Travel & recreation: Sustainable summer

Being green doesn’t take a lot of, well, green

Technically, Velocab is air-conditioned.

Technically, Velocab is air-conditioned.

Photo By dominick porras

Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op cooking classes
Here’s how it works: Visit any one of the four weekly farmers’ markets Sacramento city has to offer and stock up on seasonal, organic produce. Chat with local growers about sustainable farming practices and feel good about circulating money back into our community. Go home, unload your acquisitions, stand back and think, “All right, now what?” Not much of a cook, huh? Fear not, the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op can teach you how to whip up a delectable feast using locally grown fresh produce and organic foods. The Co-op Community Learning Center offers cooking classes ranging from $25 to $45, lectures on food and environmental issues and lessons on composting and gardening. Some of the community classes cost as little as $5 or are free. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op Community Learning Center, 1914 Alhambra Boulevard; (916) 455-2667;

It’s too hot outside to ride your bike. Gas is more than $4 a gallon, and besides, driving is outside the realm of eco-friendly possibilities. Public transportation is an option, except buses and light rail develop that perpetual body-odor smell during summer months. So how can you gallivant around town without breaking a sweat or your bank account? Pay someone else to haul you around, of course. For only $2 the first block and 50 cents each additional block, a Velocab “driver” will cart you anywhere within the 30-square blocks of the downtown/Midtown grid, using a zero-emissions, human-powered vehicle. Wave the car-culture behind as you travel around the city center, possibly on your way to Old Sacramento, where you can embark on another eco-friendly form of transportation—the horse-drawn carriage. Velocab, (916) 498-9980,

The Greenbelt
Drag yourself out of bed early one summer weekend morning and make a day of getting lost (on bike or foot) along the Davis Greenbelt: a continuous, 60-mile stretch of bike paths and parks that basically lines the interior of that university berg to the west. Yes, you’ll spot plenty of soccer moms and dads out there with their complimentary soccer-playing kids on the big open stretches. But look to the Greenbelt’s nooks and crannies for various cool public art (like sculptures of a black doggie riding a red tricycle, and one of a crashed UFO) scattered along the way. A test: Can you find the North Davis dominoes? The kid clime-able greenbelt sculpture, created by Eddy Hood in 1994, rolls you over like a certain Van Morrison tune we know and love. You can print a Greenbelt map, but count on getting lost anyway.

Sacramento Antique Fair
Want to keep items in circulation rather than tossing them into the trash and filling up our landfills? Well, if you’re not the Dumpster-diving type, check out the Sacramento Antique Fair, held the second Sunday of the month under the freeway. About 300 vendors turn the space into a marketplace of used textiles, furniture, jewelry, glasswares, art, vintage toys, clothes and other collectibles. The entrance fee is $3 or free for youth under 16. Once inside, feel free to haggle your way to a greener world. The event runs from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on 21st between W and X streets in Midtown; (916) 600-9770;

UC Cooperative Extension Sacramento County Master Food Preservers
The bounty of the Valley will be decorating our tables this summer, but don’t imagine that it will come as cheaply come fall. If you’d really like to spend the summer exploring a skill that will save your money—and your health—over the long haul, absorb the wisdom of the Sacramento County Master Food Preservers and learn how to preserve the fresh fruits and veggies available at the farmers’ markets. The demonstrations cover stone fruits (peaches, plums, cherries) on Wednesday, June 18; tomatoes and peppers on July 16, and pickling on Wednesday, August 20. Demonstrations generally have a nominal fee (less than $10), and the introductory classes for water-bath canning, pressure canning and dehydration are free (Saturday, June 14). Sacramento County Master Food Preservers, UC Cooperative Extension, 4145 Branch Center Road; (916) 875-6913;

Even the mannequins are Fashion Conscious at the UC Davis Design Museum.

Photo By dominick porras

Nonprofit environmental organizations
Making a positive green impact does not require spending money. In fact, it doesn’t involve making money either. If you really want to make a difference, look no further than volunteering with a local environmental nonprofit organization. The progressive policies we rely on to conserve and protect the natural environment depend on the efforts of these overworked, underappreciated nonprofits. And they need our help. Sacramento has a plethora from which to choose: Sierra Club, Friends of the River, Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen, Humane Society, Sacramento Tree Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Nature Conservancy, Cosumnes River Preserve, Soil Born Farm Urban Agriculture Project, Clean Power Campaign, Wildlife Heritage Foundation and more. And you thought paid employment was cool!

Roseville Utility Exploration Center and UC Davis Design Museum
A natural history museum is a great place to gather up the kiddies and say, “Look at all the beauty Mother Nature has created!” Unfortunately, Sacramento doesn’t have one of these museums, but it does have environmentally focused museums. Or rather, cities near us do. The LEED-certified Roseville Utility Exploration Center offers a laboratory for hands-on learning about recycling, water conservation and clean energy. Before it’s too late, visit the UC Davis Design Museum’s Fashion Conscious exhibit, the latest in the museum’s yearlong focus on sustainable design. Displayed clothing utilize organic dyes, alternative fibers, handwoven textiles and the creative reuse of materials. The exhibit runs through Sunday, July 13. Roseville Utility Exploration Center, 1501 Pleasant Grove Boulevard, Roseville; (916) 774-1550; UC Davis Design Museum, 145 Walker Hall, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis;