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Sustainable Food & Farm Conference Brings Hope and Inspiration

farm tour - 2020 farm conference - mountain bounty farm - rachel berry photo This past weekend 620 Food & Farm Conference goers from Nevada County and throughout the Western states learned new farming, gardening, cooking, and ranching tips, gained cutting edge knowledge to make their farm businesses more successful, were inspired to eat better, grow food more efficiently, raise animals with love and create a healthier planet!

As one participant put it; “I am inspired! I am over the top inspired!”

2020 farm tour - farm conference On the farm tour participants got to see first-hand how intensive rotational grazing is restoring natural ecosystems, building soil, and increasing diversity on one ranch, they tested out human-scale seed threshing and cleaning machines which are available to the community to facilitate local seed saving, and they visited the largest and oldest community supported agriculture farm in Nevada County.

Saturday the outpouring of gratitude was palpable and the community was galvanized into action. The work of farming sustainably can be grueling yet farmers and ranchers left feeling inspired that their work is creating huge ripples of positive change beyond just feeding people. During the food and farming expo, and lunchtime round-table discussions, the attendees found new friends and made connections to support their success. One couple was so inspired by the conference and the community, that they decided this weekend to sell their house in Tahoe and buy a farm here.Dr. Vandana Shiva - Food & Farm Conference Sierra Harvest

Sunday participants honed in on the specific topics they needed to take their farms and ranches to the next level. From trouble shooting problems to exploring new recipes or enterprises, everyone took home tangible concepts to apply at home.

Here’s what we heard from conference goers over the weekend.

“Thank you Sierra Harvest for organizing the Food and Farm conference. I’ve followed Dr. Vandana Shiva’s work for the last 10 years so it was a great honor to hear her speak in person! Hearing about our broken food system is daunting and depressing but also a great MOTIVATOR to get out there and do something about it.”

wild foraging workshop at sierra harvest food and farm conference 2020“Wow, what a success the conference was! I really was inspired by the Kaiser’s talk and my time there, thank you for the farmer discount, that really made the difference!”

“Dr. Vandana Shiva has me in tears of exhilaration this morning.”

“Thank you for bringing such high caliber speakers to our community. You outdid yourselves.”

“Having a booth at the expo was awesome, epic, we can’t thank you enough!”

“I came to the conference very depressed and hopeless. The conference had opened me up to the many opportunities for a meaningful life, I am full of hope and gratitude. Thank you!”

Big thanks to our top sponsors, BriarPatch Food Co-op, Vital Garden Supply, Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply for making this event possible!

Fresh Face Brings Fresh Food to School District

Jeff Coats - GV food services directorJeff Coats and his wife always knew they wanted to return to Nevada County, having lived here some 20 years ago – so much so that they bought a house in Nevada City a few years back.  When Jeff read about a Food Services Director opening in the Grass Valley School District, he applied and is happy to be “home.”

Coats and his team are responsible for providing nutrition to school aged children around the county – breakfast and lunch in Grass Valley schools as well as meals for two preschool and after school programs which consist of dinner and a snack.  The district also contracts with other schools to provide meals–be it snacks, lunches, or both.  Coats said they follow USDA guidelines.  “Contrary to what a lot of people believe, the guidelines for school lunches and school breakfasts are geared to more healthy choices.  We determined our students need whole grains- they are better for them than processed flour – we provide a meat or meat alternative every day.  We are required to serve fresh fruits and vegetables every day, and 8 fluid ounces of milk.  So, every day, what we send out to the students include all of those components.”  The current administration is rolling back some of those guidelines which Coats does not necessarily agree with but expects an increase in what he calls “food acceptability” by the students. 

The district just underwent an audit which Coats expects to pass but also feels there is room for improvement.  “Can we do better? Gosh, we could do so much better!  I believe there is some room to improve the program.  Parents are concerned about a lot of things, for example, all of the packaging and plastic that we put things in and the perception that it (the food) is not fresh and not healthy for the children.” 

Less than six months into the job, Coats is already looking at different ways to effectively meet the guidelines while making improvements to the menus and the process.  At the beginning of February, he   put salad bars back into the Grass Valley elementary and middle schools.  “Reintroducing the salad bars gives us an opportunity to offer more of a variety of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit,” Coats said, “It also allows us to be able to purchase some of the wonderful local stuff that we have and offer that on our salad bar and do some nice marketing for our local farms.”  Jeff is looking to connect with local farms this spring and summer and is committed to making purchases of fresh, local food. 

Fresh fruits and vegetables in a salad bar do not require packaging so Coats expects to cut packaging by 50% with that one small change.  He said more kids eat fruits and vegetables and by giving them a choice, they are more likely to eat what they select, which will cut back on waste while still meeting the guidelines.  “It’s a start,” he said.  “We have some longer terms goals to  retrofit our areas where we serve and put in some steam wells and hot holding wells so that instead of packaging hot food we can serve more family style.”  He says while that may not change the corndog they are serving, (which are very popular with students), it won’t be in a package.   Coats also plans to retrofit the industrial kitchens to do some scratch cooking. 

While Coats has the freedom to serve what he chooses as long as he hits the guidelines and stays within budget, he believes processed food is not the best for growing bodies.  “Access to fresh fruits and vegetables with natural sugars and things like that give your body that natural energy and gets you through the day while processed food fills your belly but bogs you down,” he said.  “I don’t think our students can concentrate and be the best they can be in school having that type of (processed) food all the time.”

Coats hopes to partner with Sierra Harvest for some marketing to get the word out and to better use produce from local farmers and expects to include harvests from the school’s gardens in the salad bar.  Coats concludes, “We are making strides.  I am excited to be here and am excited to make changes for the better of our community.”

Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply is dedicated to supporting Sierra Harvest

Emily and Sophie getting donated seeds for the Food Love Farm 2019 from Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply
Emily and Sophie, Food Love Farm educators choosing seeds for the Food Love Farm donated by Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply

Since buying Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply with her now late husband, in 1996, Pattie Boudier has dedicated her business to supplying growers of all types with organic farming supplies. Everything the business offers for sale is either natural or organic. The company has expanded to a national market but is a major supporter of the local movement of access to organic, fresh, locally grown food.
To that end, Peaceful Valley Farm is a major supporter of Sierra Harvest. Boudier said, as a long-time sponsor of the Sustainable Food and Farm Conference, but also with other projects that happen throughout the year. Their product development manager Sarah Griffin-Boubacar will be holding a “Making Soft Cheese” workshop as part of the conferences this year.

“We have been very actively supporting Sierra Harvest. I think their mission goes very well with ours.” Boudier said, “Their mission is to transform lives and strengthen the community through fresh, local, seasonal food and our mission is to provide the tools and products for people to grow their own fresh, local, seasonal food.”

She said growing your own food is easier than you think. Boudier has made over 300 “how to” videos that are available on the Peaceful Valley website and YouTube channel. Watch a delightful short video about the history, mission and information about their company.

Boudier believes the movement to fresh and local is gaining momentum all over the country but has been a big part of Nevada County’s local culture for a long time. “Here in Nevada County, I think a big part of our population has been active in gardening because we are in a rural place and people have the space. We have good climate. I think in general people are more into gardening than other places – especially organic and natural – the horrors of the chemical and weed controls are really being put out in the media now and in general people are really gardening more and they are gardening naturally now.”

Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply has taken on Sierra Harvest as their primary recipient of donations. “We get a lot of requests from places with very, very good missions, but in order to do one thing really well and make a difference, we decided that all of our donation dollars are basically going to go to Sierra Harvest.” In addition, Peaceful Valley has helped by donating seeds and products to Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Farm and the Sierra Garden Program as well to all of the local schools and with some of their marketing efforts by creating short films that show their mission in action. “We are trying to get as involved as we can with them and support them in any way, “Boudier added.

She credits Sierra Harvest with being a nonprofit that carries out their mission very well. “These people really know what they are doing, and they are getting a lot of traction.” She said, “They have the right idea. Let’s start influencing our young people. Let’s get our parents involved. Let’s get our community involved. And just be healthier.”

peaceful valley farm supply logo

Connecting Farmers and Businesses Locally

food bank 2019 delivery from local farms
Delivery of fresh, local produce to the Food Bank of Nevada County 2019

In support of Sierra Harvest’s mission to make locally sourced food accessible to all, Procurement Specialist Lauren Scott, has been working to build relationships between local farmers and local businesses.

Hired by Sierra Harvest in 2017, Scott works primarily with food service directors, chefs and farmers to understand their needs, find common ground, and build relationships.   Scott said, “I am not a distributor or middle-man.  We don’t sit on any produce.  We just try to help connect them and then nurture the relationship for them to continue making those purchases on their own.”  

She explained the reason that is necessary is because most food service directors work with distributors who make it really easy to get whatever they want, whenever they want it, with a single phone call — though that produce may be trucked in from miles away or even brought in from other countries. Scott said, “It’s a bit of a foreign concept to have to call local farmers to find out what they have and wait for their delivery day, but it has been really successful, when we find a match that works for both the producer and the buyer.”

One of those successes is with Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH). Scott introduced SNMH Nutrition Services Director, Noel Slaughter to the farmers of Mountain Bounty Farm to find out what produce would be available in what season and what items would fit the hospital budget.  Slaughter then began incorporating those items into her menu planning. 

The relationship worked so well, Slaughter has expanded the local menu to include produce from Indian Springs Organic Farm, Sunset Ridge Fine Fruits and most recently added local free-range meat from Nevada County Free Range Beef. Scott said, “The hospital is serving locally grown, grass fed meat and I don’t think anyone really knows it.  It is a big deal.”

Sierra Harvest’s procurement program has grown significantly over the past year. Once focused exclusively on institutions such as schools and hospital food service, Scott now provides support for Restaurants, Caterers, Grocers, Senior Living Facilities and food pantries such as Interfaith Food Ministries and the Food Bank of Nevada County.

Scott began working with Interfaith Food Ministries in April of 2019 and since then they have purchased nearly 10,000 pounds of organic produce from local and regional farmers including butternut squash from Johansen Ranch and sweet potatoes from Mountain Bounty Farm. 

One of Sierra Harvest’s newest procurement partners is The Food Bank of Nevada County. Executive Director Nicole McNeely said the organization received funding from the California Department of Social Services (Cal Foods) to buy food within California.  She reached out to Sierra Harvest to help her match the needs of the Food Bank with local farms and is grateful for the help she has received.  She said, “It really feels like I have a comrade and we are working on this together.”  

The Food Bank’s December Holiday distribution included carrots, purple and green cabbage from Super Tuber Farm (grown within a few miles of the distribution center), as well as Pearson Family Farm persimmons, Johansen Ranch spaghetti squash and Meyer lemons. 

McNeely has arranged for tastings and education on how to prepare the local produce, so clients expand their food knowledge and options.

In just two months, the Food Bank has spent over $6,000 on 5,400 pounds of local produce.  Scott said, “That is making a meaningful impact on local farmers.” She credits McNeely with “doing a really good job balancing wanting to support local farmers and making sure she is using funds prudently – stretching the Food Bank dollars to get the most for her clientele.” 

Scott added, “While the program doesn’t completely replace regular food distribution, it is a way to support local farmers, and offer customers the freshest produce possible in addition to whatever the businesses are serving. It is about building new habits for the buyers and helps build markets for local farms.”

McNeely said, “It is important to pass on to the families the experience of eating a carrot that is grown right down the road.  It’s important for the clients to be connected to their local food sources and farmers.  From a nutritional perspective, being able to offer food that is grown without pesticides is really a great offering we are able to give.”  She also emphasized the importance of giving the many children they reach an understanding of how food grows and the nutritional value of the food they are eating. 

 “This is food that is grown here.  You can grow this.  You can produce your own food by growing something like this,” McNeely added.  “It’s an education piece.  It’s an economic piece.  It’s a really exciting thing we are glad to be a part of.”

food bank delivery 2019 - johansen ranch

Our Hero Harvest Leaders

largest glean 2019 johnasen ranch - butternut squash - gold country gleanersMerriam-Webster defines gleaning as an intransitive verb, “to gather grain or other produce left by reapers.” Sierra Harvest defines gleaners as “heroes.”

In just two seasons, our gleaning volunteer Harvest Leaders and volunteers have harvested over 32,587 pounds of fresh produce that in turn was donated to Interfaith Food Ministries (IFM) to aid over 8,000 clients in their food security.

Clif, volunteer harvest leader 2018
Clif Mackinlay, volunteer Harvest Leader

One of the eight volunteer Harvest Leaders includes Clif Mackinlay, who says he began gleaning independently decades ago while living in the Bay area and quickly became involved in harvesting produce after moving to Nevada County. The Sierra Harvest program helps him contribute to the community while reducing food waste. “I thought, I could do some public good. There are a lot of people who love good fruit and I know the land can be so productive in this area, so I started doing it and just kept going.” Clif added he had lots of contacts who would call him, or he would reach out to them and once harvest season begins, he gets busy.

Clif said in addition to the satisfaction of helping others, he enjoys being out in nature. “I like the physical activity, but I get into a fruit tree and plan out how I am going to pick it and then my mind focuses on doing that. It’s very quiet out there. I am out in nature. Just like a fisherman gets his high, I get the high of picking fruit trees. I complete the task the best I can. It’s not about getting every piece of fruit, but it’s fulfilling the agreement.”

Fellow Harvest Leader, Tina Hannon, was involved in a gleaning group in Sonoma County and after moving here three years ago looked for another group to work with. She says she is motivated to glean because she does not like waste. “I do it because it’s a value for me to do what I can to avoid waste and food waste to me… if I can do anything to prevent it, I will. There is just so much. Once you have had the experience of gleaning, you get a whole appreciation of how much a tree will produce; how far that can go to feed people and the breakdown just seemed to be with connecting the people who have the trees in their backyard to the people who need the fruit.”

laurie michel and tina hannon - volunteer harvest leaders 2019 gleaning season
(L to R) Laurie Michel and Tina Hannon – volunteer Harvest Leaders 2019 gleaning season

She said she appreciates Sierra Harvests infrastructure and organization. Hosts, or tree owners, contact Sierra Harvest who send an email to the volunteer Harvest Leader who then to set up a day and time that works for the homeowner. The Harvest Leader may drive by to determine access, how much there is and how many volunteers are needed. Once the produce is collected, the team weighs and records the load and delivers it directly to the IFM refrigerators for distribution.

Phil Alonso has been Executive Director at Interfaith Food Ministry for just two years. He says when he was approached by Sierra Harvest about the gleaning program, it was easy to say yes. “It was a natural fit. It is a great benefit to our clients.” He added, “Sierra Harvest makes it very easy and did not add to the workload.” IFM is a food pantry, distributing food to clients three times a week. With the produce donated by Sierra Harvest they can supplement nonperishable food with fresh fruits and vegetables. “A lot of our clients are requesting education about how to use the produce so in addition to access, they are learning how to eat new foods and getting information on them.”

nicole stevenson - volunteer harvest leader 2019
Nicole Stevenson – volunteer Harvest Leader 2019

Laurie Michel, another Harvest Leader said the rewards, like the produce, are plentiful. “I love volunteering for Sierra Harvest as a Harvest Leader. I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and visit different beautiful orchards and properties in our area, all while giving back to my community. Being a part of this wonderful group, with so much support from Sierra Harvest, and seeing how it directly impacts the lives of the clients of Inter Faith Food Ministry has been so rewarding.”
Hannon added, “It’s great and so much fun. We need more Harvest Leader. Nevada County has a short growing season, and everything gets ripe at once. Please accept our regret if we didn’t get to you, it’s not from a lack of interest but from a lack of bodies, and we hope to do better next year!

Sierra Harvest is extremely grateful to all of the following 2019 volunteer Harvest Leaders for their commitment of time, passion to reduce food waste and increase fresh food access to IFM clients: Matia Divitt, Hiroko Greenberg, Lisa Haden, Tina Hannon, Clif Mackinlay, Laurie Michel, Anna Mudd and Nicole Stevenson.

More information about the gleaning program, to sign up as a volunteer gleaner, register to have your fruit gleaned or become a Harvest Leader in 2020 go to: http://www.sierraharvest.org/gleaning/

Hiroko Greenberg (far left) volunteer Harvest Leader 2019
Matia Divitt (L) and Anna Mudd (far right), volunteer Harvest Leaders 2019

 

 

 

 

 

(L to R) volunteer Harvest Leaders, Laurie Michel and Lisa Haden, gleaning host, Tom Martella

Kalita’s Favorite Crop to Grow? Farmers

farm crew 2018
Kalita Todd and Farm Crew 2017 participants learn about greenhouse management with Robbie Martin at Sweet Roots Farm.

After almost 3 years spent building a program to grow and support farmers in Nevada County, Kalita Todd, Sierra Harvest’s Education Coordinator, is transitioning to focus on her work as a health practitioner.  Kalita has worked as an organic farmer, educator, activist and change-maker for over 40 years.  From the founding of EcoFarm and the Hoes Down Harvest Festival to starting one of the first school gardens in Nevada County, Kalita has made a deep and lasting impact on the good food movement. 

When asked what her favorite crop to grow is, Kalita always responds, “Farmers!”   While working with Sierra Harvest, Kalita created and implemented the Farm Crew program, recruiting beginning farmers and connecting them with jobs on mentor farms in Nevada County.   She supported host farms and employees to have positive, productive relationships.  With Kalita’s facilitation, Farm Crew members set and accomplished learning targets while working on host farms, making the most of their early experiences in agriculture.

An enormous component of the Farm Crew program is the Ag Skills course.  Curated by Kalita, Ag Skills highlights innovative and successful farming practices in Nevada County and gives aspiring farmers a jump-start into agriculture.  During Kalita’s tenure, over 100 beginning farmers attended Ag Skills classes, representing over 1000 hours of direct education.

A beginning farmer who participated in the Farm Crew program said this about her experience in the Farm Crew program:

 “Joining Farm Crew has been a joyful and impactful chapter in my life where I was given the opportunity to dig deeper into sustainable agriculture, my local farming community and my personal relationship to the earth. I was given the information, tricks and tools to expand my knowledge base about market farming. My vision for what is possible has expanded! Now I have the skills, confidence and support to continue farming.”

In addition to her deep and lasting work in the organic food movement, Kalita is also a skilled and experienced healer.  An ordained Priestess of Isis, Spiritual Counselor, Hypnotherapist, and practitioner of Alchemical Healing for 25 years, Kalita has great skill in opening the path into the magic, mystery, and practical contemporary uses of ancient healing arts.  We look forward to celebrating and collaborating with Kalita as she focuses on this work.

Thank you Kalita, for all you have done to grow farmers in our community!  We will miss your joyful and capable presence at Sierra Harvest.

Thank you, Farmer Bri!

After serving five years in various roles at the Food Love Farm, Brianna Abundiz will be moving on to new endeavors in local agriculture that will continue to motivate people to enjoy fresh, seasonal foods.  Farmer Bri was first inspired to get her hands dirty when she accompanied her son on a farm field trip at Dinner Bell Farm in 2014.  She joined the Food Love Farm crew as an intern in the spring of 2015 and then added a role as a Farm to School Liaison that fall.  Continuing to develop both her farming and teaching skills, she became a Farm Educator at the Food Love Farm in the spring of 2016, where she has spent 4 seasons leading field trips, selling produce at weekly U-Picks, and cooking with kids at summer camps.  Brianna says that her favorite part of her role at the Food Love Farm has been meeting and building a relationship with her community.  Brianna is responsible for implementing a robust garden program at Lyman Gilmore school and she has introduced hundreds of kids to the joys of growing food.  Brianna’s goal for the future is to continue to inspire future farmers and kids!  Sierra Harvest and our community thank Farmer Bri for all of the time, energy, and love she has put into her many roles and we look forward to her future accomplishments in the local food movement! 

Eat Well, Learn Better

Dre Maher at Nevada City School of the Arts new  Food Services DirectorNourish NCSA, the Nevada City School of the Art’s (NCSA) new scratch cooked school meals program kicked off this year with the motto, “Eat well, learn better.”  Dre Maher is the Food Service Coordinator who manages to feed 200 students each day of the school year with fresh, locally grown food.

While Dre was hired at NCSA last April, it took a while to get the kitchen certified and ready for the lunch program which went live this year.  She said, “Everything is from scratch everyday which is pretty unique in the school food service industry.  Every morning I do all of the cooking and then I have an assistant who comes in and helps me pack and wash everything at the end of the day.”

Maher has a lifelong love of making fresh, healthy meals and worked at a food co-op in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  In 2000, she lost a loved one to cancer.  “That had a big impact on me,” Maher said.  “I decided I wanted to be a chef but with a focus on whole food and nutrition.”  That decision took her to the Natural Gourmet Cooking Institute in New York City where she graduated before returning to Albuquerque to start a family. 

There, she started her business as a caterer and as a personal chef teaching people how to shop and cook fresh meals.  Along the way she also became a farmer, learning more about how to grow her own food.  Her husband was hired to run the Briarpatch Food Co-op which brought her to Nevada County. 

Maher was introduced to Sierra Harvest working as a farm to school liaison, which lead her to the role she has today.  She said she was doing tastings of fresh produce items once a month with area students and then started doing tasting days as one of the chefs.  “That was great,” Maher said.  “The kids here have known me for the past seven years as someone who is going to try to get them to try new things.” 

Maher said she has relationships with a dozen local farms.  “Every carrot these kids have ever eaten here is from Super Tuber Farm.  Our food waste goes to feed pigs at Cosmic Roots Ranch where we buy our bacon, so it comes back around.”  She plans a four-week menu cycle and can change ingredients in the dish based on what is available and is at the Farmer’s Market weekly.

Sierra Harvest has built a culture of why it is important to eat fresh and teaches kids fun facts about produce and introducing them to new foods.  As the Nourish NCSA program got underway, Sierra Harvest offered Maher a tremendous amount of support in helping her find great values from local farms and helping her with proper reporting for reimbursements. 

Maher said even the so called “picky eater” will try what she offers.  “Maybe it’s peer pressure or maybe it’s because they have never had it fresh before or never had it prepared a certain way before, but they will taste it a few times and usually like it.”  She said she receives a lot of “thank you’” from students and has received notes from parents saying the lunch may be the most nutritious meal their child will eat all day.

The program also ties nicely with NCSA’s curriculum, including watershed studies and trips to the Yuba River to study the salmon runs.  Maher said, “This is why it matters.  The kids will understand the connection and why we farm this way.   Hopefully, these kids will grow up and value these choices as adults.” 

With a lead-in from Sierra Harvest, Nourish NCSA is making an impact on future generations, 200 kids at a time. 

Garden Cart Inspires Kids to Love Local Veggies

kids enjoying the farm cart at bell hill school 2019Imagine recess on a typical elementary school day, and you will likely picture kids making a beeline to the playground to vie for their favorite swing, slide, or tetherball. Not so on Tuesday mornings this Fall at Bell Hill Academy. Instead students eagerly lined up to select a vegetable from the Sierra Harvest garden cart. At times the line was more than 20 students long, yet they stood patiently- sometimes on tiptoes or craning their necks to see what was available and what they might choose from the selection of peppers, tomatoes, ground cherries, greens, and more.

One second grader picked a shishito pepper and insisted he would love the heat as he took his first bite.

A third grader exclaimed “I’m eating a pickle without a jar!” as she waved around the pickling cucumber she’d picked as a perfect snack.

The veggies were provided through a partnership with Starbright Acres Family Farm, a 3-acre local family farm just 2.5 miles from Bell Hill. In addition, two classes each year take a field trip out to Starbright Acres to see first-hand where their food is coming from. These activities combine with other elements of Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program with a goal to educate, inspire, and connect Nevada County students to fresh, local, seasonal food.

Recess is over but that doesn’t stop a few remaining students from lingering around the cart hoping to grab one last veggie before heading back to class. A parent visiting campus marvels at the selection of veggies her son has just enjoyed. Tomorrow recess will be back to the regular routine, but hopefully the fun of the garden cart today has sparked more kids to enjoy and seek out healthy, local food.

lauren valentino handing out veggies at the farm cart at bell hill school 2019

Vital Garden Supply a Strong Sierra Harvest Supporter

brian and pedma malin of vital - supporters of Sierra HarvestFor 14 years, Vital Garden Supply has been providing organic farm, garden, and landscaping products in Nevada County and beyond.   With a passion for the organic agriculture as well as a desire to have high quality food available to everyone, the company is also a long-time supporter of Sierra Harvest.

Brian Malin and his wife, Pedma, started the family business and are proud to support Sierra Harvest and appreciative of everything they do.  “Kids can learn at a young age the importance of high-quality food and about growing your own food as well.” Malin said.   With two kids who have gone through the Nevada County school system it was easy to offer support to help with the mission of Sierra Harvest and they have done so since the early days of the nonprofit.   “We are just proud to be part of Sierra Harvest,” Malin continued.  “I was at Food Love educational farm with my son’s class when they were just getting started.  We donated a compost tea brewer, I gave a talk to the kids, and I worked with farmers who were there at the time.  My son just turned 21, so it has been quite a while.” 

By supplying organic soil, fertilizer and amendments, Vital Garden Supply is part of the team that helps keep local gardens thriving.

Back in 2006, the desire for high-quality, organic products was on the rise.  Malin and his family were not satisfied with what products were available to farmers and gardeners, so they began making their own — manufacturing approximately 20 unique products and then opening a retail location in Nevada City.

In addition to offering organic inputs, Vital Garden Supply has a knowledgeable staff with plenty of gardening experience to help even the novice gardener get off to the right start.  Malin said the best reward is seeing other farmers’ success after using Vital Garden Supply products.

Pedma also serves as an ambassador with Sierra Harvest.  They are an active part of the organization and believe strongly in the mission.  Malin added he is proud to be part of a local nonprofit that educates people about organic and high-quality food and growing your own.  “I think that is really important in our modern society with all of this tech stuff going on, it’s good to have kids connect with where their food comes from and teach them a little bit about how to do it themselves.”

Now located in Ukiah and Wheatland as well as Nevada City, they sell to over 250 stores.  They carry soil and amendments, inoculants and teas, fertilizers, pest controls, green houses, and even apparel.  Their expert staff is happy to help prescribe the right mix for each unique situation and location. 

Their commitment to Sierra Harvest is just one of the many ways they are helping people grow safe, healthy food.  Thank you to the three generations of the Malin family that now make up Vital Garden Supply.  With their help, we can feel confident our future is in good hands.