News, store stuff

Super Tuber Farm Tour

Super Tuber Farmers

Photo: ©Akim Aginsky 2016

The first year of Super Tuber’s existence, Jeremy Mineau worked alone on an acre of land in Nevada City, using few tools or equipment to grow potatoes. It was a lot more work – and a lot less pay – than he had expected, but Jeremy persevered.

The farm has grown to nearly five acres, with locations in Penn Valley and Nevada City. He now employs four people whom he calls, “awesome and indispensable dudes.”

Super Tuber Farm now grows more than potatoes. They also focus on carrots, cabbage, and a variety of salad greens, and they’re looking forward to sharing what they grow and what they’ve learned at a free farm tour on Sunday, August 28, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Sponsored by BriarPatch Co-op, the tour will be at their Penn Valley location, a field they’ve been farming for four years and leased from AM Ranch at 12780 Spenceville Road. BriarPatch will be offering snacks and refreshments.

“We always strive to find the most delicious varieties and grow them in such a way that enriches our soils, our bodies, and our lives,” said Jeremy. “We are also just plain happy to meet all the folks that have been enjoying our produce over the past few years!”

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More Parking Coming Soon

New Parking Lot and Solar ArrayBriarPatch has been in need of more parking for a while now, and soon, work will begin on not only adding more spots but also a solar array and beautiful landscaping.

Construction on the new lot will happen this summer, with plans to have 45 new parking spaces available in October. The solar array will be 16,000 square-feet and will span most of the west parking lot, as well as creating a shaded walkway for shoppers. Plus, there will be electric car charging stations underneath it.

The beautiful landscaping has been designed by landscape architect Jo McProud. Along with existing trees, new trees and other plants will be incorporated, plus there will be a shade structure and picnic area as well as an activity area for even more places for our community to enjoy while visiting the Patch.

There will be a Solar Parking Forum on Tuesday, April 19, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in the BriarPatch Community Room for anyone who is interested in learning more about the project. Feel free to stop by and study the site plan rendering that’s on display at the front of the store, as well as checking out the smaller version on this blog. More information on the project will be available in the April/May copy of The Vine newsletter.

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Welcome Home

Sunrise over the BriarPatch Co-op Building

BriarPatch purchases store building on Sierra College Drive

On the cusp of its 40th year, BriarPatch Co-op Community Market is celebrating the occasion with a hallmark of 40’s adulthood — homeownership.

On December 31, the cooperatively-owned grocery store closed escrow and purchased the property it occupies at 290 Sierra College Drive in Grass Valley.

The Sierra College Drive location has been BriarPatch’s “home” since 2007, when it began leasing the property from Calloway LLC. BriarPatch and Calloway worked together to construct the store, a move that has been extremely successful for the Co-op. Since the relocation from Joerschke Drive to the new building — with three times the space — BriarPatch’s sales have increased from $6 million in 2006 to $29 million in 2015.

“Partnering with Calloway in building this beautiful store set the stage for our fantastic growth,” said Chris Maher, BriarPatch’s General Manager.

With renewal of the 10-year lease on the horizon and BriarPatch considering remodeling and expanding parking, it became clear that owning the property made sense. With historically low interest rates expected to rise soon, in November of 2015 BriarPatch made a purchase offer, and an agreement was soon reached for purchasing the building.

Greg Francis, Managing Member of Calloway, said, “Calloway Development and the Litton Family are the majority land-owners in the area, and we would not have relinquished control of the BriarPatch building if we did not think that it was in the best interest of all the surrounding owners and tenants. BriarPatch has proven itself to be an extraordinarily well-managed, community-minded business. We are excited at see what’s next for the Co-op, and we are certain that it will continue to add value, not only to its immediate neighbors but to the community as a whole.”

“Owning the property puts BriarPatch in a stronger, more stable financial position for the long run,” said Maher. “Ownership helps justify the investments we’re considering for expanding the store and parking lot,” he said. “As a cooperative business with over 12,000 owner households, ownership of our store is particularly meaningful — and a fantastic way to celebrate our 40th anniversary.”

“This is a huge milestone in our 40-year history,” said Alan Weisberg, BriarPatch Board President. “As owners, we can do a much better job of shaping our future,” he said. Weisberg was first elected to the Board in 2005, when the store was located on Joerschke Drive.

Weisberg and the other eight Board Directors voted unanimously to authorize the purchase.

Mark Fenton, BriarPatch’s Board Treasurer, noted the financial advantages of owning property as opposed to leasing it.

“We can plan for the future knowing what our expenses will be, without worrying about future rent increases. All our planning and resources can go into creating value for owners,” he said.

Board Director Lew Sitzer attributed BriarPatch’s success to the work of many.

“It’s a tribute to Co-op owners and staff that we can now purchase our own store,” he said.

Sitzer saw the move as indicative of changes in the organic and local foods movements.

“This will stand as a statement of past commitment and future involvement to bring quality organic foods to market and to support local farmers in their important work, both in our community and schools,” he said.

Serving the needs of the community was also noted by Alana Lucia, who was elected to the BriarPatch Board in 2013.

“When we did our survey, there were a great many people who wanted to remain in the Sierra College Drive store. They liked the proximity of the schools, offices, and neighborhoods and felt that we were in a prime location for serving healthy foods conveniently. By purchasing the property, we are able to make a long term commitment to serving the needs of the community. We are home.”


BriarPatch’s Farm Partnerships

We’re very lucky in Nevada County. We live in a beautiful area. We have a supportive community, and our farmers are simply amazing.

As part of BriarPatch’s dedication to local farms, Radu Sava Visuals created a film for us to share about our partnerships. Many of our fantastic farmers are featured in the two minute piece. Check it out! The Co-op is farm fresh everyday, thanks to our local farms.

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Tour Filaki Farms

Eve and Juan JoseLocated on fertile soils in a valley between sunny hilltops, Filaki Farms can be found on the border between Nevada and Yuba counties. Founded in 1998 by Juan Jose Domingo, the farm’s name comes from the Greek word filo, which means love. Juan Jose and his wife Eve are pleased to welcome the community to their farm on Sunday, August 16, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., for BriarPatch’s fifth annual farm tour.

On the tour they will show the group how they grow wonderful organic Piel de Sapo melons, Amarillo Oro melons, cantaloupe, Padron peppers, red Russian kale, dino kale, green kale, red chard, rainbow chard, spinach, arugula, and much more. The farm has a large barn and six hoop houses of all shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of shade trees. Cool drinks and fresh samples will be on-hand to keep everyone happy.

Juan Jose comes from a village outside of Valencia, Spain, where he grew up working on his family’s farm with his father, uncles, and neighbors. When he arrived in California 28 years ago, he learned about organic farming practices and immediately began integrating them into the body of traditional knowledge he had absorbed as a boy. Eve began farming with Juan Jose a little over 10 years ago, and is now also an “indoor farmer” at BriarPatch, where she works with the plants and flowers.

For those inclined to enjoy more of Yuba County, a lunch specially prepared at Yuba Harvest Deli, just minutes from the farm, will be available for purchase. Panini sandwiches (tri-tip, chicken, or vegan Reuben) and green salad will be available for $12.00, and pre-orders and pre-payment for the lunch are much appreciated. Contact Yuba Harvest,, 701-3577.

Driving to Oregon House from Grass Valley takes 45 to 50 minutes.

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Summer Fun with Fruits and Veggies

mainbox-co+op-explorersParents can struggle to find ways to coax their kids into eating more fruits and vegetables. BriarPatch Co-op is hoping to help parents attain that healthy goal with the Co+op Explorers Fruits and Veggies Passport summer program.

According to a 2014 article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60 percent of U.S. children didn’t eat enough fruit to attain daily recommendations, and 93 percent didn’t eat enough daily vegetables.

The CDC says that not only is it a national health priority for children to eat lots of fruits and vegetables because are they nutritious, but also because the habits of eating created in childhood tend to be lifelong.

The Co+op Explorers Fruits and Veggies Passports are colorful and engaging, packed with activity pages for 25 common fruits and vegetables. Intended for kids ages five through ten, children can fill in the pages of the produce they try, rate it, and even draw their own pictures.

To help keep kids motivated, prizes will be awarded at BriarPatch through June and July. The “Let’s get started” prize is attained at pick up. When a child gets his or her passport booklet, she or he will also receive a Co+op Explorers membership card. The next prize comes when five fruits or vegetables have been eaten. Children earn a sticker and a temporary tattoo. The “Dozen Done Prize” is a coupon for a free 8-ounce organic smoothie. Finally, there’s the “Top Twenty Prize.” After trying 20 or more items, children earn a ticket to the 2015 Nevada County Fair (held August 12-16). (Prizes may be claimed at BriarPatch’s Customer Service Window, and BriarPatch reserves the right to substitute different prizes, if necessary.)

Eating fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be a fun way to while away the summer days, filling up a passport full of tasty produce just waiting to be explored.

Find the Co+op Explorers Summer Fruits and Veggies Passports at BriarPatch Co-op’s customer service window and at the Del Oro Theater, available during the Summer Film Series.

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Summer Co-op Cooking Classes

Kayl-and-friend-webA series of fantastic cooking classes are being offered this summer, ripe for the picking.

Just in time for Father’s Day, Kayla Wexelberg is teaching a class on the perfect “Steak Dinner.” On Friday, June 19, learn how to impress your friends and family with a California cuisine-focused meal. The class will make a classic full steak dinner with fun, refreshing sides. The menu includes: Marinated and Seared Grass-fed Beef Steaks, Cauliflower Carrot Ginger Mash, Roasted Asparagus with Wild Fennel served with a rich and creamy Mushroom Sauce, and Zesty Parsley Chutney with an Arugula Side Salad. Plus, Wexelberg will discuss wine pairings that can tried at home.

Cool off with “Three Nifty, Thrifty Summer Salads” on Saturday, June 20. Summer salads can be economical as well as delicious. Suzanne Bardsley will show attendees how she makes three of her favorites: a Coleslaw variation with raisins and other surprises; Mandala Salad, a perfect potluck salad packed with veggies; and Noodle Salad, a refreshing meal or side dish with garlic and veggies.

Healthful vegetables can be made into delicious and classy vegetarian entrees. Kayla Wexelberg will teach a gorgeous variety of dishes on Tuesday, June 23. The colorful dishes include: Delicata Squash Stuffed with a Roasted Garlic, Tomato, Chard filling and topped with a Creamy Mushroom sauce; Eggplant Stuffed with a Mediterranean Cherry Tomato, Olive, Feta, and Parsley Couscous, dressed with a Sweet Balsamic Reduction; and Marinated and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with a Red Pepper Yam Leek filling topped with a Dill, Béchamel, Cashew Sauce.

Joseph Guida enjoyed Chinese Noodle Soup with Collard Greens, Daikon, Tomato, and condiments every day while training with his Tai Chi Master, Da Liu. Guida will teach that and more in, “Glorious Greens Prepared Three Ways” on Thursday, June 25. The class will also create Italian Escarole Greens with Potatoes (with cheese on the side) and Purple Mustard Greens, Indian style, with Basmati Rice.

It’s summertime and the living is easy – and so is the food – if it’s being taught by Maria Benner. Join Benner for a fun evening of warm weather, music, salt, and lime on Friday, June 26. It’s Ceviche time! Plus look forward to a number of other Mexicana Antojitos that can be prepared and shared all year long. Attendees will make Fish and Shrimp Ceviche with Seasonal and Tropical Fruits and learn how to make Sopecitos with corn masa which will be made from scratch on a traditional metate.

Finish up the month of June on a sweet note with Crepes and Cream Puffs on Monday, June 29. Kayla Wexelberg will have the class indulging in both sweet and savory crepes with fillings of Creamy Mushroom Spinach, Caramelized Leek, Sweet Potato Feta and Chard, Raspberry Chocolate Mousse, and Lemon Custard. Students will learn how to make light and fluffy cream puffs and three fillings: Vanilla Lavender Whipped Cream, Light Lemon Poppy Seed, and Mascarpone Cream Cheese.

Many more classes and descriptions are listed at Classes are held at the BriarPatch Co-op Community Cooking School at 648 Zion Street in Nevada City. The fee for most classes, which includes a share of what’s being cooked, is just $30 for BriarPatch owners and $35 for the general public. Thrifty Cooking classes are $10 for BriarPatch owners and $12 for the general public For more information or to pre-register, call BriarPatch at (530) 272-5333 ext.134, email, or sign-up and pay for the class online.