The Burbank Garden is located at Luther Burbank High. It is a part of an agricultural program for the students at the school. In this video, we take a look into what they are building and what it means to the students.
“Transforming the Hood for Good!” is the motto of the Yisrael Family Farm, a Sacramento based organization started by two people; Chanowk and Judith Yisrael. Chawnok says that a while before beginning the Yisrael Family Farm, he heard rumors going around about a national economic collapse.
“I just designed the scenario if it did happen,” says Chanowk. “What if I was cut off from grocery stores? How would I support myself? How would I support my family? That’s when I became more self-sufficient.”
A food desert is an urban area or neighborhood with limited or no access to fresh fruits and vegetables within a 1-mile radius. Regionally, parts of Oak Park along with Land Park, Florin, sections in Carmichael, Rancho Cordova, Rio Linda and Antelope are considered food deserts.
Living in Oak Park, Chanowk realized that his neighborhood was a food desert. That’s when he first thought that he could begin a farm in his backyard. Initially, Chanowk wasn’t successful but still he pushed forward and studied urban farming. Over many attempts, Chawnok began to get the gist of urban farming and it finally started to bloom.
The Yisrael farm currently includes many types of organic foods and vegetables such as fruit trees, persimmons, figs, cacti, and more. Now, Chanowk and his wife Judith are able to serve their neighborhood the fruits and vegetables that they grow and produce in their backyard.
“Some people say they can’t believe they’re in Oak Park,” Chanowk says. “The stigma of Oak Park – people think someone might kill them if they come here.”
Chawnok and Judith annually host a farm-to-fork event with five course meals for only $20, giving a chance for the people in his food desert neighborhood to try out fresh fruits and vegetables at an affordable price. Not only do they offer fresh food to their neighborhood, but they also gives volunteer opportunities for the area youth. Their volunteer program is a great way to bring various people, especially youth, together to learn about urban farming and continue to help the city they live in. The Yisrael’s believe this a is a way to “Transform the Hood for good!”
The Yisrael Family Farm’s ultimate goal is to change the neighborhood they live in, and as well as other neighborhoods that are considered food deserts, in the Sacramento area in way that everyone has access to fresh fruits and vegetables at an affordable price.
This month, the Yisrael family farm is bringing an award winning documentary film to Sacramento called SEED. SEED is a documentary revealing the dramatic loss of seed diversity and the motivation to restore future food. A screening of this film will be shown at the Yisrael family farm if they can get enough reservations. For information about how to buy tickets for this event, click here.
On May 21st, 2016 there was an event in Sacramento called the Youth Led Urban Ag Tour. This event took a selection of people on a bus to three locations. First stop was Luther Burbank High Urban Farm, next was the Yisreal Family Farm, and then finally the last stop was at the International Garden Of Many Colors.
On May 21st, an event called Sacramento Youth-led Urban Agriculture Bus Tour will be managed completely by area youth. The tour bus will begin at Luther Burbank High School at 9:45 AM and end at 3:00 PM. This tour bus event will take you around four agricultural sites which include the Burbank Urban Garden (BUG), The Yisrael Family Urban Farm, The International Garden of Many Colors, and The Green House.
The goal of the youth that are in charge of this tour bus is to celebrate and embrace the urban agriculture in Sacramento. They believe that this event could help the youth with leadership and communication with society. The youth want to make sure that people are aware of the ways to bring more resources and services to urban agriculture in Sacramento.
The Yisrael Family Urban Farm, one of the locations the tour bus stops, is a large agricultural organization. They provide volunteer opportunities for area youth along with many other opportunities such as events, recipes, and more. One of their main goals for providing volunteering opportunities is to create an environment in which the youth can easily socialize and gain leadership skills.
The Green House, another one of the bus stops,is very similar to The Yisrael Family Urban Farm because they are based on many of the same principles. They have their own programs for youth such as the Ever Green program which is an after-school tutoring and enrichment program for elementary students. They also have Oasis which is a evening youth group of junior and senior high school students. The Green House organization also allows the community to participate in events as well.
Those are just two agricultural stops and their backgrounds out of the many other stops the tour bus will visit. For more information on the Sacramento Youth-Led Urban Agriculture and where to get tickets you may visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/youth-led-urban-ag-bus-tour-sacramento-ca-registration-24331142101
On Tuesday, April 28th, at the office of California Senator, Dr. Richard Pan, produce stand owners will have the opportunity to get the proper authorization to accept EBT cards at their stands, essentially bypassing the usual 45 to 60 day waiting period.
The event is a onetime only occurrence, made possible by the San Francisco branch of the United States Department of Agriculture, who heard from Sacramento representatives the city’s predicament. With the passing of the recent urban ag ordinance locals now have the ability to sell homegrown fruits and vegetables to other members of the community.
An issue arose when officials realized that a significant percentage of the population who was hoping to benefit from the ordinance can’t due to financial restrictions. According to Statistical Atlas, over 12 percent of Sacramento residents are on food stamps. Those same people are often a part of Sacramento’s obese population as well.
The link between low income and weight gain has been widely documented. In a recent study involving more than 6000 adults, the Food Research and Action Center found that “those with low wages had increased BMI as well as an increased chance of being obese.”
Kids born into low income families run the same risk of growing up overweight. Almost 40 percent of Sacramento’s kids are overweight, 12 percent higher than the state average.
“The solution: increase access to healthy produce in the neighborhoods where folks need it most,” said Amber Stott, Founding Executive Director at the Sacramento Food Literacy Center. “When produce is picked and eaten at its ripest, families are more likely to fall in love with the flavors. When it’s also easy to access right in your neighborhood, it is more likely to become the first-choice foods that families grab to eat.”
Allowing farm stands to accept EBT cards will provide new healthy food options for people who don’t have a lot to choose from. “Secondly, many farmers benefit when EBT payment is an option–sometimes as much as one-third of their sales in farmers markets can come from EBT,” said Stott
The event will run from 9 am to 2 pm in the Obama room of the South Sac District office. Anyone needing to sign up is encouraged to attend.
Agriculture is making its way back into the communities of Sacramento and benefiting the residents. With all the things happening with agriculture there are zoning ordinances that prohibit some actions, like the selling of your own produce. Urban farmers and community leaders are banding together to change that.
Agriculture is a multi-billion dollar industry for the State of California. Its 80,500 farms produce over 400 commodities each year, which eventually end up on our tables or exported to countries around the world. The revenue created by our farming industry is essential to the growth and development of our state. In 2012, the California Department of Food and Agriculture calculated that a record $44.7 billion was made that crop year, a three percent increase from the year before. The profitability of these crops illustrates the value of California land, but many people don’t realize that much of this land is neglected due to its location.
Not all people are lucky enough to have fresh fruits and vegetables provided to them regularly and close to home. NeighborWorks Sacramento is an organization that promotes and encourages the improvement in the health of Oak Park residents through their Oak Park Crop Swap program. NeighborWorks believes that strong and thriving communities help residents enjoy a better quality of life, so by organizing and setting up a program that allows local residents to trade organic foods and educate each other is the perfect way to encourage the community towards that way of life.
The Oak Park Crop Swap is a community based exchange of home grown vegetables in a regular venue for swappers to meet and trade produce. Members of the Crop Swap meet at McClatchy Park every Monday from 6:00p.m. to 7:00p.m. where vegetables, fruit, flowers and gardening stories can be shared.
In the Spring of 2008, some residents of Oak Park wanted a community garden. When the residents found out how long the process would take to build one, they came up with a new idea. They decided to grow chemical and pesticide free crops in community member’s backyards and bring them to a single location to trade. The Oak Park Crop Swap was quickly a success with twenty households regularly attending that first season. Residents soon discovered which backyards were best to grow leafy greens were and which were good at producing juicy tomatoes. Not only did the Oak Park Crop Swap create a new way of produce production, but also a new way to share gardening tips and topics. Community members now hold presentations on beekeeping, composting, how to build cob ovens, and many more topics.
“The Crop Swap has become a great way for the local farmers to beat the hard economic times,” says Alex Bern, member of NeighborWorks. “Not only are the farmers finding better ways to make money and help themselves, the swappers are each helping out each other by growing different types of vegetables or sharing new information.”
Each Monday during the spring season, crop swappers bring their fresh produce to McClatchy Park. Each grower signs in and then weighs and records their produce. A pre-announced presentation covering a gardening topic is held to teach all the participants about an important skill. After thirty minutes of the presentation, the members of the Crop Swap are free to choose the produce they would like to take home.
For more information on the Oak Park Crop Swap or for the guidelines to growing visit the NeighborWorks website at nwsac.org or call (916) 452-5356.
Photos taken from flickr.com’s creative commons.