Be a Hero – Join the 2023 Harvest Leader Team!

Pick fruit, meet new friends, explore our stunning county and donate the fruit to those in need (plus take a wee bit home for you)!
We are seeking passionate and enthusiastic volunteer Harvest Leaders who can commit to picking and/or leading a crew of volunteers at least twice a month June to November. You will pick fruit that would otherwise go to waste from Nevada County farms and home orchards and deliver it to Interfaith Food Ministry (IFM) to be distributed to folks in our community.  In 2021 volunteers picked and donated more than 28,000 pounds to IFM – be a part of this awesome team! To be a volunteer Harvest Leader for the 2022 Sierra Harvest Gold Country Gleaning season, download the full job description and fill out the form below to apply. Questions? Contact Raven, our Gold Country Gleaning Program Coordinator.

Apply now! Training starts in late February!

Harvest Leader Application

Happy Retirement to Leo & Deb

After a long history with Sierra Harvest, including co-founder, developer of new programs, and volunteer extraordinaire, please join us in congratulating Leo Chapman and his partner Deb on their Sierra Harvest retirement this season.

If you already know Leo, you know that his partner Deb has been a force by his side every step of the way.  Most people don’t know how much they have contributed to the vitality of our local food and farm movement. 

Leo started Blue Bird Farm on a community member’s property, which was the beginnings of what would become the Sierra Harvest Land Match Program, and then started hosting farm potlucks to build community around food and farming.  These events later evolved to include dozens of farm across Western Nevada County, attracting hundreds of guests. 

Soon after, Leo realized he couldn’t do it alone, and so he formed a non-profit called Living Lands Agrarian Network with Masie Ganz, Tim Van Wagner, and Vince Booth with a mission to create a collaborative model for successful ecological farmers and farms.  Farmer Willow Hein joined the team to help grow the vision.  A few years a later, there was a network of Land Match farms where young farmers were getting trained in the business of farming and working collaboratively to create their own farm businesses.

In 2013 Living Lands Agrarian Network combined with another organization to become Sierra Harvest.  Leo and Deb stayed involved in many ways over the years – volunteering, building infrastructure at Food Love Farm, mentoring young farmers, overseeing the Land Match program, assessing farmable properties and matching owners with young farmers, as well as teaching beginning farmers at their own Chapman Family Farm.  The list of things that Leo and Deb have contributed to Sierra Harvest and our farming community is endless.

Please join us in wishing them a fantastic retirement from Sierra Harvest, as well as happiness and gratitude as they will now have the opportunity to travel and enjoy more time together and on the road.  But we have no delusions – Leo and Deb are continually thinking about how to make the world a better place and we know they will continue to share their passion, inspiration and vision for what can be possible as they explore this new phase of their lives.

Leo & Deb are also looking for a farmer who would like to live at Chapman Family Farm and take over the farm for the next year, and potentially years to come!  Contact Deb & Leo at to learn more, and be sure to leave your phone number in your email to them.

September is Hunger Action Month

Over 15,000 people in Nevada County need help. Who are these people? They are families, senior citizens, veterans, the working poor and the disabled. Without Interfaith Food Ministry and other supportive agencies, they would not know where their next meal is coming from.

What can you do to help?

Phil Alonso at IFM Grass Valley 2019
Phil Alonso of Interfaith Food Ministry sorting donated fruit from Sierra Harvest’s Gold Country Gleaning Program

Malaika’s pursuing her dream at Bluebird Farm

After serving as co-director Malaika Bishop stepped into a part-time roll at Sierra Harvest last March in order to pursue her dream of starting a farm venture. We caught up with her to see how it’s going.

Tell us about your farm and where you are farming.

Bluebird farm focusses on greens and flowers. I have four part-time employees and we are growing ½ acre of flowers up at the Jacobson Dude Ranch on Cement Hill Rd and 1 acre of lettuce and cutting greens at Woolman at Sierra Friends Center.

Woolman burned in the Jones Fire in 2020. We spent last season working to rebuild and expand the farm site at Woolman last season and weren’t able to get anything in the ground until late Oct, so this is really our first full growing season. There is still a lot of infrastructure to be built but we are making it work.

What has been most challenging about farming so far?

Balancing the budget. In 20 years of running non-profits I saw some challenging budgets, but those pale in comparison to balancing a first year farm budget. I am holding out hope that it will get easier!

Waiting[MB1]  a year for FEMA to clean up the fire debris on the farm site and now waiting on plans and grading to rebuild farm sheds has slowed down the timing on rebuilding the site and is pushing some of those winter projects into the main growing season. It is going to get REALLY busy!

What has been most rewarding?

Getting to finally grow and sell a few crops late last fall. Seeing beautiful rows of salad mix in the hoop house and long rows of ranunculus popping up this spring. It is going to be ridiculously beautiful.

Working hard with an amazing crew outdoors every day and seeing the transformation from a disaster zone to a beautiful cover cropped farm site.

Why the name Bluebird Farm?

Many people remember our farm site up at Jacobson’s fondly as Bluebird from the days that Leo Chapman and Tim Van Wagner farmed there during the Living Lands Agrarian Network days when we had potlucks and contra dances with 100 people there. (We merged Living Lands and Live Healthy Nevada County to create Sierra Harvest) We are bringing back the name Bluebird and using it for the whole farm.

Where can people get your products?
Well, we are partnering with Tim of First Rain Farm and Leo of Chapman Family farm on a collaborative Community Supported Agriculture box. You can sign up on the First Rain Farm website for a weekly installment of veggies. We will be growing the greens mostly (salad mix, lettuce, arugula, spinach etc).

You can treat yourself or a loved one to a FLOWER share and get a weekly installment of flowers all season long. Maybe a Valentine’s gift? You can sign up at . Full season shares are going fast, so don’t wait too long.

Mostly we will be selling our greens wholesale so you will see them at your local restaurants, schools, grocery stores etc.

What are you most excited about growing this season?

Veggies: I have to say I am excited to geek out on growing straight beautiful rows of greens really efficiently. The lettuce mix we are growing is out of this world delicious. We are growing it using a paperpot transplanter. I was a sceptic at first but am totally sold now.  

Flowers: It is so hard to pick one flower with over 120 varieties but because they will be here first, I’m going to go with ranunculus. To die for, and a big feature of our spring flower bouquets!

After so many years doing farm education, is there any education in the future of Bluebird?

Why yes in fact! We are partnering with Sierra Harvest to host a field day for the upcoming farm conference March 3rd where you can learn about how to build start-up farm infrastructure and some of our favorite time saving tools we have built and purchased. We will be joined by Prema Farm from the Reno area who have many more years and farm hacks under their belts.

We will be also partnering with Woolman on their programming as they get up and running bringing school groups from the Bay Area up to campus to learn about Social and Environmental Justice. There will be a food justice component on the farm that we are excitedly building curriculum for. Also, participants of their summer camp will get to participate in farm activities in June and July. They are also hosting local school groups to do day long field trips on campus.


Eric Ove: Cooking up Skills for Lifetime of Health at Brighter Futures for Youth

By Olivia Steele

Eric Ove, who “reads a cookbook like a mystery novel,” is Bright Futures for Youth’s (BFFY) first-ever full-time Kitchen and Nutrition Program Manager.  Eric says his passion for the power of deliciously nutritious food was born when he fully understood how “the right blending of flavors, aromas, and textures can create a memorable and even healing experience.” With experience in some of Nevada County’s most beloved restaurants and time spent as a supervisor in a children’s educational and behavioral program, he was made for the job.

Marrying the value of fresh, whole foods with exploration of adventurous, multi-cultural flavors and the appeal of comfort foods, Eric encourages expansive imagination in meals. The youth get to experience the magic of adding cinnamon and cocoa powder to chili, or even deconstructing shepherd’s pie into a medley of lemon mint peas, garlic scallion mashed potatoes, and red-wine spiced beef and pork filling. Seeing the joy and inspiration that kids bring to the plate reminds Eric that he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be.

Eric’s dreams continue to fuel his work, he has goals to offer as many as four cooking classes per month inspired by student curiosity, homestead storage expertise, and skills that encourage food knowledge and independence for life. Each class offered is tailored to support confidence, skill, understanding, and enthusiasm – ranging from classes on balancing price and quality for ingredients to classes on “how to turn a pumpkin into a pie.”

In between cooking and serving 150 meals a week, Eric is making moves to develop a no-questions-asked food pantry where youth can grab shelf-stable, nutritious food any day they need. In 2021, through gleaning and local farm efforts, Sierra Harvest was able to send 28,343 pounds of produce to Interfaith Food Ministry. Eric decided to utilize the goods from IFM to implement a dehydration program, producing orange vanilla dehydrated apples, black pepper and thyme strawberries, and even a “warming winter strawberry granola with delightfully spicy strawberry chips.” We’re so thankful for community members like Eric who cultivate working relationships with local farms and organizations to provide not only nutritious, heart-healthy meals to youth – but to also demystify “acquired tastes” and encourage exploration into rich tastes and fearless flavors.

Health Care For Future Generations Through the Sierra Harvest Heirloom Legacy Circle

By Janice Bedan

In the earliest days of the Sierra Harvest Farm to School program, volunteer Sandra Barrington saw children get excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and encouraging their classmates to just try it!  She immediately understood the impact of this program.

“Good health starts in childhood, where good habits can influence your entire life.

Continue reading “Health Care For Future Generations Through the Sierra Harvest Heirloom Legacy Circle”

Celebrating our Volunteer of the Year, Kwong Chew: Six years of service and counting

By Aimee Retzler

Kwong Chew joined the Sierra Harvest board in October 2015 when the board was only two years old.  At first I remember thinking, ‘Wow he talks really fast and has one million good ideas.  How will I ever keep up with him?’ 

I watched him join the finance and strategic planning committees offering value, input and oftentimes challenging our thought processes to move beyond the semantics, the details.  Sometimes I remember feeling frustrated that I often didn’t really understand what Kwong was trying to convey to me because he thinks at the speed of light and can see potential so clearly.  I saw him donate his time and resources over and over again to the benefit of the people Sierra Harvest serves.  He has diplomatically pushed the organization to consider new ideas and was instrumental in starting our investment committee and formulating our policy.

Kwong thrives in the realm of possibilities twenty-four seven.  He deeply cares about every single one of our employees and their own health and general welfare. He asks the tough questions and actually listens to the response.

I am so grateful for Kwong and his six years of service to Sierra Harvest and this community.  His energy, passion and willingness to help are hallmarks of what being in service to others means.  Kwong has made a huge difference in the evolution of Sierra Harvest helping us grow from simple concepts to a well-respected nonprofit.  Because of this, we celebrate Kwong Chew as Sierra Harvest’s Volunteer of the Year.  I feel so lucky that you will continue on the board and I thank you for your incredible service to this community.