Patrick Mulvaney and Shawn Harrison discuss the importance of local agriculture in Sacramento at Time Tested Books store
Sunday evening Patrick Mulvaney couldn’t be found in the Mulvaney’s B&L kitchen. Instead, the chef and restaurateur was at Time Tested Books with Shawn Harrison, executive director of Soil Born Farms, discussing local agriculture as part of The Sacramento Living Library series.
The series is presented by Midtown Monthly and Time Tested Books. Tim Foster, editor of Midtown Monthly, moderated the talk.
Harrison began the conversation with the historical context of Sacramento’s agriculture addressing the question: Why it is the way it is?
“Farmers were unable to sell their crops in Sacramento because there was not a huge demand for those crops so they went elsewhere,” said Harrison.
Mulvaney said, “98 percent of the food that is grown in Sacramento leaves our area, so only 2 percent of the food that you see in our city is stuff that we eat on a daily basis.”
Mulvaney and Harrison also discussed the economical aspects of local farms in Sacramento’s schools.
“A school can pay X and a grower can pay X and right now those don’t match,” said Harrison.
Harrison added that while schools might have the ability to pay for quality foods the farmers don’t have the resources needed to produce an abundance of food for these facilities.
There is an mechanism that Harrison and Mulvaney are currently trying to develop as an attempt to solve this issue.
“An aggregation hub is a mechanism we’re trying to develop for Sacramento Unified School Districts to collect crops from small growers who would not on their own be able to sell to big buyers or school districts,” said Harrison.
Mulvaney said he wants people to improve Sacramento agriculture for the future generation.
“We want to make sure that what we leave our grandchildren is better than what our grandparents left us with,” said Mulvaney.
Harrison emphasized the need to implement healthy eating habits into local school districts.
“We need to replace the processed foods with local grown foods, starting with our high schools,” Harrison said.
Mulvaney said, “The process is economically liable, but there is a big gap between the small farmer, who is unable to distribute to large facilities, and the school’s ability to make a change in their schools.”
“This is a great opportunity to learn about things that we don’t even think about,” said attendee Jim O’Donlad, 55, of Citrus Heights.
Time Tested Books hosts The Sacramento Living Library every third Sunday of the month. The next talk will feature novelist Ishmael Reed, who will be discussing his novel “Juice” on
April 10 at noon.
For information on The Sacramento Living Library go to http://www.timetestedbooks.net
Editorial Note: A correction has been made to this story after it was published. The incorrect information has been struck out and the correct information has been added.