Farming movement leaders inspire with fresh ideas

Sierra Harvest 2018 Sustainable Food & Farm ConferenceSierra Harvest 2018 Sustainable Food & Farm Conference – February 9-11, 2018

Joel Salatin helped kick off the first Conference in 2010, and he is back again for 2018! Whether you’re a farmer, a home gardener, or foodie – Sierra Harvest’s Sustainable Food & Farm Conference will inspire you with dynamic speakers and change the way you think about growing, preparing, and eating food.
Since the beginning of Nevada County’s organic movement, our local farmers and homesteaders have been exploring ways to think like nature and grow ecologically sound food that’s high in nutrition, rich in flavor, and free of chemicals. In fact, it was a group of local farmers who created the first Sustainable Food & Farm Conference in Nevada County, bringing internationally recognized leaders of the ecological farming movement right here to Grass Valley. And now we all benefit from this movement! Check out this year’s lineup of keynote speakers FOR Saturday, February 10th:

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms
Get inspired by one of the most famous farmers in the world, “the high priest of the pasture,” who has been featured in the New York Times bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma and the award-winning documentary Food Inc. Joel Salatin will teach you how to make a living raising animals, how tobuildrelationships to have a successful farm business, and how to use “nature mimicry” to increase your

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms. Photo by Rachel Salatin Photography.

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms.
Photo by Rachel Salatin Photography.

yields and profits. With his family, Joel co-owns


Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia, which serves more than 6,000 customers, 50 restaurants, 10 retail outlets, and a farmers’ market with salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, pastured poultry, and forestry products. He is the author of 10 books on farming, and will be sharing from his latest release, Your Successful Farm Business: Production, Profit and Pleasure.

Elizabeth & Paul Kaiser, Singing Frogs Farm
At Singing Frogs Farm, Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser have applied their unique backgrounds in farming, nutrition, public health, and agro-forestry to develop a highly intensive, no-till, ecological management system for their small but mighty vegetable farm and CSA in Sonoma County. Learn how their method of farming has resulted in a 300% increase in soil organic matter and drastically reduced their water use. These award-winning farmers will share how to decrease your fertilizer inputs and water usage and maximize your crop yields, while improving the ecological health of your land. The Kaisers grow over 100 different crops year-round and generate over $100,000 per acre in sales.

Daphne Miller, M.D.

On a quest to discover the hidden connections between how we care for our bodies and how we grow our food, Daphne Miller, M.D. ventured out of her medical office and traveled to innovative family farms around the country. Miller eloquently weaves together an understanding of biomedical science and soil health, along with stories from her own medical practice to illustrate the health benefits of local, organic farms and gardens. She is the author of Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up, which demonstrates how the ecological health of the farms that provide our food positively impacts our health. Miller is a practicing family physician, author, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco, and an internationally recognized speaker in the emerging field of planetary health.

Students get hands-on learning at the Mushroom Cultivation Workshop at Tumbling Creek. Photo by Jarrett Moody.

Students get hands-on learning at the Mushroom Cultivation Workshop at Tumbling Creek. Photo by Jarrett Moody.

The conference continues on Sunday, February 11, with 20 workshops led by local experts in food and farming. Create your own curriculum, choosing from topics like Farm and Garden Pest Management, Cooking with the Whole Animal, Growing Medicinal Herbs, Managing and Restoring Ponds, Planning for Profit, Introduction to Permaculture, Organic Certification, Grafting, and more.


Don’t miss out on special events on Friday, February 9 – register early to save your space, as they may sell out:

Farm Tour: Visit innovative farms and ranches in Nevada County and get fresh ideas on how to implement sustainable practices. Space is limited to 40 participants.

Mushroom Cultivation Workshop: In this hands-on workshop, learn how to cultivate medicinal and edible mushrooms, and take home your own mushroom log. Space is limited to 25 participants.
Sierra Harvest’s Sustainable Food & Farm Conference will be held at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley. BriarPatch Food Co-op has been a proud sponsor of the conference for many years, helping to keep ticket prices affordable, and making it possible for Sierra Harvest to offer discounted

Some of the many exhibits and booths at the Food and Farm Expo. Photo by Jarrett Moody.

Some of the many exhibits and booths at the Food and Farm Expo. Photo by Jarrett Moody.

tickets to commercial farmers. To purchase tickets, or get the latest updates on Conference offerings, visit


BriarPatch will be on-site selling refreshments to conference attendees as part of the Sustainable Food & Farm Expo. If you have a farm or garden-related business and would like to interface with over 500 farmers and gardeners at the Expo, contact Sierra Harvest at 265-2343.



Farmers Kristen Draz and Wil Holland. Photo by Roseann Bath.

Farmers Kristen Draz and Wil Holland.
Photo by Roseann Bath.

Fog Dog Farm


Farmers Kristen Draz and Wil Holland moved to Nevada County in 2016 and founded Fog Dog Farm, an organic, no-till, hand-scale vegetable farm in North San Juan. Kristen remembers, “We just moved up here, leased our land, and it was very fortuitous that Jean-Martin Fortier was speaking [at Sierra Harvest’s Sustainable Food & Farm Conference].” Learning directly from Fortier – an organic, no-till farmer earning six figures on a one and one-half acre farm – helped them in the process of setting up their own farm systems. They learned new strategies to help them be more efficient, like covering beds with silage tarps between crops to germinate weeds and encourage the decomposition of organic material. “We leave the tarps on the beds in the winter to prevent new weeds from growing, and then we have beds early in the spring that are ready to plant… it’s not something we would have thought to do on our own.”
Aside from the new tips and strategies they learned to help run the farm, going to the Conference also gave them encouragement and inspiration as they built their new farm business, “The fact that Jean Martin was financially successful on small acreage was inspiring to us… we felt like we could do it, too, with the right systems and good planning. We really do love the Conference and feel super lucky it happens in our neck of the woods.”