BriarPatch’s Fresh Food Teams and Veggies in a Box

FRESH FOOD IS BOOMING IN OUR region. Another organic market just opened, New Earth in Yuba City. Auburn’s Foothill Farmers Market is open year-round. Four Frog Farm in Penn Valley now offers community supported agriculture all year long.

As demand for local food rises, more farmers are selling their products directly to the public, according to Local Harvest. They do this via farmers markets, food cooperatives, CSA programs and other channels.

One prime example: Four Frog Farm and Nevada County Free Range Beef forming a “fresh food team” with BriarPatch Co-op Community Market in Grass Valley.

“About 60 percent of my crop goes to BriarPatch,” says Andrew Meyers, who started Four Frog Farm four years ago. Meyers farms more than 30 types of fruits and vegetables on 10 acres in Penn Valley.

He supplies BriarPatch with tens of thousands of pounds of vegetables—from “a” to “z”: arugula, carrots, broccoli, beets, bell peppers, cantaloupe, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, turnips and zucchini.

“I can’t wait to get my carrots to start growing,” says Meyers, who graduated from UCLA and learned to farm at Riverhill in Nevada City.

Meyers epitomizes a new generation of farmers, needed as their average age nationally creeps toward 60. “Many shun industrial, mechanized farming and list food journalist Michael Pollan as an influence,” as the New York Times observed recently.

“These farmers are smart, flexible and adaptable,” says David Benson, produce manager at BriarPatch. “We’re doing a lot more business with them.”

This year BriarPatch expects to get 40 percent of its produce from local and regional growers, up from 30 percent last year, says Benson. Others include Riverhill, Living Lands Agrarian Network, Naked Farms, Natural Trading Co. and Bakbraken Acres.

As for fresh, local beef, BriarPatch relies on Nevada County Free Range Beef, whose cattle range freely over hundreds of acres of pasture in the western county. The cattle are not fed hormones or antibiotics, and their pasture grass is pesticide free, says owner Jim Gates.

“We carry a full line of their products, from ground beef to filet mignon,” says BriarPatch’s meat and seafood manager. Gates’ grass-fed beef is more flavorful, leaner and healthier than its corn-fed counterpart, many customers agree.

BriarPatch sold out of Nevada County Free Range Beef’s standing rib roasts during the holidays, as well as its house-made corned beef during St. Patrick’s Day.

This summer, BriarPatch will offer a sale on Gates’ New York steaks during Memorial Day weekend, ribeye steaks on Father’s Day and filets on the 4th of July. “It’s fresh, local beef all summer long,” says Gates.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a direct way to support local farmers. In return, you receive fresh, healthy and seasonal food. CSA members invest in the farm in Spring, when funds are most needed, by purchasing a share of the harvest. Then, throughout the season—June to Oct., for example— they receive a weekly box of produce or other goods. The price averages about $25 a week.

Four Frog Farm
Contact farm for pick-up options
in Nevada City, Grass Valley,
Penn Valley and Truckee

•Living Lands Agrarian Network
(Soil Sisters Farm) 470-0268
Customers pick up weekly in
Nevada City

Mountain Bounty Farm
Customers pick up box weekly in Nevada City, Grass Valley and Tahoe/Truckee

•Riverhill Farm
Customers pick up box weekly in Nevada City or at the farm

•Sunsmile Farms
Customers pick up box weekly in Grass Valley

(Photo credit: Tony Finnerty)

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