Mountain Bounty Farm flourishes Fresh vegetables delivered to you |

Mountain Bounty Farm flourishes Fresh vegetables delivered to you

Growing up on the North San Juan Ridge, John Tecklin did chores in his parents’ garden but always considered them just that-chores. The desire to be a farmer never entered his mind. While earning a degree in history, he had a part-time career as a stonemason/carpenter. It wasn’t until his mid-twenties that he began looking for a career move but didn’t know what that was. John loved cooking but wasn’t trained for restaurant work. One summer he latched onto an opportunity to work on an organic farm near his home in Portland. By August new thoughts percolated in his mind. He loved the challenging discipline and art of farming and enjoyed being outdoors. The carpentry background was quite useful. Farming began to feel like a perfect fit! Returning to the North San Juan Ridge, he approached some longtime family friends about leasing their land to farm and the rest is, well, more dirt than you probably want to know about.

John is one of the farmers that pioneered in bringing back “food production” farming. “In the past Nevada County was primarily known for ranching, logging and mining. Except for a few long time families, food production farming is sort of in its infancy in Nevada County. Tecklin’s Mountain Bounty Farm has been in existence now for eleven years. To many beginning farmers, he has been a mentor and held in high esteem.

Driving through the hot dry forests of North San Juan, one comes around a corner just off of Purdon Road into a stunning oasis of greenery. It’s suddenly cooler and the long green rows of vegetables almost take your breath away-a little jewel of paradise in the woods. This is Tecklin’s original farm. Today he leases five sites all within a two mile radius of the original three-acre farm. Last year John was able to purchase a home and property adjacent to this site which will be developed for farming next year.

“Though there isn’t a lot of money to be made from renting to a farmer, I think landowners get tremendous pleasure seeing undeveloped land turned into something useful and so beautiful,” Tecklin commented. Landowners really benefit by the the hardscape improvements a farmer does in terms of fencing, water systems, and soil amendments. “Having an organic farm on one’s property definitely enhances its value.”

One valuable change the last few years in farming is the increased interest by young people to sign on as farm apprentices. Five years ago it was hard to find one, but this year almost every farm in the county has several apprentice workers. It means so much to a farmer-not just inexpensive labor, but having enthusiastic, young people around brings so much liveliness to the farming experience and social life. “I have one young man who has been with us for two seasons. He’s learning all the ropes and has already taken on many responsibilities leaving me free to do other projects.”

John’s partner, Angie Tome’, works on multiple projects on the farm. She was bitten by the farming bug while participating in the farm apprenticeship program at University of California Santa Cruz. She has her own flower business and is currently trying to develop a work training program for girls through the Friendship Club. Angie was also instrumental in starting the Farmer’s Market in downtown Nevada City that began a few weeks ago and is a member of the Local Food Coalition.

“The local food movement has literally changed the lives of many farmers by helping to make farming a viable option. We are so grateful for the increased awareness and support of the community,” Tecklin commented. “I t can only lead to more and better fresh food and a stronger local economy. Many people have dabbled in farming, but I hope we’ll be seeing more serious farmers emerge with the increased interest and demand for local food.”

Mountain Bounty sells their produce to several restaurants, at the Farmer’s Market, and through their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). This is a relatively new concept in farming economics. It works sort of like a magazine subscription. A family/individual purchases a subscription to the farm in the spring which entitles them to a weekly box of produce during the growing season or throughout the year in some arrangements. It means a box of fresh vegetables (and sometimes fruits) is delivered each week. It benefits the farmer because he knows what he can count on selling and how much he needs to grow. It also gives him cash upfront to work from. For families there is a tremendous health benefit. It’s a convenient and economical way to keep high quality fresh food on hand. It does require a certain commitment to do what our moms have always said was best for us. Eating our vegetables! (Don’t worry! Substitutions can be made if you hate lima beans or beets and recipes are included.)

In their first year Mountain Bounty had 48 customers signed up in their CSA. This year they have 225 and a waiting list. This past week their customers received in their box most, but not necessarily all of these vegetables: new potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, chard, summer squash, basil, carrots, and fennel. Fennel? What the heck do you do with fennel??

Fabulous Fennel and Fettucine

Ten ounces fettucine

One bulb of fennel, sliced thin and chopped

Two tablespoons olive oil

One tablespoon butter

Two small early tomatoes or two handfuls of cherry tomatoes

One small summer squash, grated

Four cloves garlic (or to taste)

Two teaspoons grated lemon peel

Three tablespoons lemon juice

One half cup vegetable or chicken broth

One quarter teaspoon salt and generous grating of fresh black pepper

Garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese and finely chopped

Fennel leaves

Add fettucine to boiling, salted water and cook until al dente.

Saute the fennel in olive oil and butter. When slightly softened add the tomatoes, squash, garlic, lemon peel and juice, and the broth. Cover, simmer, for 4-5 minutes until all ingredients are cooked.

Add vegetable sauté to the drained noodles. Top with parmesan cheese and fennel fronds and serve.

Patti Bess is a freelance writer and cookbook author from Grass Valley. She is also the host of What’s Cookin’ on KVMR-FM. For questions or comments you can reach her at

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