On a winter’s afternoon, golden light casts shadows over a fence that marks the Harper Junior High School garden. I walk with Meghan Covert Russell, executive director of the Davis Farm to School program, and Garry Pearson, who coordinates garden volunteers. Green tips and soft leaves of garlic, spinach, beets, sugar snap peas, broccoli, radishes and cauliflower unfold on the ground.
As we walk the garden rows, wider than normal to allow access, Pearson says he sees kids with their counselors come to the garden to “just veg out.” Covert Russell explains how the garden, “especially after COVID, connects students to each other and their school sites again. They get their hands dirty, and have the best time pulling weeds.”
Relationships distinguish the farm-to-fork movement. While farmer-to-chef seems like the obvious partnership, one joy I get from this column is digging beneath the surface to see a myriad other relationships that bring food to our tables and connections to our neighborhoods.
Researching last month’s column on the city’s Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Program, I met Earl Withycombe, a landowner, community activist and incentive zone pioneer.
He told me how as a landowner he collaborated with city officials to help develop the zone program and work out details so other landowners might benefit.
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.
There’s a myth about fine food and the farm-to-fork philosophy. It suggests the fresh and local approach is elitist, reserved for residents who earn enough money to be picky about food.
The myth goes that poor people are resigned to shop at cheap grocery stores, where they depend on processed, obesity-producing industrial food.
In Sacramento, hub of the farm-to-fork movement and part of the fertile valley that produces much of America’s food, we can prove this myth false. We can fight for food equity on behalf of everyone.
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.