UCCE advisor sees cultural shift toward urban ag in Los Angeles

Sep 5, 2013

Parkway gardens, neighborhood nurseries and schoolyard veggies can be found throughout Los Angeles County, but there is not good way to track it all, blogged Rick Paulas on the KCET Food Rant. Things are changing and Paulas got all the details from Rachel Surls, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in LA County.

Surls is the "client" for a group of UCLA students that are tracking Los Angeles' urban ag. She said the students, called Cultivate L.A., contacted the county's 88 cities to investigate their municipal codes related to food production.

"Are bees allowed? Are chickens and other kinds of poultry allowed? Are goats allowed? So that's one of the outcomes of the project I'm very excited about," Surls said.

The information has been incorporated into a map of LA, which allows users to navigate local municipal codes and find out how urban ag is taking shape in their neighborhoods.

Surls hopes the information can be used to establish "best practices" Los Angeles County cities can use in adapting planning codes to become more consistent and more rational in their approach to urban agriculture.

"People are very interested in this. So there's been a cultural shift towards wanting urban agriculture and having more opportunities for very small scale food production," Surls told Paulas. "But the codes and the policies have not been keeping pace. Hopefully, all the research that's been done by the students will help urban planners and city officials update the policies."

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist