Building Community, One Potluck at a Time

Riverhill Farm, where Sierra Harvest hosted our July 17th potluck, has to be one of the most spectacular locations for a communal feast. Visitors drive in past postcard-perfect fields of kale and tomatoes, and then walk through a tunnel of plum trees so heavy with fruit that their boughs are bent and sometimes broken with the burden of so many plump, juicy, ripe plums. By the time people make their way up the final path, humming with bees buzzing around the enormous purple lavender bushes, to the potluck tables, they can’t help but feel grateful for all that our local farms have to offer.

My kids and I arrived on the later side on the 17th, and found long tables already laden with the bounty of the season. The variety of dishes at a Sierra Harvest potluck never fails to surprise me. A few highlights from the 17th included roasted beets, watermelon salad with mint, home-made sauerkraut, multi-bean salad, home-made kombucha, smoked salmon, the ubiquitous zucchini (dressed up for the occasion with basil, butter, and pine nuts), and even a gluten-free pesto pasta alfredo provided by none other than the extremely talented chefs at The Fix for Foodies!

potluck3The people are just as varied – grandparents, children, farmers and farm interns, chefs, professional business people – farm-fresh food lovers all. When Sierra Harvest (then Living Lands) started hosting potlucks eight years ago in 2006, we were interested in putting faces with the food – introducing farmers and their customers in a way that went deeper than the weekly farmer’s market exchange. “Farming is not just about our relationship to the land, it is also about our relationship to the community,” explains farmer Leo Chapman, one of the founders of Living Lands who currently serves as the coordinator of the Sierra Gardens program. Co-director Malaika Bishop agrees: “Many of the problems that we see with food today are a result of not really understanding where our food comes from. We want to make it personal – one of our goals is for every child in Nevada County to be able to name a local farmer.”


Potluck attendee Ivy appreciates the fact that the potlucks take place on local farms: “It’s interesting to see how these farms are functioning and have a more intimate connection with the people that are growing the food, and eating real, home-made country food out in the country is just great.” Potluck guest Valerie also enjoys the farm locations: “Seeing the farms and meeting the farmers is a really special experience. My daughter is able to run around with kids on the farm and get that ‘farm’ experience.”

Potlucks take place on a different local farm each first and third Thursday of the month from 6-8pm through October. A full schedule can be found on the Sierra Harvest website.  There is no charge to attend, and no need to RSVP. For more information call (530) 265-2343.

What to bring:

  • Utensils, a plate and cup for yourself/selves
  • A bountiful dish to share (it’s nice to include a label with key ingredients for those with allergies)
  • A blanket to sit on
  • A healthy appetite