By Elizabeth Harper
Resource Conservation District
Oriented by the Sutter Buttes, I drive southeast along the river to Sycamore Slough. Passing tomatoes, beans and sunflowers, I start seeing the countryside getting drier and crops changing as I head west on Hahn Road to Cortina School.
Almonds, pistachios, grapes, and olives thrive along the westside. Taking Myers to Walnut, I head to the hills crossing Hwy 20 to Leesville Grade with the smell of onions filling the truck.
I cut back down King to head north on Danley. Rice is pushing up through the flooded landscape as crop dusters busily buzz above. I head east again on the Maxwell highway passing the treasured refuge back through Colusa over the bridge.
River Road is lined with beautiful old walnut, pecan, and stone fruit orchards.
By end of May the valley is a cool lush green against the backdrop of the near-golden coastal range. Astounded by the cornucopia growing all around, I ponder, “What if Colusa County were an island?”
I take pride in the fact that we would be a great exporter of specialty crops: almonds, pistachios, walnuts, canned tomatoes, prunes, and an abundance of seed stock. But it is the question of “What would we import?” that disheartens me.
Lower priced processed foods and imported produce from other countries crowd out our local and fresh goods on the grocery store shelves.
But, wait! Don’t you want to eat fresh and local? Wouldn’t you say that the best tomato you’ve ever had is home grown or from the small farm down the road? Melons, and peaches, and plums; Oh my! Colusa County grows delicious produce and has an incredible amount of natural resources to provide the residents high quality, farm fresh food year round.
So, if we have the resources for production and the interest of the consumer, how can we connect them in a market setting? Let me tell you! It all begins with YOU and your participation in creating a local marketplace.
Here is how to get involved:
1. Be a regular at the Arbuckle and Colusa Certified Farmer’s Markets and support local small farms directly. Arbuckle Certified Farmers’ Market runs every Wednesday 5pm-7pm from June to through August. The Colusa Certified Farmers’ Market runs every Thursday 4pm-7pm from June through September.
2. Attend the Farm to Fork dinner on June 23rd at 6pm. The dinner will feature foods grown and raised locally, prepared by some of our county’s favorite restaurants: Market Street Grill, Rocco’s and Sweet Beans. The dinner ticket also includes a wine tasting! Tickets are $40.00/single and $75.00/couple. Proceeds go to supporting the Colusa Certified Farmer’s Market and Community Service Projects. Buy your tickets now at Market Street Grill, Colusa Chamber of Commerce, or Contact Jennifer Diaz at
3. Come to the Colusa County Resource Conservation District’s Stakeholder Meeting to discuss the Colusa County Grown Specialty Crop Grant. The CCRCD received a grant to promote and create a marketplace for specialty crops connecting farmer to consumer. How do you become a stakeholder? By just showing up and giving us your thoughts on:
a. Long-term Colusa County Grown objectives and goals
b. Leadership and governance
c. Membership requirements
d. Setting parameters for Colusa County Grown logo
Your involvement with the CCG program is essential to see change in our local food system. The Colusa County Grown-Specialty Crop Grant ends in 2017. With your involvement, fresh ideas, and potential leadership, we will have an opportunity to qualify for more grant funding for future CCG endeavors.
4. FOLLOW Colusa County Grown- Specialty Crops on Facebook for the most up-to-date news, delicious recipes, and events. CCG-SC is giving away two tickets to the Farm to Fork Dinner on June 23rd. Details on how to win are here: https://www.facebook.com/ColusaCountyGrown/
5. Pick up a 2015/2016 Colusa County Food Guide: Specialty Crop Edition. This booklet has contact information of small farms in our county and what they grow throughout the year. The guide also features specialty crop nutritional facts, recipes, and local farmers’ stories.