Will Sacramento city council vote against farm to every fork?

Sacramento politicians love them some Farm-to-Fork.

They love to take selfies at the annual hundred-dollar dinner on the Tower Bridge each summer, and they name-drop Farm-to-Fork and rub elbows with local “celebrity” chefs whenever the opportunity arises.

But will City Council put its policy where its farm-to-fork mouth is?

Or this next week, will the city’s leaders balk at the idea of true farm reform that would benefit every fork in the city?

Council will vote on Tuesday on whether to implement a new urban agriculture ordinance, which would do things like make it easier to grow produce on city land and includes all kinds of innovating farming tax incentives, and so on. (Read this SN&R feature from earlier this month for more info.) 

But at this past week’s city council meeting, members hinted that despite overwhelming support for the idea of being America’s farm-to-every-fork capital, they’re maybe not ready to dive all the way into the cabbage patch.

Their hang up is with selling produce at neighborhood ag stands.

Under the proposed new ordinance, residences who grow agriculture on their property would also be able to sell their carrots and kale out front of their homes two days a week between certain hours.

This idea, of selling ag products in Sacto communities, is perhaps the purest form of farm-to-fork. But it also has perhaps a majority of council members second-guessing the ordinance, which could unravel years of work and planning.

“Selling [produce] in a residential environment is an issues I’m having trouble with,” said Council Larry Carr, who represents parts of south Sacramento. 

Carr explained that he’s having a difficult enough time cleaning up his district’s blight and trash. “I’m not sure this is going to help me in that regard,” he said of the ag stands.

Even Councilman Allen Warren, who’s driving the ordinance behind the scenes, hinted that he may be having cold feet when it comes to the stands, saying that he’s worried about “some residences essentially turning into a business corridor.”

There are also rumblings that Councilwoman Angelique Ashby and others oppose the stands, too, which would kill the reform ordinance.

Supporter Matt Read, who helped architect the ordinance, says that permitting ag stands is essential for the policy’s success. It’s how you truly get the farm to every fork.

“The stands have to be in residential neighborhoods for there to be a meaningful impact on food access,” Read wrote in an email. “Urban agriculture without the sales piece is just gardening.

“We even compromised by agreeing to limit the frequency of the stands to Tuesdays and Saturdays.”

Read also mentioned that studies show that residences near urban ag see an increase in home value.

Council will either vote on the ordinance, which was presumed to pass before this past week’s hiccups, or kick it back to staff.

Council members Steve Hansen and Jay Schenirer are leading the charge to get it passed.

The vote will truly be a big moment for the city’s ag credentials: Can Sacramento truly be “American’s Farm To Fork capital” if it votes against urban-ag stands?

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