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Slow Food educates, raises awareness on Urban Ag Day

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In a celebration of Urban Agriculture Day, Slow Food Sacramento hosted a series of workshops and tours throughout the day Saturday to benefit Sacramento Hunger Coalition and Sacramento Area Community Garden Coalition (SACGC).

For $25, ticket holders were able to choose from an itinerary of workshops, tours and movie screenings after either touring Soil Born Farm or cycling around town on the "What’s ‘Growing’ On" Bike Tour.

The morning cycling tour led roughly 25 cyclists on a 10-mile guided trek around local community gardens, starting at Southside Community Garden and making stops at McClatchy Park Farm Stand, David Lubin School Garden and the Sacramento Food Bank’s garden along with other residential and community gardens from Downtown to East Sac.

For those looking to get their hands dirty, Soil Born gave an exclusive peek into the inner workings of its 20-acre organic farm. Attendees were given a tour of the farm and had the opportunity to participate in harvesting and planting as well as snack on organic treats at its farm stand.

"I was so encouraged that there are people in and around Sacramento willing to learn and talk and share and work for the benefit of the local food system. Every day more Sacramentans learn about how the industrial food system is making us sick and how it is not serving our most marginalized residents," said John Schmidt, who attended the Soil Born tour and workshops.

Midtown’s Fremont Community Garden hosted a Composting 101 class. Gardening guru Bill Maynard (of SACGC) taught both aspiring and seasoned gardeners how to turn kitchen waste into a valuable garden resource.

A couple blocks away, at Fremont Park, Pesticide Free Sacramento hosted Organic 101 and organic advocate Steve Zien discussed the benefits of organic fertilizer and pesticides over synthetics. Zien promised that organic gardens will lead to more nutritious and better-tasting food. The location for the workshop couldn’t have been more fitting as the park has been pesticide-free since March 2009.

To help understand the daily battle that the hungry in Sacramento face, the Sacramento Food Bank put on an interactive workshop with speakers Nisha Kapadia of the Hunger Coalition and Dawn Dunlap from the Health Education Council.

The group of 10 were given characters to role-play with and information sheets with monthly expenses, income and calorie requirements for their individual characters and families. Tables were set up as a bank, grocery store, food stamp office, Woman Infant and Children office as well as a hot meal site and summer food program.

Participants were given the challenge of meeting calorie needs while struggling with a lack of income, being denied food stamps, inconvenient office and bank hours, and less-than-helpful workers at each station

After the role-play, participants discussed either how they met the calorie requirements they were given or why they fell short. Obstacles that arose during the exercise included rent and miscellaneous expenses, making too much money to qualify for food stamps or working hours that weren’t conducive to waiting in lines to receive aid. These problems accurately echoed real-life challenges faced by the hungry.

Dunlap and Kapadia proposed not only feeding the hungry but encouraging nutritious food choices.

"At the end of the day, we’re still up against people eating unhealthy," Dunlap said. To battle the problem, the council hands out lists of community gardens that accept Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (food stamps). Dunlap said that another part of the solution is encouraging families to garden, buy in bulk and cook at home to meet nutritional and caloric needs while still staying within financial means.

Organizations like Soil Born, Slow Food, the Sacramento Food Bank and the Health Education Council are all teaming up to battle the ongoing problem and educate local families.

Further down the road, two movies pertaining to the day’s theme were screened as an ending to the days activities. At the Guild Theatre FRESH a documentary about the current state of our food system and what is being done to reinvent it, was shown and The Garden told the story of the effort to save Los Angeles’ South Central Farm at Ooley Theatre.

For an additional $100 for non Slow Food members amd $75 for members, the evening continued with a three-course dinner catered by Magpie Catering, a local company that reflects Slow Food’s beliefs of locally grown, nutritious food. Diners were served fresh and seasonal food at Fremont Community Garden while surrounded by the day’s focus — organic fruits and vegetables. The spotlight of the evening’s dinner was speaker Brahm Ahmadi of Oakland’s Peoples Grocery, who discussed solutions for providing food for low-income residents through the use of urban and community gardens.

Conveniently held on the Second Saturday Art Walk, many continued the celebration of Urban Agriculture Day in The Grid after dinner came to a close.


Get Involved:

Slow Food Sacramento

Soil Born Farm

Health Education Council

Pesticide Free Sacramento

Sacramento Hunger Coalition

Community Information Hotline: 2-1-1

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