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Buy Fresh, Buy Local – North Valley

Spring is very nearly officially here in the North State. It is a time of year when our mild climate and amazing soils result in the entire region fairly busting at the seams with new growth and renewed life. Gardeners, farmers, ranchers and market growers are all up to their elbows in this life: seeds, seedlings, transplants, blooms, pollinators, eggs, chicks, calving and lambing, and so on. In the vegetable garden and farmers markets the end of the cold hardy winter crops are slowly yielding to the tender spring offerings of asparagus, peas and spring greens. As growers – and as EATERS – we live in a mighty fertile foodshed. Many of us chose to live here because of this abundance, and many individuals and organizations work hard to help maintain, support and even grow this very foodshed. The Buy Fresh Buy Local – North Valley, an outreach of the Northern California Regional Land Trust (NCRLT), is one such program. Photo: The Buy Fresh Buy Local bumpersticker which has ornamented the bookshelves above my desk since summer 2010, when I participated in a Slow Food Shasta Cascade event in Red Bluff. Lower: A pipevine swallowtail butterfly sips nectar from a blooming ‘Santa Rosa’ plum in early spring.

“Keeping working land working and wildland wild for future generations.” This is the motto of the Northern California Regional Land Trust, and this motto has two equally important sides: the protection of working land and the protection of wild land. Working land is of course land used to grow the wide spectrum of produce – including rangeland for grazing, hay production, nuts, etc., that supports and supplies our foodshed. These critically important lands are the “headwaters” if you will of this supply stream. According to a Cornell University foodshed mapping project, “the term “foodshed” was used more than 80 years ago in a book entitled “How Great Cities Are Fed (Hedden, 1929)” to describe the flow of food from producer to consumer. Seven decades later, the term was used to describe a food system that connected local producers with local consumers….we use the term to describe a geographic area that supplies a population center with food.” Photo: Working land at work. Lower: While fruit and veg come to mind when you think Buy Fresh, Buy Local, the growers/consumers connected by the program include those growing and eating all manner of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as nuts, grains, meat, dairy, wine, beer, cheese, etc.

While every producer in our area has their own story, their own approach and brand, the coming together and sharing of resources can make all the difference to their economic survival. And of course, the economic prosperity of our entire region is predicated in part on their success. The quality of life in our region is likewise predicated on a healthy economy, a well-cared for environment, on each of our having access to fresh wholesome food that is affordable but for which growers earn a fair income. This is all more easily achieved when food is sourced as closely as possible to home. The food producers being supported by Buy Fresh Buy Local are right here at home in the North State – with the rest of us.

The Buy Fresh Buy Local idea is manifested through chapters all over the country. As described by the NCRLT website, “the Buy Fresh Buy Local – North Valley (BFBLNV) is an agricultural marketing program for local food. By cultivating and stimulating local food markets, BFBLNV will create opportunities that connect farmers to consumers in ways that increase farmer profitability and build stronger, more secure, and sustainable local economies. The Northern California Regional Land Trust has partnered with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) to bring you a Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley agricultural marketing program for agricultural products in the North Valley. The Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley logo and program tells the story of our extraordinary agricultural region and products in a way that consumers can easily recognize – through a logo that can be used by farmers, stores and restaurants to identify the products from Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties. Photo:The full Buy Fresh Buy Local logo speaks with color and fullness to the diversity of our local foodshed.

The Northern California Regional Land Trust (NCRLT) assists Northern California landowners and public agencies in the voluntary protection of land and other natural resources. NCRLT is a natural host for the BFBL – North Valley program which is part of the trust’s Farmland Protection program. Photo: Farmers markets and CSA, where you might find such fresh healthy fare as these colorful beets, are both eligible to participate in the Buy Fresh Buy Local program and its outreach efforts. Lower: Pastured organic sheep.

How does the Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley program work? Photo: Fresh garden strawberries.

1. The Northern California Regional Land Trust has created the Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley logo, member seal and field sign.

2. Interested farmers, distributors, processors, restaurants, retailers, institutions, and community members sign up to participate in the Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley program. All paid members receive initial marketing materials and a CD that contains the Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley logo, as well as other images and information about the program. Members can order labels, price stickers, banners, bumper sticker and other promotional materials with the Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley logo.

3. The Northern California Regional Land Trust and local agricultural producers groups work with local governments, chambers of commerce, local business and the press to promote Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley in our communities and throughout Butte, Glenna and Tehama counties. Paid members are featured in Buy Fresh Buy Local promotional events and a local food guide.

4. The Northern California Regional Land Trust and local agricultural producer groups work with retailers, farmers’ market associations and restaurants to use the Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley logo on their grocery shelves, menus and in their advertising to identify the origin of the North Valley agricultural products they sell. Photo: Paprika from locally grown peppers produced by Sawmill Creek Farms in Paradise.

Studies show that when consumers are given information about the origin of agricultural products, they will choose to buy local product 75% of the time. The Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley logo provides consumers with a way to make the connection between the food they purchase and the reputation for fresh, high quality, local food that North Valley farmers have been building for generations. Photo: Cattle ranchers at a Buy Fresh Buy Local promotional event.

To learn how your farm, restaurant or store can become a Buy Fresh Buy Local partner, contact us at noelle@landconservation.org.BFBL, North Valley is an agricultural marketing program designed to create brand visibility around local food. Look for the beautiful logo above in restaurants, retailers, farmers’ markets and more to help you connect with the North Valley foodshed!

Membership to Buy Fresh Buy Local – North Valley is open to farmers, ranchers, growers, retailers, restaurants and community members interested in increasing the visibility of local food.”

One of the most wide-reaching facets of the Buy Fresh Buy Local – North Valley initiatives is the North Valley Eater’s Guide to Local Food from Butte, Glen and Tehama Counties. The first edition of the guide was published in fall of 2011. The next guide is due out by by Spring 2013. The Guides, which feature stories from a directory of farms, farmers markets, farmstands, food artisans, u-picks, food organizations, local-food restaurants and grocers, are available throughout the year at member businesses including Chico Natural Foods and Zucchini & Vine in Chico, Discover Earth in Red Bluff and Sav-Mor in Orland. You can also pick up a Guide at the Land Trust office located at 167 E. 3rd Avenue in Chico, at all county Farm Bureau offices, and farmer members will have copies available at the farmers’ markets.

Another major component of the program is the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program workshop and class series developed and run by the NCRLT, which has just completed for this season, but will hope to continue next year. “The needs of Beginning Farmers and Ranchers are not only best practices and techniques for food production but the marketing outreach and assistance to sell their products locally, as well as access to land and innovative financial management in these new economic times. In response, NCRLT’s Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program is facilitating six (6) workshops this winter and spring ranging in topics which will be lead by the region’s experts including Northern California Farm Credit, Agricultural Commissioner’s offices and UC Cooperative Extension offices, and begin developing an innovative program designed to match BFRs with potentially available agricultural lands.

This project is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2010-49400-21757.”

On April 24th from 10 – 11 am, Noelle Ferdon will be participating in a one-hour, live, call-in Round Table discussion about the state of the North State foodshed along with other regional foodshed advocates as part of In a North State Garden’s spring special during the week of Northstate Public Radio’s spring membership drive. Tune in to 91.7 fm Chico/88.9 fm Redding or listen live on-line at www.kcho.org and www.kfpr.org. Call in with your questions and comments – we’d love to hear from you.

Noelle has a background in law and policy and has worked on food and agriculture issues throughout the Central Valley, and California, for nearly a decade. Before formally joining the Northern California Regional Land Trust as Director for Local Food Systems, Noelle worked as a contractor for the Land Trust coordinating the Buy Fresh Buy Local, North Valley agricultural marketing program, managed development of the North Valley’s 1st edition of the The Eater’s Guide to Local Food and chaired NCRLT’s Technical Advisory Committee and workshop development for the Beginning Farmer Rancher Program. Prior to joining NCRLT, she worked for nearly five years as Senior Organizer for Food & Water Watch, a national organization working to promote agricultural policies that benefit small and medium-sized farmers and ranchers. Through her work, Noelle aims to make local food more available and raise the visibility of farmers and ranchers in the region by increasing market opportunities, protecting farmland, working with beginning farmers and stimulating rural economic development. Noelle is passionate about bringing together different sectors of agriculture in the North Valley around the common goal of revitalizing the region’s connection to its food roots. She is a co-founder of Buy Fresh Buy Local, North Valley and Slow Food Shasta Cascade, loves to grow food wherever she can and cannot find enough hours in the day to love her son, Rocko. Noelle has a B.S. in Political Science from CSU, Chico and a J.D. from Golden Gate University’s School of Law with certificates in Public Interest and Environmental Law.

Interested in supporting the Buy Fresh Buy Local North Valley? Become a member: http://www.landconservation.org/makeacontribution.php.

You can also attend workshops, or fundraising events, such as the upcoming Barn Dance at the Ohm Ranch in Red Bluff:

April 14 – Red Bluff: Northern California Regional Land Trust Barn Dance! 6pm, $30 for Entry. Join the Land Trust for a Barn Dance, Auction, live music, local food and No Host Bar at the Ohm Ranch! There will be live music, raffle items, a live auction, no-host bar, and dance lessons at 5 pm. All proceeds support Buy Fresh Buy Local, North Valley and Farmland/Rangeland protection programs. To purchase tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/234067, call us at 530-894-7738, or stop by the Land Trust office located at 167 E. 3rd Avenue in Chico. Ohm Ranch: 10470 Tyler Rd, Red Bluff

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In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.