Farming Challenges: Learn about Sierra Valley Farms at Slow Food potluck |

Farming Challenges: Learn about Sierra Valley Farms at Slow Food potluck

Melissa Siig
Special to the Sun
Gary Romano of Sierra Valley Farms has a bunch to talk about.

UC Davis asked Sierra Valley Farms owner Gary Romano to take part in a unique endeavor and#8212; a digital storytelling project about the Sierra Valley last year. The project, called and#8220;Passion for the Land: Personal Stories from the Sierra Valley,and#8221; is a collection of 12 stories, told through narration and photos, about the challenges to agricultural viability and rural community life in the Sierra Valley.

Romano will show his segment, and#8220;Is Sustainable Attainable?and#8221; at the Slow Food Lake Tahoe winter season potluck Jan. 28 at the Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee from 4 to 7 p.m.

The force behind the digital storytelling project is Jesikah Maria Ross, director of the UC Davis Art of Regional Change, which focuses on media projects that address community needs. Together with Holly George, the livestock and natural resources farm advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension Plumas Sierra Counties, the two women wanted to build the capacity of Sierra Valley farmers and ranchers to speak more directly to public officials.

and#8220;Most ranchers and farmers want to have a greater voice in the decisions that impact their land, livelihood, natural resources and way of life,and#8221; Ross said.

This is not a passive documentary, in which protagonists are filmed while going about their lives. Instead, each rancher or farmer was a co-producer of their own segment, responsible for writing scripts, selecting images and giving direction on the edit.

Romanoand#8217;s segment tells the story of his farm, which has been in his family for 100 years. Once a thriving 3,600-acre cattle ranch, by 1990 the farm was on the verge of being sold off. Romano bought the remaining 65 acres, and eventually started an organic farm.

Romano hopes his segment will convey two messages: the need to support small farmers, and the need to prevent potential farmlands from being eaten up by development.

and#8220;I want people to understand that you donand#8217;t need 5,000 acres to make a living; there is a need for farmers with 5, 10 or 60 acres,and#8221; he said. and#8220;And just because the land isnand#8217;t being used for farming now doesnand#8217;t mean it canand#8217;t be in the future. We need to preserve open space.and#8221;

Even though the 12 three-minute videos have different messages and#8212; from water issues to preserving the land to ensuring future generations of farmers and#8212; Romano believes they all share a common theme: and#8220;This is a lifestyle that canand#8217;t be forgotten.and#8221;

In addition to Romanoand#8217;s presentation, the SFLT potluck will feature Chris Kerston from Chaffin Family Farms, who will talk about raising goats and provide goat meat samples, as well as olive oil, jam and oranges. Susan and Rick Reynolds, owners of Sierra Pacific Coffee Roasting, will be on hand with tastings of different types of coffee.

SFLT members, friends, children and those interested in learning more about Slow Food USA, its mission and the Tahoe chapterand#8217;s activities, are welcome to attend. The theme of the potluck is winter, so bring a dish to share with seasonal food. For more information, contact Susan Brumm at (530) 582-7498.

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