- Author: Molly Nakahara
Fall has arrived and with it, the bounty of gorgeous fresh produce from our local growers. Many of our favorite hot weather crops are reaching their peak after a long, hot summer. We took a trip out to the Tuesday Roseville Farmers' Market to see just what is in season. Here are the delicious fruits and vegetables we found:
Ground (husk) cherries
Sweet and hot peppers
Also olive oil, flowers, and sugar cane (!!)
Head to your local farmers' market or nearest farmstand to get your share of the season's bounty. We have some wonderful recipe ideas on our website: http://ucanr.edu/sites/EatLocalPlacerNevada/Recipes/. Give one a try and post a photo to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EatLocalPlacerAndNevada?ref=hl.
- Author: Molly Nakahara
How old were you when you ate Swiss chard for the first time? How about Daikon radish or kale salad? For many of us, eating these lesser known fruits and vegetables did not happen until adulthood. Here at the Eat Local Placer Nevada Project, we're excited to introduce specialty crops to young people! Through our work with the Friendship Club in Nevada City, and our collaboration with UCCE CalFresh and UCCE Nutrition Best, the Eat Local Placer Nevada project is bringing locally grown fruits and veggies to the next generation of local food enthusiasts.
According to their mission statement, The Friendship Club is a “prevention program designed to reach at-risk girls before they engage in unhealthy behaviors.” While attending the Friendship Club, young women learn life skills, personal responsibility, and the value of hard work through a year-around program of educational activities, emotional support and community involvement. The Eat Local Placer and Nevada Project visited the Friendship Club this spring to teach hands-on cooking classes featuring two of our popular recipes: Massaged Kale Salad and Swiss Chard Spring Rolls. The recipes were both very popular and the students went home with recipe kits containing all of the ingredients needed to prepare each dish at home. And many of them did just that. One student beamed as she shared that she made Massaged Kale Salad for her family's Easter brunch and they liked it!
As the summer approaches and the school year winds down, the Eat Local Project is teaming up with UCCE CalFresh, a program bringing interactive nutrition education to schools where 50% or more of the students quality for free or reduced cost lunch. The folks at CalFresh have been busily planning after-school family fun fairs. These interactive and engaging events are full of fun activities that help spread the word about healthy eating. We have been bringing the smoothie bike to the fun fairs and it is always a big hit. Our delicious Strawberry Orange Smoothie samples are just as popular as riding the smoothie bike! At the Rock Creek Fun Fair, a number of parents were amazed at how simple making a smoothie is. Many said that they already have ingredients to make these nutritious, perfect-for-summer treats for their kids. Before the school year ends, we'll be bringing the smoothie bike out to events at Bell Hill and Auburn Elementary Schools.
Another great collaboration between Eat Local and CalFresh has been sourcing from local farmers. The CalFresh team teaches nutrition classes in elementary schools across Placer and Nevada counties and with each lesson, a taste of a healthy snack is provided. When possible, we help CalFresh source their snacks through local growers. We've successfully brought locally grown sweet potatoes, pea shoots, and blood oranges into classrooms.
Many people living in Placer and Nevada counties don't realize how many farms are situated in close proximity to residential neighborhoods. UCCE Nutrition Best, a program that brings nutrition education to families in Placer County with children age 0-5, encourages families to purchase and eat locally grown produce. Participating families qualify to receive a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from the Natural Trading Company, a vegetable farm in Penryn, CA. The program also brings children and their families out to the farm. It is always fun to watch kids get their hands dirty as they learn where our food comes from. The Eat Local Project has been a part of the Nutrition Best farm tour for the past few years; setting up the Eat Local booth and handing out samples of a delicious, seasonal recipe.
Collaborating with these community partners has been a great way to encourage our community to eat more fruits and vegetables and to purchase them from our local growers. We can all work together to bring fruits and vegetables into the lives of the young people in our community to foster the development of lifelong healthy habits that will in turn support out local agricultural community. Definitely a win-win scenario!
- Author: Molly Nakahara
Sweet Roots Farm, located on Old Auburn Road in Grass Valley, CA, is a certified Organic farm specializing in vegetables, plant starts, and cut flowers. Deena Miller and Robbie Martin own and operate the farm. You can find out more about their farm, flowers, plant starts and produce at www.sweetrootsfarm.com. We spoke with farmer Deena and asked her a few questions about springtime on Sweet Roots Farm!
What is something you are enjoying eating from your farm right now?
We have been enjoying the first crops of 2015! Yum! Lots of arugula, mizuna, spinach, lettuce, kale, radishes, cilantro, salad turnips and lettuce. Basically, lots of greens!
Are you growing or raising anything new in 2015?
There are a number of crops we are growing for seed, possibly a new enterprise for us. On the produce front, we are selling mini sweet peppers wholesale for the first time, as well as spring cilantro. This year we are starting more plants for people's home gardens in 6-packs and 4” pots, and of course we are growing more flowers; more types, quantities, and colors- how could you not?!
What crops or tools are you leaving behind in 2014?
We really cut back on the diversity of our farm by deciding not to continue the community supported agriculture (CSA) program. We also got rid of crops that weren't pulling their financial weight for wholesale, as well as the ones we just don't do a good job growing!
What is your favorite tool?
Felcos. I love my Felco hand pruners and have had the ones in my tool belt since I was a farm apprentice in 2007. I also love my new tool belt as it holds: felcos, a knife, scissors, a pen, my phone and a notebook!
- Author: Deena Miller
There is a lull. Somewhere between the storage crops and greens of winter, and the fresh mild arugula and straight green spears of asparagus in the spring, I start to feel like a potato. We have weathered the worst of it, and the produce is coming back with momentum from the valley and warm spring starts in the higher foothills. That also means that those of us who frequent seasonal farmers markets will have them back!
Farmers markets are many things; a social connection, an opportunity to purchase the freshest food available, the chance to access a myriad of local goods in one place, and the rare instance where your dollar goes directly to the people growing your food or making crafts. They also are not as expensive as you may think! Price data the Eat Local team collected last year (January 2014 through July 2014 shows that organic produce is priced similarly at farmers' markets and grocery stores. For 5 of the 10 items measured, farmers' market prices were actually cheaper or equal to that those of grocery stores! For a closer look at these price comparisons, read our archived blog post “Are Farmers' Market Prices Really More Expensive?” (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=15299)
If everyone in Placer/Nevada county went to the farmers market a few times through the year and spent $10, can you imagine the impact?? We could boost our local economy enough to enable our friends and neighbors to make a living wage working in as famers in our community. And that money would stay local! So go, post your experience to Facebook or other social media, bring a friend or meet one there, buy from the markets for pot lucks or BBQs, and don't be shy to brag where you got that amazing watermelon.
Farmland and green, open space is a beautiful and valuable part of living here in the foothills. Help preserve the beauty and bounty of our counties by buying local…. at the Farmers' Market!
Markets open now:
Auburn, Old Town Courthouse Parking Lot, Open Year-round, Saturdays, 8 AM to 12 noon. Auburn-Folsom Road at Lincoln Way. Foothill Farmers' Market Association.
Grass Valley, North Star House, Saturdays, 8 AM to 12:30 PM. 12075 Auburn Road. Nevada County Certified Growers' Market.
Roseville, Whole Foods Market at the Fountains, Open Year-round, Tuesdays, 8:30am – 1pm. Galleria Blvd. & East Roseville Parkway. Foothill Farmers' Market Association.
For more information on seasonal markets opening soon, check out these webpages:
- Author: Dan Macon
Despite these many benefits, economic viability continues to be challenging for many small farms and ranches. As I think about these challenges, I'm beginning to realize that biology plays a role in farm viability and scale of operation. After all, a farmer can only grow such much kale on an acre of farmland! And farm income is directly related to crop yield - even with high value crops.
For a more technical discussion of these issues, I encourage you to check out the latest post in our Farming in the Foothills blog!