Sierra Harvest is Growing Farmers

A closer look at our Farm Crew Program, 8/28/18

Education Coordinator Kalita Todd with Farm Crew Members Karina Baxter, Hanna Perkins, Delilah Lee and Don Aherin.

Education Coordinator Kalita Todd with Farm Crew Members Karina Baxter, Hanna Perkins, Delilah Lee and Don Aherin.

With a collective sigh of relief, farmers across the county have welcomed the cooler temperatures and the waning of the summer light.  Among those farmers are Sierra Harvests’ very own Farm Crew Members.  Karina, Hannah, Don and Delilah have been diligently working on their host farms since the spring, nurturing crops in the fields and bringing them to market, learning the nuances of their farm sites and the different methods used by their mentor farmers. 

Agriculture is a skill-set learned by doing.  The old adage says “the best fertilizer is the footsteps of the farmer.”  Our Farm Crew members have been walking the fields behind their mentors, literally placing their own feet in those very footsteps, and being nurtured right alongside the plants in doing so.  This seems an apt place to give special thanks to our mentor farmers:  Will Holland and Kristen Leach of FogDog Farm,  Autumn Barr of Laughing Oak Farm,  Juan Jose Domingo and  Eve Stefani at Filaki Farm, and Sharon Casey and Guy Baldwin of Towani Organic Farm

In addition to working alongside their mentor farmers, Farm Crew members have been attending Agricultural Skills Classes every other week.  Taught on farm by local farmers, these 2.5 hour classes are a survey of sustainable agriculture methods used in Nevada County and offer an opportunity for Farm Crew members to dig deep into specific farming skills and topics.   So far, Farm Crew members have learned Greenhouse Management, Field and Soil Preparation, Weed Management, Best Practices in Irrigation, Integrated Pest Management, Understanding Soils, and two classes on Integrating Animals and Row Crops.  There are still 6 classes left!  These classes are open to the public – join us for any that look exciting.

We thought it would be fun to bring you all a closer look at the Farm Crew experience, so we asked Farm Crew Members Delilah Lee and Don Aherin about their experiences:

What is an exciting or unexpected thing that you’ve learned on your host farm?

Delilah:  “Learning about Fog Dog’s no-till process has been really great.  That was completely new for me! It works so well for them; all of their vegetable are just spot-on perfect!  

Don: “Learning flower farming at Laughing Oak Farm.  I always thought about growing flowers for pollinators and habitat but I hadn’t thought about making creative things with flowers.”

What’s your favorite vegetable that you grow on your host farm?

Delilah: “Right now it’s the beans!  It takes SO LONG to pick those beans but when you go home and you cook them, you’re just like, these are fantastic!  And maybe that’s because you’ve spent hours outside harvesting.  They have dragon’s tongue beans which are really nice and really beautiful.  Everybody loves them.”

Don:  “Golden Beets!  I grow them at the farm, then I get to deliver them to the restaurant I also work at – Twelve 28 Kitchen.  At the restaurant, they poach them in oil with a sachet of cinnamon, anise, thyme, bay and other spices.  Then we dice them and serve them with a dressing.  It is delicious!”

What has been your favorite Ag Skills class so far?

Don:  Best Practices in Irrigation at Riverhill Farm

Delilah:  Cindy Fake’s class on Integrated Pest Management at Food Love Farm

Jeremy Mineau of Super Tuber Farm teaching a Farm Crew Class
Jeremy Mineau of Super Tuber Farm teaching a Farm Crew Class