For years this farm has strived to support the local community by producing quality fruits and vegetables. We have actively supported the local food bank, provided flowers to hospice, invited the public out to experience the farm with our U Pick, hosted the Twin Cities Run for the Community, and much more.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is George Loftus. I am a fifth generation farmer in Nevada County. My family has farmed here for over 100 years. My great Uncle, Joel Bierwagen, started SunSmile Farms 75 years ago. SunSmile Farms is a 70 acre Certified Organic farm located at the end of West Drive in Grass Valley, CA.
Today, the farm is about to go out of business. In August 2011, NID turned the water off to the farm causing irreparable damage. The farm’s perennial stock, the trees and berries, was severely damaged. We grew nearly 400 thousand plants in our gardens at the time the water was turned off. The farm was devastated. In Spring 2012, I brought in a water truck to water 41,000 onions and 12,500 heads of garlic. Most of the onions and garlic were unmarketable or rejected for wholesale seed.
Our operation used to consist of a Farmstand that was open 6 days a week, U Pick cherries, peaches, and blackberries, CSA, and Farmers Market. The Farmstand is now open on occasional weekends just to sell peaches. We still have U Pick peaches, but the U Pick cherries, blueberries and raspberries are gone. The trees and plants have died. In 2012, we had to cancel the CSA subscriptions as we were unable to plant our gardens. We are unable to plant our gardens because we don’t have a consistent supply of water. The water was restored in mid June 2012 and we have had continuing problems with our service. NID sleeved the pipe to repair the leak and installed a new box to turn off the water. November 2012, they crushed the old service box and reconfigured a new one. I still contend that I am not receiving the water I historically had. It is an ongoing issue.
NID acknowledged they were wrong and told me to file a claim. My wife and I spent countless hours going through my records to calculate the damages. I then hired a forensic accountant to verify the calculations according to my harvest and sale records. This took considerable time. In January 2013, I sent the damage estimates for the perennial stock (trees and berries) to the NID Board of Directors. They rejected my claim saying that it was untimely. I was hoping for an early settlement.
My attorney contacted the NID insurance adjuster and let them know of the rejected claim and made arrangements for them to tour the farm. I was contacted by a forensic pathologist who visited the farm 3 weeks ago. We met for 5 hours. No word so far.
If I am unable to reach an early settlement by July 23, I will be forced into filing a lawsuit. To date, I am requesting damages for the loss of the trees and berries. If I am forced into litigation, I will include the damages for the annuals, the gardens, the flowers, and the year of being closed.
Now we are at a crossroads. Due to the damage caused by the situation with NID and our water supply, we may soon be forced to go out of business. As the owner and farmer of SunSmile Farms, I am asking for the support of the community to voice their concern and request NID to take responsibility for their actions and compensate SunSmile Farms for the damage caused.
Please contact the NID Board of Directors. Send letters, emails, and phone calls. We have postcards you can fill out and send in. These postcards are available at the farm, in the “Take One” box mounted on the sign out front.
Anyone willing to distribute postcards, please contact us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will make arrangements. Please forward this email to your friends.
Thank you, George
Constituents wishing to contact members of the board are invited to e-mail the directors at the addresses listed below or contact Board Secretary Lisa Francis Tassone (273-6185, ext. 222), who will be happy to put you in contact with your elected representative.
Nancy Weber Director, Division I (Term of Office Expires in 2014) email@example.com
John H. Drew Director, Division II (Term of Office Expires in 2014) firstname.lastname@example.org
W. Scott Miller, MD Director, Division III (Term of Office Expires in 2016) email@example.com
Jim Bachman Director, Division IV (Term of Office Expires in 2014) firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Wilcox Director, Division V (Term of Office Expires in 2016) email@example.com