Urban Agriculture
University of California
Urban Agriculture

UC Food and Agriculture Blogs

Fall Lawn Quiz

Mowing lawn using electric mulching mower. (C.A. Reynolds)

Not everyone has a lawn, but if you do, fall is the perfect time to give your lawn some much-needed attention. To find out if you are maintaining your lawn properly, answer the following questions: Is your irrigation system set to water deeply and...

Posted on Monday, October 2, 2017 at 10:48 AM

Quirky storytelling on a powerful platform supports economic development, farmers and families

Nick Papadopoulos wants to create a culture of infectious enthusiasm in the farm and food world. This year he's hit the road with a cell phone and eight-foot selfie pole, digging into communities to find everyday people who are having a positive impact on farms, gardens, markets and food banks.

He found his passion as a small-scale organic farmer dismayed by a cooler full of wholesome food without a buyer. Just miles away families were suffering food insecurity. The dilemma sparked the creation of CropMobster Community Exchange, a social media and crowd sourcing online platform for food, farmers and consumers. People who have extra food can post, and the crowd gives ideas for distribution. CropMobster became a community connector.

"It's amazing what can happen with you stick your Nick out," Papadopoulous joked.

Nick Papadopoulous brought his passion for food and stories to the International Food Bloggers Conference in Sacramento.

Papadopoulous was the keynote speaker at the 2017 International Food Bloggers Conference in Sacramento, encouraging the writers to find ways to collaborate and make a difference in the world. 

"Think about the power of impact you can have," he said. "You can have fun, do your work, but carve out time to be a team. Team up to make impact happen."

Today CropMobster is in 18 of 58 California counties. "We've had millions of dollars of economic impact and saved millions of pounds of food because thousands of people believe in our vision and are joining the tribe," Papadopoulous said. "4-H'ers are selling product, someone found a job, a health provider connected fresh veggies with a client."

Nick Papadopoulous, left, and his wife Jess have traveled to 40 of California's 58 counties looking for stories about people and land producing food for California families.

The remarkable stories shared by CropMobster users sparked another innovation: CropMobster TV. Adopting the persona "Nicky Bobby," Papadopoulous travels the state interviewing wise elderly citizens, young leaders, farming families, immigrant workers, and food and agriculture scientists to produce twice-weekly online videos in a non-commercial, folksy tone.

"We are highlighting stories that are feeding our families," Papadopoulous said. "We're tying to untangle the caring economy, what it is that makes people so generous."

The current season of CropMobster TV is sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and FoodTank. Watch episodes on the CropMobster TV YouTube Channel or the CropMobster TV Facebook page.


Nick Papadopoulous shows the selfie pole he fashioned from a selfie stick and gutter cleaner to shoot folksy food videos as he travels the state.




Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 6:41 PM

Supplement promises to create climate smart cows

A steer at UC Davis that is part of the Mootral trial, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.

Belching beef and dairy cows emit a significant amount of methane, sending a potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere where it can contribute to climate change. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researcher Ermais Kebreab, a professor in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, is studying a potential new solution.

In European studies, supplementation with just 15 grams of a formulation called Mootral, derived from garlic and citrus extracts, killed bacteria in the cow's gut that produce the gas emitting from the animals' mouths and nostrils. Methane emission was cut 30 to 50 percent. Kebreab and his staff are feeding the supplement to nine California cows at the UC Davis farm and comparing their emissions with nine cows on identical rations minus Mootral.

UC ANR researcher Ermais Kebreab is leading a trail at UC Davis comparing cattle that received the Mootral supplement with those that did not.

The research was shared with writers in Sacramento for the International Food Bloggers Conference during a pre-event excursion to the UC Davis ag barn.

"This research is highly relevant in California," Kebreab said. "The state is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030. We need to reduce the environmental impact of livestock production."

Mootral is fed to the cattle by adding it to alfalfa pellets.

"It's like Beano for cows," said one food blogger.

If Mootral is effective in reducing livestock's greenhouse gas belching, and the product is found safe for the animals, scientists may be able to put together a protocol for the farmers to claim credit for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in a cap and trade scenario, Kebreab said.

After visiting the cattle, the food bloggers ate dinner at UC Davis' Gateway Garden, becoming the first Americans to try beef from cows that received the Mootral supplement.

Manager of the UC Davis Meat Lab, Caleb Sehnert, prepared prime rib from an animal treated with Mootral.
Food bloggers enjoyed a prime rib dinner at Gateway Gardens on the UC Davis campus.
Posted on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 8:54 PM

New Invasive Plant Resources

Dyer's woad. (S. Orloff)

Invasive plants—plants that can disperse, establish, and spread without human assistance or disturbance—pose a serious problem in California's waterways, wildlands and rangelands. Common garden weeds, unlike invasive plants, don't generally...

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 3:00 PM


Juvenile racoon. (L. Fitzhugh)

Raccoons may look adorable at times, but when this nocturnal animal appears in your yard at night, its “cuteness” factor quickly disappears. Raccoons normally live in natural areas, but they can easily adapt and survive in urban settings...

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 at 8:52 AM

First storyPrevious 5 stories  |  Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: vtborel@ucanr.edu