We’re more than a just a farm! With our passion for growing food, our commitment to education, and our vision for creating healthier communities, we are proud of what we have accomplished since we started this work in 2008.
22 future farmers trained in ecological farming
Small farmers supply about half of the world’s food. With the average US farmer now at age 57, and with a growing demand for localized, small-scale food production, opportunities like the Living Lands Farm Internship Program are critical for the future of food security.
The Living Lands Farm Internship Program offers an 8-month internship to train future farmers in small scale, ecological farming. The entire educational experience is rooted in responsible land use and increasing the overall health and fertility of life in and around the farm. The program includes all elements of cultivation from seed to seed, as well as farm animal integration and management. Our interns also have the opportunity to learn about a variety of market models, including Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmer’s market, restaurant sales, and value-added products.
After completion of the internship program, continued mentorship is available through our Farm Journeyman program, where budding new farmers can begin their private farming business under the guidance and support of more experienced farmers, sharing resources and gleaning tips off those who are eager to help get them established.
We are pleased to report that all of our interns and journeyman from 2010 have staying on in 2011 to start farm ventures of their own in Nevada County! That means more local food, more local farmers, and more local farmland!
24 acres of local land converted into productive, ecological farms
Living Lands unique model of farming involves collaborative partnerships between farmers and local land-owners that reverses this trend. Under this model, land-owners offer a portion of their acreage to be used by the Living Lands Agrarian Network. The land-owner benefits by having a portion of their land transformed into an ecological farm. The Living Lands farmer benefits by gaining access to local land on which to apply their skills and grow a local farm business. This access to local farmland is critical for any farmer, but especially for new ones who are in their first years of professional development. Without opportunities like this, many potential farmers would not be able to start a local business.
We as a community benefit from this partnership, as well. More local farms create more opportunities to buy local food, and increase our local food security. In addition, open land is getting transformed into places of increased fertility and health, rather then being at risk for development or other activities that may pose risk to the environment.
In 2011, we plan on adding another 4 acres of local farm land to our network of farms.
180 local kids made a stronger bond with real food and real farmers
One of the most powerful ways to get children interested in eating healthy food is to get them connected with the magic of growing food. It is no small miracle to go from a small seed to a thriving green plant that offers edible treats in the garden. As children become more connected to this process, their interest in eating vegetables and paying attention to natural cycles grows.
Farmer Leo has been working with local schools to do this and more. He has hosted summer camps for elementary school kids and overnight campouts for young children and their families, offering them the opportunity to experience the wonders of the farm. He also started work with the Wellness Committee of the Nevada City School District to develop a farm docent program, where parents will receive training to guide groups of school children through a farm-based curriculum, giving them the skills to connect with nature, understand where their food comes from, and even start growing some of their own at home.
We are excited to begin our development of a dedicated youth education farm site at Burton Ranch on Lake Purdon Road. This site will be home to the Food Love Project, a place where kids can develop a love for fresh, local produce. Under direction of Farmer Amanda, this site will allow Living Lands to expand its farm-to-school programming and provide a place of inspiration for the entire community.
34 Community members trained in home-scale food production
During World War II, Americans came together to reduce their reliance on canned foods so more supplies could be sent overseas to feed the soldiers. To meet their own needs at home, American families and neighbors worked together to plant Victory Gardens, and collectively grew nearly 40% of all the fruits and vegetables consumed as a nation!
Today, the circumstances have changed, but the importance of home-scale food gardens is rapidly growing. In the movement to localize and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, many people are realizing the importance, value, and joys of home-scale farming. But unlike the 1940s, many of us are a few generations removed from home-scale farming, and don’t have the skills to create a productive garden.
For those who are serious about learning how to grow their own food in the Sierra Foothills, Living Lands offers an eight-part workshop to teach community members how to grow food throughout the four seasons. Participants tour the Living Lands farm sites and learn practical ways of growing food in a home-scale garden. Each workshop ends with a farm-fresh lunch prepared by In The Kitchen – a delicious example of how to reap the benefits of toiling your own soil.
14 Low-income families received low- cost CSA subscriptions
Low-income families are at higher risk for illness and disease. By providing low-income families with a weekly share of farm fresh vegetables during the growing season, we can help these families beat the odds!
Through private donations and work-trade programs, we have been able to accomplish this goal for some local families over the last two years. We are actively seeking grants and additional donations to expand this service in our community.
52 Varieties Secured in our Local Seed Bank
Living Lands is one of six “foundation farms” for the Sierra Seeds Cooperative, an local organization working to select and save locally adapted seed varieties for the Sierra Foothill region.
Local seeds adapt to the climate and soil in which they are grown and are more likely to thrive and produce under extreme conditions. Therefore, our local seed bank increases our food security and breaks our dependence on buying seed from far away places. We support local seeds because that is one of the foundations of the local food movement.
Living Lands has provided seed for 35 varieties of vegetables, beans, and grains, and is currently the umbrella organization for the Cooperative as it grows into establishment. Sierra Seeds can be purchased at the Briarpatch, APPLE center, and Willow Springs in North San Juan.
100’s of community members are joining hands with Living Lands, creating a growing social network around the value of healthy food, local farmers, and stewardship for the land on which we live.
Living Lands is not just about farms and farmers. We are nothing without community partnership, and so we invite you to eat with us, celebrate with us, and get to know who we are and what we do. Hundreds of people have already joined us for our summer potluck series at Blue Bird Farm, winter soup nights at Broad Street Bistro, and volunteer farm days. Others have become supporting members, become Living Lands land-owners, or faithfully visit our booth each week at the Nevada City Farmers Market. Together, as a community, we are making a difference for ourselves, our neighbors, and the planet.
In whatever shape or form is right for you, we hope you will join hands with us!