Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Urban Farming in Sacramento

Tilling Oak Park:
This is in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento, California, which is currently battling food insecurity, poverty and gentrification, which is largely the result of historical racism, redlining and other tactics designed to undermine the fabric of the community. Oak Park is Sacramento’s first suburb. After World War II many non-white Americans moved here because other neighborhoods were racially restricted. Now it’s the “it” neighborhood for out-of-town investors to flip houses and make a profit.

“Most gentrification efforts are led from the outside in. What we’re doing is we’re making change from the inside out. And people are seeing that. We’re transforming the ‘hood for good,” Yisrael tells me.

As we speak, he transfers young plants from the greenhouse to palettes outside so they can harden off before getting planted in the ground. Then he goes out to till the soil in one of his gardens (or as he calls it “dancing with the earth”), opting not for a rototiller, and instead using a broadfork. He jokes that interviewing a farmer is a “moving target.”

The Yisrael Family Farm has been in operation since 2011, before there was much talk in the media about “urban farms.” They grow food for themselves (crop varieties change with the seasons) and they also sell what they don’t need to their neighbors via a table on the driveway. Yisrael tells me the prices are significantly lower than the organic produce at grocery stores because he doesn’t have to worry about the same overhead and transportation costs.

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