Sierra Harvest

Good food is our passion

NEVADA CITY, CA   |  http://www.sierraharvest.org

Mission

Transforming Lives and Strengthening Community Through Fresh, Local, Seasonal Food

Ruling year info

2014

Executive Director

Aimee Retzler

Main address

313 RAILROAD AVE STE 201

NEVADA CITY, CA 95959 USA

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EIN

90-1026798

NTEE code info

Other Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition N.E.C. (K99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Western Nevada County residents suffer from challenges associated with failures in our food system; childhood obesity, diabetes, poor mental health, food insecurity, poor academic performance, and the low economic viability of family farms. There are 17,000 (17%) individuals in Western Nevada county who qualify for CalFresh (food stamp program), we produce less than 3% of the food we eat, have lost 40% of our agricultural land in a five-year period, and the average age of a farmer is 58 years old. With the right interventions, and a community-wide commitment, we are building a robust local food movement to reverse these trends and restore our physical, economic, and environmental health.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Farm to School

Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School Program is currently in thirty-three Nevada County schools and reaches over 9,500 students including 96% of the K-8 students in Western Nevada County. Sierra Harvest connects each school with a local farm partner. This farmer hosts farm field trips at their farms, provides produce for a weekly produce stand at the school, and comes into the classroom to share farming stories and activities with the kids. Sierra Harvest also conducts monthly “Harvest of the Month” tastings of local, seasonal fruits and vegetables delivered to classrooms along with educator curriculum and a family newsletter. Sierra Harvest’s “Tasting Days” brings guest chefs from around the county into hundreds of classrooms to cook simple, seasonal meals for 3,000 students. Pre and post-test survey data indicate that, of the students who participate in Sierra Harvest Farm to School programming, 90% tried a fruit or veggie for the first time through Harvest of the Month, 86% ate more of a fruit or veggie after trying it at school, and 55% of families’ report that they shop directly from farmers.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Sierra Harvest hosts community events promoting local food and farms that are attended by over 1,300 people each year. Farm potlucks feature different farms throughout the growing season, and Soup Night features farm fresh soups and bread for family and community. This year’s events featured agrarian art shows as part of a collaboration with the Nevada County Art’s council. Sierra Harvest’s Sustainable Food and Farm conference is an annual regional conference designed to educate and connect the local and regional sustainable farming community. The Sustainable Food & Farm Conference serves 400 people, including 43 farmers who received scholarships to attend, and offers farm tours, hands-on workshops, and presentations from nationally recognized speakers, with breakout sessions for participants to ask questions and get advice. 85% of reported that they were inspired to implement new sustainable techniques and strategies in their farm or garden.

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Adults

The Farm Institute works alongside farmers and ranchers to support an increase in sustainably grown fresh food in Nevada County. Farm Institute programs are designed to build the prosperity of ecologically sustainable producers, to increase the land in sustainable production, and to train more beginning farmers as the older generation of producers retires. The Sierra Harvest Farm Crew training program recruits, helps place, and trains beginning farmers in sustainable agriculture production. Farm Biz, six-week business skill-building course, brings small business professionals and educators to local farmers and ranchers. Sierra Harvest’s Land Match program works to connect sustainable farmers and ranchers with locally available agricultural land. On-farm advising allows select Farm Biz graduates to enjoy consulting services by an experienced local farmer who assists them with customized business plans and strategies to improve their profitability. Sierra Harvest also offers an organic farming certification course. To date Sierra Harvest has trained 101 sustainable farmers, helped 5 farms certify organic, matched 15 farmers to low cost farm land and provided over 2,000 hours of education to local farmers.

Population(s) Served
Farmers

Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Farm, provides farm education for school age kids and by supporting garden education at schools. The Food Love Farm is devoted to promoting nutrition education, food security, and community involvement in growing, harvesting, eating, and celebrating fresh food. The farm hosts experiential field trips, summer camps, service projects, U-pick, and community volunteer days. The Food Love Farm provides 3,700 hours of hands-on farm education through field trips, camps, and in-school visits. It provides educational services to at least 2,500 community members. The farm produces 1,800 pounds of fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers that are planted and harvested by program participants. Five schools received a $500 school garden stipend to encourage student participation in these outdoor learning labs. Over 5,200 hours of nutrition education was delivered igniting passions about where food comes from and setting the stage to expand the school garden program in the future. This includes developing garden curriculum, maintaining a school garden, teaching classes, and managing volunteers.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adults

The Sierra Gardens program enhances health and food access by supporting low income families as well as community organizations in growing fruits and vegetables; providing garden infrastructure plus two years of gardening and cooking classes, mentorship and starts. Since the program began, Sierra Harvest has supported 87 gardens and seen an 83% reduction in participants that had to regularly skip a meal. 68% of the program participants grew NONE of the produce their family ate before the program, and now 100% grow at least 25% of the produce their family eats.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Sierra Harvest works to incorporate more locally and regionally grown fresh foods into the school meal program. Sierra Harvest does this through tastings, salad bars, California Thursday’s promotion, professional development for food service teams, equipment purchases, and by connecting local farms to school meal providers. The Foothills Fresh meal program which provides scratch cooked school meals to the Nevada City School district proves that schools can serve fresh foods that kids will eat while earning revenue for their program. The program almost doubled participation over a two-year period, reduced food waste, dissipated the stigma about school lunch being for “poor kids” and increased revenue.
Putting local on the menu is a series of workshops designed to connect producers with buyers and increase the amount of local food consumed at restaurants and institutions. Our procurement services include access to producer availability lists, tours of local farms and ranches, identifying seasonal, cost effective recipes, and assistance with educating customers about local sources of food and why it is important to support our local farming community. There are over 20 restaurants and institutions that attended the series and are now purchasing more local food.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Sierra Harvest engages in local, regional, and national policies that support just, sustainable food systems. The Nevada County Food Policy Council (NCFPC) was formed in March 2015 to foster collaboration among local food and farming individuals, businesses and organizations, set common goals and work together to maximize positive impacts on the food environment, human health and livelihoods in the community. The NCFPC is a member of the California Food and Farming Network which allows them to weigh in on statewide food and farming policies that impact Nevada County. The NCFPC, made up of 30 local food and farming organizations, has embarked on a food system assessment to study the impacts of the current industrialized food system present in the county and invest in a more vibrant local food system built on a strong sense of community. Last year the NCFPC hosted a candidate forum for congressional candidates to share their ideas on food and farming issues.

Population(s) Served
Adults

In 2018 Sierra Harvest took on organization of the Gold Country Gleaning program. In a country where 40% of food goes to waste, this program harvests local produce that would otherwise rot in the fields. This produce is donated to Interfaith Food Ministry who distributes it to 8,000 individuals who would otherwise have minimal access to fresh and organic food. This year, Sierra Harvest organized 22 volunteers to harvest 10,821 lbs of produce from 33 local farms, farmers’ markets and backyard orchards.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Sierra Harvest is committed to growing a resilient local food system from which everyone in the community benefits. We focus on the intersections where farmers, children and the greater community connect through food to build a network that supports the needs of each group, and amplifies their interdependence and impact.

Farmers: We preserve agricultural land and offer farmers training, mentorship, and market development. Rescuing lost agricultural land, training young farmers to cultivate it, and developing a local and regional market for farm products means that we have a network of financially viable farms providing food and jobs for the community, while preserving our beautiful agricultural heritage. Local organic farms providing fresh, seasonal, nutrient dense food decreases our community’s reliance upon transported food and secures our supply of nutrition through any emergency.

Children: We provide experiential learning through tastings, scratch cooked school meals, school gardens, and on farms. Educating children and their families about local seasonal food, how it’s grown and how it’s prepared means that children cultivate an appreciation for fresh food and the farmers who grow it. Children ask parents to purchase that yummy food they just tasted in class and at local businesses, and farmers realize an expanded market. Through the planned scratch-cooked school meal program, children will receive delicious and healthful school meals with as much local produce as possible, providing the nutrition they need to ensure healthy bodies and academic success, mitigating the growth of chronic childhood diseases. Our educational farm hosts classes and families year round, and 3 weeks of farm summer camp.

Community: We make growing your own food possible, and we rescue food that would otherwise go to waste, delivering it to the people who most need it. Building backyard gardens for members of the community who suffer from food insecurity means that people can grow their own food and reclaim a healthful diet. With over 110 Sierra Gardens now built in Western Nevada County, hundreds of gardeners, their family, and their friends are sharing fresh organic food—that they grew themselves! Rescuing the remainders of farm harvests and backyard orchards, allows local food pantries to have fresh, local seasonal food to provide to their clients.

Sierra Harvest has four Ends Policies that guide their long term approach to achieving their mission. This is an abbreviated list of, please see our 5-Year Strategic Plan for full version, www.sierraharvest.org/strategy2020/

Ends Policy #1
A community that values and eats an abundance of fresh, local, seasonal food.

a) Provide experiences that educate people by connecting them to fresh, local, seasonal foods; thus enhancing their mental, physical and emotional health
b) Be a food and farming center that connects people and builds relationships which support a community culture that values and invests in a thriving local food economy
c) Help people make choices to buy fresh, local, seasonal food at stores and restaurants by ensuring that these foods are among choices available when purchasing fresh or prepared food
d) Transform meal programs in schools, correctional facilities, hospitals, senior centers, and other local institutions to provide scratch cooked meals that are sourced from local and regional farms and ranches in a way that reduces food waste and supports viable businesses


Ends Policy #2
Successful local farmers that are increasing sustainable food production

a) Work with partners to sustain existing farms and support new organic ones through the protection and acquisition of local and regional farmland
b) Support the growth of local farm businesses through training, education, collaboration and exposure to cutting edge knowledge, infrastructure and innovation
c) Host and produce events that showcase organic farmers and their products and connect them to buyers to expand markets for local farms. Create ways for people to be on farms and ranches, engaging with one another and their food
d) Facilitate relationships between local farmers and purchasers helping them overcome the challenges of working together

Ends Policy #3
Equitable access to fresh, local, seasonal food

a) Create programs that build and strengthen partnerships to increase the ability of vulnerable, economically insecure and historically marginalized populations to access affordable local food
b) Facilitate the procurement of local and regional nutritious foods by institutions that serve vulnerable, economically insecure, and historically marginalized populations.
c) Consult with grocers and local restaurants to offer locally sourced, healthy, seasonal food in a way that is inclusive of all populations
d) Educate and inspire potential recipients of public food assistance programs to utilize that assistance for fresh fruits and vegetables

Ends Policy #4,
A thriving, financially viable non-profit loved by the community and by the people who work at Sierra Harvest

Space limitations prevent a full listing, please see our 5-year strategic plan for more details: www.sierraharvest.org/strategy2020/

Successful results are the product of a thriving organization built upon a network of capable people. In just over 12 years, we have grown from a small, volunteer movement to an over $1-million-dollar organization with 19 staff members, approximately 200 volunteers, and strong collaborative ties throughout the public and private sector of Nevada County and immediate region. Sierra Harvest depends upon a professional staff, experienced board, committed business and foundation partners, industry experts, enthusiastic volunteers, and individual community members to ensure our capacity to create change. Sierra Harvest also invests in professional development, leadership coaching, and strengths training for all staff and board members. The viability of the organization is informed from our Ends Policy #4:

A thriving, financially viable non-profit loved by the community and by the people who work at Sierra Harvest.

a) Centralize programs and operations in a location that builds in efficiencies, serves as a hub of activity to showcase the organization’s programs and partnerships and cultivates community connections.
b) Develop strong and sustainable fund-raising capabilities and nurture a collaborative network of individuals, non-profits, businesses and government agencies invested in a vibrant local food system.
c) Sustain financial resources and secure a return on investments that allow the organization to maintain and expand programs to achieve its mission and vision.
d) Invest in talent development that fosters a culture of innovation and excellence.
e) Create a flexible work environment where staff are valued and rewarded for their contributions.
f) Nurture a board of directors that provides governance, policy and strategic direction to the organization and is able to lead through transitions in executive leadership.

Children
Farm to School: This program is in 33 schools and reaches 96% of Western Nevada County students. Farm to school focuses on experiential learning opportunities that include farm field trips, school gardens and produce stands, “Harvest of the Month” tastings and more. Over 50% of students report eating more fruits and veggies at home after trying them at school.

School Food: A scratch cooked school meal pilot program featuring fresh, local, seasonal foods, was launched in 2017. The school saw a 100% increase in lunch sales and made revenue on the program for the first time. The success of this pilot has initiated implementation of a new, 9 school district collaborative meal program to be launched in 2022. "Foothills Fresh" school meal program will address hunger, academic achievement, and the physical and emotional well-being amongst our student population.

Farmers
Farmer Training & Support: The Farm Institute works to increase sustainably grown fresh food in Nevada County, providing farming education, business skills, local farm land, and new markets. 111 farmers have gained the skills to start or expand their business and are now farming over 100 acres of land; 25 local farmers have been connected to business and institutional buyers; and 40 acres of farmland has been purchased for agricultural easements in our community.

Community
Sierra Gardens: The Sierra Gardens program has built over 110 backyard gardens for low-income families and institutions to ensure that everyone benefits from local, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. 100% of participants said their children now eat more vegetables, and 60% fewer have to visit a food pantry.

Gold Country Gleaners: Our volunteer gleaning teams harvest local produce that would otherwise rot in the field, and bring it directly to the Interfaith Food Ministry (IFM – our local food pantry). IFM distributes it to 8,000 individuals who would otherwise have minimal access to fresh and organic food. This program has rescued over $200,000 worth of produce from farms, farmers’ markets and orchards.

What’s Next
In partnership with 9 county school districts and the Chef Ann Foundation, the Foothills Fresh Scratch-cooked School Meal Program for all Western Nevada County schools will be launched in 2022. This will provide access to scratch-cooked meals featuring local farm ingredients for 10,000 school children, approximately 60% of which qualify for free or reduced lunches. Existing school kitchens will be developed into commissary kitchen facilities, capable of supplying healthy, scratch-cooked meals to other institutions and non-profits that serve at-risk populations such as seniors.

In partnership with the Bear Yuba Land Trust and BriarPatch Food Co-op, the Forever Farms campaign secured and protected 37 acres of agricultural land for organic farming in 2020. We are currently evaluating additional acres and anticipate several hundred acres will be protected over the decades.

Financials

Sierra Harvest
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Sierra Harvest

Board of directors
as of 11/30/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Aleta Barrett

Starbright Acres Family Farm

Term: 2018 - 2021

Kwong Chew

Kathy Grimes

Marty Coleman-Hunt

Sandra Barrington

Tania Carlone

Erin Silverman

Shari Elia

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/28/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data