Tahoe micro farm sees spike in business amid virus

Miko Gastelum grows microgreens in his 60-square-foot shed in South Lake Tahoe.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Amid the coronavirus, the food supply chain has been uncertain.

Grocery stores were limiting purchases, shelves were desolate and according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices dramatically increased in April as the pandemic was in full swing.

More than ever, having the ability to grow your own food or buy from local suppliers has become a way to establish reliance away from corporate stores and an uncertain food chain.

During this unprecedented time, it isn’t a surprise that people are thinking more about food security.

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Miko Gastelum has been busy with online orders and home deliveries during the pandemic. He is the founder and owner of Indigenous Farms in South Lake Tahoe.

Gastelum owns a small-scale urban micro-farm that specializes in seasonal vegetables. Their main focus are their year-round, mountain grown microgreens which are nutrient-rich baby vegetables that are eaten like salad greens.

Gastelum began this journey by bringing fresh, locally grown food to the farmers markets. It was at these local markets that he saw the lack of locally grown food.

Gastelum got licensed and regulated to grow in his backyard in South Lake Tahoe and has since been building on this foundation.

While they focus on microgreens, Gastelum also has been working on natural products like a pine resin salve and dehydrated vegetable powders, such as beet powder, which are nutritional and shelf stable.

“I was passionate about growing food on a local level,” Gastelum said. “Whether you’re in Tahoe or even in a place where farming is more prominent, it’s not a common thing to have food grown locally or sold locally. It seems like alot more people are getting on board and becoming more passionate about eating local or growing something in their gardens. It’s kind of getting back to supplying our own food for ourselves.”

This self-reliance on homegrown food is something that really drives Gastelum. He said he enjoys helping people realize that they can grow food in areas that people aren’t necessarily accustomed to growing in such as Lake Tahoe. He said that growing your own food is

helping people get back in touch with a “primal instinct.”

At grocery stores around the lake, empty shelves were prevalent and people started looking more locally when it came to food security.

“What I have seen personally and from our fellow farmer friends and vendors is that we are seeing record numbers that we haven’t seen before,” Gastelum said. “There has been a huge increase in demand in local and freshly grown products so we’ve been busier than ever and it’s been great.”

Indigenous Farms was roughly selling 30-40 trays when they were first starting out and now they are selling hundreds.

When the impacts of the coronavirus first went into effect, Indigenous Farms…

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