Our Farm Institute team celebrated in June when we received a $600,000 USDA grant. This funding supports our beginning farmer and rancher training program and expands the curriculum through a collaboration with the University of California Cooperative Extension Service; adding on-farm mentorship, and translating our resources into Spanish. Our current enrollment of enthusiastic beginning farmers in our Ag Skills classes is indicative of the growing interest to start new farms to meet an increasing demand for local food. A strong local food movement cannot exist without successful farmers.
The celebration continued when we received an additional $100,000 USDA grant, with one more securely pending, for our Farm to School program. Keeping ourselves nimble within the ever-changing protocols of the pandemic, we are currently working with all area schools to grow our Farm to School curriculum with more farm field trips, additional guest chefs for Tasting Days, and management of 10 educational gardens.
Students Will Get More Time in School Gardens: Moving Ahead on Fresh, Scratched-Cooked School Meals for All
This school year, 10 school gardens will be providing weekly lessons for eager students! Perhaps the best affirmation that this program is necessary and valuable is the number of schools who are choosing to directly fund additional educational hours above what Sierra Harvest provides. This means more kids are in the garden for more hours, learning about all subjects through hands-on lessons in the soil.
School gardens are the perfect complement to the ever-closer Foothills Fresh Scratch Cooked school meal program. Eating in their school lunch what students are growing in the garden weaves these programs together into a more holistic and impactful experience of local food. This September our partners at the Chef Ann Foundation will spend 25 days with us to conduct an onsite assessment in five key areas: food, finance, facilities, human resources and marketing. We remain on target for completing the strategic plan in Nov. 2021 and will begin implementation shortly thereafter. With California being the first state to establish universal school meals, all students will get to enjoy the delicious, and nutritionally rich scratch-cooked meals using regional and local ingredients.
More Fresh, Organic Food Now Available for Families on a Tight Budget
Food Love Farm has arranged for surplus produce from the farm to be purchased by the Interfaith Food Ministry (IFM) as a part of their Good Food For All campaign. Thank you to IFM for its genuine commitment to buy local, providing their clients with local fresh and nutrient rich food, as well as supporting our local farms and farmers.
Also contributing to the IFM Good Food For All program is Sierra Harvest’s Gold Country Gleaners, and this year volunteers have gleaned 40% more fresh produce! This is a better year for crops, and our outreach has increased both the number of farms, and the number of volunteers who are rescuing food and delivering it directly to the clients at IFM.
In the last 12 month period, gleaners rescued and delivered 35,000 pounds of fresh produce – that’s over 17 tons – contributing about $88,500 worth of fresh, local food to families on a tight budget!
Without your commitment to Sierra Harvest, these results would only be ideas. Together, we are making sure that fresh, local food continues to raise the quality of life for everyone in Western Nevada County. Thank you. Enjoy this harvest season!