Phil Turner is no stranger to the local food movement in Nevada County. He started attending Living Lands Agrarian Network events in 2010, and was invited to be on their board the following year. When Living Lands merged with Live Healthy Nevada County, he became an inaugural member of the new Sierra Harvest board. This year, he will lead that board as president. Our deepest gratitude goes out to Jennifer Singer for her hard work as president of the board for the past two years. Her contributions were a huge part of how we came to be in the strong position we are in today. Thankfully, Jennifer will remain on the board of Sierra Harvest and now serves as our Board Secretary. I spoke with Phil about how he would like to see Sierra Harvest move forward.
SH: What do you hope to accomplish as President of the Board?
Three things: Sierra Harvest’s strategic plan is complete and approved. The next year or two will be about understanding how to implement this strategic plan and to roll it out through our programs and fundraising.
Secondly, we’ve been developing our fundraising capabilities, but we still have a lot of work to do to get to the point where we have a significant flow of local support in addition to the funding we seek from grants. Because the work we do is focused on making positive change around local food in our communities, I believe that our primary funding must also come from the people who live here and will benefit from this effort.
Finally, I’d like to increase our activities on the farm side of our three-legged stool (Children, Community, Farmers). I’d like to see more programs in place that encourage and support new farmers. We are still learning what it will take to augment and sustain new farms. Both land and capital are issues with which new farmers struggle as well as the difficulties of running a small business in a challenging market where people aren’t used to paying full price for their food. We are collaborating with the Bear Yuba Land Trust to explore making land more affordable. We are in the early stages of establishing a business-oriented incubator farm for new farmers. And, we will continue to sponsor and organize events like our bi-weekly potlucks, that bring the larger community together with our local farmers.
SH: What will be the biggest challenge for Sierra Harvest over the next year?
The big question is, how do we use the momentum we have established to carry us through the next phase of our mission? Our farm to school programs are going well, but there is still considerable progress to be made in moving towards scratch-cooked lunches where local, organic produce is a daily feature
Once people have decided that they like local food, what then? There are so many challenges for people who want to change their family’s diet – they are busy, they may have to rethink how they budget for food, where they buy their food and how they prepare it at home. We need to expand our efforts to support them in making positive, healthy changes to their diets.
Setting up an incubator for farm businesses will be another big undertaking. We will need major support from the community to make this happen.
We have plenty to do and we have a great organization for doing it. I am excited about the next few years and look forward to contributing to our progress along with the many other people involved with Sierra Harvest.