Stuart Leavenworth: What local governments can do to make Farm to Fork real

Stuart Leavenworth
Stuart Leavenworth

Is Sacramento’s Farm to Fork movement a revolution? An evolution? A return to the past? A marketing opportunity?

At this point, it looks like all four – and more. Sacramento’s first Farm to Fork Festival, which launches next Saturday at Capitol Mall and culminates with dinner on the Tower Bridge a week from Sunday, is getting lots of attention, as it should after more than 19 months of planning. But as its organizers will tell you, this festival and bridge dinner are just ornaments on a tree that keeps growing branches.

Truly grass roots, Farm to Fork has no formal leadership and a variety of causes. That bothers those who desire some form of structure. Yet as Chef Patrick Mulvaney said back in June, “Just get over the discomfort and go do stuff.”

One thing that needs to get done is for local governments to evaluate whether their policies are friendly to farmers and consumers who want to access locally grown food.

Some are. Some aren’t. Starting in June, I organized a series of roundtables with local food experts to assess the region’s successes and challenges in advancing the local food movement. From those discussions, and others of recent months, have come several ideas for making Farm to Fork real, and making it regional:

All these ideas above would help with the supply side of encouraging more locally grown food. But we also need to help consumers access more locally grown food, and build the market so farmers will have an incentive to grow for local consumption. Some ideas:

Some of this is wonky stuff, possibly a distraction from the simple need this week to celebrate the amazing bounty the Sacramento Valley offers us. But none of us wants Farm to Fork to be just a flash in the pan. After the final morsel is savored on the Tower Bridge, the hard work will continue on turning F2F into something real and lasting.