Updates & Helpful Tips

Updates & Helpful Tips

Gardening in a Time of Climate Change, Wild Fires, and Smoke: This Season’s Most Common Questions Answered!

Edy Cassell, Community Progarams Manager at Sierra Harvest

How is wildfire smoke affecting the plants in my garden?

This is a valid question and one I hear (and ask) a lot.

Falling ash and particulate matter coating the surface of your plants has the potential to inhibit photosynthesis in plants by clogging the stomata, thus slowing growth and production somewhat. An easy solution is to spray off your plants if you see a dusting of ash. Ash, dust and particulates can also infiltrate your house, so your house plants will appreciate a good dusting as well. Heavy smoke cover may have a similar effect, but a surprising amount of light does get through, so even a day that feels hazy and smoky may not be impacting the plants too badly. Have you ever gotten a sunburn on a foggy day? It’s kinda like that. If the sky is not actually dark it is likely that natural processes of photosynthesis are not being terribly inhibited. It has actually been found that the increased Carbon Monoxide in the atmosphere can be good for plants and encourage growth, as long as there is sufficient light.

Continue reading “Gardening in a Time of Climate Change, Wild Fires, and Smoke: This Season’s Most Common Questions Answered!”

Jolane and Scott Hickman, The Joyful Welcoming Crew!

Photo by Sandra Boyd

Be the local food movement” is Sierra Harvest’s volunteer program motto and we are extremely blessed to have two exceptionally joyful, warm, and friendly volunteers be a part of the movement – Jolane and Scott Hickman.  The Hickmans joined our team this year as our  2021 Farm Tour Welcome Volunteers, attending every farm tour to set things up, welcome guests, support farmers during the tour and wrap things up after each tour.   It’s a big commitment and we are so grateful for Jolane and Scott for contributing their time so enthusiastically, allowing hundreds of people to meet our local farmers and ranchers, and learn where to purchase local, seasonal and fresh food.

  1. How did you get involved in Sierra Harvest?

We have had a large vegetable garden for years and have always been interested in learning more about the local gardening practices, which is why we enjoy going on the Sierra Harvest farm tours every year.  We are very passionate about organic gardening and farming and therefore supporting Sierra Harvest, whose goal is to “strengthen community through fresh, local, seasonal food,” is of great importance to us. 

  • What kind of volunteer activities have you participated in with Sierra Harvest?

We started by supporting and attending the Soup Nights and end of season potlucks back in 2010, during the Living Lands Agrarian Network days, and continued on when they transitioned to Sierra Harvest.  We also volunteered to glean fruit the first few years the gleaning program started.  Jolane helped out with several office tasks at home such as stuffing envelopes for upcoming events and she also cut fabric strips for the tepee at the Food Love Farm children’s program. 

  • This year, what do you enjoy about being a Farm Tour Welcome Volunteer?

Helping a good cause and meeting new people with like values would be the main reason for volunteering.  Also getting to visit all the different local organic farms we are fortunate to have in our community, and meeting the farmers of course. 

  • Any memories of the local food movement 10 years ago and how it has changed?

The public awareness of locally grown food, and the desire to eat local organic food, has increased a lot for the general public in the past decade.  Our own gardening practices have changed quite a bit due to our involvement with the local food movement.

  • How else do you support the local food movement?

We purchase a CSA from a local farm every year.  We try very hard to buy local organic food, whether it be with a CSA, at the farmer’s market, or at local stores. 

  • What other passions and activities do you enjoy doing?

Scott performs blues music locally, singing and playing the harmonica.  He also is a volunteer broadcaster for our local radio station KVMR FM, where he hosts a blues music program.  While he retired from teaching in 2010, he continues to substitute teach in our county.

Jolane loves to garden and spends almost every day out in our 2000+ square foot vegetable garden.  She has also been a quilter for almost 30 years; enjoys reading; making her own body care products (thanks to classes taught by Rachel Berry), and working on jigsaw puzzles.  She has been retired since March of 2020. 

  • Favorite veggie?

Scott – broccoli                                                                                                                                          

Jolane – asparagus

  • Least favorite veggie?

Scott – Beets

Jolane – Cucumbers (except pickles)

Want to join the team and volunteer with Sierra Harvest?  Contact us at: info@sierraharvest.org.

Erin Riley: FIlling Hearts and Bellies at Grizzly Hill

As the kids play on the playground at Grizzly Hill, the smell of delicious food tempts them toward the kitchen.  Chef Erin Riley lovingly prepares two meals from scratch each day, and she’s often approached by students who are eager to know what’s for lunch.

“Providing meals for students similar to the meals I cook for my family at home fulfills my heart. A belly full of healthy nutritious food is key for being ready to learn in the classroom.”

Continue reading “Erin Riley: FIlling Hearts and Bellies at Grizzly Hill”

Pests in Your Garden: What can you do?

Lenkland Photography

Here we are about a week away from the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. Your gardens are growing gangbusters, practically right before your very eyes. All looks good…the squash plants seem to double in size overnight, the peppers are setting blossoms, and your melons are starting to creep, and maybe you’ve even harvested your first zucchini. By all accounts, things are off to a great start. Continue reading “Pests in Your Garden: What can you do?”

Early Bird Farm Grows to Wilseyville

“When I first started farming, there was a romanticism about it, but it can be really challenging to make a profit.”

Drew Speroni first began farming in 2013, and he had a lot to learn.  After being laid off as a machinist because of his severe epilepsy, his faith in God guided him to become a farmer.  “Every chance I got I was helping Amanda at Food Love Farm, and I got a clear message that farming was what I needed to be doing.”  Not knowing how or what exactly to do, he heeded the call and started planting seeds in his backyard. Continue reading “Early Bird Farm Grows to Wilseyville”

Honey Bees Deliver March Harvest of the Month!

The bees have been busy! And we are grateful to Farm Biz graduate Cameron Redford and Black Sierra Honey Company, for filling 3,000 golden jars of their delicious, amber honey to share with Nevada County students this month! Beyond experiencing the delight of tasting raw, local honey, students learned the nutritional benefits that honey has over sugar – such as being rich in antioxidants and supporting healthy immune function – and how critical bees are for growing so many of the fruits and vegetables we enjoy every day.

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Spring Plant Varieties: What’s in a Name?

Growing a garden isn’t rocket science, but it is a body of knowledge that comes partly from studying up, but also from trial and error, observation and participation. Part of what our Sierra Gardens program does is help take some of the guesswork out of growing fresh, organic vegetables at home.  One of the ways we do this is by providing the right starts and seeds for each season. Continue reading “Spring Plant Varieties: What’s in a Name?”

“Little Kale Gardens Everywhere” at Higareda Farm Feed Thousands of Students

“We have little kale gardens everywhere” says Sandra from Higareda Family Farm.  This certified organic dino kale, growing along the contours of her Browns Valley farm, were gobbled up by thousands of Nevada County school students during February’s Harvest of the Month. Continue reading ““Little Kale Gardens Everywhere” at Higareda Farm Feed Thousands of Students”