edible policies

GROCERIES NEXT DOOR

Urban farm stands allow neighbors to purchase local produce.

WRITTEN BY PAUL TOWERS
ILLUSTRATION BY LILY THERENS

04 EdiblePolicy UrbanFarming F webth

Skip the grocery store and grab some veggies or eggs from your next-door neighbor. With a new law passed in the City of Sacramento and a similar one in unincorporated Sacramento County, that’s now a possibility. Across the region, urban farmers are capitalizing on the policy change to launch new front-yard farm stands to provide fresh food and more.

“Farm stands are a great way to provide extra income to farmers and gardeners while building relationships with your neighbors and improving the health of your community,” says Katie Valenzuela Garcia, coordinator of the Sacramento Urban Ag Coalition, the group that championed passage of the laws.

One of those communities is the so-called food desert of unincorporated South Oak Park. The Yisrael Family Urban Farm began growing in 2007 but wasn’t able to legally sell produce until Sacramento County supervisors passed the law earlier this year, and the Yisraels filed necessary paperwork in March. At the stand, they are selling everything from greens and citrus to honey from backyard beehives.

“Establishing a farm stand is the next chapter in our work to bring fresh, healthy food to our community,” says Chanowk Yisrael of Yisrael Family Urban Farm.

Several blocks north, in Sacramento’s Tahoe Park neighborhood, Susan Purdy is motivated by her faith and a desire to connect with her neighbors. Customers can find some usual and not-so-usual things at Purdy Farm.

“We consistently have pasture-raised chicken eggs and greens, and we always have something sweet made with our edible flowers and herbs, including lavender scones and viola lollipops,” Purdy says. “There’s always something surprising to create with these underappreciated beauties.”

Before the change, Kyle Hagerty, owner of East Sac Farms, worked around the legal restriction by largely giving his produce away.

“In the first year, we were sharing our excess produce with friends, family, and neighbors. When we first heard about the Urban Agriculture Ordinance, we knew we needed to open a farm stand,” Hagerty says. “For us, the value of having an urban farm stand is the opportunity to share what we grow with our community. We do not charge for any of our produce, but we always are open to trades, and we do accept donations, of which all proceeds go right back into the farm.”

East Sac Farms grows and shares a wide variety of produce year round, from seeds and edible plants to lesser-known produce such as sunchokes, fava beans or fava greens, and lots of edible flowers. Hagerty’s biggest limitation is the 5,000-square-foot lot.

Paul Towers is a frequent contributor to GroundTruth and a leader of the Sacramento Food Policy Council. He serves as the organizing director and policy advocate at the Pesticide Action Network and enjoys cooking food from his garden with his children.

Resources

For a list of farm stands, including hours and contact information, visit Sacurbanag.org/green-spaces.

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