Kristi Jamason is an activist, artist and organizer of a new event, the Sierra Valley Art & Ag Trail, a self-guided driving tour to 14 farms in Sierra and Plumas Counties, where visitors can expect to see a range of wares, both agricultural and artistic, including hand-carved arrows, yak fiber, handcrafted boats and organic meats—some of them inside 100-year-old barns. The event takes place Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a tri-tip dinner from 4-6 p.m. More info on Facebook. Maps and travel info here.
How did art and agriculture end up together on the same tour?
This started for me in noticing since I moved here 16 years ago, a lot of really interesting artists that were working out of their homes here in the valley, making really interesting stuff. I’d been thinking of doing an open studio tour. For the last couple years I’ve been working with the ag community on water issues, seeing what the local ranches and farms are working on. I thought, “Oh it would be fun to combine those two.”
Originally I wasn’t thinking of hosting art inside the barns, but someone said, “I’d have art in my barn,” so it all jelled. … I’m an independent contractor. I had worked for the Nevada Food Bank for last 11 years. In of 15, my contract ended, so I was casting about for something new to do. ... I’m trying to wear the volunteer hat of Plumas-Sierra Community Food Council. Other members of that organization had done a farm crawl.
What’s your role as an independent contractor?
I had five different projects I was doing this summer, everything from monitoring a land-trust property for fencing issues to doing wildlife surveying, to helping come up with ground water management scenarios.
Sounds like you're the great integrator.
That’s what I’ve turned into—building crosswalks. One of the interesting thing was all these people are neighbors who didn’t know each other.
Tell me about the hand-carved arrows.
Doug Reed is an artist who makes furniture and other things as well. He makes these log benches. He makes tomahawks and arrows. He’ll go stick them on somebody’s house, like there was a raid in the night. They have this cartoon-ey feeling about them.
As a prank to his friends?
I think so. He sells them as well.
What's happening with the yak fiber?
This young couple [Jenna Endref and Greg Gatto] are building their yak herd, over by Calpine. They currently are raising them for fiber and meat. Jenna has been learning different ways to use the fiber. … I haven’t met the yaks yet, but Jenna said they really like treats. She’ll bring treats so people can feed them.
What can people expect to see inside the 100-year old dairy barns?
So, we wanted to make sure that there was some kind of coverage for weather purposes. If it’s a nice day artists might set up outside, but other than that they’ll be in the barns. All of these barns are in active use. ... Lots of them have barn owls or great horned owls. Some have farming equipment. They’re all working ranches.
What’s your best tip for people visiting the event from Reno?
Stop at the Sierra Valley Grange in Chilcoot, which will be the most convenient [of three entry points] for people coming from Reno. Talk to a volunteer there. Tell them about your interests are, and they can help you plan a route. “Oh, you like pottery? These two spots have pottery. Or you want something experiential for your kids? There’s a blacksmith over here, and weaving over