Woodland Tomato Festival comes downtown on Aug. 13

Woodland Tomato Festival comes downtown on Aug. 13

Once again it’s the time of year when fresh tomatoes are center stage, sparking a new energy throughout Yolo County. Monster machines bounce through dusty fields heaping 25-ton capacity trailers with another More »

The Barn celebrates with first major event with Off the Grid

The Barn celebrates with first major event with Off the Grid

The Barn kicked off its weekly Friday night Off the Grid food truck and music event with large crowds on Friday, Aug. 5. Located at 985 Riverfront Street, the Barn is a More »

Quilts for Community Service

Quilts for Community Service

The Delta Piecemakers Quilt Guild has donated handmade quilts to the West Sacramento Police and Fire Departments to be given out to those in need of comfort during police or fire calls. More »

 

A fiery gem grows in West Sacramento

By Bia Riaz
bia@news-ledger.com

Image courtesy of their Facebook page.

Image courtesy of their Facebook page.

A simple grassy field behind Yolo High School in West Sacramento was transformed into a vibrant urban farm this past September. Known as the Food for Families Farm Site, this 1.5-acre tract of land became the fourth urban farm created under the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program. Owned by Washington Unified School District, the farm is funded by Raley’s Supermarket. As part of Raley’s Food for Families Program, 25 percent of the farm’s produce is dedicated to providing food to families in need. This urban farm is home to The Fiery Ginger Farm; brainchild of local farmers Hope Sippola and Shayne Zurilgen.
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
bia@news-ledger.com

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.

On the web:
http://beattheblerch.com/
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

Friday Night Lights in West Sacramento:
City celebrates the season with annual tree lighting

By Bia Riaz
bia@news-ledger.com

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.

The West Sacramento Police Department Wants to Meet You!

By Bia Riaz
bia@news-ledger.com

West Sac PD meetingOn Tuesday evening, it was a dark cold night when I braved the winding South River levee road. I then carefully made my way through Dave’s Pumpkin Patch at Vierra Farms to catch the tail end of the West Sacramento Police Department’s Community Meeting; held at the beautiful Bridgeway Lakes Boathouse.

As the officers were wrapping up the meeting, Senior Lead Officer Ryan Lukins was gracious enough to spend a few minutes with me. The meeting, on Tuesday, Nov. 2, was attended by more than 50 residents of West Sacramento. It was an open format without any specific agenda.

Chief Tom McDonald, of the West Sacramento Police Department, had invited the community to meet members of the Police Department for an informal gathering and an opportunity to engage in conversation. People had an opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns on a wide variety of topics. In general, people expressed concerns about a recent uptick in theft for that area.

As the Senior Lead Officer for the Southport beat of West Sacramento, officer Lukins addressed the issues and provided his direct contact information for follow-up and further assistance. The officers also discussed crime prevention tips and shared information about the police department’s efforts to directly address the incidences of theft; including the presence of police officers on bicycles, as well as patrol cars; assigned to rotating 24-7 shifts patrolling the neighborhoods. Additionally, the police department has assigned trained police volunteers on bicycles to monitor the neighborhoods during daylight hours.

I followed up with Sergeant Roger Kinney for additional details. The community meetings rotate every two to three months in the three Police Department beats: (1)Bryte-Broderick, (2)West Capital Corridor, and (3)Southport. The Senior Lead Officer for each beat locates a venue and announcements are posted on a variety of social media platforms such as the police department’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The meetings are also posted the city of West Sacramento’s website. I inquired about reaching out to people who may not have access to computers or smartphones, the elderly, or communities with special needs.

“We work closely with BBCAN (The Bryte and Broderick Community Action Network) to get the information posted at libraries, community centers and senior centers. They even design and develop the fliers for the events to help spread the word,” Kinney said.

According to Kinney, a large number of attendees heard about the meeting through social media pages. The rest of the attendees learned about the meeting through information shared via an application (APP) known as Nextdoor. Approximately 49,000 users from West Sacramento currently use and share information on the Nextdoor APP.

Our neighboring Sacramento Police Department currently uses it to disseminate information. The West Sacramento Police Department is also considering creating a page on the Nextdoor APP. The police department currently maintains an active presence online through Facebook, Twitter and other smartphone apps connected to the city of West Sacramento. These platforms allow people to access police department services quickly and stay informed. People currently have the ability to follow police department tweets, send anonymous tips, submit feedback, and ask questions. While these forms of communication may be convenient for non-emergency situations, people are reminded to always dial 9-11 in emergency and active situations.

The police department has a mission to communicate effectively with the community. In Kinney’s observation, the meetings have helped develop stronger connections with the community and have been an effective way to educate and assist residents with specific concerns and aid with crime prevention. Just within the last seven days prior to the writing of this article, Kinney reported a marked decrease in reports of crime.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, Senior Lead Officer Estrada, will be hosting a morning event, Coffee with a Cop from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m in the center of the city at La Bou Cafe, located at 849 Jefferson Blvd. This event will also be an opportunity to meet officers and voice concerns while enjoying coffee at a local cafe. The next community meeting, scheduled in the evening, will be in the Bryte-Broderick neighborhood area. Details will be announced shortly.

Remember to get there on time for the next community meeting, or you will miss the cookies, like I did. The West Sacramento Police Department is located at 550 Jefferson Boulevard and may be reached at (916) 617-4900. Sgt. Roger Kinney may be reached at rogerk@cityofwestsacramento.org

Senior Lead Officer Ryan Lukins may be reached at ryanl@cityofwestsacramento.org

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

West Sacramentan to be featured artist at Blue Wing Art Gallery

You spend your life trying to perfect your technique,
But you only make an impact when you find your own language.
That’s when you start communicating your art…

john nichols-wJohn Nichols will be the featured artist at Blue Wing Art Gallery, 405 Main Street, Woodland, Nov. 6 through Nov. 27. An artist’s reception for John will be held at Blue Wing Gallery on Nov. 6, between 6 and 9 p.m.

John, a lifelong resident of West Sacramento, discovered his passion for creating art at an early age. Continued encouragement from family members along with a motivational art instructor while attending James Marshall High School (Mr. Clarence Locke) instilled his interest in painting with oils and acrylics. Further studies at Sacramento City College in the 1970s, focusing on art history and fundamentals of drawing, continued to inspire his early art.

John has found his love for nature and the outdoors makes his landscape paintings a never-ending interpretation of the connection of nature as it translates into his art. His years of experience in creating art is evident in the realism of his California landscapes and still life subjects, capturing the beauty of light, shadows and a sense of tranquility in his works. Along with plein air painting, his method includes taking photographs or painting a small study on location. From these references he creates larger finished paintings in his studio.

John continues to take advantage of several art classes and workshops offered by a variety of highly-acclaimed art instructors in the Northern California area. John has been able to showcase his artworks throughout the Sacramento area. He continues as a resident artist and teaching workshops at “Gallery 2110” in Sacramento.

Select Exhibits and Galleries:

    August 2003: Guest Artist, Midtown Gallery, Sacramento
    2002- 2004: Various art exhibitions in West Sacramento
    2003 & 2005: Erwin Meier Yolo County Administration Building, Woodland
    February 2015: Red Dot Gallery, Sacramento
    2014 to Current: Gallery 2110, 1023 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento


Selected awards include the “Peoples’ Choice Award”, First Annual Art Show, West Sacramento Civic Center and various awards at the State Fair including “Best Over All.” He has received accolades from this publication and The Daily Democrat in Woodland, as follows: “John’s landscapes and ocean scenes demonstrate his many years of honing his craft,” state the The Daily Democrat. “John’s fascination and love of the great outdoors is evident in his selection of themes to paint,” wrote the News-Ledger. And again another time in the Ledger was the following statement: “The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York had a deep effect on Nichols. ‘We Will Always Remember’ is his memorial to the sad event. He paints the towers before the attack in a night scene. The lights in the building contrast with the dark midnight blue sky as the moon shines down on the unsuspecting city.”
(News Ledger, West Sacramento)

City Partners With West Capitol Ave. Businesses To Curb Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol Beverage Control Sgt. Kathryn Sandberg, A & B Liquors owner Jim Nessar, and West Sacramento Police Officer Rinaldo Monterrosa discuss the T.E.A.M. program at the entrance to Nessar’s store. / Photos courtesy of City of West Sacramento

Alcohol Beverage Control Sgt. Kathryn Sandberg, A & B Liquors owner Jim Nessar, and West Sacramento Police Officer Rinaldo Monterrosa discuss the T.E.A.M. program at the entrance to Nessar’s store. / Photos courtesy of City of West Sacramento

The City of West Sacramento has launched a campaign encouraging local businesses to refuse alcohol sales to inebriated customers. The program, T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More), is a partnership between West Sacramento Police, the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, and businesses with liquor-sales licenses. Its purpose is to promote cooperation and teamwork between businesses and law enforcement in reducing issues traced to careless alcohol sales and consumption.

Fifteen businesses have signed up to join the T.E.A.M. program and have received official decals to post at their entrances.

“We’re thrilled that so many businesses have joined police in this effort,” said City Manager Martin Tuttle. “Working together, the City and store owners can promote a clean and safe shopping environment built upon responsible alcohol sales.”

Through the program, West Sacramento Police visits store owners to discuss alcohol sales to apparently intoxicated people. The T.E.A.M. targets liquor stores, mini marts, grocery stores and gas stations along West Capitol Avenue frequented by a transient population.

Aside from public intoxication incidents, the issue generates additional community problems, including trespassing, littering, loitering, public nuisance and criminal assaults.

To alleviate these issues, the West Sacramento Police Department has already:

Increased police presence in the form of routine foot and vehicle patrols of properties;
Maintained regular contact and relationship-building with property owners and management;
Reviewed responsible alcohol sales with owners and managers.
In addition, the City is addressing such topics as lighting, clear and visible signage, and trash and graffiti at the store properties.

The City adds that businesses engaged in selling alcohol assume a major responsibility in preserving public safety. Selling alcohol to minors and apparently intoxicated persons can result in serious liability including criminal citation, lawsuits, liquor license suspension or revocation, and jail time.

During a six month trial run of the T.E.A.M. program with several liquor stores participating, the City recorded a 92 percent decline in alcohol intoxication within the area.

Source: City of West Sacramento online publication, CityiLights