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Program pushes Colusa County crops
A Forest Service career kept Don and Theresa Bright on the move for much of their marriage, but she knew eventually they would come home to Colusa.
That is where her roots are, growing up in a home that still stands on the farm the couple inherited, and where they are building a new home.
"My family has been here since 1876," said Bright, pointing to the area at the back of the farm where Thomas Jeffreys first set down roots.
But he was not a farmer. He was a blacksmith.
It was his son, William Jeffreys, who would begin working the land, buying 165 acres from his father, and eventually adding the rest of what is now 447 acres in 1883.
And when the Brights' first pecan harvest comes in this fall, it will carry a Jeffreys Ranch label.
Some of the nuts also will carry a Colusa County Grown logo — part of a new direct-sale marketing program through the Colusa County Resource Conservation District.
The agency is using a $56,000 USDA grant to build the program, which is designed to help bring Colusa County-grown agriculture products directly to the consumers.
A logo has been designed, and with a little more polish, will be added to a variety of marketing materials to get the word out about what Colusa County has to offer.
"We are going to have a number of marketing materials that will be placed around town," said Mary Fahey, who is coordinating the program.
"Much of the material will be going to the producers so they can use it to put out signs and market their (products)."
Fahey's own Wise Acre Farm in Arbuckle will benefit, but only as any other direct producer does.
The program has 26 producers involved, but she expects it to expand.
"But that is pretty good for Colusa County, which does not have a lot of small producers," Fahey said.
Direct-to-consumer sales can be through farmers markets or home-based produce stands such as Barbara O'Connell's extremely popular site along Highway 45 just north of Colusa.
"We are very excited about the program and want to participate in it as much as we can," said Dan O'Connell.
The fruit and produce stand has expanded for several years now, and is offering more than 60 varieties this summer.
In time, Fahey said, it might even include locally grown goods in grocery stores and other retail outlets, but that is not the primary goal.
Theresa Bright said as soon as she first learned about the project at the Farm Show this year, she saw it as an opportunity.
"We really like the idea of developing a brand for Colusa County Grown," Bright said.
"We see it as a way to market out pecans."
Although most of their nuts from their 90 acres will be sold to China, in time the Brights hope to have their own processing plant at the site.
"There isn't a real good processing plant in Northern California, so it is easier to sell them in the shell," Bright said. "And the biggest market for pecans is China."
The couple is hoping their sons will eventually join the farming operation, so their plans for retirement can be mixed into the work.
In the meantime, Bright said she is excited to be part of the Colusa County Grown program.
Area residents will see some of the material in the next couple of months, on the streets and online.
"We will be setting up the website in the next couple of months ... and will be hitting is a lot harder next spring before the farmers markets," Fahey said.
"And we will be taking our booth to community events."