- Author: N. Claire Napawan, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
- Author: Ellen Burke, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo
While the provision of clean water, removal of wastes, and infrastructure for other basic human necessities are considered in the planning of modern development in the United States, the provision of food is rarely a consideration. More often, transportation infrastructure, including roads, ports, and rails, is considered synonymous with food infrastructure, and little attention is paid to distances from the development to food retail, distribution hubs, ports, or food sources. In modern development it is assumed where there is a road, there will be food. This was not the case in pre-Industrial development; limited means of high-speed transportation, and the absence of technologies such as refrigeration, required carefully planned development to maximize efficiencies of transportation and proximities of food sources.As communities strive for increasingly sustainable means of development, an important consideration is planning for food resilience, of the ability to secure food within one's community in light of outside stressors such as natural disasters or limited fuel resources. Food resiliency requires balancing several considerations related to the locality of food, and contains a greater degree of complexity than the popularized 100 mile ‘local food' radius. While greater densities of development receiving efficient modes of food distribution offer one facet of food resilience, lower densities that offer opportunities for in-situ production provide yet another.
This research investigates relative food system resiliency by evaluating opportunities for adapting food systems within existing community patterns. The San Francisco Bay Area provides a relevant case study of both pre- and post-industrial development at a range of densities and networked with multiple transportation infrastructures. The evaluation of communities within this region reveals important considerations for environmental designers aiming to increase food system resilience in new and existing communities. This includes examining multiple scales of adaptation to production and distribution networks, and challenges the popularized 100 mile ‘local food' radius for achieving regional food resilience.
The study examines a convenience sample of four communities on a rough east-west transect within the San Francisco Bay Area and along Interstate 580: San Francisco, Oakland, Dublin and Mountain House. See Figure 1. The communities represent a range of densities, area coverage, and populations which correspond roughly to their location along the transect, with the larger and denser communities (San Francisco and Oakland) at the western end, and the smaller and less-dense communities at the eastern end of the transect. The transect is important in both geographic and historical terms, as the western end also corresponds to the oldest community with development occurring in an east-ward expansion.
At the scale of the neighborhood, the study identified travel distance to a full-service retail grocery store as the most significant criterion for assessing community food resilience. Using aerial photography and GIS data, a maximum one-way travel distance within each community to a full-service retail grocery store was established. For this study, a full-service retail grocery store was defined as a supermarket carrying fresh produce, such as Safeway, Andronico's or Lucky's. Convenience stores which sell primarily soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and snacks, were not included, as they do not typically provide access to fruits and vegetables (or other whole foods). The study calculated the average distance to a full-service retail grocery store within the community.
The study also defined the ‘productive potential' of each community, a measure of a typical back yard's ability to meet the fruit and vegetable diet for a family of four, based on average home lot size and coverage, USDA consumption figures and typical home-garden yields. A combination of aerial photographs, zoning maps and real-estate data for each community was analyzed to determine a typical lot configuration for each community, illustrating the average lot size, average home size and coverage. Although individuals may choose to use open space areas on their lots in a variety of ways, including ornamental landscaping, xeriscaping, recreational features such as basketball courts, lawn and hardscaping, in addition to food gardening, the productive potential of any lot is pre-determined by open space provided. Raised bed gardening, a typical home-garden approach to growing food, yields an average 1.24 pounds per square foot. In the U.S. an average of 1.5 pounds of fruits and vegetables is consumed per person per day. The productive potential of each community was derived from applying the raised bed average yield to 90% of the typical lot open space in each community, and then calculating what percentage of the full-year fruit and vegetable diet for a family of four would be met by that yield.
Flexibility is key to resilience. While San Francisco might not be able to produce all its fruit and vegetable needs via urban agriculture, access to multiple neighborhood grocery stores and to efficient modes of food distribution offer alternative means of adopting alternative food systems. Oakland, shares many of the same advantages as San Francisco, but with greater lots sizes (and generally a better microclimate), opportunities for urban agriculture are far greater. Dublin, while not sharing the same access to efficient modes of food distribution as San Francisco and Oakland, offers the greatest opportunities for residential urban agriculture with a productive potential of 190%. With minimal opportunities for home production, great distances between home and local grocery retail, and removed location from efficient distribution centers, the community of Mountain House appears to be the least capable of adaptations to the existing food system.
The results of this research exemplify the need for environmental designers to balance considerations of density and geographic location in new development. While density provides opportunities for limiting personal automobile commute times, it can also interfere with opportunities to promote UA as an alternative food source. Recognizing the geographic location of new development, the impacts to food distribution networks, and the proximity of local food retail outlets should also be an important consideration for environmental designers. In essence, the infrastructure of a community's food system (including global, regional, and local sources and distribution networks) should be an equal consideration to new development in the San Francisco Bay Area, and beyond, if community's are to be designed as resilient food systems.
- Author: Stephanie Parreira, UC Statewide IPM Program
To read the full transcript of the audio, click here.
Successful IPM in honey bee colonies involves understanding honey bee pest biology, regularly monitoring for pests, and using a combination of different methods to control their damage. Visit these resources for more information:
Sources for the Value of Honey Bees:
- Author: Reyna Yagi
Reyna Yagi (firstname.lastname@example.org), Northern California Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator, University of California Cooperative Extension - Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
How can we as urban farmers do our part to conserve water? Turns out there are a lot of ways that not only will help to save our beautiful state's water, but also help you build a healthier farm or garden with less work on your hands!
Rainwater Harvesting allows you to capture rainwater from roofs, collect it in a cistern for diversion to your landscape for supplemental irrigation. You should also observe your site's water runoff patterns and see how you can manage and maximize your runoff to deal with large rain events, stormwater runoff and infiltration around your site. Consider a rain garden!
- Dry Farming depends on the water stored in the soil from winter rains that plants can use in the spring as the weather warms. Plants rely on good soil moisture and deep roots to seek out this extra water without needing much supplemental irrigation. Grapes, potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash, fruit trees and grains can be dry-farmed.
- Deep watering wets entire root zones which promotes deeper root growth.
- Always water early in the morning to prevent daytime water loss through evaporation.
- Keep an eye on the weather! A refreshing rain or cool, cloudy day will extend the time between watering.
- Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. Visually inspect your drip system regularly for breaks, leaks and missing pieces. If you don't, your plants will certainly let you know with plant diseases.
California's agricultural industry is the largest in the nation and abroad, carrying with that a great responsibility to protect and conserve our resources. Urban farmers are highly cognizant of this. They are some of the most innovative and conservation-minded folks out there who understand the fragility of our water supply and their role in being model stewards of our lands and waters.
- Author: Mary V. Redlin
GrowGood is a Los Angeles-based non-profit urban farm with a mission to create urban agricultural programs that empower people and transform communities. Created in 2011 by Brad Pregerson and Andrew Hunt, GrowGood has worked with The Salvation Army's Bell Shelter to convert the vacant site adjacent to the shelter into an urban farm. The Bell Shelter is the largest homeless shelter west of Mississippi that provides a comprehensive transitional care program for up to 350 homeless men and women, many of them veterans.
GrowGood accomplishes its mission through three main strategies: (1) supplying a variety of nutritious, fresh produce to the Shelter's kitchen; (2) providing job training and meaningful resume-building employment opportunities for homeless and other vulnerable populations with the greatest barriers to employment; and (3) managing a therapeutic green space for spiritual and emotional healing.
Despite having been neglected for many years, GrowGood's soil biology has improved remarkably with time, patience, and beneficial cover crop seed mixes. GrowGood maintains organic practices without using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The farm enriches its soil with compost and worm tea made on-site.
Most of what GrowGood produces goes to the shelter, including vegetables, herbs, and fruit, but you can also find their bounty in local Los Angeles restaurants.
Whether it's providing employment, providing nourishment, or hosting a community workshop – GrowGood has it all, and proves you don't need much space to “grow good.”
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Phone: (323) 645-0215
- Author: Aleta Barrett
- County: UCCE Placer/Nevada
In my first Starting Smarter blog post, I talked about hands-on education, business planning, market research, and crop selection (Starting Smarter Part 1). I could write a book on what I didn't know when I started farming. In Part 2, I will summarize key considerations for a successful start-up and things I would do in the first years.
If I had it all to do over again, what would I do differently in my vegetable operation?
Equipment & Infrastructure: I would invest in BCS (walk-behind tractor), used tractor, or make a rental equipment budget part of my start-up plan. My husband put his knees in jeopardy by using a shovel to break ground and farm our first ¼ acre. Rental equipment would have been a game changer in our first couple of years. We benefitted immediately from some key infrastructure investments: a cool room, washing area, high tunnel, germination area, and greenhouse. In our operation, these are important and I would get them as quickly as I could without taking on debt. Before buying, ask other farmers what were game changers for them. Develop a list, put the items in order of priority and buy them as you can. Go with inexpensive versions that get the job done and that you can afford. Debt is not the friend of a beginning farmer.
Land: A few things I would check when choosing land:
• Zoning and restrictions
• Flat/sloped and direction/aspect
• Water source and reliability
• Soil quality
• Drainage – how does the land behave during the dry AND rainy seasons?
• Delivery truck accessibility
• Prior use and potential for organic certification
• Surrounding property use – is there anything around you that may require barriers or cause conflict? (e.g. noise or odor restrictions)
• Is there adequate fencing? If not add that expense into your start up budget.
Farmers' Markets: I would stick with one farmers' market until I was consistently making a profit before expanding to more.
Organic Certification: I would have become Certified Organic sooner. It really was not hard, the certifier was very helpful and guided me through the process. It would have helped me keep better records from the beginning.
Labor: I would estimate my annual labor budget and add in employees only when I had enough cash flow. I would calculate the full cost (loaded labor rate, including taxes and workers compensation insurance) of an employee before hiring. I would consider how much time I could afford to spend as a manager rather than a worker on my farm. I would hire people only for the time I was available to manage them.
Owner Salary: I would pay myself every month, even if it were only $100. Just to get in the mindset that the farm should pay me. Then I would work hard to get that up to a financially sustainable income. The median per capita income in Placer-Nevada is $34,000 year or $2,833 per month. I would attempt to track and limit my time working on the farm. This is a challenge but it's important to enjoy life and not allow the farm to work you to death.
Financing & Savings: I did know a few things in the beginning because I had managed and owned other businesses in the past and benefited from having a savings account and family backing. I knew that the business would not turn a profit for at least three years and I needed enough savings to live off during that time.
There are some things you just have to learn by doing. For me, I'm better at fielding questions from farmers' market customers now. I remember how to harvest, what temperature, and how long to store various types of produce. In the beginning, I had to constantly check a book or go online for this information. There are many things I am still learning and I'm sure there always will be.
Your unique situation will require your own solutions and methods. I hope these tips help you become a profitable farmer more quickly and efficiently. May you have a bountiful and successful farm!
Check out the New Farmers and Resources tabs on our Foothill Farming website: http://ucanr.edu/sites/placernevadasmallfarms/