Orangevale gets in touch with its food-growing roots

A local community with deep agricultural roots is reconnecting with its gardening instincts.

Saturday, April 17, the Orangevale Grange will unveil its new CommUNITY garden with an official grand opening and ribbon cutting. That same morning, the new Orangevale Grange Farm and Garden Club will hold its first meeting.

Also that same morning, the new Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank Farm will host its first plant sale with plenty of seedlings, ready to go in the ground.

These inaugural events celebrate what most Orangevale residents know: It’s a great place to grow food.

“Orangevale is a farm community, full of home and backyard gardeners,” says Jim Beilgard, who serves as Garden Project Coordinator for the Orangevale Grange. “The Grange sits on a 6-acre piece of glorious property in the center of Orangevale. Grange members have been discussing the importance of getting back to the roots of agriculture. It only seems natural for the Grange to put the two together.”

Persons interested in joining the garden club or the community garden should gather at 9:30 a.m. at the Orangevale Grange, 5807 Walnut Ave. The garden’s grand opening ceremony officially starts at 10 a.m. Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost is scheduled to cut the ribbon at 10:30 a.m.

Packed with 48 raised garden boxes, the new garden occupies what had been a weedy patch at the back of the Grange property, says longtime Orangevale resident Diane Dillard, a garden club veteran who is helping organize the new effort. The boxes are filled with new soil and ready for planting.

“The Grange had a garden years ago, but (nearby) trees got too big and the garden got too much shade,” Dillard says. “But this new spot gets lots of sun and is a much more suitable location.”

Some of the boxes are elevated for disabled access. Each bed has its own water source and drip irrigation will be required. Annual lease fee will be $40, $35 for Grange members. The lease year will start April 1 each spring.

“There has been a huge response to our outreach to the community for the garden project,” Beilgard says. “Even though the Grange sits on a private piece of property, (the garden) will be open for anyone in the community to lease a garden box per year.”

Open to anyone interested, the new Orangevale Grange Farm and Garden Club will be an offshoot of the Grange, which dates back to 1910.

“There are many garden clubs in the (Sacramento) area, however, none in the Orangevale area,” Beilgard says. “The garden club will be a part of the Orangevale Grange and will enjoy membership from all. It will have its own committee leaders. There will be an annual participation fee. It will include monthly meetings, monthly speakers, hands-on activities, social events and life long learning.”

Dillard notes that interest in the new garden club spiked quickly. It attracted 195 Followers to its Facebook page in just 10 days after its announcement.

“We asked people what they were interested in, so we could schedule speakers,” she says. “The most requested topics: Drip irrigation, vegetable selection, composting, healthy soil, canning and ‘what’s eating my garden?’” 

Beilgard notes that interest in growing food has come back in a big way. That’s important to an agriculturally based institution such as the Grange.

“The Orangevale community has a huge – and growing – community of agriculture,” he says. “The local Orangevale-Fair Oaks Food Bank has a 1-acre farm, supplying food to the under served. Local churches in the area have or are starting their own gardening plots. (That’s) along with our awesome farmers market that brings fresh produce and vegetables from our surrounding areas.” 

The Food Bank Farm is hosting its plant sale from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning, next to the Food Bank at 6401 Main Ave., Orangevale.

“They have been assisted by gardeners in the area helping to grow healthy veggie plants for the sale,” Dillard says. 

Gardeners helping gardeners and farmers helping farmers; that’s part of Orangevale’s roots, too.

Says Beilgard, “The Grange’s vision is to see the farming community awaken once again and make farming and gardening what Orangevale is about.”


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