Farm History

First Rain Farm

is the still-evolving accomplishment of a passion to grow food well, to make a living while doing it, and to become an integral part of an inter-connected, highly supportive community here in Nevada County.
First Rain Farm is an attempt to embody this place on the earth through a system of farming that co-exists with the soil, water, plants, animals, and people that live here.

Tim van Wagner

Tim Van Wagner, farmer and owner at First Rain, was born and raised in Nevada County on the hillsides of Banner Mountain. His love for this place developed during the days of roaming free through the mixed coniferous, black oak and dogwood forests of his youth. After graduating from Nevada Union High School in 2003, Tim Van Wagner completed a self-designed degree in “Environment, Society, and Design” from Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Consortium. During his time at Pitzer College, Tim developed a robust interest in sustainable agriculture which he continues to pursue to this day!

Returning to Nevada County in 2007 to begin a farming internship with Leo Chapman of Bluebird Farm, Tim was reconnected with the roots of his upbringing in the county. In 2009 Tim Van Wagner co-founded Living Lands Agrarian Network; a network of young farmers entering agriculture hungry for knowledge, access to land, and a yearning for community. During his time with Living Lands, Tim helped to create 6 thriving farms within two miles of Nevada City and to train over 25 aspiring farmers through an educational internship. Also in 2008, Van Wagner helped in the creation of the Nevada City Farmers Market, remaining an active board member to the organization to this day.

In 2012 First Rain Farm was born. Known as the Steber Ranch for 35 years, after the Steber family of Nevada City, the property on which the farm is located has a beautiful mixture of open pastures and fields, a riparian ecosystem along the creek, and diversely forested land with oaks, pines and madrone.  Two elegant wooden barns are dated at over one hundred years old. The lay of the land allows for a combination of crop land and livestock which makes it ideally suited to the vision of integrating animal-based sources of fertility with annual and perennial vegetable and fruit crops. Having been fallowed for decades, the ranch was overgrown in typical fashion for Nevada County; complete with head-high Himalayan Blackberries and impenetrable Scotch Broom. This is a beautiful piece of the earth and it’s an honor to be steward here.