Local farmers supply weekly produce shares
The High Altitude Harvest CSA is entering into its fifth year of bringing Plumas County-grown produce to local eaters. CSA stands for community-supported agriculture, a marketing system that many small farms across the country have embraced over the past decade.
When customers join a CSA they receive a weekly share of the farm’s harvest throughout the growing season. High Altitude Harvest expanded on the traditional CSA model by inviting many farms to collaborate. Instead of one farm providing all of the produce each week, each grower is able to focus on what he or she grows best.
This allows High Altitude Harvest to serve more members and takes the burden of producing 40-plus crops off of one farm.
This CSA was launched as a project of Plumas Rural Services in 2010 with the goal of providing a large, stable market for local farmers to sell their products. HAH has reached this mark, having paid out $109,000 to local farmers, ranchers and food artisans over the past four years.
The project has also successfully transitioned away from grant funding and now operates as a self-sustaining business.
High Altitude Harvest recently developed a partnership with the Mohawk Community Resource Center in Blairsden, which will be hosting a new pickup site for HAH members. Coordinator Heidi Rose is enthusiastic about the availability of local produce in the Blairsden/Graeagle area. “We’ve had a great sign-up rate for this new HAH pickup site and we’re excited that MCRC can serve as a hub for local food,” she said.
Plumas County farmers are happy to talk about the benefits of the CSA marketing model. Farmer Cody Reed of Five Foot Farm in Quincy explains, “The CSA has been a wonderful asset, both by helping community members source local food and by providing a steady market for farmers. When people purchase a CSA share they are buying into the future of farming in Plumas County.Members get fresh produce every week and farmers get the support we need to grow our farms and invest in building a local food economy. It’s really a win-win for everyone.”
In 2014 High Altitude Harvest is working with 10 agricultural producers, including two new produce farmers — Sasquatch Farms in Quincy and BloomStone Farm in Beckwourth.
Farmer and CSA coordinator Elizabeth Powell is proud of the cooperative nature of the venture. “We’re proving that local farmers can all benefit from a shared venture like HAH. Instead of looking at each other as competition, we’re able to see our fellow farmers as a support network. And when new growers come on board we’re able to welcome them and help them find niches that aren’t yet filled. I really believe the way we’re all going to thrive in the farming business is by working together.”
High Altitude Harvest is still accepting sign-ups for the 2014 summer season, with shares available for pickup in Quincy, Portola and Blairsden. More information can be found at HighAltitudeHarvest.com or by calling 616-8882.