public with online profiles and in-person meetings, Diggins said.

“It’s something we believe in, and when you really believe in something, a lot of hands lift up if you start to fall.”
-Ray Diggins

The virtual farmers market is a new strategy and model provided by the United States Department of Agriculture as a way to aggregate product and cut down on marketing time, he said.

“This project will allow restaurants to go online and buy, and refrigerated trucks will deliver to their designated hub for pick-up,” Diggins said. “You can search the market by price or locality, so we’re also working with Auburn groups and we only move farther away as the growing season shuts down.”

Diggins started the Thursday Night Market in Nevada City in 1992, which was later restarted in Grass Valley in 1996, where it operated for 17 years.

Because of the agricultural focus, tension arose over competition from the merchants, Diggins said, adding that he resigned in 2012.

That downtown Grass Valley market starts back up July 11 with local farmers and merchants, three stages of entertainment, a kids farm town and demonstrations by local chefs.

“We wanted it to be an agricultural event, and when you’re doing things downtown, there are too many interests to appeal to, and it took us off our target,” Diggins said. “When we saw that the needs of the downtown merchants became too far away from our goals, we cut it loose.”

Diggins said people have a tendency to shop locally at farmers markets in the warmer seasons and then return to traditional supermarkets or co-ops post-season.

“The USDA recommends about 750 pounds of produce that an average American family is recommended to eat a year, so that totals to about 550 million pounds of produce,” Diggins said. “Nevada County growers, after you remove wine and grapes, produce about a million pounds … This idea is to offer produce all across the country. It’s a new food distribution system for food security and regional economic independence.”

The project is funded through an ecological food locavore promotion nonprofit and through Grizzly Hill Farm that will last two years. The organization hopes to acquire government grants in the future.

“We’ll make it work,” Diggins said. “It’s something we believe in, and when you really believe in something, a lot of hands lift up if you start to fall.”

For information about Farm Fresh Online, visit http://http//www.farmfreshonline.com/ or for the Yuba Foodshed Alliance, http://yubafoodshedalliance.org/.

The Brunswick Road location, at the Horsemen’s Association grounds, serves as the first distribution hub of what Diggins hopes to be many, and the market will sell directly to restaurants in July.

“It’s one of those projects that takes a while for people to come around, but when they do, we’ll be there,” he said.

Nevada County market starts up at Rood Center

The Nevada County Certified Growers’ Market is relocating its Tuesday afternoon farmers market to the Eric Rood Administrative Center in Nevada City.

The market will begin this Tuesday and run from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., according to the Friday memo issued by Nevada County CEO Rick Haffey.

The market began in 1980 and also operates the Saturday market at the Historic North Star House and the Thursday Penn Valley market.

The new location provides easy access, level terrain and accessible parking for all residents, the release stated.

A key goal of the market is to increase access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for all residents of Nevada County with special attention given to outreach to the lower income population.

The market will be used to help CalFresh customers learn how to use their Electronic Benefit cards at this and other local certified farmers markets to help obtain fresh and healthy food choices for their families.

There will also be an outreach booth to provide education and food demonstrations to promote the development of healthy eating habits.

The market also contributes to a thriving local agricultural economy by helping fund farms and direct agricultural product sales to provide fresh food and income to sustain local farms.

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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