Can food hubs make small farms economically feasible?

A new effort near Tahoe, California, brings farmers and food buyers together to buck the system.

 

Is it possible to grow food in the snow? Susie Sutphin thinks so, and she's determined to teach other mountain dwellers how it's done. Sutphin is the founder of the nonprofit Tahoe Food Hub, and has spent the last four years growing a thriving regional food system in a part of California no one associates with farming. Her approach is two-pronged: First, she set up a network of farmers throughout the Sierra foothills and northern Nevada, whose produce (and eggs, and herbs, and, in some cases, juice) she distributes to restaurants, schools, and hospitals in the area. As a nonprofit, the food hub also donates food to local shelters and food banks, and offers free education and hands-on learning programs.

Second, she set up the Sierra Agroecology Center, which aims to teach Tahoe residents how to grow their own food. The center includes a large geodesic greenhouse called the Sierra Growing Dome, where Sutphin and her team grow all sorts of things, all year round. The Growing Dome, designed by Growing Spaces, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, has been specially engineered to withstand large snow loads and to regulate indoor temperature with no electricity. The Sierra Agroecology Center also features assorted cold frames: garden boxes with toppers that make them resistant to cold and thus extend Tahoe's tiny, 3-month growing season to a solid 9 months.

The Sierra Agroecology Center, which aims to teach Tahoe, California, residents how to grow their own food. The center includes a large geodesic greenhouse called the Sierra Growing Dome.

Susie Sutphin is the founder of the nonprofit Tahoe Food Hub.

So far, only three Sierra Growing Domes have been erected in the area -- one at the Tahoe Food Hub site, in Truckee, California, and two at an elementary school in South Lake Tahoe, NV -- but Sutphin has high hopes that others will pop up soon. In the meantime, the Sierra Nevada farmers she's working with are happy that the Tahoe Food Hub spares them a few farmers' markets a week. 

Range podcast produces stories of the New American West and is co-hosted by reporters Amy Westervelt and Julia Ritchey. 

High Country News Classifieds
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, ARIZONA CHAPTER
    What We Can Achieve Together: Arizona's Director of Development (DoD) is responsible for directing all aspects of one or more development functions, which will secure...
  • CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Capacity Building Program Manager works directly with the business unit's Arizona Healthy Cities Program Director to advance the Healthy...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND OFFICE MANAGER - FRIENDS OF THE INYO
    Friends of the Inyo - Donor database management & reporting, IT/HR, and office administrative support. PT or FT. Partly remote OK but some in-office time...
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    New Mexico Land Conservancy is seeking a qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating,...
  • GRAPHIC AND DIGITAL DESIGNER
    Application deadline: December 17, 2022 Expected start date: January 16, 2023 Location: Amazon Watch headquarters in Oakland, CA Amazon Watch is a dynamic nonprofit organization...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eugene, Ore. nonprofit Long Tom Watershed Council is seeking a highly collaborative individual to lead a talented, dedicated team of professionals. Full-time: $77,000 - $90,000...
  • GIS SPECIALIST
    What We Can Achieve Together: The GIS Specialist provides technical and scientific support for Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, data management, and visualization internally and...
  • LOWER SAN PEDRO PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Lower San Pedro Program Manager directs some or all aspects of protection, science, stewardship and community relations for the...
  • FOREST RESTORATION SPATIAL DATA MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Forest Restoration Spatial Data Manager fills an integral role in leading the design and development of, as well as...
  • WATER PROJECTS MANAGER, SOUTHERN AZ
    What We Can Achieve Together: Working hybrid in Tucson, AZ or remote from Sierra Vista, AZ or other southern Arizona locations, the Water Projects Manager,...
  • SENIOR STAFF THERAPIST/PSYCHOLOGIST: NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT SPECIALIST
    Counseling Services is a department strategically integrated with Health Services within the Division of Student Services and Enrollment Management. Our Mission at the Counseling Center...
  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IS HIRING A LOCAL INITIATIVES COORDINATOR
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks a Local Initiatives Coordinator to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator to develop, manage and advance...
  • LAND AND WATER PROTECTION MANAGER - NORTHERN ARIZONA
    We're Looking for You: Are you looking for a career to help people and nature? Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our...
  • SENIOR CLIMATE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) seeks a Senior Climate Conservation Associate (SCCA) to play a key role in major campaigns to protect the lands, waters,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Southern Nevada Conservancy Board of Directors announces an outstanding opportunity for a creative leader to continue building this organization. SNC proudly supports Nevada's public...
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • STRAWBALE HOME BESIDE MONTEZUMA WELL NAT'L MONUMENT
    Straw Bale Home beside Montezuma Well National Monument. Our property looks out at Arizona fabled Mogollon Rim and is a short walk to perennial Beaver...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.