Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

UC launches urban agriculture website

Muir Ranch, a farm at Muir High School in Pasadena, is tended by students and UC Master Gardeners.
As local food has gained popularity, more city folks are growing food in their own backyards. Now they have a new online resource to consult about urban farming. The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources has launched a website to provide practical, science-based information for urban agriculture.

At the website at http://ucanr.edu/urbanag, visitors will find information on raising livestock, crop production, marketing and policies for farming in their backyards, on a few acres, at a school or in a community setting.

Rachel Surls, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles County, and a team including UCCE farm advisors, policy and advocacy experts, urban planners, agricultural economists and others created the new urban agriculture website in response to the results of a UC survey of urban farmers in California.

“Our team interviewed urban farmers around the state about their challenges and successes, and what information they really needed as they got started,” said Surls, who specializes in sustainable food systems. “Based on their needs, we looked for science-based educational materials that would be helpful and packaged them into this website.

Before bringing home live chickens, check local zoning laws. Photo by Zachary Zabel, Cultivate Los Angeles
“The site will be a resource for urban farmers who are selling what they grow, 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.”  

Many urban farmers are beginning farmers, according to Surls. “They need basic information on planting, pests and irrigation, as well as information that's more specific to farming in the city,” she said. “For example, they must navigate local laws and regulations that impact farming which include zoning and health codes.” 

The UC ANR Urban Agriculture website also advises urban farmers about environmental issues that they may encounter.

“Urban soils can sometimes be contaminated and may need testing and remediation,” Surls said. “Farming close to neighbors in the city can also bring special challenges.” 

She encourages people to check back for updates as the Urban Ag website continues to grow.

“We'll also share stories about urban farms around California and news around the state about urban agriculture policies and initiatives,” Surls said.

Visit the UC ANR Urban Agriculture website at http://ucanr.edu/urbanag.

Posted on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 11:20 AM


Congratulations to Rachel, Rob and the other UCCE advisors cooperating in this project and providing such a wonderful resource. This was long time needed, even in not so urbanized areas, as resource for the local zoning laws and pesticide usage. Californians are growing more and more their own fruits & vegetables in their backyards.

Posted by Maria de la Fuente on July 8, 2014 at 2:05 PM

I have 2-3 tomato plants with yellowing spotted leaves that appear to be in decline...they haven't grown in a while now. How can I send a leaf to the CO Extention Office for diagnosis of the problem and where would I send it? Thank you

Posted by Rita Jelsma on July 8, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Hi Rita, Sorry to hear your tomato plants are ailing. You can locate the UC Cooperative Extension office in your county by clicking on the map at http://ucanr.edu/County_Offices.

Reply by Pamela Kan-Rice on July 8, 2014 at 5:09 PM

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