THIRD SACRAMENTO FOOD FILM FESTIVAL
TO BENEFIT CALIFORNIA FOOD LITERACY CENTER
Ten-day festival to include seven tastings and films
SACRAMENTO – As food and wine pairings continue to rise in popularity, the farm-to-fork capital is offering a different kind of pairing: food and film. The 3rd Annual Sacramento Food Film Festival will take place March 20-30 and will include food, wine and beer pairings with seven films about food. Festival proceeds will benefit California Food Literacy Center, a Sacramento nonprofit providing food literacy education to local low-income children.
“This is a chance for guests to soak up the amazing food and drinks that Sacramento has to offer while also feeding their minds,” said Catherine Enfield, festival founder and food writer.
The festival’s red carpet premier at Ten22 on March 20 features appetizers, drinks and screening of the award-winning movie, “Spinning Plates.” Cost is $40. On March 22, the festival continues at the Sterling Hotel, featuring a sneak preview of the highly anticipated, new Ruhstaller Nugget hop beer, bites from Adam Pechal and screening of “Beer Wars.” Cost is $30. “Bottle Shock” will be screened at Lucca on March 25 and will include a four-course dinner based on the film. Cost is $40, and $50 if including a wine pairing. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op offers a free event on March 26 to screen “Cafeteria Man” and will include appetizers, an appearance from the film’s star, Tony Geraci and a panel discussion with local leaders in food literacy education. Selland’s will offer a family spaghetti dinner on March 28 and screening of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” at McKinley Park’s Clunie Center. Cost is $15 for children, $25 for adults. Slow Food Sacramento will host a free screening of “The Slow Food Story” at the Guild Theater for free on March 29. The festival wraps up on March 30 with a sushi and uni tasting by Billy Ngo from Kru, and Q & A with the film’s producer, Alexander Finden, at Sunh Fish and screening of “Sweet, Sexy Ocean.” Cost is $35.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.sacfoodfilmfest.com.
“We are proud to be the beneficiary of such a creative event that not only gives people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing food of the Sacramento region, but also helps spread food literacy through the creative medium of film,” said Amber Stott, founding executive director, California Food Literacy. “We look forward to good food and good conversations.”
California Food Literacy Center was established in July 2011 to educate and inspire low-income children to eat healthy food. Students learn fruit and vegetable appreciation, how to read nutrition labels, basic cooking skills and environmental impacts of their food choices. The nonprofit also runs the Food Literacy Academy, which trains community members as food literacy teachers. To date, the nonprofit has 60 active volunteers and serves 2,400 kids annually. After just three months of food literacy education, 70 percent of students request the foods they have tasted in class, including broccoli, celery and oranges. Ninety-two percent of K-1st grade students say healthy food tastes good, and 88 percent of children understand how to read a nutrition label. To make a donation: www.californiafoodliteracy.org.
Governor’s + Region Report -
Slow Food Sacramento’s successful membership drive has earned the chapter a visit — and meal prepared by — Matt Jones, the newly elected President of the Slow Food USA Board of Directors. Congratulations! Still haven’t joined? We’re hoping to sign up just as many new and renewing members by the end of the year. Consider a gift membership — it’s easy to arrange.
As we go into end of the year harvest celebrations, we’re focusing on the Slow Food Biodiversity Foundation’s Ark of Taste project — the FAO-recognized effort to save delicious foods and meaningful food cultures from extinction. Read more about Slow Food Sacramento’s celebration of Ark products elsewhere in this newsletter. And thank Snail of Approval Awardees including Elegant Beans/Mohr-Frye Ranch and Kingbird Farms for growing several Ark varieties of beans, fruits, and vegetables. Then take a moment to notice that Snail of Approval Restaurant Magpie Café & Catering notes on its menu when it serves AOT foods. In 2014, the 25th Anniversary of Slow Food, let’s celebrate the farmers and chefs who are rescuing these foods. And let’s identify and nominate more candidates for the Ark. The Karakul or Fat-tailed sheep, raised at Oregon House in Yuba County, has just been boarded. Spring lamb anyone? Our chapter nomination, Chenin Blanc Clarksburg AVA is being reviewed. Want to join the Slow Food California Ark of Taste Committee? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Slow Food California Regional Leaders meeting in San Diego November 2-3 gathered over 50 leaders from across the state as well as Executive Director Richard McCarthy and Jovan Sage and Isabel Eljaiek from the Brooklyn staff as well as Matt Jones of the Board of Directors, plus Alfonso Rocha from Puebla, Mexico (International Councilor representing Mexico and Central America) and representatives of Slow Food Baja. Our focus was on what it means to be a region within Slow Food USA and what big ideas we have for the California region. Our Policy and Ark of Taste Committees are up and running. We formed new committees on Transnational work within the Americas and on Snail of Approval as well as for a series of Master Classes — Master of Meat? Wine? Cheese? – patterned after a very successful Slow Food Italy program. More coming soon, including how to volunteer and opportunities for training. Our policy, ark of taste, events, and fundraising workshops were terrific. And we know we need to spread these opportunities around the state. Best part – meeting all these energetic, interesting, involved volunteers, farmers, chefs, educators, gardeners, and you!
Next up for a regional meeting is Sacramento in connection with the Green Schools National Conference March 27-29, 2014. Stay tuned.
Slow Food USA Governor
Central Valley California Region &
What’s next as Sacramento seeks to earn and hold on to its title as America’s Farm To Fork Capital? Some interesting ideas collected by Chris Macias in The Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/30/5860288/growing-sacramentos-farm-to-fork.html
Fourteen local businesses recently received the Snail of Approval award from Slow Food Sacramento, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting good, clean and fair food.
The Snail of Approval program is designed to recognize local busineses that contribute to the quality, authenticity and sustainability of food in the Sacramento community. The Snail of Approval is granted based on the three basic principles of the Slow Food movement: good (authentic flavor), clean (grown and produced so it does not harm the environment) and fair (food producers receive fair compensation).
Businesses are recognized in three categories: Producers, Supporters, and Restaurants. The businesses receiving the Snail of Approval this year are:
Elegant Beans and Beyond
Chocolate Fish Coffee
Temple Coffee Roasters
Insight Coffee Roasters
The Good Stuff
Mama Kim’s on the Go
Two Flew the Coop
Local Roots Food Tours
The awards will be presented on Sunday, November 3, at the annual Harvest Dinner. For more details on the event, please visit https://slowfoodharvestdinner2013.eventbrite.com/.
For more information about the Snail of Approval program, visit http://slowfoodsacramento.com/snail-of-approval/about/.
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Slow Food Sacramento is the local chapter of the international nonprofit Slow Food, which has more than 100,000 members worldwide. Slow Food believes that the food we eat should taste good: that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.
Slow Food considers its members and all who eat to be co-producers, not consumers, of food. By being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process.
To: Slow Food CA Region Chapter Leaders
From: Slow Food CA Region Policy Committee
Date: July 30, 2013
Re: Midterm report on policy actions taken by Slow Food CA Region in 2013
To the terrific chapter leaders of Slow Food California Region:
We will soon complete our first full year as a Slow Food California Region. Though we have yet to devise the optimum method of communicating with Slow Food California members, we wanted to report to chapter leaders on our activities and challenges as your Slow Food CA Region Policy Committee.
First, some context: At the end of last year on short notice we sent to California Chapter Leaders our first ever Policy Priority Survey. We asked for your areas of interest weighted in terms of your willingness to take action. Over half the California chapters responded, with these priorities: 1. Farm Bill, 2. GMOs, 3. School gardens, 4. Food Policy Councils, 5. Cottage Food Law implementation, 6. Urban Agriculture.
Chapter leaders will receive a new survey this Fall. You will also be asked to identify chapter members who would like to be more involved in taking action on policy at the state and national level. We will create a special email list for focused communications.
Next, our early success: AB 343 (Ag Gag) – with Slow Food California support, a coalition lead by the Humane Society of the United States, persuaded Assemblymember Jim Costa to withdraw his bill before it was heard. Whistleblowers who report animal abuse by feedlots and similar operations can continue their undercover work.
And then there was the Farm Bill: Our committee members spent a lot of time working with National Sustainable Ag Coalition, Environmental Working Group, and others trying to persuade California Representatives to support amendments and spot bills that would yield an equitable farm bill. Our success was mixed, with some surprising disappointments and some gratifying surprises. Of course the House failed to pass a comprehensive bill and has since passed a bill stripped of food stamps (SNAP).
Slow Food USA, Slow Food California, and Slow Food Orange County are on record with 243 groups from all over the country demanding a full and fair Farm Bill to be passed this summer. The NSAC press release is here http://sustainableagriculture.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Full-and-Fair-Farm-Bill-Now-Statement.pdf
– we are in very good company.
We authored blog posts for Slow Food USA about why the Farm Bill matters: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/slow_food/blog_post/farm_bill_july_2013_update
spoke on the radio http://ecotopiakzfr.weebly.com/program-archives.html
and debated the best way forward. We’re still at it!
GMO labeling initiatives on the federal level (Boxer) have our support. The King Amendment to the Farm Bill (which would preempt state labeling laws) earned our opposition. We are working with Slow Food International to build the coalition of Slow Food members who support GMO labeling and are interested in related issues.
More on the State level: Urban Agriculture Incentives AB 551 (Ting) has our support. A proposal to require CSAs to register with the State and imposing new statewide standards AB 224 (Gordon) is under consideration. We’re asking CSA’s within our network for their views.
Draft training materials plus legislative contacts with staff for each chapter – Stephanie Georgieff with the help of an energetic intern has created a draft of training materials plus contact lists for each chapter, including the staff names associated with food policy. It’s a huge task and will be ready for roll out at a Regional Meeting proposed for November in San Diego – with regional trainings to follow.
Policy work is a small but meaningful part of what we do as Slow Food members supporting good, clean, fair food for all: Eat, Learn, Act.
We welcome your interest, comments, suggestions – and participation!
Charity Kenyon (Sacramento), Chair
Stephanie Georgieff (Redlands) Vice-Chair
Dom Fiume (So. Cal. Gov., San Diego)
Matt Jones (SFUSA Bd. Directors, liaison)
Ruth Begel (Solano County)
Peg Champion (South Bay)
Kari Hamerschlag (East Bay)
Laurie Koran (Solano County)
Rick Neugebauer (Temecula)
Jessie Phillips (Tahoe)
Mary Rousseve (Sacramento)
Brenda Ruiz (Sacramento)
Diana Tierney (Orange County)
Hosted by Slow Food Istanbul in the midst of the Taksim Square Gezi Park protests, the June 2013 International Council meeting was exciting, inspiring, and tasty. The International Council includes representatives of countries with at least 500 members. (Slow Food USA is represented by two Board members – Matt Jones and Nazli Parvizi and two Governors — Joel Smith and Charity Kenyon). The Council, together with the Executive Committee, plans and promotes the Slow Food movement’s development worldwide. As a result of action taken at the October 2012 Slow Food International Congress in Italy, the International Council for the first time includes representatives of Terra Madre communities where the convivium structure is not developed, but Slow Food is working with producers and gardeners — largely in the global South. This expansion made for a rich and rewarding exchange that demonstrated the strength and breadth of the organization.
All but one Councilor was able to attend, notwithstanding the close proximity of the meeting to the rapidly developing demonstrations. Our hosts were fully engaged in supporting the protests, even planting a symbolic vegetable garden in Gezi Park. The Council adopted a resolution in support of those demanding: “a new Turkey, able to value simple but important things, like the trees in a park.”
Friday night’s dinner started the meeting – on a boat on the Bosphorus – what more need we say? The pleasure of shared food and conversation helped make and strengthen connections across continents and hemispheres; the weather was calm and mild; the lights on mosques and old palaces was dramatic. The demonstrations were far away.
On Saturday Carlo Petrini welcomed us, pointing out that next year 2014, will be the 10th anniversary of the Terra Madre Network and 25th Anniversary of Slow Food. And there is no going back. The question for the Council was how to manage and lead this complex movement for the common good.
To that end, Slow Food has adopted three areas of emphasis to meet our goals for change: (1) 10,000 products boarded on the Ark of Taste — the FAO recognizes Slow Food as the only movement formally safeguarding the biodiversity and the fight against malnutrition. This gives us the responsibility to follow through. (2) 10,000 Gardens in Africa — a movement spreading education and training with knowledge of local seeds to fight both land grabbing and malnutrition. We cannot close our eyes to the injustice of 24,000 people dying every day from hunger, mostly in Africa. Our 10,000 gardens in schools, at hospitals, and in communities can set an example for other NGO’s and African governments. (3) 10,000 Convivia and Food Communities — networks have knots and we are currently at 1,600 chapters in 170 countries and 2,200 food communities for a total of 4,000 toward our goal of 10,000.
The growing Youth Food Network is under new leadership of Joris Lohman from Amsterdam who sits on the SFI Executive Committee. Foodstock will take place in Polenza in 2014 – 1,000 students from 67 countries are expected. The SFYFN is developing, including its governance, but it represents our future.
Finally, we need to carry out a census that somehow documents all the different SF projects around the world, so that we can more accurately understand and convey our impact.
We next heard about the re-launch of the Ark of Taste, including review of new documents in draft to explain the relationships among AOT, Presidia, and the Biodiversity Foundation. The point is to make boarding products easier, fun, and rewarding. We may make mistakes, but must not hold back for fear of error. Mistakes can be corrected later. The only mistake is failing to act now to capture and document the wealth of our food communities. There was robust discussion of other knowledge we are losing, including methods of production and processing, as well as of the dangers of bio-‐ piracy. The exciting Alliance of Chefs and Presidia is developing as a way to bring AOT products to the attention of consumers and to support markets for producers. Menu language has been approved.
In the afternoon we met as regional groups, including a meeting of the Americas — from Canada to the tip of Chile. And each group reported out on action items agreed upon within the groups. We will be hearing more about these plans, including a likely Slow Meat conference (like Slow Cheese and Slow Fish) in Colorado in 2015. The more we talked, the more it became obvious that we had links already and could use them to build our networks across the Americas — from Terra Madre communities to chapters. A current example is Slow Food Philadelphia’s work with blue corn tortilla makers in Mexico, uniting two halves of a small indigenous Puebla minority and promoting their special corn. We look forward to making more of these connections.
Dinner was in a small, intimate restaurant in the Nisantasi neighborhood. Lovely, diverse, conducive to discussion and very close to the demonstrations. Towards the end of the evening the government ruthlessly cleared Taksim Square, demonstrators fled into the neighborhood, a small hospital was erected around the corner from the restaurant. Our hosts and guests were calm; taxi drivers were able to get us back to our various hotels without much trouble.
Our half-day meeting on Sunday focused on funding, membership: the numbers. We approved the 2013 budget — half way through the year and agreed that future Councils will receive, discuss, and act on the budget at the beginning of the budget year. A lengthy financial report and social report with commendable detail were presented by the external auditor. I, for one, was impressed both by the amount accomplished on a small budget and by the commitment to transparency and accuracy.
Next, we discussed Strategic Goals, which had been presented in draft shortly before the meeting. Another draft will be prepared by October. Councilors are to prepare their responses to the current draft by mid July.
Finally, we were all energized by an upbeat presentation of the Slow Food Youth Food Network, and by a delicious tasting of traditional Turkish foods with a presentation by a well known chef and journalist. Wow! Lots to do and lots of great people to do it with! It was a great honor to represent Slow Food USA in Istanbul.
Slow Food USA Governor, Central Valley Region of California
Slow Food Sacramento is engaged in another international program, the Ark of Taste project of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.
To make this work possible, Slow Food USA has regionalized its Ark of Taste Committees. Slow Food California’s new Ark of Taste committee is headed up by Linda Elbert of the Orange County Chapter. Our own Suzanne Ashworth of Del Rio Botanical has agreed to serve on the jury that selects foods to be boarded. And David Baker of GRAS has submitted Slow Food Sacramento’s application to board the Clarksburg Chenin Blanc — a grape variety we are losing to Chardonnay. Chenin Blanc grows best in three places in the world: Clarksburg, the Loire Valley of France, and South Africa.
If you attended our mixer and tasting at Revolution Wine, you know we want to keep the grape in production here! We owe a big debt to Revolution Wine’s Gina Genshlea, David Baker, Darrell Corti, and all the vintners that have helped David and SFS with this project. Want a good Chenin Blanc? Stop by Revolution Wine. Want to help with the work of the Ark of Taste Committee? Contact email@example.com.
Read more about the program to protect threatened food varieties of all kinds here: http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/pagine/eng/arca/cerca.lasso?-id_pg=36
Slow Food Sacramento has created, through a donation by Kingbird Farms, its first relationship with one of Slow Food International’s 1,000 Gardens in Africa. We have partnered the GEO Program at Grant High School in Sacramento with Victoria School Garden in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
We’re looking forward to some photo sharing between Annmarie Kennedy of GEO and Sifuni Wilson, Head teacher of Victoria Primary School. The school is currently focusing on improving access to water.
Read more about this program of Slow Food International here: http://www.slowfood.com/terramadreday/pagine/eng/pagina2.lasso?-id_pg=113
Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, wants to grow this program to 10,000 gardens! Would you like to help support the Victoria School project or help Slow Food Sacramento adopt another garden? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Slow Food Sacramento would like to extend the kindest words of gratitude to our greater community of partners, supporters, and amazing members who last year helped support the soft launch of the School Garden Coalition through their participation in Urban Ag Fest IV.
Last year’s beneficiary of funds raised at Urban Ag Fest IV was Rosemont High School Green Academy. And they have put the funding to good use! In addition to adding much needed fencing, Green Academy students completed the ADA beds; graded and plumbed; planted fava beans, asparagus, cilantro, and potatoes; and reserved the clay extracted during excavation to build wood burning ovens!
Culinary Arts teacher Chef Scott Singer, Masonry Program educator Brett Hutchison, and Principal Leise Martinez are excited to demonstrate the practical life and job skills, linked learning, and critical thinking applications possible in a school garden environment. And in the 3rd week of April, almost 70 Rosemont HS Green Academy students walked to neighboring Sequoia Elementary to do a full day of work in that garden alongside their younger friends.
See some photos here:
or on twitter at @RHSCulinary.
Please join us for Day on the Farm, May 19, at Soil Born Farms American River Ranch at the School Garden Expo. At this event, you can get connected to a few of the region’s school gardens and edible education programs. Thanks to Assemblyman Roger Dickinson for in-kind support helping to make the expo possible. Help needed on May 18 and 19th! To volunteer, learn more about the Coalition and the exciting work ahead, or to donate resources contact Brenda Ruiz at email@example.com.
Chenin Blanc from the Clarksburg AVA is described as a light, dry white wine with notes of light honey, nectarine, and peach.
The grapes are native to the Loire Valley in northern France. In addition to the Loire Valley, the world’s finest and most distinctive Chenin Blancs originate from South Africa and right here in our backyard, in Clarksburg in the Sacramento River Delta.
Chenin Blanc thrives in the Sacramento Delta because of the welcoming natural conditions: the Delta soil, which is composed of various alluvial layers including sandy loam and dense clay, paired with the hot summer days and maritime-influenced cool nights. Gerald Asher of Gourmet magazine once wrote “It’s the right grape in the right place.” And local gastronome Darrell Corti proclaimed “Chenin Blanc loves rich Delta soil.”
Chenin Blanc was once a popular and prolific grape grown throughout California. In the late 1970s, Charles Krug produced 125,000 cases of dry Chenin Blanc. Yet, today, its production is threatened by wine industry trends. Acreage is at an all time low, falling almost 80% since the 1980s, and most is grown in the Central Valley as an anonymous blending grape. While many vineyards have chosen to replace Chenin Blanc with better selling varietals, several wineries have continued to carry on the tradition of Chenin Blanc, creating unique and award-winning wines, and preserving this distinctive expression of our local region. Producers of Chenin Blanc in our region include Wilson Ranch, Bogle Vineyards, Heringer Vineyards, Baranek Vineyards, Six Hands, and Dancing Coyote.
Originally settled just after the 1849 Gold Rush, Clarksburg has been a productive agricultural area for over a century (producing pears, alfalfa, tomatoes, and cattle). The transformation to vineyards began in the early 1960s. Chenin Blanc was first introduced to the area and quickly became a star, putting Clarksburg Chenin Blanc on the national stage through the 1970s. Almost all of the growers have been farming here for five or six generations, since prior to 1900.
Because of Chenin Blanc’s uniqueness and rich history, Slow Food Sacramento and the Green Restaurant Alliance of Sacramento are working on a nomination of Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg AVA for Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, which preserves unique flavors from particular regions. We are proposing it be certified as a heritage product, outstanding in terms of taste—as defined in the context of local traditions and uses, at risk biologically or as culinary traditions, and produced in limited quantities.
The tasting will feature these great wineries:
- Rendez Vous
- Clarksburg Wine Company
- Dancing Coyote
- Blue Plate
- Twisted River
- Dry Creek Vineyards
On February 12, 2013, the documentary film Couscous Island – produced by Slow Food in the framework of the 4Cities4Dev project and co-funded by the European Union – was presented at the Berlin Film Festival.
This is the last documentary in the Living Food Communities series, which includes three other half-hour movies directed by Francesco Amato (director of Ma che ci faccio qui! and Cosimo e Nicole) and Stefano Scarafia (director of Il corridore andGente di Terra Madre). Each movie tells the story of a Slow Food community, presents a product and describes how it is an important element of the cultural and social identity of the whole community. In addition, it shows how, if properly promoted, these productions can offer a viable opportunity to improve the community’s economic conditions.
Watch the films at this link: http://www.4cities4dev.eu/ita/7/video
The movies were shot in Africa, between Kenya, Senegal and Ethiopia:
Pokot Ash Yoghurt – Kenya, 23’20”
The Tarsoi village community has always produced a very peculiar yoghurt with cow’s or goat’s milk mixed with the ash from an indigenous tree. Ash yoghurt had a very important role in the diet of the Pokot people. Today, communities have overwhelmingly lost pride in their food culture and the yoghurt is only produced by a few families for their own consumption. Occasionally the extra production is sold at local markets.
Harenna Forest Wild Coffee – Ethiopia, 23’59”
Ethiopia is the country where coffee originates from and the only in the world where wild coffee plants grow. For thousands of years, families have been roasting their own berries, crushing them in a mortar and offering coffee to guests according to a solemn ritual, a strong symbol of hospitality and respect.
Fadiouth Island Salted Millet Couscous – Senegal, 27′ e 34′ (two versions)
The village of Fadiouth is located on an island made entirely of shells, which can be reached by a long wooden bridge. The Serer – the indigenous people that lives there – have always been the greatest producers of sunnà millet and live off farming and fishing in the sea and lagoon.
These films were produced as part of the 4Cities4Dev project, co-funded by the European Union. Their production stems from the cooperation between Slow Food and four European cities – Turin, Tours, Bilbao and Riga. The project combines the role of cities, as active protagonists of local policies and decentralized cooperation, and the Slow Food approach, based on the involvement of food communities, citizens and consumers.
The board of Slow Food Sacramento provided the following comment letter to the Sacramento City Board of Education this week. We are urging them to consider the value of school garden assets, particularly at Fruit Ridge Elementary, as they evaluate several campuses for closure.
January 29, 2013Hon. Jonathan Raymond, Superintendent & Hon. President and Members of the Sacramento City Board of Education Sacramento City Unified School District 5735 47th Avenue Sacramento, CA 95824
Re: Proposed closure of Fruit Ridge Elementary School / Garden
Dear Superintendent Raymond and Members of the Board of Education,
We, the members of Sacramento Slow Food’s Board of Directors, respectfully request that the Board reconsider its proposal to close the historic Fruit Ridge Elementary School and move the students to schools on Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Slow Food is an international nonprofit that advocates for good, clean, fair food for all. The Sacramento Chapter’s emphasis is on promoting urban agriculture including school gardens. Our fourth annual Urban Ag Fest in 2012 raised funds for our school garden coalition and for the garden projects at Rosemont High School and O.W. Erlewine Elementary School. Our guests, including teachers, students and volunteers from 15 SCUSD schools showcased their school garden projects, toured the Rosemont Garden and its Culinary Arts and Masonry Arts Programs, and enjoyed a sit-down dinner on the senior lawn. Our speaker was former State Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin, under whose leadership California’s school gardens grew from some 40 to more than 3,000.
Later in the year we welcomed Alice Waters and the Edible Schoolyard Project to Sacramento and to St. Hope Leadership Academy Charter School. And now Sacramento has declared itself America’s Farm to Fork Capital. Slow Food Sacramento is participating in the development of that project, specifically encouraging emphasis on access: Whose Forks? We think the moniker is meaningless, if Sacramento is not improving the access of school children to good, clean, fair food. In that vein, we applaud efforts by SCUSD to change its approach to food procurement and we have partnered with the Food Literacy Project, which teaches food literacy in elementary schools in Oak Park.
In this context, we ask that you please reconsider whether closing Fruit Ridge Elementary School and shutting down its garden and orchard is the right decision or whether this move would be inconsistent with the district’s and community’s support for the health and learning benefits of school gardens:
• Fruit Ridge Elementary participated in our Urban Ag Fest school garden showcase and, through the generosity of several prominent businesses and individuals we were able to host their delegates at the shared meal. The school is a member of our School Garden Coalition. Its staff have been trained at the Edible Schoolyard Institute in Berkeley.
• This fall our Fresh Food Access Fund, a fund hosted by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, awarded $1,000 grant to Fruit Ridge Elementary School to support their Garden and Living Laboratory.
• Fruit Ridge Elementary’s garden, established in 2002, is a standout. We know of no other garden that can match the oasis of tranquility and activity that it represents. If you have not visited, please do so, before you make your final decision. Name a place at any school that you would rather be, if you were an elementary school child. You won’t find one.
• Fruit Ridge Elementary is the only pesticide free school campus in the district. This represents an investment of hundreds of hours of volunteer time and a huge public health benefit.
• Fruit Ridge’s garden is huge: one-quarter acre including 35 fruit trees. The orchard is a ten year investment by Common Vision’s Fruit Tree Tour: http://commonvision.org/programs/fruittreetour/ Common Vision’s school orchard program has impacted 80,000 students at over 180 low income schools and community centers. In Sacramento that school is Fruit Ridge Elementary.
• Fruit Ridge Elementary’s garden represents ten years of investment in time, money, and resources by volunteers, nonprofit associations, local businesses, students, teachers, and staff. No such investment has been made at the alternative school sites to which these children would be moved.
• Fruit Ridge is in a residential neighborhood, near the County’s Emergency Housing, and away from the area’s busy thoroughfares. The neighbors are homes, not convenience stores and speeding traffic. The environment represents a place where a garden and students can thrive in safety.
• The California School Boards Association selected Fruit Ridge’s garden to be profiled in the Summer 2008 newsletter http://www.csba.org/NewsAndMedia/Publications/CASchoolsMagazine/2008/Summer/InThisIssue/Gardens.aspx
The article posits:
“Slowly but surely, despite changes in academic priorities, accountability systems and fiscal uncertainties, school gardens and related agriculture programs are taking root at rural, urban and suburban schools across the country.”
Using Fruit Ridge Elementary School’s garden as its shining example, the article describes these gardens as:
“a crucial component of a broader and expanding national collection of public and private initiatives to improve students’ nutrition, physical fitness, overall health, and of course, their academic success.”
Thank you for your consideration of Slow Food Sacramento’s views, as the Board undertakes its difficult decision-making process. We request that school garden assets, representing substantial investments of public and private funding and volunteer effort be included in the Board’s analysis of any site’s strengths. Thus, for example, Bret Harte Elementary School‘s garden was one of three pilot edible schoolyards for which the school district financed installation of hard- and soft-scape. The District’s Green Fellow and Project Green Program will be aware of additional substantial public and private investments in sustainability including, for example, the substantial June 2012 Project Green Award to Washington Elementary School.
Very truly yours,
Coral Henning, President
Slow Food Sacramento