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First Behind the Seeds tour offers participants farm insights

A pesto sampler spread and fresh-baked bread energizes 16 Behind the Seeds farm tour participants as they depart from Five Foot Farm and head for their next stop. Photos by Hannah Hepner
Elizabeth Powell
High Altitude Harvest CSA
The inaugural Behind the Seeds farm tour hosted July 12 provided 16 local residents with the inside scoop on their Plumas County farmers.

The group toured three small-scale produce farms in Quincy, tasting as they went. All of the farms featured sell their goods at the Quincy Certified Farmers’ Market or through the High Altitude Harvest CSA, two of the tour sponsors.

The day kicked off at Five Foot Farm in Quincy. Elizabeth Powell and Cody Reed have been working to develop this new 2.5-acre farm site located across Highway 70 from Gansner Airfield for the past two years.

The women told their story of learning to build a farm from scratch, including deer fencing, irrigation systems and hoop-house construction. They showed off summer squash planted in their “caterpillar tunnel” hoop house and greens and root crops growing in the field.

Now that groundbreaking is done and farm infrastructure is in place, they hope to spend the next year adding pollinator plantings, dwarf fruit trees and berries to the land.

Tour participants said farewell to Five Foot Farm over samples of cilantro, basil and sunflower sprout pesto served on fresh bread.

Next on the itinerary was The Stump Farm run by 17-year-old Abby Edwards. Abby has been growing at the Edwards family’s ridge-top farm location off Chandler Road since she was just 4 years old. Her years of experience were evident as she led the group from bed to bed, pointing out irrigation system design and tricks to foil pests.

This will be Abby’s last summer selling for market before she heads off to college, and though she doesn’t plan on making a career of farming, she does envision herself always having a place to get her hands dirty and grow food.

The Edwardses served up samples of canned salsa, jam and grape juice, all grown on the farm, which tour participants enjoyed as they chatted among the garden beds.

The Behind the Seeds tour finished with a drive to the Graeagle area to visit Terry and Steve Popish at Snowy Pines Ranch. The Popishes have been selling at the Quincy farmers’ market for 15 years.

The biggest surprise about this market garden tucked into the pines was that so much food could grow in such an unlikely, forested area. But as the group toured the immaculately maintained rows they learned that the shade of the pines, cool microclimate and sandy soil actually provide the perfect environment for growing tender greens like lettuce.

Terry demonstrated every step of her finely tuned operation, from planting and weeding to harvesting, washing and packing the greens. The group was treated to spinach dip and freshly harvested salad.

Tour coordinator and Quincy Certified Farmers’ Market manager Hannah Hepner reflected, “There’s so much to our farmers beyond what we see at the market. We were able to learn a lot on this tour. It really was ‘Behind the Seeds.’”

Next year Hepner hopes to offer more carpooling assistance for people who need help finding friends to drive with.

“We also hope to have even more demonstrations and interactive moments in next year’s tour. Snowy Pines Ranch set a great example for us in that respect.”

The event sponsors — Plumas Rural Services, the Quincy Certified Farmers’ Market and the High Altitude Harvest CSA — hope that this is the first of many collaborative efforts aimed at telling the stories of local farmers.

The groups believe that when customers have the chance to interact with their farmers, seeing where and how their food is grown, they’ll have the pleasure of developing a deeper relationship with locally grown healthy foods.

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