Buy – Eat – Love Local
Written by General Manager, Marcie Wilde
As we explore ways to assist local farmers and producers, we’re finding it difficult due to the scarcity of farms and producers in Plumas-Sierra County. There are very few farms that can produce what we need. Only two farms, Rugged Roots and Sierra Valley Farms, consistently grow enough for us. Backyard farmers cannot always provide us with produce throughout the season, particularly when we’re looking to buy cases of 20 pounds or more. Our local farmers face the challenge of a short growing season, with only three months of solid growth without a freeze.
Another issue we must consider is the fact that our two store locations are in different parts of the county. We have to ask ourselves what counts as “local.” Is produce from Chico local to Portola shoppers? Similarly, is produce grown on the CA/NV line local to Quincy shoppers? Our previous definition of “local” was to draw a 100-mile radius circle around Quincy or Portola. This severely limits our produce options.
I recently spoke with my fellow GMs at other California co-ops to ask them about their definition of local. What I discovered was fascinating. They use a mileage radius as well as consider the larger picture of which watershed they’re in and how that watershed feeds local farms.
Consequently, we’ve revised our definition of “local” this year. “Hyper Local” refers to anything within 30 miles of each store location, while “Local” refers to anything within the Plumas and Yuba watersheds or within 100 miles of either store location. This gives us more flexibility in our definition of “local” and allows us to consider each store’s unique geographic location when making purchasing decisions.
In June of this year, we established a new distribution partnership with the Tahoe Food Hub, based in Truckee, CA. Their aim is to construct a food system that promotes regenerative farming practices and creates fair market opportunities for family farms while increasing local food access for mountain communities. This new partnership is expanding access to local and sustainable food for you – the consumer.
Tahoe Food Hub encourages regenerative farming practices, which sequester carbon in the soil and help mitigate climate change. They’re creating a new food system that provides a fair marketplace where small farms can access new markets. We’re excited to be a part of this food hub and have already seen the positive impact it’s had on our co-op. We’re proud to be one of the few stores in Plumas-Sierra County where you can buy genuinely local produce. We’ll continue to support our local farmers and producers as we always have. In 2022, we purchased over $280,000 in products from local sources. Your purchases at the co-op support these local farms and families. Thank you for joining us in our mission to bring local food to your table.