With a growing interest in gardening, food preservation and livestock, urban agriculture is making its way to the forefront of planning and policy agendas. The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (UC ANR) released a portal for Urban Ag enthusiasts and farmers at the beginning of July. The portal features an array of information for beginning and experiences farmers alike. "The site will be a resource for urban farmers who are selling what they grown, as well as school and community gardeners, and folks who are keeping some backyard chickens and bees. We also intend it to be a resource for local policy makers who are making decisions that impact farming in California cities," says Rachel Surls, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles county and one of the creators of the website. You can visit the website here.
Farmers, urban gardeners, and community-based organizations can find a wide range of information on the site, including resources for pest management, business management, food safety, handling, and processing, as well as how to create an edible landscape via farm/garden design.
We highlight a few of the resources here we find most useful.
When doing urban agriculture, or any form of agriculture, pests will always be an issue. Pest management can be tricky depending on what type of product you are looking to produce whether it be organic or conventional. However, because urban agriculture often happens in close proximity to people and residences, urban farmers commonly use organic methods or Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to manage pests. The Urban Agriculture website helps growers find resources on pest management, as well as regulations in pesticide use and updates on pest quarantines that growers should stay aware of.
Farming is a complex business, and it’s important to plan accordingly for success. Through the website farmers can find important California based programs that provide additional information to urban farmers who are seeking to start or develop a business. Look out for updates on the business management section of this site.
Food Safety, Handling, and Processing
Foodborne illness is a serious concern, and urban farmers should learn about how to make sure that the food they produce is safe for consumers. California food safety regulations make it not just a good practice to understand food safety, but legally required. UC ANR provides links to help urban farmers avoid contamination in the pre and post-harvest phase, how to properly store agricultural products, and process value added products so that quality and safety are maintained.
Agriculture happens all over the city- in vacant urban lots, rooftops, and backyards. Through the Farm and Garden Design tab on the website under Production, people can find a link to Edible Landscaping through UC ANR’s Master Gardening Program. Edible landscaping is an exciting way to have your landscape pull double duty for you. You’ll have healthy food, save on your grocery bill, and support sustainable gardening practices.
Mobilizing the Urban Agriculture Movement
In addition to practical resources for urban agriculture practitioners, it is important to understand the broader impacts and benefits of urban agriculture. In collaborate with UC ANR, UC SAREP conducted a literature review of current research on urban agriculture to help researchers, policy makers, and community organizations understand the social, environmental impacts.