Sierra Nevada Small Farm Progress Day is an annual event that promotes small-scale farming and forestry in the Sierra Nevada region through education, networking and the demonstration of appropriate equipment and production methods. Today marked their 3rd Annual event with a trade show, farmer fair, demonstrations and more.
The Sierra Nevada foothills have historically been an area that has had a large ag industry. However, many of the common tools used today in agriculture only reflect the needs of the home gardener, or the large corporation farm. Lack of appropriate equipment, especially to use on slopes, and the purchasing power of larger groups are the primary setbacks to our small farming community.
Lynn Miller, editor of the Small Farm Journal, was the keynote speaker. I was running the front desk and missed it, but heard several people having interesting discussions after his talk. Drooling Dog from Colfax was on hand for those lucky souls who did not bring a lunch. If you're up in Colfax, be sure to check their awesome Raspberry BBQ sauce!
Vendors came from as far away as Oregon, maybe further. I'm not sure about a couple of the vendors. There was horse drawn equipment, people drawn equipment, and demonstrations of most of the equipment. A unique farmer show and tell allowed farmers to gather together, exchanging ideas, techniques, and discussing the merits and faults of their options.
And of course there was the Farmer Olympics. There were four events: the pumpkin/wheelbarrow challenge, electric fence setup, a persimmon toss relay, and finally, a cross-cut saw speed challenge. As with other sporting events, there were accusations made about professionals playing as amateurs, questionable judging practices, clever interpretations of the rules, drug use (does ibuprofan count?) and lots of fun had by all.
There was also this sign, "What is this item? Guess correctly and win a t-shirt":
Since the event is over I can share with you that it is a horse-drawn celery tiller. It mounds up the soil onto the celery plant, which would be very tedious to by hand. There were deemed to be three correct answers. Other answers included furrower, potato planter, and ditcher.
There are still two remaining Small Farm Progress Field Days this year: Forestry Field Day on Sunday, October 26th, and Orchard Field Day on Saturday, November 8th. For more information and locations, check out www.smallfarmprogressdays.org.