How did two moms help launch a program that overhauled the school lunch program in their community and get kids to eat 8,000 pounds of vegetables? It takes perseverance and a the support of an entire community including, parents, administrators, educators and local farmers. Sierra Harvest went from a volunteer based program to a thriving organization with a half million dollar budget, 12 staff members and lots of dedicated farmers. Find out how they did it on this next edition of See Jane Do.
About Malaika Bishop, Co-Director
Malaika Bishop, co-director has been working to create sustainable and just food systems for over 15 years. After college, she worked for and directed an organization dedicated to connecting, inspiring and collaborating with young change makers from around the world. Locally, she ran Izzy Martin’s first campaign for county supervisor. In 2001 she co-founded People’s Grocery, an organization working to find creative solutions to the food needs in West Oakland by building a local food system and a local economy. Now, back in her hometown, she is a mother, farmer and educator and served on the board of BriarPatch Co-op for 5 years. She is currently a Farm Educator at the Woolman Semester School and Co-director of Sierra Harvest. Malaika is a recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and she was chosen by Utne Reader, San Francisco Magazine and Organic Style Magazine as a young visionary and environmental leader.
Aimee Retzler, Co-Director
After spending sixteen years with GAP Inc. in San Francisco, Aimee’s family moved to the Sierra Foothills in 2007. She has immersed herself in the community through volunteering for schools, nonprofits, and teaching Nia. Her passion for making sure kids get the best food they possibly can is what fueled her to begin the farm-to-school program in Nevada County. She has been involved in guiding the activities of Sierra Harvest since October 2008, building the organization from a grassroots community coalition to a respected nonprofit. Her husband and three young children love all things outdoors and enjoy being part of the local food movement.
About Sierra Harvest
Sierra Harvest understands the pressure points where, locally, we can begin to shift our focus from large-scale, distant agriculture to the needs of our own children, farmers and the community.
FARM TO SCHOOL: Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program is currently in sixteen Nevada County schools and reaches over 5000 students; 83% of the K-12 students in Western Nevada County. Sierra Harvest connects each school with a local farm partner. This farmer hosts farm field trips at their farms, provides produce for a weekly produce stand at the school, and comes into the classroom to share with the kids. We also do monthly “Harvest of the Month” tastings of local, seasonal fruits and vegetables delivered to classrooms along with educator curriculum and a family newsletters. Our “Tasting Week” brings guest chefs from around the county into the classrooms to cook simple, seasonal meals with the students.
SCHOOL FOOD: Sierra Harvest, in collaboration with the current school meal provider, is working to incorporate more locally and regionally grown fresh foods into the school meal program. We do this through community engagement events, educational programs and connecting local farms to school meal providers.
EDUCATIONAL FARMS: The Food Love Project is an educational farm devoted to promoting nutrition education, food security, and community involvement in growing, harvesting, eating, and celebrating fresh food. The farm hosts experiential field trips, service projects, U-pick, and community work days. The New Generation Educational Farm will serve as an outdoor classroom to teach science, math, literacy, and social skills through gardening and culinary activities.
FARMER TRAINING: Sierra Harvest offers mentorship, education, and practical experience for interns and journeyman farmers. Aspiring farmers leave equipped to lead the next generation of growers.
COMMUNITY FOOD: Sierra Harvest celebrates and connects our local community through potlucks, soup nights, an events calendar, a land bank, and through Nevada County’s Sustainable Food and Farm conference.
FOOD ADVOCACY: We engage in local, regional, and national policies that support just, sustainable food systems. We are members of the California Food Policy Council and the California Farm to School Network.
The SIERRA GARDENS PROGRAM enhances health and food access by supporting families in growing fruits and vegetables at home; providing garden beds plus two years of classes, mentorship and starts.