Hospitality House and Sierra Harvest have partnered to grow their programs together with a goal to increase self-sufficiency and skills for low-income and homeless individuals through nutrition-related endeavors.

Sierra Harvest’s mission is to educate, inspire, and connect Nevada County families to fresh, local, seasonal food, and now they’ll be directly helping homeless individuals at Utah’s Place, the shelter operated by Hospitality House. As part of the partnership, Sierra Harvest will help Hospitality House expand its current garden to four seasons to ensure year-round sustainability and availability of fresh, organic produce to guests. They will provide quarterly site visits/workshops for planting with guests in conjunction with each new garden season, lead specialized training courses for Hospitality House’s culinary students, and build gardens at newly housed guests’ homes to reduce their costs of living through the Sierra Gardens   program. Sierra Harvest connected a master gardener, Toni Smith, to give weekly support for the shelter garden as well.

“Thrilled to be working in tandem with Hospitality House to solve some of our most pressing community issues regarding homelessness and hunger,” explained Aimee Retzler, Co-Director of Sierra Harvest. “We are joining forces to leverage Sierra Harvest’s passion to enable fresh food access for everyone and Hospitality House’s ability to provide a space and compassion for our homeless community. Working together we give Hospitality House clients opportunities to gain knowledge, skills, self-worth and access to fresh, local, organic food. Our combined efforts will deliver hope, healing and health to those most in need.”

Hospitality House strives to bring homeless people in Nevada County into a circle of community caring that offers shelter, sustenance, medical care, advocacy, opportunity, dignity, and hope as they assist them in transitioning from homelessness to housing. To aid this transition, Hospitality House encourages its guests to embrace educational opportunities, volunteerism and job-training programs. The shelter currently offers its guests a 12-week culinary job training program and a 6-week retail job training program and will now incorporate Sierra Harvest into its curriculum as an instrumental volunteer and job training program, available and encouraged to every guest at the shelter.

“Food deserts are a serious issue,” explained Nancy Baglietto, Executive Director of Hospitality House. “When low income and homeless individuals have limited access to affordable, nutritious food, their health and livelihood suffers. Because of Sierra Harvest, guests will have an opportunity to develop a better understanding of gardening and the nutritional value associated with produce, in addition to learning best methods for farm-to-table cooking.”

Guests of Utah’s Place will volunteer at Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Farm to learn gardening and farming techniques and give back to their community; guests will learn hands-on carpentry skills by building garden beds for low-income Nevada County residents, including garden beds for former homeless guests of Utah’s Place. Hospitality House will enroll in the Harvest of the Month program offered through the generosity of BriarPatch Food Co-op to expand culinary students’ education by learning about new farm fresh produce and how to incorporate it into new recipes to learn and master. Select graduates of the culinary program will even participate in Sierra Harvest’s “Tasting Days” in which a culinary student will give short cooking lessons/demos to kids interested in cooking.