Rachel A. Surls Ph.D.

Sustainable Food Systems Advisor Emeritus
Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County
700 W. Main Street
(626) 586-1982
Alhambra, CA 91801
ramabie@ucdavis.edu Create VCard



Rachel Surls is the Sustainable Food Systems Advisor Emeritus for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County, part of UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. From school gardens to urban agriculture, over her 35 year career with UC Cooperative Extension, Rachel has been involved in a wide array of programs related to urban food systems. She coordinates training, technical assistance and resources for urban farmers such as the UC Urban Agriculture Website and Blog. She directed the UC Master Gardener Volunteer program in Los Angeles, which helps residents learn to grow their own food and garden sustainably. A former Peace Corps Volunteer, her service in Honduras strongly influenced her decision to pursue a career related to food, farming, and sustainability. Rachel co-authored a book on the largely forgotten agricultural history of Los Angeles, “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles,” published by Angel City Press in 2016. 


Ph.D. Higher Education Administration, Claremont University, CA. 2008
M.S. Agricultural Science, Cal Poly Pomona. 1994
B.S. Agronomy, Virginia Tech. 1985



urban agriculture, urban gardening, food systems

Areas of Expertise (click to see all ANR academics with this expertise)


Peer Reviewed

  • Chiarella, C.; Lamoureaux, Y.; Pires, A.; Surls, R.; Bennaton, R.; Van Soelen Kim, J.; Grady, S.; Ramos, T.; Koundinya, V; & DiCaprio, E (2023). A preliminary assessment of food policy obstacles in California’s produce recovery networks. Agric Hum Values. 40, 1239–1258. March 17.
  • Surls, R.; Bennaton, R.; Feenstra, G.; Lobo, R.; Pires, A.; Sowerwine, J.; Van Soelen Kim, J.; & Wilen, C. (2023). Urban agriculture in California: Lessons learned from an urban farmer workshop series. California Agriculture. 77:2, 57-62. Sept. 8.
  • Hartin, J.S.; Surls, R.A.; Bush, J.P. (2022). Lawn removal motivation, satisfaction, and landscape maintenance practices of southern Californians. HortTechnology. 32:1, 57-66. https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/32/1/article-p57.xml
  • Sowerwine, J.; Oatfield, C.; Bennaton, R.; Surls, R.; Borel, V.; & Biscaro, A. (2020). California urban agriculture food safety guide: Laws and standard operating practices for farming safely in the city. UC ANR Publication Number 8660.
  • Galt, Ryan; Bradley, Katharine; Christensen, Libby; Fake, Cindy; Munden-Dixon, Kate; Simpson, Natasha; Surls, Rachel; Van Soelen Kim, Julia (2017). What difference does income make for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members in California? Comparing lower-income and higher-income households. Agriculture and Human Values. 34:2, 435-452. June.
  • Surls, R.; Borel, V., et al. (2016) Soils in urban agriculture: Testing, remediation, and best management practices. UC ANR Publication 8552

  • Surls, R.; Feenstra, G.; Golden, S.; Galt, R.; Hardesty, S.; Napawan, C.; Wilen, C. (2014) Gearing up to support urban farming in California: Preliminary results of a needs assessment. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 10 DOI: 10.1017/S1742170514000052
  • Baumeister, M.; Savio, Y.; Surls, R.; & Swain, S. (2013) Community gardens. UC ANR Publication 8499,
  • Surls, R.; Drill, S. L. (2009). "Bringing the environment into the English as a second language classroom." Journal of Extension 47(3): Article 3IAW3.
  • Surls, R. (2008). Land-grant universities and the county-extension relationship: Challenges, successes and emerging trends. Claremont Graduate University. Ph.D:AAT 3318542. 2008.
  • Hagillih, D.; Hodel, D.; Surls, R.; Bender, G.; Lazaneo, V. (2003). "Performance of low-chill peach cultivars in south coastal California." Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society 116: 47-50.
  • Mabie, R.; Baker, M. (1996). "The influence of experiential instruction on urban elementary students' knowledge of the food and fiber system." Journal of Extension 34(6): 1-4.

Non-Peer Reviewed

California Agriculture Article Contributions

ANR Workgroup Associations

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