Sierra Harvest’s Sierra Gardens program is entering its second year of building backyard gardens and providing classes, mentoring, and supplies to families who want to learn how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. This year Farmer Leo Chapman expects to support 30 gardens for people who either are learning gardening skills or who can’t afford to create a full garden infrastructure. This is almost a third more than last year, and there is still room for more gardens in the program this year! Families aren’t the only ones learning about growing food in Nevada County – Leo learns something from every garden he puts in: “I’ve really enjoyed being all over the county and seeing how things grow differently in all of the micro climates.” Leo and his wife Deb are constantly adjusting the program to keep it interesting and accessible to all of the families that are participating: “This year we’ll host fermentation and preservation classes, because that is what people are asking for.”
Sierra Gardens participants range from people who do not know the first thing about starting a vegetable garden, to those who come to Leo frustrated after trying unsuccessfully for years to grow food in an existing plot. Mistie falls into the first category: “We had plans of having a garden but never the means to do it. We never had any idea how to lay out a garden. We also were under the impression that we would need to bring in soil which is something that we could NEVER have been able to afford.” It’s too early in the season to reap all of the benefits of their very own vegetable garden, but Mistie and her family already have big plans for their garden – they want to keep expanding it until they have enough to share with others: “It has made us aware of what we are capable of in terms of taking care of ourselves through growing our own foods. Being self- sustainable is the direction we ultimately want to take our lives. We would really like to thank Sierra Harvest and especially Leo and Deb for making this come alive for myself, my husband and our children.”
It’s not too late to get your own Sierra Garden – do you have a sunny spot in your yard? Need help getting a garden started? Already have a garden that is not growing to its full potential? Scholarships are available for families who qualify for free and reduced school lunch. Call Sierra Harvest at 530-265-2343 to schedule a site visit or visit the Sierra Gardens page for more information.