Did you know? The UC Food Observer is made possible by the UC Global Food Initiative, which was launched by University of California President Janet Napolitano in 2014. This ambitious initiative is addressing one of the most compelling issues of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach 8 billion by 2025.

The UC initiative is pulling together all 10 campuses, five medical centers, UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the UC Office of the President to achieve these goals.

Whether it’s food production, food access or food policy, UC is researching it…and translating that research to policy and practice. We are pulling together the institution’s comprehensive resources to share best practices and strengthen capabilities across UC…and beyond. And we are discussing sustainable agriculture and food issues, at all levels, from student gatherings and campus dining halls to classrooms, laboratories, student farms and the president’s office in Oakland.

Urban Agriculture in California

One of the areas of focus for the UC Global Food Initiative is urban agriculture, which holds the potential to improve food access in communities and to create and strengthen economic opportunities.

In 2012, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) sustainable food systems advisor Rachel Surls led a team that conducted a needs assessment of urban agriculture efforts in California. Team member Gail Feenstra – deputy director of UC Sustainable Agriculture and Education Program (UC SAREP) and UC Davis Agriculture Sustainability Institute – followed up on the needs assessment by securing a grant to provide tours that highlight youth involvement in urban agriculture.

The team collaborated with youth-focused urban agriculture programs in California to give voice to youth work Through a series of tours and videos, youth were given an opportunity to share their passion and knowledge about urban agriculture…what they know, why the work is important to them and their communities and why it should be supported.

Rachel Surls told me this about the work:

“It was so exciting to have this opportunity to showcase the amazing work of young urban farmers around the state. Their voices, which are so beautifully captured in the videos, remind us that urban agriculture has value in communities that extends beyond the production of food. It’s about a sense of belonging, and ownership of community spaces, as well as leadership development.”


“When I come here, I’m free.”

Watch the videos below to hear from youth about their experiences in urban agriculture. They are informative and moving. You can read more about the youth involved here.

The first video shares information about San Francisco Bay Area urban ag programs. The second video highlights a recent tour of Los Angeles urban agriculture programs…and an array of facilities supporting urban agriculture in the Los Angeles region.

Have a great weekend!


UC Merced researcher Elliott Campbell on the potential of urban agriculture and local food

Q&A with UC SAREP director Tom Tomich

“From Cows to Concrete” – Los Angeles County’s ag history

From small farming to urban agriculture (Los Angeles County)