North Yuba Olive Tree

Farming for the Future in California’s Sierra Foothills

A locally sourced dinner and Final Straw screening hosted by North Yuba Grown
A locally sourced dinner and Final Straw screening hosted by North Yuba Grown

A few months ago, two young and passionate farmers living in California’s Sierra Foothills contacted us about the possibility of screening the Final Straw film in their community.

Cara Zujewski and Aaron Mockrish, were already working with the North Yuba Grown organization on burgeoning farm to consumer, farm to table, and farm to school efforts, but they wanted to take it even further.

The rural community in North Yuba area had been calling out for healthier food to be available where they live, and yet the farmers and ranchers were struggling to find new ways to survive in uncertain climate that California has been experiencing in recent years.

With these issues in mind, Cara and Aaron wanted to initiate new dialogues that were centered around productive solutions. Through both research and their own first hand experiences, they saw natural farming as one of these solutions. The two worked to host a free, locally sourced dinner and community dialogue centered around a screening of the Final Straw film. It was their hope that it would be a catalyst to start local farmers and consumers in a new, more sustainable direction.

Final Straw Directors Suhee and Patrick with Cara and Aaron from North Yuba Grown.
Final Straw Directors Suhee and Patrick with Cara and Aaron from North Yuba Grown.

Suhee and I were truly impressed by what these folks had already accomplished in just the past few years. They have two seasonal farmers markets, two full time stores stocked with local produce, meat, wines, olive oils, and other products, a great farm map of the region, a beautiful bed and breakfast where a talented chef hosts lessons on cooking with local foods, and a school that recently began using local produce from North Yuba Grown.

Speaking on the topic of the school’s local produce offerings, the school’s principal seemed particularly delighted, saying “We used to have the store-bought iceberg with a little romaine. They didn’t really eat it. Now, with these amazing greens, the kids just eat it up. We’re having it every day now.”

The North Yuba Grown organization came up with five “rules” for success of local/regional agriculture that we think offer a great base for other communities to start from:

  • Rule #1: Learn to cook and serve what is in season.
  • Rule #2: Don’t pick winners. Offer a broad selection and let the customer decide.
  • Rule #3: Develop alternate year-round sales venues for local farmers
  • Rule #4: Give your farmers a roadmap for popular crops in your area
  • Rule #5: Provide a forum for farmers to meet and discuss techniques and opportunities

North Yuba Grown has been extremely successful in a short time span, with a recipe centered around community dialogues that feed off of a wide network of resources, both locally and internationally.

These individuals are proving that a small community can come together to begin resolving seemingly enormous social and ecological issues, and in fact, that small community actions influenced by a global awareness is one of the best ways to approach these issues regardless of where they are happening.

We are glad that the Final Straw film could be one of their resources, and we look forward to seeing what North Yuba Grown does next!

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