The creation of a temporary urban farm project at Fifth and C streets in West Sacramento is an attempt by the city to counteract blight – and to capitalize on the super trendy farm-to-fork movement.
Situated on two-thirds of an acre, where a gas station stood in the 1960s, the double-sized lot will see first-time urban farmers and farmers-to-be working on it next week. Those farmers, and the farm operation, will be provided by the Center for Land Based Learning in Winters. The land is being leased by the city to the center for $1 a year.
Three more such properties in West Sacramento are being considered as urban farms in the same vein, said Mary Kimball, executive director of the center.
“This is just our launching point,” Kimball said.
One of the plots being considered is a 2-acre unused lot on West Capitol Avenue, and another a 3.5-acre lot near the No. 2 fire station on West Jefferson Boulevard. Three-quarters of an acre owned by a low-income housing facility is the third. Kimball did not reveal details on the exact locations.
Nearly $14,000 of soil was recently trucked to the Fifth and C lot, which is near the Broderick Roadhouse restaurant on West Sixth Street.
Planting will begin next week. CLBL staff and other participants will grow tomatoes, carrots and other vegetables, Kimball said.
West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said the city is eager to hop on the farm-to-fork movement and that he was inspired by the notion that the Sacramento area could become the “Silicon Valley of food.”
The expectation is that what is grown on the farm will be sold at local restaurants, grocery stores and the West Sacramento farmers market.
“This represents the next stage in West Sacramento’s evolution,” Cabaldon said at the unveiling of the property on Friday.
Despite his excitement for the urban farm, he sees the project as an intermediary step to counteract urban blight in an unused property.
“We’re not intending to return West Sacramento to agriculture – that’s not the point,” Cabaldon said. “You may come back here and there might be a five-story building here with a restaurant and a coffeehouse. ... In the long run, this neighborhood needs more urban uses.”
However, Kimball sees permanent urban farms as having great potential for West Sacramento’s landscape
“Many cities are taking on urban agriculture wholeheartedly,” Kimball said. “I think the city can do both.”
“You can have the pop-up farm like this one, and there could be other locations where the plan is a permanent location.”
Kimball said she and the city have not had talks about establishing permanent urban farms for its current and future residents, but she expects that those discussions will be coming soon.
Call The Bee’s Edward Ortiz, (916) 321-1071. Follow him on Twitter @edwardortiz.