Imagine a Sacramento where every few blocks community gardens flourish. Where we have access to the food bounty of our region. Where we can walk with our kids, parents or partners to harvest grapes, pomegranates, broccoli heads, mustard greens and basil tops.
In almost every neighborhood, a vacant and unimproved lot awaits cultivation. The ghosts of fig trees whisper potential.
One day not long ago, I visited the International Garden of Many Colors with the Del Paso Heights Growers’ Alliance co-directors.
The 3-acre garden is cultivated primarily by elderly immigrants from Russia, Ukraine and Afghanistan. The Growers’ Alliance worked with the Sacramento Food Policy Council to help preserve the garden and supply it with essentials such as city water.
Honey swims thick and clear against my tongue. Golden drops, pure as the flowers that feed the bees, coat my throat. Translucent honey of various shades—amber, brown, caramel—lands on spoon after spoon.
From the fennel and bottlebrush tang of wildflower honey to the fruit tint of blackberry and blueberry blossom honey to hints of coffee in Kauai honey, each variety represents a distinct and pure distillation of the flowers that initiate the nectar and pollen.
With more than nine varieties of honey, The Bee Box on J Street in East Sacramento stands tall as the place in Northern California for honey lovers and locavores interested in sustaining our robust regional agricultural production.
Taste Sacramento in summer: thinly sliced bluefin tuna from Sunh Fish, wedges of Blenheim apricots from Cloverleaf Farm, torn basil, a drizzle of lemon juice and pinch of zest from our backyard, a splash of Bariani early harvest olive oil, black sea salt.
The tuna’s red fattiness melts against the orange apricot’s bright tang and basil’s floral aroma.
As I walk through Cloverleaf’s 8-acre orchard on the edge of Davis with the owners, our region’s bounty hits me. Looking up at bright red and orange globes of satiation and nourishment, we munch on snow queen nectarines and Robada apricots in prime ripeness.
Thin channels of water weave through green marshland along East Levee Road in North Natomas. Large geese, blue herons and egrets poke for food in mud still plump from a rare spring rain.
To the road’s left, a vibrant pasture, thick with clover, rye, alfalfa and fescue, raises each blade to greet the sunlight. Behind me in the distance Downtown Sacramento’s buildings sit as dark dots. Tracts of suburban houses stand guard between the city’s agricultural and industrial land.