Farm-fresh organic produce, pasture-raised eggs and whole broiler chickens aren’t just local foods at The Cannery…they are grown and raised a short walk from your home. The new farm-to-table housing development in Davis, California, recently celebrated its first harvests from its Urban Farm this summer.
It’s an exciting next step for the new, mixed-use neighborhood located at the former Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery site. The Cannery’s 5.5-acre Urban Farm includes 4 acres of farmable land with organic vegetables, poultry and orchard fruit, according to Mary Kimball, executive director, Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL).
“These first farm harvests at The Cannery signify about 6 ½ years of meetings, discussions, flexibility and creativity,” explains Kimball. “From the earliest planning stages, there was active collaboration between the builder (The New Home Company), the City of Davis and the CLBL. It’s been a good example of public-private-non-profit partnership.”
There are several “agrihoods” around the nation, such as Agritopia in Phoenix and Serenbe in Atlanta, but they tend to have different arrangements with the farmers.
“As far as we can tell, The Cannery is the nation’s first farm-to-table housing development focused on beginning farmers,” says Kimball. “When planning the project, we considered the two biggest barriers for new farmers typically – which are access to land and access to capital. Then we designed the farm to address these concerns and make it easier for the farmers to succeed.”
How it works: The New Home Company developed the Urban Farm’s infrastructure, including a new agricultural well and conveyance system on the farm. The land and infrastructure are being donated to the City of Davis, which is leasing it inexpensively to CLBL.
The Urban Farm is managed by CLBL, which is leasing the farmland to three graduates of its California Farm Academy Program. CLBL’s training program and farm business incubator teaches and mentors new farmers in agricultural production, business planning and marketing.
The busy farmers at The Cannery Urban Farm are Hope Sippola and Shayne Zurilgen of Fiery Ginger Farm and AJ Gomez. You can find their fresh produce, eggs and whole broiler chickens at The Cannery barn on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:30 to 7 p.m. Their food products are also available at farmers markets in West Sacramento, local restaurants and via Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about CLBL’s California Farm Academy and other programs in this UC Food Observer story.
Moving forward, the Urban Farm has big plans. “Our most important goal this year was to get the farm up and running,” explains Kimball. “We wanted the community to begin shopping at the farm stand twice a week. But next year, we hope to expand the program.”
CLBL is partnering with University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) to develop community services and educational programs. The group is considering information booths for gardeners to discuss plant and pest problems with horticultural experts, similar to the Master Gardener programs run by UCANR in California.
Meanwhile, The Cannery is an example of the Sacramento Region’s push in recent years to establish itself as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.
Recently, I attended the 2016 International Food Bloggers Conference, where food writers from across the nation learned about the area’s local food and agriculture industries. Organizers were so excited by the regional food offerings that they are hosting next year’s conference again in Sacramento.
Just in time for The Cannery’s second fall harvest…
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