Forever Farms provides long-term land security to area farmers and ranchers
Here in the Sierra foothills, the needs of local farmers are changing.
Today’s farmers are finding it more and more difficult to secure long-term access to land. The supply of properties with suitable soil, terrain, and size is limited. Pressure to subdivide and develop land is growing. Long-term lease agreements are hard to negotiate. Onsite housing for farmworkers is often not permitted. And land prices are out of range for new farmers.
Our next generation farmers are struggling here, and some have already left the area. Long-time ranchers are being offered irresistible offers to subdivide and sell. Long-established growers are still land insecure because of short-term leases.
Forever Farms: An innovative model
To help address some of these challenges, Bear Yuba Land Trust has launched Forever Farms with partners Sierra Harvest, BriarPatch Food Co-op, Tahoe Food Hub, and Mountain Bounty Farm to conserve local farmland.
BYLT’s role is to identify and purchase farmland at risk of subdivision and conversion from agriculture and to work with local farmers on long-term evergreen leases with stipulations to ensure that the land remains productive farmland and that its management is ecologically responsible. Access to the land remains affordable, and BYLT uses lease revenue for management of the property and lease. Any revenue earned beyond that will be used by BYLT as an endowment for the Forever Farm Program.
Please consider making a contribution today to protect local farmland and the food it can produce for our rural communities for generations to come.
Mountain Bounty Farm at Birchville Preserve: Protected Forever
About Mountain Bounty Farm
John Tecklin began Mountain Bounty Farm in 1997. Today, his farm is the largest supplier of organic vegetables in Nevada County. 820 households, from Tahoe to Penn Valley, subscribe to his community supported agriculture (CSA) farm to receive a weekly box of fresh vegetables. His is the oldest and largest CSA in the Sierra. Mountain Bounty Farm is the second largest vegetable supplier to the BriarPatch Food Co-op in Grass Valley, and supplies a variety of other stores, restaurants, and farmer’s markets throughout the region.
John and his crew grow all this food on just 18 acres spread over four properties. His largest acreage is on leased land located on Birchville Road, on the San Juan Ridge where he has farmed for 23 years. Over those years he has invested over $150,000 in infrastructure at this site, upgrading extensive irrigation, electrical, and fencing systems. Under John’s direction, a new generation of farmers is assuming leadership of the farm. The farm is now collaboratively run by a team of talented young farmers.
In December 2020, the lease on this land was up for renewal with no option for a long-term lease. A short-term lease is simply not compatible with an organic farming business of this scale. Significant ongoing investments are required to keep the soil fertile and the infrastructure functioning. To fulfill produce commitments to hundreds of customers, many of whom have paid in advance through a CSA subscription, requires stability in the cultivation process. Most importantly, to pass the farm on to the next generation of farmers, land security is critical.
Bear Yuba Land Trust and partners formed the Forever Farms Program to purchase the 37-acre property, now called Birchville Preserve, and protect a valued local farm forever.
Birchville Preserve includes an existing single-family house that will be available to provide housing for farmworkers—another resource that is in critically short supply in the region. Furthermore, the property holds the potential to add additional housing for farmworkers in the future. Affordable farmworker housing is a significant asset provided by the property.
Protection of 20 Acres of Native Habitat
The 37-acre property includes 20 acres of scrub oak and mixed chaparral habitat. These habitats are permanently protected, providing a permanent buffer around part of the land and providing a potential for public access in the form of trails and create opportunities for restoration of native plant and wildlife habitat.
More than a Farm
Many local farmers and leaders in the local food movement have gained their early experience at Mountain Bounty Farm. While providing much-needed jobs to our rural economy, the farm also provides highly sought-after organic farming skills training that is building the resiliency and sustainability of our local food system.
Mountain Bounty Farm hosts school group tours, farm dinners in the field, community tours, and produce donation programs. Mountain Bounty also hosts an annual Harvest Festival and provides farm tours for the community. Through these and other outreach efforts, Mountain Bounty Farm has become a known and cherished establishment by local residents. Learn more at Mountain Bounty Farm’s website.
Local Forever Farms
Learn about other Forever Farms protected by agricultural easements or as preserves owned by BYLT:
- Animal Place Sanctuary
- Garden Bar Preserve
- Kramer Ranch
- Lassaga Land and Livestock Ranch
- Linden Lea Ranch
- Pioneer Dawson Nichols Ranch
- Quail Ranch
- Robinson Ranch
- Wild Rock Ranch
Together, we are committed to conserving these lands forever.