After six years of leading Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program, “Farmer Amanda” aka Amanda Thibodeau is stepping down to spend more time with her family and her own family farm – Super Tuber. Marisha Finkler will be taking her place as Sierra Harvest’s new Farm to School Director. “As I reflect on how far we’ve come,” said Amanda, “I’m amazed at the depth and breadth of programming as well as the impacts that Farm to School is having on our children and community. It has been my privilege to help develop this program into what it is, and I can’t wait to see where Marisha takes it.”Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program really has come a long way. Now in its 9th year, the program has grown from one school garden at Hennessey Elementary to serving 96% of the K-8 population at 21 schools in Western Nevada County.Farm to School now encompasses a whole range of hands-on activities designed to expose students to how delicious fresh, seasonal, local produce can be. Students now get to taste a new fruit or vegetable each month through the Harvest of the Month program, including sunflower sprouts, kumquats, persimmons, turnips, kiwis and cabbage. They eat some of that same produce, cooked by skilled local chefs, during Tasting Week. They also get to eat it fresh off of the Sierra Harvest farm stands at their schools. And they get to know their farmers by visiting the farms and seeing what local really means.
Marisha, a Nevada County native who moved back here in 2005, has been watching Sierra Harvest and the Farm to School program for a long time. “I am so impressed with how Sierra Harvest has grown,” she said. “I love the mission, and the way all the different projects and avenues promote local foods and healthy eating for families from all walks of life.”
Marisha graduated from Stanford with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and worked with immigrant children in community gardens in East Palo Alto before traveling and doing research on indigenous agriculture as a Fulbright Scholar in Ecuador. This job is a culmination of her experience working on farms, for nonprofits, and with children.
And, she has a knack for getting kids to eat vegetables. “I was so excited when I found a way for my kids to like arugula,” she said. “Just add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt: marinate it a bit and the bitterness fades. Have it as a salad or put it on pizza.” Marisha spends her free time with gardening, cooking, running, skiing, and biking with her husband and three children. Sierra Harvest is delighted to have her on board. Welcome Marisha and best of luck to Amanda!