By: Jake Ferguson and Jon Schuller
With the smell of rain in the air, the last farmers market of the season in Cesar Chavez Plaza was the perfect setting for a major announcement from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson this morning.
Known popularly as The River City or The City of Trees, Sacramento can now lay claim to an exciting new moniker: America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital!
Surrounded by a sea of white chefs’ coats, Mayor Johnson was joined by nearly three dozen of the area’s top culinary talent to announce the new proclamation to an excited crowd of media, local officials and foodie enthusiasts.
“Right here in Sacramento, we have a lot to be proud of,” said the former NBA star and Sacramento native. “This is the best of Sacramento. This is the Dream Team of chefs in Sacramento!”
In conjunction with the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, the California Farm Bureau, and a coalition of local chefs, today’s proclamation is intended to market Sacramento as a farm-fresh culinary hub. According to the mayor’s office (and cited in today’s City Beat blog), the region is home to between 7,000 to 8,000 acres of “boutique farms” and touts more than 50 farmers’ markets.
Randall Selland of Ella Dining Room+Bar and Selland’s Market & Café helped further illustrate that connection to local agriculture—literally.
Holding a bull’s eye map of the city and its relation to thriving local farms, the chef articulated that within 50 miles of Sacramento, the region enjoys the most diverse array of agriculture grown in the United States. “This is the start of making Sacramento what it really is: The Farm-to-Fork Capital of the United States!” said Selland.
The designation hopes to further boost Sacramento’s tourism industry which, according to Steve Hammond, President of the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, attracts 15 million visitors a year and adds $2.4 billion to the local economy.
“This isn’t an invented identity. This is who we’ve [already] been for many years,” said Hammond.
California Farm Bureau President and third-generation walnut and almond farmer Paul Wenger added, “This isn’t just about being a locavore—it’s about being a Calivore!”
As California’s capital, we can certainly get behind that.
Mayor Johnson also unveiled the city’s plan to launch the Farm-to-Fork Festival next fall to celebrate area restaurants, farms, and the surrounding wine country. The event is slated to include celebrity chefs, special menus at local restaurants, wine tasting, spotlights on local farms, and a massive food festival spanning the length of Capitol Mall.
There’s even talk of a cattle drive through the central business district (think: Running of the Bulls, Sacramento Style?).
Mayor Johnson issued the official proclamation surrounded by a beaming coterie of area chefs and restaurant owners.
The fun fact about that?
Each one of the seven represented a single restaurant where the Mayor had eaten—just in the past week!
We’re excited to see Sacramento stake its claim as the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America and proud to have a Mayor and local leaders who understand the importance of supporting fresh, local ingredients.
And we’re hungry to see how next year’s Farm-to-Fork Festival shapes up—cattle drive or not.