- (Focus Area) Agriculture
- Author: Penny Leff
Noble Orchards in Paradise, California is the last remaining apple orchard in Butte County. This family business, with close to a hundred years of history, lost almost everything in the Camp fire last year, including all the infrastructure, buildings, fences, ladders, tools, boxes, scales and other things needed to maintain the orchard. But, miraculously, the apple orchards survived the fire.
The bloom was strong this spring. The native bees happily pollinated all the apples. Now the apple trees are heavily laden with fruit ready to pick. Farm owners Jim and Laurie Noble are inviting the public to come to the farm to pick the apples. There are about 80,000 pounds of crisp, delicious apples remaining on the trees.
Here is their message:
JOIN US THIS Wednesday, October 9 (or next Wed - Fri, Oct. 16-18) - 8:30 AM TO 4:00 PM
No Charge - donations welcome
Noble Orchards: 7050 Pentz Road, Paradise, CA 95969
"We welcome one and all to come pick our large bounty of fruit this season. As most everyone knows the apple orchards survived the Camp Fire, the infrastructure needed to manage harvesting fruit is 100% missing.
Thank you to our trees for carrying on production without our assistance. No cultural practices were used to help produce tasty, sweet and crunchy apples. With all that said, please come and get them.
OUR RULES: BE SAFE!!!
1.Closed toed shoes and long pants for everyone.
2 No running anywhere and no one climbing in our fruit trees.
3. Bring containers to haul fruit home, picking sticks to reach high fruit, wagons etc to move fruit from orchards.
4. Take all you can possibly use, share with others who are unable to pick themselves, take apples to local food programs, use them as you please, make a gift basket for all the fall fundraisers, most importantly enjoy the bounty you pick!
5. Offer to volunteer here at the farm. We need a lot of assistance both picking now as well as pruning and cleaning up the orchards this fall and winter. Sign up at the farm when you visit
JOIN US THIS Wednesday, October 9 - 8:30 AM TO 4:00 PM
No open picking next weekend. The Sierra Oro Farm Trail is a ticketed event we will host both Sat 10/12 and 10/13. Tickets are available at Sierra Oro Farm Trail 2019. Get yours TODAY.
U-Pick will be open again Wednesday - Friday October, 16, 17 and 18.
For more information, updates and future U-Pick dates, see the Noble Orchard Facebook page
- Author: Penny Leff
Nevada County Grown board member Sammie Bass is coordinating the event. Today, a few days before the big weekend, she shared a little bit about the process and challenges of organizing something never done before in Nevada County.
Organizing participating farms and ranches: Sammie started planning the July event in April and May, so, understandably, communication with potential participating farmers was a major challenge. It was difficult to get clear answers from farmers about what tours, product sales and activities each would be offering to visitors, and to make sure that each participating farm was appropriately safe and prepared. Sammie visited each of the farms and worked with the owners to plan parking and safe access. Would room for ten cars be enough? Is the turn into the driveway from a busy road safe enough? She had no way to know.
Permits needed? Nevada County recently adopted new zoning ordinances that clarified that agritourism activities including tours, farm dinners and U-Pick are allowed by right on agricultural zoned lots over five acres. To make sure that all interested farms and ranches qualified under this zoning, Sammie shared her list of fifteen potential participants with the county agricultural commissioner. The Commissioner rejected several on the list as being less than five acres or zoned rural residential rather than agricultural, so not eligible to host visitors on their land without an expensive conditional use permit. However, as a work-around, these few farms are allowed to have farm stands and to sell their products during the event, but not host tours or other activities.
Day-of ticket sales? The Passport Weekend ticket (actually a wristband) is priced at $20 for advance sales and $25 on the day of the event. It was tough to organize enough volunteers to staff check-in and ticket sales tables at each of the twelve participating venues. Therefore, four visitor check-in hubs will be set up at four of the venues. If visitors show up at the other locations without wristbands, the participating farmers and ranchers will include them in tours and activities and instruct them to check in and pay at one of the four check-in hubs for their next stop.
Food? Lunch stop? Since this is the first-ever Nevada County Farm Trail Weekend, and since most of the farms and ranches are not set up to cater food for guests, Sammie investigated inviting a food truck to feed the guests. However, she could not promise more than 150 - 200 visitors total, which is not enough to pay for a food truck's time, labor and travel costs. Instead, the Nevada county Food Bank, one of the stops on the trail, will put on a barbecue, offering lunch for a donation (on Saturday at least) and giving tours of the Food Bank Garden. Farm Trail visitors may want to bring along a picnic this time.
Promotion: Good Day Sacramento came out and took videos, as did CBS13, helping to promote the event. In addition, local newspaper, The Union, interviewed organizers and wrote an article showcasing participating farms and ranches to local readers.
Sponsors? Maybe next year.
Sammie Bass and other Nevada County Grown organizers are expecting about 150 to 200 visitors for the first annual Nevada County Farm Trail Weekend. This will definitely be an adventure. If you see Sammie on the trail, be sure to say hello and thank her for her hard work. Learn more: nevadacountygrown.org/
- Author: Penny Leff
California agritourism operators report regularly that navigating the permitting and regulatory process is a major challenge for farmers trying to invite the public onto their land for festivals, tours, dinners, classes, lodging or other activities. Some help is now available, at no cost, in some places.
Five Northern California counties offer non-enforcement person-to-person consultation to farmers and ranchers exploring the regulations and permitting requirements for agritourism, food processing or other farm-related activities. If your farm or ranch is located in Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, Yolo or Solano Counties, you can call your Agricultural Ombudsman or Farmbudsman to discuss your ideas and plans.
County Agricultural Ombudsmen help farmers and ranchers understand what rules and regulations will apply to an individual diversification idea or plan, and will help them to navigate the various permits and departmental approvals that might be required. The ombudsman will make the process approachable and accessible, and will explore options and alternatives with the person planning an expansion or a new activity on his or her farm or ranch, including giving the farmer or rancher a sense of where "red flags" might be in the process. Importantly, these services are confidential. Marin County Agricultural Ombudsman Vince Trotter explained the job this way, "We try to bring the conversation to "How can we make this work?" We don't expedite the process ourselves, but we do try to bring the rancher together with the regulator."
Examples of Agricultural Ombudsmen's help include:
- Helping a rancher understand the state registration process required for a new pond.
- Helping a poultry farmer understand the state, federal and local regulations they needed to confirm to for on-farm commercial slaughtering.
- Helping a pumpkin patch operator know when a permit is required for a farm dinner.
- Explaining the size limits for starting a small winery under an administrative permit.
- Helping a brewery and winery design their expansion to avoid buffer issues
- Researching an existing use permit to clarify that a vineyard operator with short-term lodging was allowed to hold one-day open house events without an additional health department food permit.
In addition to their consultation work with individual farmers and ranchers, most of the agricultural ombudsmen organize useful information online - guides, factsheets and links to common permit applications. See the end of this story for contact information and websites links.
Contact your local Agricultural Ombudsman:
Vince Trotter, Agricultural Ombudsman
Sarah Hawkins, Farmbudsman
Stephanie Cormier, Farmbudsman