The Farm-to-Fork movement has come alive in Sacramento, and it’s encouraged many people to become locavores—at least when they eat out at the few restaurants who actually serve a significant amount of local produce. The amount of farm that lands on fork hasn’t been as big an issue as how Farm-to-Fork can impact Sacramento and help make it a destination city. And those of us who live in the area certainly see the value of potential tourist dollars on our downtrodden economy. While profits are nice, locally grown food that travels a few miles to one’s table is about more than beefed up bank accounts, so there’s a parallel food movement unfolding within Farm-to-Fork. This one focuses on equal access to locally grown food. We examined part of this story a few months back when we shared the tale of the CA Food Literacy Center. Today we’re sharing another component, only this one is much dirtier.
Changing the Sacramento food system one harvested row at a time might sound intimidating or even impossible to some. To the folks at Feeding Crane Farms, however, it seems the only option. Since 2011, FCF has cultivated a reputation with some of the finest Sacramento restaurants.
Eaters can find FCF on their plates all over downtown and midtown. FCF’s own Chef Paul meets regularly with local chefs and finds out what’s on the menu. Because he’s been a chef for so many years himself, Paul is the perfect go-between to encourage more than a smattering of Farm-to-Fork activity in Sacramento restaurants.
FCF is even partnering with Formoli’s and has invited Chef Aimal Formoli to cultivate a small garden of his own on their farm. FCF already provides Formoli’s with the produce they grow, so this partnership extends the local options Formoli’s can offer its customers.
However, not everyone in Sacramento can afford a fine dining experience.
FCF wants impoverished folks to also have access to locally grown, certified organic produce. Because FCF has expanded a great deal over the last couple years, they’ve streamlined their farmers market participation. Today, they only sell at two farmers markets: West Sacramento and Oak Park. If you know the area, you might be wondering why the heck they chose those two small markets. Three letters: EBT, (aka Cal Fresh). The West Sacramento market offers EBT users 15 market bucks for $10 EBT dollars while Oak Park doubles the dollars.
Both markets can do this because of grants and corporate sponsors.
FCF’s General Manager Shannin Stein (also the VP of the CA Food Literacy Center) says Feeding Crane Farms wants not only to grow and sell organic produce, they want to make sure everyone has access to healthy fresh food. She reminds us that many farmers themselves are participants in the Cal Fresh program. As such, once a month, in partnership with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment agency, FCF folks head out to Seavey Circle where they conduct outreach. Stein explains FCF wants to enact change in the community by not just giving a “handout” but by educating “people on EBT.”
Standing on the farm in the blistering morning, temperature trumpeting toward 110, the land appeared barren. But out of the monochromatic dirt popped up the kind of green you’d see in a forest. To the west cars plowed out of the city, planes launched off runways at Sac International; to the south a handful of skyscrapers reached like fingers toward the sun. In the middle, we stood listening to the sound of Farm-to-Fork melding with outreach and education—forming a rumble that might just become food access equality. If you stop now and head out to Feeding Crane Farms, we bet you’ll hear it too.