Food and Farm Conference Inspires and Motivates

February 13, 2018

Watching the key note speakers in the Don Baggett theater, 2018

Sierra Harvest’s 8th annual Sustainable Food and Farm conference was a resounding success! With more than 650 attendees gathering to learn about regenerative farming and ranching (and so much more!), it was a motivating, inspirational weekend for all who attended.

The conference brings together and knowledgeable mix of small-scale farmers, ranchers, gardeners, homesteaders, permaculturists and local food enthusiasts.  

Kicking off on Thursday with a Food Safety workshop for local producers, the conference provided many opportunities for practical information and networking.  Then on Friday, many attended farm tours at Mountain Bounty Farm, Browing Ranch and The Goat Works.   And some lucky participants attended the always popular edible mushroom cultivation workshop from Tumbling Creek Farm.  Also on Friday, the Nevada County Tech Connection hosted the AgTech Micro Conference, focusing on how technology can support more successful farms.

Those juicy experiences were just the beginning.  Saturday was the conference’s main event!  With hundreds of people packing Nevada Union High School’s Baggett Theater, three keynote speakers from across the country shared their wisdom and expertise with a rapt audience.

Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser of Singing Frogs Farm presenting, 2018

Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser from Singing Frogs Farm inspired both home scale and market growers alike to implement no till practices.  Many conference goers said that the Kaisers “demystified” no till and made it seem actually possible. 

Dr. Daphne Miller took the stage to talk about soil health as it relates to human health- pairing science and storytelling to create a compelling presentation.  She talked about diversity as being key to health in both body and soil and she also made a pretty good argument in favor of raising your kids on a farm!

Speaking of raising kids on the farm, the final speaker Joel Salatin had a lot of thoughts on how to do that.  And as someone whose children and grandchildren are deeply involved in the day to day operations of Polyface Farm, it seems that he knows what he’s talking about.  Hot tip from Joel- never make work a punishment!

Saturday afternoon, all three keynote speakers hosted in depth breakout sessions where they answered questions and dove deeper into their subjects of expertise.

Shan Kendall teaching about fermentation techniques – 2018

On Sunday, participants got a chance to learn from the bounty of knowledge from our local agencies, experts and farmers at 20 different workshops.  Covering everything from conservation and fermentation to weed management and whole animal butchery, the workshops were a great chance for conference goers to get more in depth and ask questions.  At lunch, the round table discussions of relevant topics lead to more cross pollination and connections in the food and farming community.

Many conference goers remarked on how amazing it is to have this quality of education and discourse in a small town, and what a great deal the price is for farmers!  The depth and breadth of knowledge that the conference provides each year is a shot of inspiration and motivation for farmers and foodies alike.  Like seeds blowing into the wind that will land on fertile soil, the inspiration from this weekend will be planted all over California (and beyond) and will grow and flourish. 

Did you attend the conference?  Do you have feedback about it?  What did you love?  What would you like to see next year?  Fill out that conference evaluation in your in-box and you could win a free pass to next year’s conference.







Job Opening: Food Love Farm Educator – applications due Feb. 16th

February 9, 2018

Food Love Farm Educator

Food Love Camp 2016

About the Food Love Farm

Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Farm (16200 Lake Vera Purdon Rd., Nevada City) is an educational farm devoted to promoting nutrition education, food security, and community involvement in growing, harvesting, eating, and celebrating fresh food! The farm hosts 2,000 visitors a year.  

Summary of Position

The Farm Educator supports the Food Love Farm Director. Key responsibilities include serving as a lead educator at the Food Love Farm and assisting with farm work. The Farm Educator must be physically capable, enthusiastic, highly motivated, and reliable

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Serves as one of the three lead educators by creating lesson plans and activities, leading groups of students in stations on field trips and at summer camp.
  • Assists with farm work for food production:  field prep, greenhouse work, planting, harvesting, composting, building projects and organization.

Hours: 12 hours/week from March 1 – November 30 (8am-2pm Wednesdays and Thursdays), 25h/week during
the weeks of July 9
th and 16th 2018 (summer camp)

How to apply: Submit cover letter and resume to by  Feb. 16th, 2018.

Click here for a full job description.


Sunshine in the Dark

January 23, 2018

Volunteer Tracey Walsh sharing Sunridge mandarins with Bear River High School students!

In this, the darkest part of the year, we need a little sunshine.  Something to brighten and boost us up.  As we wait patiently for the days to lengthen, we need all the light we can get!  Luckily, we’ve got tart, sweet, juicy local citrus to help us out when the darkness is just a little too dark.

It may sound hyperbolic, but just stop and think about what a miracle it is that tart, sweet, fragrant citrus even exists.  And not only does it exist- but citrus comes into its own in the coldest, dreariest part of the year.  We could learn a lot from these little fruits.

Thanks to Sierra Harvest, these little fruits are making the rounds!  This month, 13,000 organic mandarins were consumed as part of the Harvest of the Month program.  They were part of hundreds of school lunches, served as a side of sunshine at the hospital, as a juicy part of meals on wheels to homebound seniors, and of course in 300 K-8 classrooms all over Nevada County.  The joy of citrus is spreading!

Easy to peel and even easier to eat, mandarins are an extra special citrus treat.  So what makes mandarins so extra special?  The mandarins that were sampled through the Harvest of the Month program came from Sunset Ridge Fine Fruits out of Newcastle, CA.

Sunset Ridge Farm

Sunset Ridge is a certified organic farm that is family owned and operated. The 20-acre ranch is located 30 miles east of Sacramento atop the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Their primary crop is the Owari Mandarin, but they also grow a variety of other types of citrus, and many other types of fruit.  Their location boasts a perfect combination of warm days, cool nights, and fertile soil, providing an ideal climate to grow the highest quality fruit. 

Oranges, lemons, tangerines, grapefruits…there are so many varieties of citrus available at this time of year.  It can feel daunting to figure out what’s what (although wouldn’t it be fun to do a taste test of all of them?)

For your pleasure, our friends at Food Republic have compiled this list of seasonal citrus- which is by no means comprehensive.

Blood orange: Crimson flesh bursting with staining juice is the trademark of this popular citrus. There are three types — Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinello — with a flavor that ranges from tart to semi-sweet depending on the type and season. Because of its unique color, the blood orange is often incorporated into recipes, from cocktails to preserves.
In season: December-April

Cara Cara: How many menus have we seen as of late featuring the cara cara? Many. Chefs love this pink-fleshed navel orange for its sweet juice accented with an underlying zip (though with lower acidity than other navel oranges).
In season: December-April

Clementine: The clementine is a cross between a mandarin and sweet orange, simple to peel and almost always seedless (as opposed to the seedy tangerine). The juice is sweeter than many oranges and there is far less acid, making it one of the most popular snacking citrus fruits available. Unlike much of the citrus listed here, clementine season is very short and typically peaks around the holidays, imparting the nickname “Christmas orange.”
In season: November-January

Golden Nugget Mandarin: Smaller than the Murcott and classic Mandarin, but bursting with juice and sweetness. There are no seeds.
In season: March-June

Juice/Sweet orange: This is the real workhorse citrus. The Valencia or Hamlin is not always pretty (battered, faded by the sun, scuffed by poor handling), but the flesh is what’s important. When squeezed and pressed, out flows the breakfast staple.
In season: January-November

Heirloom navel: Like the name suggests, this is the navel that made the citrus industry an industry in California. And unlike the standard navel orange, which you will find in grocery stores year round, the heirloom is available only in the winter and early spring months.
In season: December-March

Murcott Mandarin: A cross between a tangerine and a sweet orange. The rind is thin and peels easily. “The flavor is very rich and sprightly,” notes the UC-Riverside Citrus Variety collection. It is sometimes called the honey tangerine.
In season: January-April

Ruby Red grapefruit: This grapefruit — closely associated with the Star Ruby and Rio Red — is mostly grown in Texas as is sweeter and juicer than other types.
In season: October-April

Seville sour orange: This variety is sometimes called the bitter orange and commonly used in the production of marmalade. The Seville is tart and grown throughout the Mediterranean. It’s also the a key ingredient in the orange-flavored liqueur Triple Sec.
In season: December-April

Tangerine: As mentioned, the tangerine is a close cousin to the clementine. They’re small, sweet and very snackable (which is why you likely found these packed in your lunch as a child). The big difference is sweetness — the tangerine has less — and seeds. The tangerine has more seeds. Many more.
In season: October-January

White grapefruit: It wasn’t until 1948 when scientists classified the grapefruit as a cross between the pomelo (long native of Southeast Asia) and the orange — though the first groves were planted near Tampa in 1823. This is the most common grapefruit found in grocery stores and good for juicing or eating with a super cool spiky spoon.
In season: April-June

Satsuma Mandarin: Originating in Japan more than 700 years ago, they are a lighter orange, sweet, juicy, and seedless. They are also the easiest variety to peel. The most tender, easily damaged type of mandarin, Satsuma mandarin oranges are harder to find fresh in stores.  These are the type that were featured in the Harvest of the Month tastings.

In Season: November-February






Farm Biz class starts Jan. 23rd – Join us and help your farm business thrive!

January 8, 2018

Join Sierra Harvest for Farm Biz and create a great plan for the coming season!  Gather with a fun group of local farmers as we look closely at your crop plan and translate it into dollars and cents.  We’ll talk about market opportunities in the local area and how to set prices.  We’ll hash out the budget for the year and make sure that you’re able to cover all of your costs.  Learn how to find the numbers you need to make good decisions about what to grow and where to sell it. Take the unexpected out of your farm year with accurate and realistic projections.  Classes meet Tuesdays 3:30-6pm, January 23rd to March 6th, in Nevada City.

Click here to register TODAY!


Fresh, Local Food Part of a Growing Movement at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital

December 14, 2017

As a Registered Nurse at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH), Erin Berquist believes that everyone deserves to be happy and healthy. With support from Sierra Harvest, she is leading the Green Team at the hospital to make some big changes in the hospital’s food ecosystem to increase happiness and health among hospital employees and patients.

This month, SNMH employees enjoyed fresh, local persimmons from Pearson Family Farm in the hospital cafeteria. Last month it was broccoli from Mountain Bounty Farm. The hospital joins 26 Western Nevada County schools in receiving a selection of local produce each month through Sierra Harvest’s Harvest of the Month program. While strict regulations make it especially challenging to get local produce on the menu for patients, Erin is working towards it. The addition of local produce to the hospital cafeteria is just the latest change in a series of efforts around food.

Erin started working with the Green Team in 2008, implementing a recycling program at the hospital. She made the hospital a CSA drop-off point, which has been tremendously popular among employees. After attending a “Clean Med” conference that exposed her to a myriad of ways of making hospitals greener, Erin was inspired to do more. She is starting a composting program at the hospital this month, and is working with Sierra Harvest to get a Sierra Garden planted at the hospital.

Erin’s vision for the hospital’s future from an ecology perspective is ambitious and inspiring: “We want to empower people to take care of themselves,” she said. “We want to help people make better life choices. How do we reduce our carbon footprint while still helping people?” She would like to see a closed circle, where employees and patients eat food that is grown in the garden, the compost is used to feed the garden’s soil, and everyone at the hospital is aware of that process. “The hospital employs so many people and has such a huge influence — there is potential for an incredible symbiotic relationship,” she said.

The road ahead is challenging, but Erin is optimistic that with help from supportive employees like interim Food Service Director Curtis Glenn and community partners, she can make her vision a reality. “None of this would be possible without Sierra Harvest,” she said. “Sierra Harvest has my back — they are my cheerleaders.” Keep up the good work, Erin!


Winter inspiration- Persimmons

December 8, 2017

There is something so special about seasonal fruit in the wintertime. Long gone are the peaches of summer, juicy melons are a distant memory.  Even the pears and the apples have been under storage for a few months.  And then, there’s the mighty persimmon!  Much tougher than citrus (the other star of winter produce), persimmons can withstand a freeze and keep on trucking.

There are 2 types of persimmons that you can find in the store- Fuyus and Hachiyas.  Or, if you were one of 7,000 students across the county this month, you didn’t even need to go to the store- you tried Fuyu persimmons at school as part of December’s Harvest of the Month program.  Fuyus can be eaten like an apple- crispy and sweet with hints on honey and vanilla- these bright orange fruits are a true seasonal treat.  In case you need to tell the difference- Fuyus are the flatter fruits which are eaten fresh and hard, and the Hachiyas are acorn shaped and terribly astringent until they turn into sugary goo, and then they are ready to eat.  You can guess which type the students tasted this month!

The Fuyu persimmons for the Harvest of the Month program came from Pearson Family Orchards out of Arboga, CA.  The Pearson family has been growing fruit for nearly 60 years!  As a 4th generation family farm, the Pearsons were one of the first valley farms to switch from flood irrigation to drip irrigation, incorporating sustainable farming methods such as water conservation, mulching, cover cropping, crop rotation, limited tillage and encouragement of wildlife habitat.  These types of practices are what make ecologically responsible farms different from their conventional counterparts.   

Responsible stewardship of agricultural land is vital for our environment, our health and ultimately our planet.  If you are interested in learning more about sustainable food and farming and practices like the Pearson family uses, look no further than our own Grass Valley!   Sierra Harvest’s Sustainable Food and Farm Conference is happening February 9-11, 2018.

The conference features keynote presentations from the following farmers and change makers:

  • Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms will be talking about regenerative farming and ranching. Salatin is hailed as the “high priest of the pasture”, and “the most eclectic thinker from Virginia since Thomas Jefferson.”  He will teach about how to make a living raising animals, building relationships to have a successful farm business, and using “nature mimicry” to increase yields and profits. With ten published books and a thriving multi-generational family farm, Salatin draws on a lifetime of food, farming and fantasy to inspire farmers, ranchers and home gardeners around the world.
  • Paul and Emily Kaiser will be presenting on “No Till High Yield Sustainable Farming.” At Singing Frogs Farm, Elizabeth and Paul have applied their unique backgrounds in farming, nutrition, public health and agroforestry to develop a highly intensive, no-till, ecological management system for their small but mighty vegetable farm and CSA.  The Kaisers method of farming has resulted in an increase of over 300% in their soil organic matter, while drastically reducing their water use, and generates over $100,000 per acre in sales!
  • Daphne Miller weaves together biomedical science, soil health and stories from her own medical practice to illustrate the health benefits of local, organic farms and gardens.  Learn about the connection between microbes in the soil and in our bodies; why local, organic farm produce is healthier, and why spending time in organic gardens and farms can promote health in a number of different of ways.

The Sustainable Food and Farm Conference is inspiring and full of practical information for both home garden and farm scale producers.  In addition to the keynote presentations, there’s a food and farm expo, 20 workshops and local farm tours.    Who knows- after attending the conference, maybe you’ll be the next grower for the Harvest of the Month program!  For more information about the conference, visit:


New Leadership for Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School Program

November 20, 2017

Marisha Finkler, Sierra Harvest’s new Farm to School Director

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.

Amanda Thibodeau, Sierra Harvest’s first Farm to School Director

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!


The nostalgia of broccoli

November 7, 2017

Farmer Missy Neville from Mountain Bounty with November’s Harvest of the Month (photo by Amanda Thibodeau)

I’ve been coordinating the Harvest of the Month program for a long time now, just about 6 years.  Starting with 7 schools and eventually expanding to 21 elementary and middle schools, 4 high schools and now the hospital- the program has become an entity unto itself.  I’ve overseen 40 different pickups of local and regional fruits and veggies throughout the years and had just about everything that can go wrong happen.  Pouring rain?  Check.  Half the amount that you ordered?  Check.  The wrong item?  Check.  Farmers unable to fill the order you placed the day before pickup?  Check, check, check.

Since this program began in 2008, we’ve sampled 32 different types of local, regional, organic produce in schools all over the county.  From easy wins like mandarins and kiwis, to suspicious roots like salad turnips and radishes- local students have tried more new, raw veggies in the last 5 years than I ever had until I was at least in my mid twenties.  Thanks to Harvest of the Month, there are third graders with a more varied palate than many adults I know. 

As I look back on so many tastings, the ones that stick in my memory are the weird ones.  The ones where I connected with new farmers, surmounted ridiculous logistical challenges and most of all surprised and delighted 7,000 kids.  Some of my favorite moments include: 

Chopping hundreds of pounds of red cabbage for the Harvest of the Month (Feb. 2016) – (photo Miriam Limov)

  • Shredding hundreds of pounds of green and red cabbage with 10 volunteers and wondering if the students would like it- just raw and in a bag. (Spoiler alert- they were into it!  Both times!)
  • Sending out detailed instructions on how to eat a kumquat (Roll it, sniff it, keep chewing till it tastes sweet).
  • Helping one farm to school liaison fill her convertible full with boxes of peppers sticking out the top and wondering if she’d make it back to school safely…
  • Working with Farmer Javier on getting jicama cut and packaged out to 300 classes- and having each classroom receive its own full jicama plant so they knew what it looks like growing. I had never seen a jicama plant before our delivery- it’s the root of a long beautiful vine, and it’s a legume.  Who knew?

Or there are the times when the farmer has had an excess of a particular item and we’ve been able to make it happen as a win-win for both the farmer and the schools.  Asian pears from up and coming farmers who didn’t have a good market or a bumper crop of persimmons that needed a home.  Family farmers, real people who are making their living growing food, provide the produce that goes out to the students- and Harvest of the Month is making a difference for their businesses.  These stories are what make farm to school so special in my book.

Of course there are great stories of field trips to farms, of guest chefs leading students in cooking tasty, seasonal recipes- but those are stories for another time.  At the heart of Farm to School is Harvest of the Month.  It happens every month, for every student in every classroom.  The farm to school liaisons who deliver it are hounded by students for leftovers- kids want to know what’s coming this month and what will be next.  So far, over 16 TONS of produce have been served- one taste test at a time. 

Mountain Bounty broccoli bagged up and ready for HOM (photo Amanda Thibodeau)

This month’s highlight is broccoli from Mountain Bounty Farm.  A local treasure, Mountain Bounty has been growing beautiful produce for 20 years!  At this point in Harvest of the Month, what we’re asking farmers for is nothing short of a miracle.  Seriously.  We want a significant quantity of food ready on one particular day, packaged up just so.  This November, it’s 604 pounds of broccoli divvied into 2 pound bags, washed up and ready to eat.  And despite also packing hundreds of CSA boxes, and slogging through cold mud after the first rains of the year, Mountain Bounty delivered a literal mountain of broccoli.  Their broccoli is also highlighted in the NJUHSD Foothills Fresh school meal program this month, and on the menu at the hospital as part of a new partnership with Dignity Health.  These are the relationships our local food network is made of, and there are a lot of passionate people committed to making it happen. 

So why am I waxing poetic about Harvest of the Month?  Please forgive my produce nostalgia.  It’s not as if it’s the end of the school year- but for me it is the end of an era.  I’m hanging up my hat as the Farm to School Director in favor of spending more time on our own family farm, creating and scheming on new food and farming ventures, and caring for our one-year-old daughter.  It’s a bittersweet moment in time, but I’m excited to see where the program goes and what the new Director brings to the table.  And if Sierra Harvest’s track record is any indication, what’s on the table is bound to be delicious (and local).




The Lucky Eight!

October 26, 2017

Eight local Nevada County farmers who sell directly to BriarPatch Food Co-op are the lucky recipients of an incredible scholarship to attend this year’s 38th annual EcoFarm Conference, the oldest and largest organic farming conference in the West.  It is a prime networking and educational hub for farmers, ranchers, distributors, retailers, activists, researchers, and educators. The conference features over 70 workshops, intensives, keynote speakers, an exhibitor marketplace, seed swap, live entertainment, mixers, and organic culinary fare. Workshops cover practical and cutting edge information on crop production, livestock, soil health, marketing, distribution, and farming and food system issues. 

Thanks to the BriarPatch Food Co-op and the National Co-op Grocers for the second year in a row offering this scholarship doubling the number of recipients who will make a huge difference for Nevada County’s local food and farming community.  And the lucky 8 winners are:

Autumn Barr, Laughing Oak Farm 

Kritters Blevins, Mountain Bounty Farm

Grayson Curtis, Bonanza Gardens / Foothill Collaborative Farming Initiative 

Sandra Higareda, Higareda Family Farm 

Donald Joslin, The Natural Trading Company 

Emily Koller, Riverhill Farm 

Deena Miller, Sweet Roots Farm

Kale Riley, Mountain Bounty Farm 

More good news – Rob Thompson of Legacy Ranching also just received a pass to the Quivera conference, the place to be to learn about sustainable ranching, through a scholarship from Sierra Harvest, Bear Yuba Land Trust and one of his grazing clients.


May I Have Seconds Please?

October 25, 2017

Making fresh spring rolls at Chicago Park School.

“I wish I had 10,000 hands so I could raise them to tell you how much I love the squash,” stated Aubrey, a first grader at Union Hill Elementary School as she munched on her Squashamole dip that she prepared and shmeared onto the cracker all by herself. Four first grade classes of students smashed the locally grown butternut squash, tomatoes and carrots in a baggie, picked the fresh thyme leaves off the stem and added them to the mashed up aromatic mixture with a final squeeze of lemon to “bring out the flavors” – and walla, each student created their own delectable spread. 

Faces and fun designs were then created utilizing locally grown chopped up vegetables thanks to Susan Gilleran, a professional baker and contributor to Sunset Magazine, who shared her enthusiasm for teaching children about healthy eating as a volunteer chef for Tasting Week at two schools.  In its 6th year, Tasting Week is part of Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School Program.  This year, 22 volunteer chefs got busy creating tasty dishes utilizing all the bountiful and seasonal produce from local farmers in Nevada County inspiring creative cooking with almost 3,000 students from 24 schools from pre-K through high school seniors.

Victoria LaFont, volunteer chef at Seven Hills School preparing apple pizzas with healthy toppings.

Along with her mother, a Yuba River Charter School student was seen filling her shopping cart with ingredients for fresh spring rolls that she had learned about at school earlier that day! She even proudly posted pictures of the spring rolls she made for her family on social media. Kwong Chew, Sierra Harvest and BriarPatch board member and 3rd year volunteer Tasting Week chef, shared about the balance of tastes in food as students picked out their favorite produce to roll up a fresh spring roll and dip in several options of complementary sauces. Not only did he inspire elementary students to prepare fresh veggies, he helped high school seniors add a healthy dish to their repertoire when they head off to college. As one student from Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning stated, “I could definitely make these fresh spring rolls in my dorm room!” 

Tostadas with mashed sweet potatoes and black bean salsa, twice baked curried squash, quinoa salad, butternut squash pie, carrot slaw, purple potato latkes, pasta primavera and sweet potato gnocchi (pronounced knee-o-kee – who knew?) with maple cinnamon sage brown butter is just a sampling of the mouthwatering dishes the students tasted. Learning to cut with a knife safely, pouring salad dressing directly onto the bowl so that you don’t end up with soggy salad, and that roasting a vegetable brings out the flavor were just a few of the interesting tid bits the students learned while nibbling on delicious food that they made!

Jonah Arbaugh, 1st grader at Union Hill School enjoying his squashamole cracker.

Bill Jensen, former principal, volunteer garden educator and first year volunteer chef for Tasting Week shared, “It was truly my pleasure to be part of such a worthwhile activity.  I am sure that the students at Sierra Montessori School where they created a salad learning about eating the colors of the rainbow to garner a variety of nutrients every day will count this as a memorable experience.  Combined with all the other elements of the Farm to School Program, Sierra Harvest is really having an impact on the youth of Nevada County.  It was a pleasure to make a contribution to Sierra Harvest.”

Sierra Harvest is so grateful to the many volunteer chefs and local farmers that grew most of the food used in the cooking classes.  Your talents have inspired thousands of children and their families and we thank you for your time and energy. 

If you are interested in supporting future guest chef visits, please contact Aimee Retzler at