Sierra Harvest Farm Institute offers a program for aspiring farmers, featuring hands-on training and supported learning. The farm crew member is job matched with local sustainable farms willing to provide them with a positive and successful start in market farming. Farm Crew members also participate in our advanced production skills courses, taught by successful local farmers in their field of expertise. The subjects covered are transplanting, irrigation, fertilization, successive planting, compost making, extending seasons and more. The classes are open to the public. Check out our class offerings here.
Our 2019 Farm Crew members have already proven themselves to be quick learners and hard workers and have become an integral part of their farm’s crews. These folks may go on to manage their own farms or become important team members of our already existing farms. Educated and inspired farm community members add to the health of our local food system. So meet our Sierra Harvest Farm Crew Members:
Abigail O’Rourke is an employee of Dinner Bell Farm in Chicago Park. Dinner Bell’s main crops are pigs and flowers. Owner Molly Nakahara is an in-demand wedding floral designer.
Abigail is an upbeat, ready to learn kind of woman. Previously, she managed an off-grid mountain farm in the Panamanian mountains and it was an experience never to be forgotten. Her interest in agriculture has continued to grow, finally culminating while attending the Sierra Harvest Food and Farm Conference last February, and listening to the conference keynote speakers. She experienced a feeling of being in the right place at the right time. It became clear to her that being a steward of the land was an important part of her future.
Abigail says “I have big dreams and am certain that this program will be an irreversibly strong step towards accomplishing them. “
Connor Fournier works at Stone’s Throw Farm, an abundant vegetable and flower farm in Colfax, CA. You can find their products at the Auburn Saturday market and the Truckee Tuesday market.
Connor grew up in Nevada County, born and raised in Grass Valley. At a recent meeting with his host farm he was given high marks on all aspects of his farming skills, ability to communicate and being an excellent team member.
Connor says “I have been around agriculture my whole life. For the past three years I have focused my free-time towards improving my agricultural knowledge and skill-set, from an organic standpoint. I am really excited to be partnered with a farm that focuses on organic clean growing and living soil.”
Katie Thomas is a strong team member of Starbright Acres Family Farm. Starbright has approximately five part-time and full-time employees. They sell to grocery stores and restaurants and at two local farmer’s markets, as well as operating their own farm stand on Polaris Dr., Grass Valley.
Before moving to Nevada County to take place in the Farm Crew program, Katie a pprenticed on a farm in Boulder, CA., owned by Jim Nelson. For many years Jim has opened his farm as an active agricultural classroom, teaching the basics of farming, homesteading, and animal care. Katie had already been given a strong agriculture foundation.
Katie says; “I believe my purpose in life is to help reawaken and spark people’s connection, respect, love and stewardship to the land. To help teach them to enliven their senses and appreciation for the wonderful earth and all her blessings in its many forms.”