I received this email from the Bear-Yuba land Trust yesterday:
Friends of BYLT,
This is one of the most important letters we will ever write. We would like to alert you to a serious community threat that is upon us if we do not act now.
In the past year, two critical organic agricultural producers left Nevada County due to lack of affordable access to land and short term leases by landowners. We answered the call and formed a collaborative partnership with Sierra Harvest and BriarPatch Co-op to address this issue through a program called Forever Farms. The time has come to launch the first project to protect local farmland and provide affordable access and long-term sustainability to the local agricultural community.
On Friday, May 8th, BYLT signed a purchase and sale agreement for the acquisition of the farmland that is currently leased to one of the most productive organic farms in our region, Mountain Bounty Farm, located in Nevada City on Birchville Road on the San Juan Ridge. The 37-acres that we plan to acquire contains 10 cultivated acres that produce over 40 different crops. The land sits adjacent to the Pine Grove Reservoir, with an independent water district that directly benefits this property with irrigation water and fire protection. A plan would be developed to allow public access along the canals that wind through the undeveloped portion of the property. In addition, there is a single-family home and a 2,400 square feet barn that would now be accessible to the farmers through this purchase.
In December 2020, Mountain Bounty’s farm land lease on the 37-acres parcel will expire as the landowner has made it clear they will not renew the lease and intend to sell the property, placing our food future under serious threat. This site has over $150,000 invested in the agricultural infrastructure with ample water and sun. It is not easy to replicate the fertile soil they have created or the prime location in our region. Through the Forever Farms Program, and with your support, BYLT intends to buy and hold the land and sign a long-term lease with Mountain Bounty Farm for the farmland and barn.
We have heard loud and clear that Nevada County values local organic agriculture and BYLT is here to help provide land security for our shared food security! Forever Farms are the future!
For the first time in its 30 year history, BYLT is rallying public support for
a conservation project.
We do so with 100% commitment from our Board of Directors and in partnership with Sierra Harvest and BriarPatch Food Co-op. The goal of this project is to raise funds to acquire the Mountain Bounty Farm property and to provide long-term land security for the benefit of farmers and the people they feed. This community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm provides 820 residents, from Reno to Penn Valley, with a weekly box of fresh vegetables, with demand that has grown exponentially in the past two months due to threats to the food supply from COVID-19. It 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.
We have selected Mountain Bounty Farm as the first Forever Farms project due to the immediate threat it faces, but it will not be the last. This is the beginning of our combined effort to ensure access to fresh, local, organic food continues in perpetuity.
Every little bit helps. This is no small undertaking and requires community-wide support. To date, Forever Farms partners have raised over 60% of our goal but we need your help to cross the finish line. Can we count on you? Help us secure the remaining $250,000 by July 1st and be a part of protecting this vital organic farm that feeds our community. Once secured, the land will be held by BYLT, leased back to the farmers, and can remain a productive farmsite that feeds our community FOREVER!
Erika Seward Erin Tarr
BYLT Co-Executive Director BYLT Co-Executive Director
See also Mountain Bounty Farm website