The Yolo Land Trust’s signature event “A Day in the Country” will be held this year on Sept. 11 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Barger Keasey Family Farm near Davis. More »
By Monica Stark email@example.com There has been a tumultuous start to the beginning of this school year in West Sacramento. With gossip of teachers striking and high school students texting messages to More »
Planting Seeds for the Future: River City High School Farm Program Students Harness the Power of Food
By Bia Riaz
Five years ago, a very important seed was planted at River City High School’s after school Greenhouse and Gardens Club. Under guidance of teachers like Ellen Hoffman (retired), and Jennifer McAllister (AP Biology), students learned and shared the values of nurturing and caring for plant life. This love of gardening bloomed into the Farm to Fork Program and Pathway.
The energy and excitement exhibited by the students prompted the school to ask Ms. McAllister to write a course outline and develop a curriculum for the Farm to Fork Program. The first Farm to Fork class started in the spring 2015 term.
Initially, students were placed in the class and had to become familiar with the concept, as it related to their day-to-day lives. McAllister also reached out to parents about the program. Once the students understood the impact of growing and eating seasonal and healthy ingredients, they were motivated to continue the pathway and signed up for additional classes. The pathway for the program offers students the opportunity to learn and understand agriculture and the properties of soil, fertilizers, carbon, nitrogen, water, and the concept of seasonal crops.
As part of the program, the Farm to Fork students participate in planting and caring for the RCHS urban garden located on the school grounds. The most recent crops in the garden include; garlic, onions, beets, radishes, carrots, collards, broccoli, and many more. In the class, students learn how to plant, harvest, wash and pack the produce from the garden. All the produce is then provided to the school cafeteria. The cafeteria at RCHS focuses on developing lunches using the produce in conjunction with other locally sourced ingredients.
According to McAllister, the program has generated a lot of lively discussion in the classroom. The students have developed an understanding of how their food is grown, where it comes from, and the economic issues related to cost and production. “They raised the issue of equality and access to healthy food. They find it frustrating that healthy food is expensive, but they also understand the triple bottom line. You have to have a quality environment, you have to care for the people and animals, but you still need to make a profit. They understand that quality food costs more” Observed McAllister.
Last year the class had the opportunity to visit the Bryte Garden Caffe (Culinary Arts and Food Education) site and learned how to incorporate fresh produce, like pumpkins, into a scratch made pie. They also attended the Farm-to-Fork Festival and the First Harvest Festival. McAllister mentioned that the students were excited to share information and learn more about the Farm to Fork movement in the region. Several students have already volunteered to return to the festival next year.
Although it started as a small class, the interest in the program has grown and more students are requesting enrollment in the classes. Currently, there are 37 students in the Farm to Fork class. On February 9th, the students will be visiting the Fiery Ginger Farm, behind Yolo High School, to experience a working local urban farm. As a teacher at RCHS for 20 years, McAllister expressed how much she enjoyed working with the students. “It is inspiring to see young people get excited about learning. They understand and care about eating healthy. They also understand that they ‘vote’ every time they choose to eat healthy. They let the corporations know, they choose healthy!”
For more on the RCHS Farm to Fork Program, visit their website http://rivercity.wusd.k12.ca.us/farmtoforks
A historic firehouse reborn
By Thomas Farley
The old Washington District firehouse at 317 Third St. is being reborn as a bar and restaurant. The once neglected landmark sits at the foot of the I Street Bridge, its renewal just part of the revitalizing Bridge District. The News-Ledger reached out to Bay Miry with D&S Development who answered several questions about the pioneering urban project.
What attracted you to this venture?
Our team has a passion for the rehab of historic buildings. We have always had our eye on the Washington Firehouse building and the historic Washington/Broderick area in general. The building has great charm and character both on the interior and exterior and we are working with full force to bring it to life. A number of events are all coming together to help align the starts for that specific area to become the next “hot” urban hub including: the improved economy, the influx of housing, the addition of tenants like “Edible Pedal” in our historic strip center across the street, and planned infrastructure improvements in the near future including replacement of the I Street Bridge so that it leads directly into the railyard redevelopment.
Have you changed the original design which called for a live/work space on the second floor?
Yes. The upstairs area will instead include a second bar area and second expansive outdoor patio and we envision it will be used as a private dining space for special events and catering. One thing we heard loud and clear from the community and city staff is the need for both a neighborhood friendly restaurant as well as a special events space in that area.
Has the West Sacramento Historical Society been consulted?
Yes, we have indeed engaged them to share our plans and get feedback on our intentions and specifically on how we envision bringing the building back to life and magnifying its existing charms. We are working to incorporate the historical society’s historic fire truck, the “Old Mary”, into the space planning. We also are working with the society on obtaining photos and history that we can showcase in the space as a way to pay homage to the history of both the surrounding area and the building itself.
Estimated time of completion?
We hope to both complete construction and have an operator in place and open for business by the end of the year, if not sooner. Construction continues to move along smoothly. There was the addition of a new building on the rear of the historic building and we are working through all structural rehab and rough work right now.
Any inquiries from potential users?
About a half dozen legitimate inquiries but we are being pretty picky about who we ultimately select for the building; we want to make sure we have an experienced operator in there that is providing the community with quality food and service.
Anything else a West Sacramento resident should know?
The rehab of historic buildings is important to our team. These “gems” should be showcased and brought back to life whenever possible. What makes this project even more exciting at least for us is the positive impact it will have on the surrounding community and that it happens to be occurring at the same time as other key factors that together will bring exciting urban activity and energy to that immediate area. A lot of folks have expressed their excitement that something is being done with this building and that they appreciate the fact that there are real things for them to look forward to as far as that area is concerned in the immediate future.
Butane honey oil lab found on Kinsington Street
By Monica Stark
At about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13, an officer detained eight suspects located in a residence of a butane honey oil lab on Kinsington Street. The lab consisted of a glass extraction vessel, numerous cans of butane, pounds of marijuana shake, stems, buds, two pumps, methamphetamine and methamphetamine pipes. After investigation, it was determined that five of the eight contacted could not be tied directly to the butane honey oil lab or any criminal behavior.
In one of the bedrooms, the officer located marijuana shake stem and buds, extraction vessel and pumps, methamphetamine and two glass meth pipes. The individual who resides in that bedroom was arrested for charges related to those violations. In another bedroom, the officer located Xanax in an unmarked Rx bottle, methamphetamine, a meth pipe, butane, marijuana shake stem and buds, and a digital scale. Two individuals who reside in that bedroom were arrested for charges related to those violations.
In the third bedroom, a marijuana shake stem and bud and a minor amount of finished butane honey oil was found.
It was later found that three suspects were hiding inside the attic. After numerous announcements, the West Sacramento Police Department was preparing to deploy the K-9 when two of the suspects made their presence known. They were taken into custody at that time. Everyone but the third suspect was arrested for manufacturing the butane honey oil.
Based on the officer’s training and experience, the extraction vessel, combined with butane, pumps and a quantity of marijuana is consistent with manufacturing of butane honey oil, a dangerous combination.
A new brewery to open in West Sacramento with intention of hiring low-income staff
By Monica Stark
A new brewery, called Revision Brewing, will open in West Sacramento with the intention of hiring low-income staff after the West Sacramento City Council on Wednesday, Jan. 13, approved his application to the State of California Community Development Block Grant Over-the-Counter Program.
At the meeting, Revision Brewing owner Jeremy Warren addressed the council with the following statement: “We are excited to be able to come to West Sacramento and build a very large state-of-the-art brewing facility that will not only have high recognition in the state of California but also on a national level. We kind of like the approach that you have in the city, being a mosaic. Just want to take the time to say hi.”
The council authorized an amount of a CDBG business loan not to exceed $330,000 to Revision Brewing Company. According to background analysis by Louise Collis, city of West Sacramento senior program manager, the city of West Sacramento receives U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CDBG funding from the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
Warren said he found out about the CDBG from the cities of West Sacramento and Auburn. “I used the CDBG program for my previous company Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn and when I left they were helpful in referring other cities that might be able to offer the program. I decided to apply for the CDBG as I feel it is great program that assists in hiring low income employees and it helps in creating additional jobs. Without the grant we would have hired fewer employees.,” he said.
Collis’ staff report states that all CDBG funds must be used for projects that address at least one of the three CDBG national objectives:
1) Benefit Low-income households, defined as households at or below 80 percent of area median
household income for Yolo County;
2) the elimination of slums and blight related to physical structures such as homes or commercial
3) Urgent need, which refers to emergencies such as earthquake or flood damage.
According to background analysis by Collis, Revision Brewing Company LLC was formed in August 2015 by Warren, founder and former brewmaster of Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn, in partnership with James (Jeb) Taylor.
Revision planned on opening a craft microbrewery and tap room at 825 F St., on the western border of the Washington District, but that location didn’t pan out, noting that they have found several alternatives.
“Right know we don’t want to disclose the locations of the two buildings we are looking at. We did submit LOI’s (letter of intent) to the locations this morning and are waiting to hear back from them. Once we have a signed LOI, I can disclose the locations… In regards to the F street location, we were going back and forth with LOI negotiations and last minute the owners of the building decided to sell the build and felt that the brewery lease would be detrimental to the sale of the building,” Warren said in a written statement.
According to her Collis’ report, the owners of Revision Brewing have a loyal following not just in Sacramento, but across the Western U.S. and East Coast States. A dozen distributors have indicated interest in carrying Revision products. Revision anticipates producing 1,200 barrels in the first year, increasing to 10,000 barrels within five years. Projected revenues are $2 million in 2017, increasing to $4 million by 2019. The total project is expected to cost $1.3 million. Revision Brewing has applied for a $400,000 SBA loan from Community Business Bank and have requested a $330,000 CDBG loan. With the SBA and CDBG financing, they will be able to purchase sufficient brewing equipment to produce quantities needed for interested distributors.
The remaining cost will be paid by the owners. Fulfilling the demands of distributors and staffing the taproom will require the hiring of 13 new employees (11 full-time employee positions) during the first year of operation and Revision anticipates a staff of 25 within four years. At least seven of the initial new hires must be from low-income households. The city’s loan will be secured against the equipment purchased with CDBG funds and with personal guarantees from the business owners. The city currently has a balance of $443,951 in CDBG program income which is dedicated to the completion of the West Gateway Place project and to Bryte Park Phase 2. Additional program income for business loans is not available at this time.
A fiery gem grows in West Sacramento
By Bia Riaz
As graduates from the Center for Land-Based Learning’s Farm Academy, Hope and Shayne were excited to have the opportunity to farm in an urban area, and share their agricultural knowledge and experience with the community and the students from local high schools.
Hope had prior experience working with youth at the School Gardens Program at Davis Joint Unified School District. Fellow Farm Academy graduate, Shayne, as a school teacher from Stockton, also had considerable experience working with children and agriculture. “The idea was to have a farm that would provide a hands-on agricultural experience for the kids at the local schools,” Hope said.
Although it is the quiet time of the season, the students from Yolo High have been helping Hope and Shayne get ready for the coming year. Every Thursday, the students learn about the basics of farming and the harvesting process. Some of their activities include: inspecting the vegetables for quality, washing, and packing. Hope shared her excitement about how the students really enjoy the learning process and are very engaged and eager. They recently harvested purple carrots and one of the students expressed, “This one’s rotten!”
As a small urban farm, they do enjoy partnering with other farmers, selling to local restaurants, providing produce for the CSA in the spring season, building strong relationships with surrounding communities, and facing some unique challenges of dealing with different types of soil, land, and infrastructure.
Recently, they partnered with Good Foot Farms to bring a flock of 17 chickens to Friery Ginger Farm. Now their Tuesday and Thursday Farm Stand will feature fresh eggs from their poultry farm partner. This week’s farm stand also offered broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and chard.
They are excited about the coming year and have many activities planned with both Yolo, and River City High School.
Stop by and visit them on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Fiery Ginger Farm Stand behind Yolo High School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and enjoy the healthy harvests of the new year.
For more information, visit their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/fieryginger12
Let Them Eat Cake!
Raley Field hosted annual Beat the Blerch Run
By Bia Riaz
Sara Sheller wanted to get off the couch. She needed to do something healthy and active that didn’t require joining a gym. When she learned about the Beat the Blerch Run being planned for Raley Field, she had to sign up.
Sara had always been a fan of the Oatmeal comic strip created by Matt Innman. His character the “Blerch” is an imaginary fat cherub that follows you around and encourages you to eat junk food, stay on the couch, sleep in late, and above all, indulge in cake!
The Oatmeal comic strip on running, recounts Matt’s own struggle with weight loss. Inspired by his journey, five years ago, Sara had joined a Couch to 5K program and gradually built up her stamina and strength as a runner; one minute at a time. It was really difficult at first but she didn’t give up. Within two years she had completed 12 races; including a 7-mile run.
A few years ago, she moved from Iowa to California and recently made West Sacramento her new home. Sara and her boyfriend, Noah Lesh, wanted to find a good neighborhood with a house and a yard, suitable for their dogs. The cross country move to a new place had left little time for running. When the opportunity to participate in the Beat the Blerch run presented itself, she knew she had to sign up to feel healthy again.
The Beat the Blerch Run was scheduled for Nov. 14. Participants could choose to sign up for either the full marathon, half, 10K or 5K runs. Sara, Noah and two of their friends signed up for the 5K. The course started and ended at Raley Field in West Sacramento and took runners through areas of West Sacramento, Sacramento, and river trails.
That morning was a sight to behold. There were runners dressed up in banana suits, strips of bacon, and other assorted Oatmeal-inspired costumes. As promised on the website, the course had rest stations with comfy couches and lots of cake. There were also several “Blerches” enticing runners with sugar laden goodies.
Amanda DiMarco, Race Manager for the event, said more than 4,000 people had signed up to participate. The participants spanned every level of fitness from professional marathon runners to first time runners. The logistics of planning the marathon involved coordinating with the cities of West Sacramento and Sacramento, Yolo and Sacramento counties. A portion of the proceeds from the race were to be donated to charity.
Sara and her friends encountered Blerches with tempting cake and Nutella sandwiches at rest stations. “No, we’re running, we can’t have cake!” said, Sara. “But we did have cake, and it was the best; incredibly awesome.” Sara completed her 5K at 49:37.
Afterward, they celebrated Beating the Blerch at the Jackrabbit Brewery in West Sacramento.
Friday Night Lights in West Sacramento:
City celebrates the season with annual tree lighting
By Bia Riaz
Mayor Christopher Cabaldon was beaming as he walked through the bustling crowds on Friday night with his smart phone held high, filming the excitement and festivities on Periscope.tv for the world to see. This is how the city of West Sacramento kicks off the holiday season. “The lights, the music, and Santa’s arrival is all wonderful, but the best part is seeing all the people of West Sacramento gathering here to celebrate. From Broderick to Southport, they all come here to common ground. It becomes the living room of West Sacramento,” Cabaldon said.
The Christmas Tree lighting event kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4 and was free for all to attend. The River City High School Combined Choir had the crowd dancing and singing to everyone’s favorite holiday songs. Several booths, sponsored by local businesses and community service agencies, were there serving free hot cocoa, popcorn, and cookies for the crowds to enjoy.
Karen Zebron and Alan Lange from the Yolo Family Service agency were passing out chocolate chip cookies and talking to people about the counseling and family support services available for people in West Sacramento.
“We want to get the word out that we are not just a building in Woodland. We are here in West Sacramento and available to support and help families in need,” Alan said. “With dedicated professional counselors, we provide accessible counseling and mental health services to promote healthy communities for families and individuals,” Karen added.
Amidst cheers and flashing lights, Santa arrived riding aboard Fire Engine 45. The West Sacramento Police Department Bike Patrol led the procession, escorting Santa in his iconic red velvet suit up to the stage.
Councilmember Chris Ledesma welcomed Santa and presented him with a large glittering Golden Key to the City we all call home. “This evening is always very exciting. In the 10 years that we have been holding this event, the crowds have gotten bigger and people love coming out to share and celebrate the season.”
“I think the tree has gotten bigger, too!” Ledesma said.
Eager children happily munching on candy canes lined up quickly by the stage to get their complimentary photos with Santa. Everyone’s favorite mascot, Dinger from the River Cats, was there to oblige, as well.
Inside West Sacramento City Hall, in the Civic Center Gallery, the Holly Jolly Holidays after party was kicking off with several free activities and food; face painting, cookie decorating, and a photo booth. The Yolo County Children’s Alliance was also collecting toys and giving away raffle tickets for every toy donation. While enjoying the activities and goodies, the crowd was grooving and moving to the sweet trans-global rhythms of local band, Yolo Mambo.
It was a wonderful evening and it makes residents smile to be living in a city that loves to celebrate the season with a huge party.