Chicken Meditation? Friendsgiving? Only at the Food Love Project Summer Camp

food_love_camp3The last week of July, the staff at the Food Love Project take a deep breath and a short rest.  And after 2 weeks of hosting summer camp for local students, they certainly deserve it.

food_love_camp4Now in it’s 4th year, the Food Love Project’s summer camp has become a summer institution.  Continuing the traditions of the ever popular “mock farmer’s market,” “friendsgiving feast,” and “animal day,” camp had a little something for everyone.

“I loved holding the chickens,” said one camper whose nature name is “Mountain.”  Mountain’s mom said Food Love camp was his favorite camp of the summer- and she liked it because it gave him a chance to try new foods outside of home in a supportive environment.  Indeed the “chicken meditation” on animal day proved to be a very popular part of camp.  Sitting with the chickens, holding them and sharing chicken stories was the highlight for many campers- especially since many of them had been holding these same chickens during spring field trips, when they were just a few weeks old!  FLP staffer Brianna Abundiz and her family have been raising this new flock to be snuggly and social, and it’s clearly working.

food_love_camp2Another highlight of the week was FLP Manager Maggie McProud’s captivating bee and pollinator lesson combined with a fresh honeycomb tasting.  Later that week at the mock market, some of the campers decided to sell honey.  We asked how much they would charge and the kids said “$60.”  When asked why the price was so high, the campers replied “bees work so hard to make this honey!  It should cost even more!”

At Food Love Camp, children make connections about how food grows and the effort that goes into it.  Each day, campers harvested snack to share from the garden including salad turnips, fennel, kohlrabi, and kale.  After doing an herb walk around the farm and harvesting basil, campers tried fresh pesto pasta for snack.


The week’s harvest culminated in a feast showcasing the bounty of the farm.  For the meal, campers made grilled veggie tamales to share.  As expected the tamales were a hit, and they even incorporated corn that they hand ground with a molcajete (Mexican mortar and pestle).

All in all it was a delicious couple of weeks complete with irrigation games, seed piñatas, tipi art, scarecrows, friendly chickens, fresh peaches and lots of memories.




Garden of Joy for Sierra Garden Recipient Tia Thompson


Tia Thompson is one of the many Sierra Garden recipients who got some help from Sierra Harvest to grow food for her family. Here is what she had to say about her experience:

SH: Why did you want a Sierra Garden?

TT: My fiancé and I are both disabled. My fiancé is a war veteran and he has a prosthetic leg, so it’s hard for him to help with the garden. A friend noticed that we needed help and suggested we contact Sierra Harvest. The biggest challenge was starting everything up and building a place for the animals. We have four pigs (We are raising our own meat) and 100 different birds: guineas, ducks, chickens, geese and managing all of these animals takes a lot of time and work.

SH: What did Sierra Harvest do for you?

TT: They helped expand the garden: It was 30’ x 20’ and now it’s 100’ x 100’. Sierra Harvest provided lots of vegetables, and a better variety of tomato plants. They brought extra topsoil and posts for the fencing. They used a broad fork to help loosen the soil and planted starts with us. Farmer Edy answered questions about where to plant things and when to grow them and provided me with a lot of veggie starts which is great since we don’t have a greenhouse yet. Everyone from Sierra Harvest is just amazing. I had a really good experience working with their staff and their wonderful volunteers.

SH: How are you eating differently?

TT: We’re growing different things now that do well in the Foothills climate so we’re eating better. Fennel is something that I never ate before. Different kinds of kale, broccoli, cabbage — these are things I don’t normally eat, but they’re really good when they come from your own garden.

SH: What is your favorite thing that has come out of the garden so far?

TT: Napa lettuce. It’s like the Napa cabbage, but it’s lettuce. It’s kind of in between a cabbage and a lettuce. This garden is my joy. I’m physically disabled and this helps me cope with whatever I’m going through and now I can feed my family right from our backyard.

The Union also talked to Tia about her garden — read that story here.

Inspiring Students at Silver Springs High School

There are many barriers to making healthy lifestyle choices–especially around food. Sierra Harvest is empowering Silver Springs High School students to make healthy food and lifestyle choices, while addressing typical barriers such as transportation, time, and cost that make access to fresh food challenging.
Elizabeth Braddley, Sierra Harvest's Food Corp Service Member
Elizabeth Brandley, Sierra Harvest’s Food Corp Service Member

Co-Executive Director Aimee Retzler: “Silver Springs was the first high school to sign up for Sierra Harvest’s Sierra Gardens for Schools Program, which provides garden mentorship, seasonal seeds and starts, and curriculum support for schools that want to incorporate gardening into their existing curricula.” In conjunction with the newly expanded school garden, Sierra Harvest FoodCorps Service Member Elizabeth Brandley is teaching a garden/culinary class that focuses on examining each student’s personal food story. Students are learning how to plant a seed, the difference between maintaining fertility with compost vs. chemical fertilizer, and what happens to the nutritional value of wheat at varying degrees of processing. Most importantly, students are learning where their food comes from, including the food in their school lunches.

Continue reading “Inspiring Students at Silver Springs High School”

Turnips Top Off 3 Tons of Vegetables to our Schools!

salad turnipsAs all you parents and students know, the end of school is right around the corner…and along with events like open houses, finals, recitals, sports awards and yearbooks comes the closing of another part of school, and that’s the tasty part. That’s right, this school year’s Harvest of the Month (HOTM) program is wrapping up, and what better way to say goodbye for the summer than with a turnip? Yes, nothing says hello summer like a salad turnip. You think I’m kidding, but bite into one of these succulent beauties and you’ll remember that summer is the best time for cool, raw vegetables, and they even help out maintaining a good looking swimsuit bod! So spice up that crudité platter with a salad turnip, a local farm favorite. More about the tremendous turnip later, like a final that needs completing, we’ve got to share the HOTM yearbook with you and remember all the tastes of 2014-15 school year. Continue reading “Turnips Top Off 3 Tons of Vegetables to our Schools!”

Sierra Gardens Program Growing in Nevada County, with Room for More!

A new beginning for 2015 Sierra Gardens participant Mistie and her family.
A new beginning for 2015 Sierra Gardens participant Mistie and her family.

Sierra Harvest’s Sierra Gardens program is entering its second year of building backyard gardens and providing classes, mentoring, and supplies to families who want to learn how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. This year Farmer Leo Chapman expects to support 30 gardens for people who either are learning gardening skills or who can’t afford to create a full garden infrastructure. This is almost a third more than last year, and there is still room for more gardens in the program this year! Families aren’t the only ones learning about growing food in Nevada County – Leo learns something from every garden he puts in: “I’ve really enjoyed being all over the county and seeing how things grow differently in all of the micro climates.” Continue reading “Sierra Gardens Program Growing in Nevada County, with Room for More!”

Celebrity Vegetable Visits Nevada County Schools

“Leafy green, dark and lean.”
If you love it or hate it, you’ve heard of it and there’s a reason why.
Long ago, Thomas Jefferson grew it at home at Monticello, and more recently Beyonce wore a sweatshirt repping its name in a music video.   Clever moms sneak it into smoothies and make it into chips.  It even has its own day (October 1st).

curlykaleIt ain’t taters.
Thanks to Sierra Harvest, 6,000 local students can tell you exactly what it is thanks to April’s Harvest of the month.
It’s kale of course!

This month, students tasted three different varieties of organic baby kale from Riverdog Farm, out of Guinda, CA.  Local food aficionados may already be familiar with Riverdog, as they are the supplier for Mountain Bounty Farm’s winter CSA share.  Located in the fertile Capay valley, partners Tim Mueller and Trini Campbell, along with their daughter and 50 full time employees, keep the farm going year-round. Continue reading “Celebrity Vegetable Visits Nevada County Schools”

Meet the New Faces of Sierra Harvest!

Clockwise: Rachel, Miriam, Jessica, Brianna. Welcome, ladies!
Clockwise: Rachel, Miriam, Jessica, Brianna. Welcome, ladies!

Four amazing women who are all passionate about food in different ways joined Sierra Harvest recently, and we want you to meet them!

Brianna Abundiz and Jessica Gimpel will be serving as interns at the Food Love Project farm this season, and Rachel Berry and Miriam Limov have taken the helm as engagement managers for Sierra Harvest’s communications and outreach.

Meet Fabulous Food Love Interns Brianna and Jessica

SH: Why did you want to be an intern at Sierra Harvest?

Jessica: My head is exploding with reasons. When I saw the Food Love Project internship I got really excited because I wanted to find a place to learn how to grow food where I could integrate education and working with kids with healthy eating. It brings all of my interests together.

Brianna: I am a mother of five and there is a garden cart in each of my kid’s schools so I was familiar with Sierra Harvest. When I saw the email about the internship it just called out to me. Continue reading “Meet the New Faces of Sierra Harvest!”

Grow Your Own Food at Home – Sierra Harvest Can Help!

DSC03529If you’ve always wanted to grow your own vegetables, but haven’t known where to start, or if you have tried planting a garden but not gotten the results you were hoping for, then the Sierra Gardens program is for you! Imagine picking ingredients for a fresh, healthy dinner from your own backyard – better for your body, and easier on your wallet. Plus, gardening is good for your soul…just ask Leo Chapman, who heads Sierra Harvest’s Sierra Gardens program. “It’s been great to see how successful people can be when we provide them with the infrastructure, the plants at the appropriate times and the mentor ship.” Continue reading “Grow Your Own Food at Home – Sierra Harvest Can Help!”

Harvest of the Month: Dried Plums AKA Prunes

by Amanda Thibodeau

PrintIt’s February, the month of love, Mardi Gras and 70-degree days, and with this weather, its hard to remember that we are still in the middle of winter.  Despite the temperature, it is still winter (just ask the folks living in Boston!), and winter is an excellent time to enjoy preserved foods from the summer bounty.  These foods bring us back to the height of summer abundance in a time of year when local food is scarce at best.  Canned tomatoes, dilly beans, homemade jams, sauerkraut, dried fruit…there are so many ways to enjoy the taste and nutrition of the summer and fall in this, the shortest month of the year. Continue reading “Harvest of the Month: Dried Plums AKA Prunes”

Kids and Staff are Eating Up Grizzly Hill’s New Salad Bar!

20150129_121817Grizzly Hill Elementary school in North San Juan broke new ground a few years ago when they pushed for organic food in their school meals. Now, they are providing a salad bar three to four days a week, and the kids (and parents) are eating it up. Erika Triligia, a Grizzly Hill parent, appreciates the reduction in food waste: “They get to pick what they want, so they don’t throw it away.” Student Starlight Makonen, a vegetarian, agrees: “You get to pick what you want to eat.  I love that!” Continue reading “Kids and Staff are Eating Up Grizzly Hill’s New Salad Bar!”