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Sierra Harvest Featured on the Food and Farm Show

April 15, 2014

Our Soup Night on April 3rd was an astounding success, packing the Stone House with fans of Sierra Harvest and good soup. Thanks to all of the chefs who generously donated such a delicious variety of soups, and special thanks to Nikko Wu and her wonderful staff at the StoneHouse, who helped us out when we ran out of soup!

The Food and Farm Show was filming at the event, and captured what makes our organization so special:

 

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Sierra Gardens Program is Blooming!

March 26, 2014

sg2The Sierra Gardens program works with families and organizations to build backyard gardens, providing classes, mentoring, and supplies for two years to establish successful home-based gardens. We have built out two gardens so far: one for an individual residence in Alta Sierra, and one for the Friendship Club, a local community organization that is designed to engage, educate and empower at-risk girls.sg7

sg6This program is available to anyone in the community who has the space for a garden, but the trend so far has been heavily female. The Friendship Club garden will help the girls learn the important life skill of gardening, along with personal responsibility and the value of hard work. And the Alta Sierra garden will benefit a grandmother, her daughter, and three granddaughters, all of who participated in building out their garden. This season, these girls will learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare kale, chard, broccoli, cilantro, carrots, beets, and green onions. The first class for Sierra Gardens participants (an introduction to gardening and spring planting) also happened this week.sg1

We have eight more gardens pending, and are still accepting applications. Payment plans and partial or full scholarships are available. More information and applications are available on the Sierra Gardens program page.

 

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Volunteer of the Month: Jacquie Weills

March 26, 2014

Sierra Harvest could not do all of the things we do without the help of our wonderful volunteers. I caught up with one of them, Jacquie Weills, in between all of her different projects, and got to know her a little better.

SH: How did you become interested in volunteering for Sierra Harvest?

Jacquie: I just love gardening and I like to be of service. If I’m going to be of service, I want to be working in the garden with children. I’ve always been a teacher, a class teacher, a handwork teacher, a garden teacher, a yoga teacher. One of the most important things we can teach children right now is to be with the earth, and to raise their own healthy, clean, organic food and know the difference. It’s important that they know that we have to take care of the earth, and it’s nice to see Sierra Harvest teaching that out there in the schools, because they don’t get that in general education. We need to teach our children life skills, not just head skills. Plus I love Malaika and Carlyle, what they’re doing is great. (Malaika and Carlyle are the co-executive director and office manager at Sierra Harvest.)

SH: What do you do as a volunteer for Sierra Harvest?

Jacquie: At the office, I’ve been putting things on the computer, entering survey information. I help Carlyle, the office manager – I’ll go pick up the fliers or run errands so that she can stay and work. I help my granddaughter’s class with the third grade garden at Yuba River Charter School as well.

SH: What do you like about the work you do for Sierra Harvest?

Jacquie: I’m a community-minded person – for me, it’s not all about having a job where you make money. We all need to pitch in with our time in areas we love. I love cooking, I love having good healthy food.  It’s really important to me that people know what they are eating.  Having children discover this at an early age is truly beneficial.

SH: How else do you support the local food movement in our community?

Jacquie: I volunteer at First Rain Farm – I help with the harvest, I cook lunch for all the people who are helping with the harvest. Everybody brings something, crème fraiche, bread, etc. I make the soup for them. I love it.

SH: What do you do when you are not volunteering for Sierra Harvest?

Jacquie: I work in the garden at BriarPatch, and I work in my own garden. I spend a lot of time with my grandchildren. I am doing some end of life care, two days a week. I also volunteer in my granddaughter’s hand work class every week, teaching crochet. I love kids, I’ve always worked with kids. They are our future, and we don’t pay enough attention to that.  Gandhi said: “If we are to have real peace, we must begin with the children.” Teaching them to love the earth is a great place to begin.

 SH: Thank you, Jacquie, for doing all that you do!

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Food Love Project Farmer Amanda Thibodeau Gets Kids Excited About Farming!

March 26, 2014

SH:You haven’t always been known as “Farmer Amanda” — how did you decide to become a farmer?

Amanda: After working in healthcare, I decided I wanted to pursue a path in preventive health by becoming a farmer.  But to do that, I needed to learn how to grow food!  In 2010 I got an internship with the living Lands Agrarian Network (LLAN), which gave me the experience, skills and inspiration to become an educational farmer.  (LLAN and Live Healthy Nevada County merged to become Sierra Harvest last year.) For my journeyman training year, LLAN and I approached the Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) and asked to start an educational farm on their Burton homestead, and to my surprise, they said yes!   So after only a season of farming experience under my belt, I started the Food Love Project, with mentorship and volunteer labor from LLAN.  Now, we have trained several interns, and are in our 4th season.

SH: Tell us about your farm, the Food Love Project.

My farm is my favorite place! I designed it to be inviting and experiential — there’s a growing tipi that is filled with plans and wishes, there are flowers you can eat, strawberries to graze on, chickens clucking in the background, and amazing vegetables growing everywhere.  We usually grow about 80 varieties of veggies so there’s always something new and tasty to enjoy.  This last year we started doing U-picks and those are really gratifying — community members come in and pick their own food, and they get so excited!  I love having a place where people feel that it is their own.

SH: 800-1000 students visit Food Love each year to experience 5000 hours of experiential education. What do you hope the kids walk away with?

Amanda: I want them to experience the growing cycle — plant seeds that they can then come back to harvest, and taste the food that they have just picked. I want them to learn through their taste buds – understand that tomatoes taste best in the middle of a hot summer, straight from the plant. Creating a personal connection with these kids is important to me – I want to show them that being a farmer is an option for making a living, and that it’s good to buy food from your local farmer. Growing food is something anyone can do, and it’s fun!