Since the mid 1990s, gardeners in the River Garden Estates neighborhood of north Sacramento have been growing their own food in an underutilized and undevelopable swath of a greenbelt under two sets of power lines. Struggles with the City of Sacramento have galvanized this group of residents who bring their food traditions from the Ukraine, Russia, Laos, the U.S. and Latin America to this informal space. Working with advanced landscape architecture students, Community Development graduate students, and local community organizers, we have been developing an assets-based approach to preserve the garden and plan for its future success. Gardeners are seeking approval to continue to grow their own food and to steward the land that has provided such benefit to their families and the adjacent community.
Article about the International Garden in the
American Community Garden Association Journal
Initial student observations
Students helped guide a participatory process that led
to a Visioning Document:
…and final student proposals:
The International Garden continues to operate. In 2016 the City of Sacramento evicted approximately 1/3 of the gardeners from the southernmost portion of the site to clear the base of two electrical towers. The City’s Parks and Recreation Department also constructed a new city-operated community garden adjacent to this garden, but has had mixed results in convincing resident gardeners to relocate.
In 2018, a final city eviction effort was met with widespread support from community advocates. Over the coming 6 months I helped broker an agreement between the City and the gardeners, which was made possible by a new garden improvement plan. This plan was approved by the City and the local utility district, SMUD. The Sacramento City Council subsequently voted to allocate $175,000 of Measure U funds to construct the improvements.