Grow your own

Will gardening take root?

Will gardening take root?

Does City Councilman Rob Fong have a green thumb?

“I don’t—but I certainly appreciate it,” he admitted to SN&R this past Tuesday. “I think it’s a lost art.”

This is perhaps why, last summer, he planted a seed to change city zoning laws to allow for community gardens on private property.

And this week, the fruits of his labor finally bore bounty: a proposed resolution and ordinance that will permit community gardens on private lots throughout the city.

Previously in Sacramento, property designated for the primary use of growing food or crops was permitted only in areas zoned for agriculture. Now, the city has lifted said red tape to allow for neighborhood plots and even rooftop gardens.

“I think it’s great land-use policy,” Fong praised. “We’re right here in the heart of the Sacramento Valley. We feed the rest of the world. … [We] should make it easier to feed ourselves.”

City gardener Bill Maynard, who spoke on behalf of the Sacramento Area Community Garden Coalition, agreed. “This is a great step forward,” he said, “because it will make available community gardens on private lands, and we haven’t been able to do that before. With the increase in popularity in community gardening, we need this now.”

But like the challenge of nurturing a garden itself, there are of course concerns and uncertainties.

“Gardening and farming is hard work,” Maynard advised, “and people don’t realize that.” He hopes residents will transition slowly to community gardening; SACGC will offer courses and possibly assist in financing water hookups for those who want to spearhead green-thumb efforts.

“I hope we proceed in a conscious manner,” he urged.

Gardening progress in the coming year will include a feasibility study, led by Fong and Councilman Jay Schenirer, as to whether city-owned lots are ripe for community gardens, specifically in Oak Park, where there’s a strong push for green-thumbing due to grant money.

Also, there’s talk of a community garden starting up near the former “Tent City” site on the north end of downtown.

“There are hidden pockets of hunger in our city,” Fong reminded, “and I think people being able to grow their own food is amazing.” (Nick Miller)

Walk this way

As anyone who has strolled the Midtown grid knows, say, J Street to the Shady Lady Saloon, one of Sacramento’s charms is its flat, shady and highly pedestrian-friendly streets.

A walking advocacy group has taken notice of Sacramento’s pedestrian pluses too, and ranked the city 24 in a list of the 50 most walkable cities nationally. (New York was first, San Francisco second, Oakland 10th).

The rankings assessed related walking vibrancy factors, including parks, affordable housing, businesses and workplaces. According to website Walk Score, “Sacramento’s most walkable neighborhoods are Boulevard Park, Downtown, Mansion Flats. Sacramento’s least walkable neighborhoods are Village 7, Natomas Creek, Village 11.” (Hugh Biggar)