By Benjy Egnel
Alfred Melbourne tromped through Three Sisters Gardens’ half-acre urban farm on a recent Friday morning dressed in black Ray-Ban sunglasses, cut-off shorts and a black tank top showing off his lean build and many tribal tattoos. Hummingbirds flitted through bean plants in West Sacramento’s Broderick neighborhood, next to rows of tomatoes and eggplants poking out from tangled vines. There were bell and serrano peppers, purple and Thai basil, two types of melons and patches of cilantro.
Some of that produce, planted and harvested by volunteers as young as 11, will end up on West Sacramento school lunch trays. It’s part of the “farm-to-school” movement making its way through the Sacramento region and California as a whole, one Melbourne wants to see grow. “We want the kids to see where their food comes from. We want them to actually connect with the land,” said Melbourne, a Hunkpapa Lakota tribe member. “Being native, we know that the land, the mother, has healing properties, so just making contact and seeing (how) a handful of seeds can turn into a whole field of food growing … we want them to be a part of that magic.”
As downtown Sacramento’s annual Farm-to-Fork Festival draws approximately 150,000 visitors throughout September, the city’s children finally seem to be inching toward healthier meals at school. The days of Sysco chicken patties and freezer-burned raw broccoli could slowly be on the way out thanks to a new state-of-the art central kitchen in Sacramento, shifting state politics and growing relationships with local farmers.
Read more at SacBee.