Bringing the farm to Tahoe · Susie Sutphin

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Susie Sutphin working at the Tahoe Food Hub store at the base of Alpine Meadows Road.

Susie Sutphin is one busy woman. When I arrived to meet her she was juggling the phone, trying to locate Zephyr Squash from a farmer, preparing for her Thursday deliveries and labeling produce in the recently opened Tahoe Food Hub storefront on Alpine Meadows Road.

The Tahoe Food Hub was born three years ago when Sutphin’s vision to help people gain access to high quality food while helping local farmers get a fair market price for their produce and meats became a reality. Sutphin, a 15-year-resident of Truckee, has had an impressive career, from her time with Couloir Magazine and Patagonia Clothing to eventually working with the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival where she ran its national tour. The films inspired her to explore building a smarter and more equitable food system.

“I just jumped in and did it. I thought I can do this,” Sutphin explains about starting the Food Hub. “I decided I go for it and figure it out from there.”

The Tahoe Food Hub works to restore local food distribution by building a regional food system for North Lake Tahoe. Eighty percent of the Tahoe Food Hub’s business is supplying local restaurants with fresh produce, as well as local schools and Tahoe Forest Hospital. Sutphin picks up fresh produce every Monday and Thursday and delivers it the following day. The farmers pick their produce to order insuring absolute freshness. This is why many of the Tahoe chefs use the Tahoe Food Hub for their cuisine.

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For Sutphin it’s about the story, illuminating the farmers and showing people how it is grown and where it comes from.

Sutphin is a one-woman tornado. She collaborates with Slow Food Lake Tahoe offering workshops throughout the year for people who want to learn how to home brew, preserve and can, compost, garden and make homemade Kombucha. In the winter, you can find her and the folks from Slow Food Lake Tahoe behind the serving line at various restaurants for Soup and Bread nights.

The Tahoe Food Hub recently introduced the Build Your Own Box program, a farm share produce subscription program. Sourcing from 25 local farms participants’ receive fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Sutphin and The Tahoe Food Hub offer educational programs teaching about agriculture and growing in an alpine ecosystem. She is the farm manager of Truckee’s Growing Dome started by the Kelly family. It is one of the ways local Tahoe children are educated about growing produce. The geodesic growing dome offers edibles year-round.

The Tahoe Food Hub also works with local organizations like Project MANA donating produce and helping to promote healthy eating choices.

The newest venture is The Tahoe Hub Farm Store. Open to the public, it is brimming with brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables, organic meats, eggs, coffee and grains. It is definitely worth the ride to base of Alpine Meadows Road.

The Food Hub recently launched its membership drive to raise funds for the nonprofit organization, one can join a become a Hubster.

In the meantime, Sutphin’s imprint can be found in a growing number of Tahoe restaurants where they procure produce for delicious chef creations.

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Susie Sutphin may be reached at susie@tahoefoodhub.org or visit tahoefoodhub.org.