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.

Rooting Out Racism and Planting Justice

By Sarah Arndt

For those of us who are white and who also identify as farmers, land stewards, and good food advocates, what does it look like to understand, uproot, and transform a cultural inheritance of white supremacy into an embodied practice of liberation, abundance, and justice? One of our white farm educators reflects on the intersection of farming and anti-racism and what white people and white-led/white-dominant organizations need to do to root out racism…

My name is Sarah Arndt and I’m a farm educator at Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Farm. I’ve worked as an educator, facilitator, and advocate at the intersection of food, youth, and education for the last decade. My experience at the farm has also been shaped by my passion for transformation, healing, and accountability as an everyday practice in service to racial justice and collective liberation. As a white cis woman working in mostly mission-driven and non-profit spaces, this practice requires being in constant relationship with the question, “what does it look like to understand, uproot, and transform a cultural inheritance of white supremacy into an embodied practice of liberation, abundance, and justice?” 

Continue reading “Rooting Out Racism and Planting Justice”

Honoring Anita Smith: A Centerpiece of Food and Care at Silver Springs School

Marty Mathiesen, Principal, Silver Springs High School

Anita Smith was a dear friend and centerpiece of the Silver Springs High School staff.  

Anita was the lead person with food services at the high school, but to Silver kids and staff, she was a lot more.  Anita knew every kid in school and she felt a personal responsibility that each and every student was cared for and had plenty to eat.  Students and families under the poverty line are supported by a free and reduced price meal program which means the cost of student meals is covered by the state.  Silver Springs High School is identified as an entire school that meets that criteria. 

Continue reading “Honoring Anita Smith: A Centerpiece of Food and Care at Silver Springs School”

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.   

More than a Snapshot: A Lifelong Commitment to Service

By Dana Frasz

For Sandra Boyd, there is nothing quite like her grandmother’s raspberry jam, and she loves a stir-fry with fresh veggies. She grew up in Nevada City in a family who valued health, and therefore good food.

“We spent our days visiting local farms, gathering fruit and vegetables.” Her grandmother would preserve the food for the winter, and her grandfather would process through his juicer invention – long before it was hip!

Continue reading “More than a Snapshot: A Lifelong Commitment to Service”


Most people love garlic for its pungent and sometimes spicy flavor, and the fullness it adds to dishes when it is used. Many claims are made as to garlic’s healing properties and immune booster qualities. I am a believer and a big fan of the Alliums in general (plants in the onion family). There are some rogues out there, those odd people who you can’t quite trust who for whatever reason hate garlic.  In my house, those people will be disappointed (though still welcomed), since I add garlic to most dishes at a rate far higher than is generally recommended in recipes!

I am always happy to put my garden to bed for the winter after a long season of planting, tending and harvesting. Planting my garlic each fall is symbolic of that seasonal change…it is essentially the last thing I do before stepping aside for shorter days and colder nights.


Leo Chapman: Decades of Impact and a Regenerative Dream for the Future

By: Dana Frasz

Leo Chapman Local Food Hero

Leo’s earliest memories are of gardening with his parents.  At age 10 he remembers the juicy goodness of his first peach direct from the tree, and in his teenage years, he helped preserve the crops through canning, drying, and freezing.   

Continue reading “Leo Chapman: Decades of Impact and a Regenerative Dream for the Future”

Jolane and Scott Hickman, The Joyful Welcoming Crew!

Photo by Sandra Boyd

Be the local food movement” is Sierra Harvest’s volunteer program motto and we are extremely blessed to have two exceptionally joyful, warm, and friendly volunteers be a part of the movement – Jolane and Scott Hickman.  The Hickmans joined our team this year as our  2021 Farm Tour Welcome Volunteers, attending every farm tour to set things up, welcome guests, support farmers during the tour and wrap things up after each tour.   It’s a big commitment and we are so grateful for Jolane and Scott for contributing their time so enthusiastically, allowing hundreds of people to meet our local farmers and ranchers, and learn where to purchase local, seasonal and fresh food.

Continue reading “Jolane and Scott Hickman, The Joyful Welcoming Crew!”