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The City Tree Nursery 

City Nursery

This City-owned property previously supported the City’s landscaping operations. Located at 1920 34th Avenue, the property is approximately 5 acres in the Mangan Park neighborhood. The City is partnering with an exciting team to activate the site for urban agriculture, food access, and workforce and educational training. This effort will increase community food access and advance equity and environmental justice. Fundraising is currently underway, with a goal of project construction and opening in 2021.

For more information or future updates, email treenursery@cityofsacramento.org.

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What is the former City Tree Nursery?

The former City Tree Nursery is a City-owned complex consisting of buildings and land formerly used for landscaping operations. The City previously used the site to grow many of its annual and perennial plants and tree stock. The site is located at 1920 34th Avenue in Sacramento, California, in the Mangan Park neighborhood west of and adjacent to Mangan Park and the Sacramento Executive Airport. The City closed the Tree Nursery in 2008.  Since then, the site has been mostly vacant, except for the temporary storage of plants and trees, and stockpiling the City’s bulk materials such as soil, mulch, or wood chips.

The Tree Nursery site is approximately five acres. Existing buildings on site include a greenhouse and former administrative building. The site includes many other site improvements to support plant propagation activities, including a shade structure, irrigation systems, and bulk storage facilities.


Q: Why has the Tree Nursery been vacant for so long?

Prior to closure, the site was increasingly underutilized largely due to the downsizing of municipal operations, staff consolidation, and changes in the method by which the City purchases plants and trees for use in our City-owned parks, landscaping, and medians. Most of the City’s planting stock is now purchased from commercial growers and only stored at the site a few months each year. The site is no longer needed for core City functions.

The site has remained underutilized and mostly vacant largely due to funding constraints and other facility priorities. Maintenance at the site has not kept pace with the deterioration of the buildings. Additional investment is needed before the site is ready for use. However, there are currently no City funds allocated to complete site improvements.

In 2019, with the support of Councilmember Jay Schenirer (whose Council district covers the Tree Nursery site) the City launched efforts to activate the site for urban agriculture use, building on years of effort.

In past efforts, the City attempted to lease the site for urban agriculture, but with no success. In 2014, the City released a Request for Proposals for use of a portion of the site for horticulture and community engagement, but received no responses. In 2016, the City undertook negotiations with a potential lessor, but negotiations fell through. In addition, due to concerns regarding lead contamination at the adjacent Mangan Park gun range, the City conducted soil testing at the site in 2017. After soil testing, the City remediated a small portion of the site to ensure the entire site met residential screening levels established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The site is now ready for use.

Q: What is the status of current efforts for the City Tree Nursery?

In July 2020, the City entered into a lease agreement with Planting Justice for a sub-area of the undeveloped Tree Nursery site. Planting Justice is a non-profit based out of Oakland that has partnered with local enterprises Yisrael Family Urban Farm and Three Sisters Gardens.

The three nonprofits propose to transform the former City Tree Nursery property into what will become a nationally significant center for urban agriculture, social entrepreneurship, multi-faceted biodiversity, youth mentorship, and farmer training. The site will support a vegetable/herb/flower farm led by Three Sisters Gardens, youth mentorship and culinary/farm mentorship led by Yisrael Family Urban Farm, and a production nursery for Planting Justice’s existing organic plant nursery, which includes one of the largest collections of certified organic fruit trees in North America boasting over 1,200 varieties. Together, the goals of this coalition are to create living-wage green jobs, youth employment opportunities, urban agriculture on-boarding and training, and a variety of educational opportunities for sustainability and health, and healthy food access for years to come.  The project will also include a local farm stand and opportunities for local community access and engagement. A major focus of the project is to advance equity in Sacramento through living wage jobs, food security, and education and training.

In summer 2020, Planting Justice and the project team are fundraising, applying for permits, and initiating site preparation.

Q: Why did the City choose this approach and this team to activate the site?

In 2019 and 2020, the City solicited proposals from interested parties to lease and manage all or a portion of the site as a multi-use hub for agricultural, workforce development, and related purposes. The City has explored opportunities through community meetings and release of a Request for Information (RFI) in May 2019 (Bid#: I19151131037) and a Request for Proposals in August 30, 2019 (Bid#: P202015113006). A primary goal for this project is successful activation of the site with strong community engagement while advancing inclusive economic growth, particularly as it relates to workforce development, small business, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

RFP responses were evaluated by a review panel consisting of a diverse team of City staff and a community representative. As a result of the evaluation process, the City interviewed two RFP respondents. Following interviews, the City review panel made a unanimous choice to offer the site to the partnership led by Planting Justice, a non-profit based out of Oakland, California. Planting Justice is teamed with local urban agriculture leaders Yisrael Family Urban Farm based out of South Oak Park, and Three Sisters Gardens based out of West Sacramento.

The City entered into an Exclusive Rights to Negotiate agreement with Planting Justice in December 2019, for purposes of finalizing a lease. In July 2020, the City and Planting Justice entered into a lease agreement for an initial three-acres of the undeveloped portions of the site. As funds are raised, the lease will be amended to allow for full project buildout by Planting Justice and local partners.

Q: What is the City’s role in the project?

The City owns the Tree Nursery site and is providing access to Planting Justice and the project team via a lease with Planting Justice. The City is providing the lease at a discounted rate of $1 per year. City Councilmember Jay Schenirer and City staff are also supporting the effort by assisting with project fundraising and grant applications, permitting, and partnerships. The City will remain a committed partner through support such as ongoing engagement, coordination, and site build-out efforts. Planting Justice is the master lease tenant for the site and responsible for site maintenance, development, permitting, and operations.

Q: How does this project align with or differ from other community garden projects in Sacramento? 

Unlike other City-run community gardens, this effort would result in privately managed urban agriculture activities. However, Planting Justice is responsible for managing sub-leases to the property and providing community access. The City will continue to collaborate with Planting Justice and project partners to ensure community access and benefit.

Before the project can proceed, funding must be identified. The City anticipates that funds may come from a mixture of private funds, donations, and public funding. Planting Justice is responsible for leading funding efforts and will ultimately be responsible for project.

Q: What is the anticipated timeline for the project?

Site permitting and fundraising are initiating in Summer 2020. Preliminary cover crop plantings are anticipated to begin by Fall 2020. Full buildout of the site will commence as funds are raised, with a goal of construction in 2021.

Q: How do I propose activities or gain access for the Tree Nursery?

All responses for leasing the site were due through the RFP process in late 2019. Planting Justice now is the master tenant with a lease for the site. However, there may be future opportunities for sub-tenants, or site access for community members, once the site is activated. All such decisions will be made at the discretion of Planting Justice based on their use and goals for the site. The site is also envisioned to provide community access with activities such as a weekly farm stand.

Please note that current zoning adjacent to the Executive Airport limits the number of persons on the site to 50 people at any one time.

Q: I live in the neighborhood or I’m interested in the project – how do I learn more, or share ideas? 

Volunteers and contributors are welcome! If you would like to receive updates, please email treenursery@cityofsacramento.org. You can also sign up for email updates from District 5 and updates on the City’s website and social media accounts at www.cityofsacramento.org.

Q: What else is the City doing for urban agriculture?

The Department of Youth, Parks, & Community Enrichment currently operates 17 permanent community gardens, with three planned for the future. Learn more online: https://www.cityofsacramento.org/ParksandRec/Parks/Specialty-Parks/Community-Gardens.

The City’s Urban Agriculture Ordinance reduces regulatory barriers for small-scale agricultural uses on private land. Learn more online: http://www.cityofsacramento.org/Community-Development/Planning/Long-Range/Urban-Agriculture. 

The City’s inclusive economic growth initiatives support innovation and entrepreneurship, with potential to support urban agriculture enterprises: http://www.cityofsacramento.org/Economic-Development

In addition, the City’s General Plan 2040 update process is underway. Learn more about how the General Plan is addressing food access and urban agriculture and food access through the Environmental Justice Element and other components of the General Plan: https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Community-Development/Planning/Major-Projects/General-Plan.

Q: Who do I contact with additional questions?

Please email treenursery@cityofsacramento.org for questions or to receive project updates.

Resources

Read a 1-page summary of Planting Justice’s plans for the site here.

Review a PowerPoint that summarizes key project components here.

Learn more about Planting Justice, the lead project partner leasing the site from the City here.

Read Planting Justice’s successful RFP response to the City here.

Learn more about local partners supporting Planting Justice, Yisrael Family Urban Farm and Three Sisters Gardens.

Read the City’s May 2019 for the RFI here.

Read the City’s August 2019 RFP here.