The Rise of Urban Farms

Volunteer Day at Lake Washington Farm

By Bia Riaz
bia@news-ledger.com

LedesmaKimballThe City of West Sacramento, an urban center situated in the midst of Yolo County’s rich rural farm traditions and home to farms such as Peabody Ranch and Vierra Family Farm, is seeing a surge in small urban farms. You might be wondering, why does West Sacramento need small urban farms? Wouldn’t we just visit the larger farms?

The Center for Land Based Learning’s West Sacramento Urban Farm Program addresses that exact question by bringing agricultural education, support for new farmers and resources to areas of West Sacramento described as food deserts. Urban farms replace vacant lots, remove urban blight and increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables. “The idea of an urban farm is to be surrounded by the people, in the action; feeding neighbors in need,” said Mary Kimball, Executive Director, Center for Land Based Learning.

Across form the Southport Town Center, lies a 3.3-acre site known as Lake Washington Farm. It’s one of four sites procured by the Center for Land Based Learning, and converted to use as part of the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program. It is home to three local farmers; each with approximately an acre of land: (1) Fred Blum of Flowerstone Farm, (2) Glen Baldwin of 6 O’Clock Farms; and (3) Tommy Yang of Zen Farms.

On Oct. 16, in celebration of World Food Day, Lake Washington Farm welcomed about 100 volunteers, for Bayer Crop Science’s Annual Urban Farm Work Day. Bayer’s Research and Development Center moved to West Sacramento two years ago from Davis and has been supporting the work of the Center for Land Based Learning.

“In order to leave a better world for the citizens of West Sacramento, we are pleased to provide support to the Center for Land-Based Learning through our time and funding, as well as community service efforts such as the Annual Urban Farm Work Day,” said Mike Miille, Head of Biologics at Bayer Crop Science and site lead for the volunteer work day. “We hope that the Lake Washington Farm will continue to expand and serve as a model for sustainable agriculture in West Sacramento as well as educate participants on the importance of growing safe, healthy food to nourish our growing population.”

Bayer CropScience - 10162015

Bayer CropScience – 10162015

The volunteers were split into three working groups for the day: manual weeding and clearing, harvesting; and painting an agricultural mural on the food storage bins. Arturo Romero, artist, heading up the mural team; also created the mural at the 5th and C Street urban farm.

I took some time to walk around and speak to the volunteers and the farmers. The volunteers enjoyed being out of the office and working “in the dirt,” supporting the community.

Council member Chris Ledesma, stopped by to thank the Bayer Crop Science volunteers and expressed his excitement for the partnership with the Center for Land Based Learning and the city of West Sacramento.

In addition to donating labor for the day, Bayer Crop Science also donated $10,000 to the Center for Land Based Learning. “Their donation helps fund the Urban Farm Program for new farmers, helps us acquire land, build agricultural infrastructure, and continue agricultural education programs for youth and the new generation of urban farmers,” said Mary Kimball.

The food harvested from Lake Washington Farm is sold at the weekly Sunday morning Lake Washington farm stand. The rest is donated to the River City Food Bank.

For more information about Lake Washington Farm: landbasedlearning.org/west-sac-3
For more information about the Center for Land Based Learning and the Urban Farm Program, call Sara Bernal, West Sacramento Urban Agriculture Program Director, at (530) 383-2019 or email sara@landbasedlearning.org.

Volunteers at Work photo by Bia Riaz

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