May 12, 2020 – As many follow the State mandated “stay-at-home” order, a dedicated, passionate and essential workforce has been putting in long hours on behalf of all of us: farmers. With their hands in the soil, farmers are protecting our local food supply, vital to the resilience of our community. To support these efforts, the food that they grow, and the future of local food production, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Sierra Harvest, and BriarPatch Community Food Co-op are thrilled to announce a new partnership, Forever Farms, to secure and protect farmland in our region, in perpetuity.
The first project of immediate significance is the protection of the organic farmland that feeds our community and grows future farmers, Mountain Bounty Farm. In December 2020, Mountain Bounty’s farmland lease on the 37-acre Birchville Road property in North San Juan expires with no option for a long-term agreement.
During the first week of California’s stay-at-home orders, Mountain Bounty Farm unexpectedly sold an additional 250 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes. To date, the weekly produce boxes feed 820 households from Nevada County to Tahoe and Reno, with a waitlist that continues to grow. The Farm is the oldest and largest CSA in the Sierras that supplies a variety of stores, restaurants, food banks, care centers, schools and markets throughout the region and is the second-largest vegetable supplier to the BriarPatch Food Co-op in Grass Valley.
In a recent feature by National Public Radio, Mountain Bounty Farm’s owner, John Tecklin said about the CSA farm model: “It’s local food security for our community. In these times, it’s more important than ever…” CSA’s, in a sense, are pandemic-proof with demand that continues to increase; food is grown and delivered directly from the farm to the customer, bypassing the traditional food supply chain. There is security in this model.
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However, the land the food is grown on must also be secure. Many local farmers rely on short-term leases on private lands to grow their food. The urgent need exists to ensure the protection of our farmland and allow farmers access to grow and feed our community. The Forever Farms Program is addressing this need by bolstering local farmland security and local food security through a coordinated fundraising campaign to assist Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) in purchasing prime farmland for the benefit of the community. For this first project, BYLT will hold the land in fee title and enter into a long-term, evergreen lease with Mountain Bounty Farm to guarantee this land can remain in agricultural production and feed our community forever.
To date, the Forever Farms partners have raised over 60% of the funding required to secure the land with an additional $250,000 needed by July 1st. The partners are asking that community members step up and help bridge this gap by donating and helping spread the word. Our food future depends on it.
“The time is ripe for this Forever Farms Program. Farmers and ranchers need land security to ensure our food security. I urge you to stand with us to protect the land that grows our food.” -Erin Tarr, Co-Executive Director, Bear Yuba Land Trust
“Local food production is the cornerstone of community resilience. When we as a community support our farms, they in turn are able to support us in times of need. Mountain Bounty is the largest of the many farms that ensure that our community is fed, no matter what.” – Molly Nakahara, Farm Institute Director, Sierra Harvest
Join us in building a more resilient Nevada County by making a tax-deductible donation today at BYLT.org/foreverfarms