Updates & Helpful Tips

Updates & Helpful Tips

Alexis McSweeny Uses her Camera to Help Bring Schools one step closer to Scratch Cooked  Meals

When Alexis saw people handing out organic plant starts next to her automotive repair shop, Geared Up Drive Train in Grass Valley, she knew there was something special going on.

The next door neighbor was Grass Valley Child Nutrition Services, where most of the Western Nevada County school meals are made.  In addition to handing out to-go lunches for distance learners, she learned that Sierra Harvest was there to distribute free spring veggie starts so families in need could grow some of their own food at home.

Continue reading “Alexis McSweeny Uses her Camera to Help Bring Schools one step closer to Scratch Cooked  Meals”

BriarPatch Food Co-op Launches Apples for Gardens Program

The BriarPatch Food Co-op just introduced a new program to create more access to fresh food education for our local students! In addition to the many other ways they contribute to the community, BriarPatch Food Co-op recently launched the new Apples for Gardens Program, which leverages the sales of apples at the Co-op to support school gardens at 11 local schools.  Each month, the BriarPatch Food Co-op will donate ten cents for every pound of apples sold in the store to support the garden education.  And that’s no small number either, in 2019 the Co-op sold 77 tons of apples! 

Despite the current practice of distance learning at our school campuses, there are still 11 lovingly tended gardens at our local schools that are just waiting for students to return to campus.  And when it’s time for the kids to come back, thanks to this program (and each and every apple!), the gardens will be ready to receive them.

The first apple fund award went out in August to Chicago Park School.  Principal Katie Kohler raved,  “The Apples for Schools is a fantastic program! We have been able to extend our Garden Teacher’s hours this year so that students will have more time in the garden. Our teacher also has more time to maintain and expand our current program!” 

Historically, finding ongoing funding sources to support the upkeep of school gardens has been a difficult task.  “School gardens often fall victim to budgets or a dedicated volunteer who needs to move on to their next project. This new partnership between BriarPatch Food Co-op , the County Office of Education and Sierra Harvest will allow for school gardens to outlast any one funding source or incredible volunteer and provide exponential ways for kids to explore their natural world in relation to food, their health and their environment,” said Aimee Retzler, Co-Director of Sierra Harvest.

Schools supported by the program include: Chicago Park , Lyman Gilmore , Deer Creek , Seven Hills,, Ready Springs , Williams Ranch, Alta Sierra , Cottage Hill, Union Hill, Yuba River Charter and Nevada City School of the Arts.

“I think this is a wonderful collaboration between BriarPatch Food Co-op , Sierra Harvest and our schools to help fund school site gardens. These gardens are such an important learning tool for students on where food comes from and this is a great way for the community to help by simply buying apples!,” said Scott Lay, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools.

They say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” and now your apple is even more powerful!  So pick up some apples and do your part to support the BriarPatch Food Co-op Apples for Gardens Program.

Harvest of the Month Raspberries with First Rain Farm

First Rain Farm picked over 600 pints of tasty, organic red and golden raspberries for kids to taste during September’s Harvest of the Month!  Four local schools with on-campus classes distributed these tasty treasures directly to students, and the rest of delicious berries went to school meal providers across Nevada County so they could be included in to-go lunches for distance learners.  What a fresh treat! 

First Rain Farm, located in Nevada City, is a no-till, certified organic farm that provides a wide range of fruits and vegetables to Nevada County.  Tim and Kat Van Wagner operate this family farm, and one of the beauties about of these raspberry varieties is that they taste incredible just as they are!  When the Van Wagner family isn’t just eating them fresh off the cane, Kat likes to blend them into goat kefir with a bit of local honey, or make these Raspberry PB&J Crumble for a delicious and healthy treat – see recipe below.

You can get these delicious First Rain Farm raspberries by the pint, half flat or flat at the Saturday Farmers Market in Nevada City or the First Rain Farm online store.

PB & J Crumble Bars 

serves: Makes 8 bars

1 cup raspberries

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1/4 cup plus 2tbs of coconut sugar

2 tbs natural peanut butter

3 tbs melted coconut oil, plus extra to grease the pan

1/4tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup light spelt flour, whole spelt, gf all purpose flour and any what based flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8X4 loaf pan with coconut oil. Line the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the raspberries, chia seeds and 2tbs of coconut sugar. Cook this mixture until the raspberries are broken down and jammy, about 3-5 min. set aside to cool

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining coconut sugar, peanut butter, coconut oil, and vanilla. To this mixture add the oats, flour baking powder and salt. Stir with a spatula to combine. Reserve a 1/4 cup of this oat mixture press the remaining oat mixture into your prepared loaf pan, evenly covering the bottom. Press it in firmly! Bake the crust for 10 min.

Once the crust has par baked, remove it from the oven. Spread the raspberry mixture over the surface of the crust, covering it evenly. Sprinkle the reserved oat mixture over the top. Bake the bars for 25-27 min. or until top is slightly browned and the filling is bubbling. 

Let bars cool completely before removing from the pan. Slice into desired size bars and enjoy!!!

 

 

 

Taste the Harvest of the Month with Heartwood Eatery!

“Summertime is all about tomatoes” says Scott Weidert, owner of Heartwood Eatery in Nevada City.  “I have about 20 tomato plants in my home garden, mostly cherry and heirloom varieties.  I always love this time of year when you can eat the tomatoes ripe off the vine.”

If you haven’t been to Heartwood Eatery yet, Scott has created an incredibly delicious menu, heavy in vegetables and fresh, local produce, custom made into bowls, salads, and scrumptious toasts.  This time of year, tomatoes are on the menu, locally grown from Nevada County farmers. “We get a lot of our tomatoes from Chapman Family Farm,” says Scott, and orders heirloom varieties from many other local farms as well. Continue reading “Taste the Harvest of the Month with Heartwood Eatery!”

Dedicated Team of ‘Old Faithful’ Volunteers Bring 100 Sierra Gardens to Western Nevada County!

“This is so wonderful, I wanted a garden for so long… I keep getting happy tears!”

Suzanne Koliche had always wanted a veggie garden like her grandmother’s, where she could experience the uplifting energy of a natural sanctuary and pick her own fresh, delicious food.  This month, her dream came true when she and her husband David McKay enrolled in the Sierra Gardens program and their home became the 100th garden site built largely by a strong team of committed volunteers.   Continue reading “Dedicated Team of ‘Old Faithful’ Volunteers Bring 100 Sierra Gardens to Western Nevada County!”

10 Local Actions to Support Food Justice

We are living in a watershed moment where movements to dismantle systemic racism are gaining traction nationwide, and Nevada County is a part of this story. As a local food advocacy organization, it is our responsibility to recognize the many structural inequities throughout our food system and promote community solutions for food production and availability. For over a decade, Sierra Harvest has worked towards equitable access to nutritious, local, fresh food and we are committed to examining and undoing our own biases as we continue these efforts in our community. Our staff and board have committed to participate in a comprehensive food justice training this fall to help identify concrete actions we can take to better address systemic inequities within our organization and service area.

Resources for Creating Food Justice

Soul Fire Farm: Soul Fire Farm is a Black, Indigenous, People of Color centered community farm committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system. Their website has the most comprehensive resources for bringing justice to our food system, including Uprooting Racism Training, which Sierra Harvest staff and board will be participating in this year. 

Continue reading “Resources for Creating Food Justice”

Collaboration & Leadership Among Local Schools will Assess New Scratch-Cooked School Meal Program!

“We have the opportunity to transform our student meal program to provide high-quality, nutritional meals using locally-grown food and substantially reducing waste,” says Scott W. Lay, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools.  Thanks to the leadership and commitment of Mr. Lay and all nine school districts in Western Nevada County, they are moving forward towards a more sustainable food service model that features local and regional foods and reduces waste. These efforts will provide a way for all children, from Pre-K to grade 12, to eat well and fully engage in the enriching opportunities within their school communities. Continue reading “Collaboration & Leadership Among Local Schools will Assess New Scratch-Cooked School Meal Program!”