By Jean Myles and Lora Myles
Sierra Valley’s Art + Ag Trail event is free event, open to all, involving local artists and area farms, ranches and historic buildings. Visitors can pick up free maps, and may purchase souvenir passports and prize drawing tickets at one of the three trailheads: the Sierraville School, Sierra Valley Farms or the Grange Hall in Vinton. Passports can be stamped at the various ranches or venues on the tour.
The event includes a great deal of the history of the Valley. As members of the Sierra Booster team for the day this year, my daughter and I were the photographer/reporters for the south-west side of the Valley. We were impressed at the multiple-generation families on the ranches, some of them extending to the fifth generation. At the Sierraville School, Retired speech teacher Sara Schoensee was dressed as her multiple-great-Grandmother Rebecca Haymen, who ran a millenary shop in the mid-1800’s. Suzi S. worked in the Sierra Valley school system for 34-years, and retains a wealth of history of Sierra Valley.
Sierra Valley resident Kristi Jamason got the idea for the annual Art & Ag Trail from Sierra Valley resident and furniture designer Brad Greenwood, at an open house that featured his furniture. Kristi felt that she could tie together a tour of Sierra Valley, showcasing the farms and ranches in the valley and artists from in and around the valley. This is the second year for the event. Both events have been extremely successful. License plates from Nevada, Oregon and California were seen at all of the venues. Special guests were newly found family members of a woman from Lake Tahoe. She had been looking for her birth family for over 40 years, and had found them through 23andme. Her new-found family from Australia and Boston were visiting. They spent the day at Art + Ag, and had dinner at the Vinton Grange.
We found Kristi providing information to visitors at Gary Romano’s Sierra Valley Farms on A-23 south of Beckworth. Gary and his family host a Friday Farmers Market during the summer, along with special dinners in one of the farm’s old barns. Chef Sean Conry, the pastry course instructor, and 2 students from the Feather River College Culinary Arts School, were on hand Saturday in Gary’s well-equipped outdoor kitchen, preparing dishes from products from Sage Eggs & Ham of Beckworth and Sierra Valley Farms for lunch and snacks.
An amazing amount of work goes on in the background for the event. Kristi worked with the ranches and artists ahead of time, produced directional signs, and assigned the different artists to the ranches. Each artist had handmade items for sale in small booths. Kristi wound up her very long day helping with the dinner, prize awards and auction at the Sierra Valley Grange in Vinton.
At Sierra Valley Farms were Gary Romano, with his books and farm products; Rand Nash, who makes hand-made kayaks at Sierra Valley Boat works; Casey Clark of Rolling Out Clay, a potter from Reno; Judy Dailey, J. Dailey Design, with her wire-wrapped jewelry; and Laurie Monroe of Sage Eggs & Ham. Beautifully embroidered barn quilt dish towels made by Karen Rickman of Loyalton were on sale to raise funds for the event. We also found the embroidered towels at the Sierraville Schoolhouse. Now, I wish I had bought more.
Feather River Land Trust hosted artists, Tyler and Michelle Jacobsen, Plumas Audubon Society, and the Beckwourth Ranger District at the Sierra Valley Preserve, a 2,500-acre property at the headwaters of the Middle Fork Feather River. The property is rich in water, wildlife habitat, meadow wildflowers, a diversity of animals, and has a long legacy of human use. Visitors will experience beautiful vistas, a short nature stroll, and birding opportunities from a cattle corral system converted to a nature preserve trail-head. Visit the Feather River Land Trust for information on the wildlife and natural history of this important headwater valley. Protection of the wetlands and agricultural lands of Sierra Valley safeguards an important California water resource - the Middle Fork of the Feather River. - Nichole Johnson photo