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Sustainable Food Systems

Access to healthy food is an important issue in urban Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County is home to more than 9.9 million residents (the largest county population in the nation) with a high poverty rate and increasing hunger and food insecurity. At the same time, Los Angeles consumers have a growing appetite for fresh, locally grown produce. Urban residents, policy makers and leaders of community institutions are looking for ways to improve the availability of healthy food through local and regional food production. These new methods include urban agriculture (backyard, school and community gardens and small urban farms) and activities that link farmers with consumers (farmers markets, community supported agriculture and farm-to-school programs).

Sustainable urban food systems have the potential to enhance communities in a variety of ways: improved access to healthy foods, economic development and enhanced natural resources, such as open community spaces.

UC Cooperative Extension conducts research and provides technical assistance to help individuals and organizations achieve success in developing sustainable food systems projects in urban Los Angeles County.

Currently, efforts are largely focused on urban agriculture. Los Angeles residents are engaged in small-scale farming, poultry raising and beekeeping. Cooperative Extension is developing educational resources to support these urban farmers. However, established commercial farmers should explore UC Cooperative Extension's agriculture program to learn about resources and support available through our Farm Advisor, Andre Biscaro.

Links: Agriculture, Common Ground Garden Program, Community Gardens, School Gardens and Vegetable Gardening

Contact Information
Rachel Surls, Ph.D.
Sustainable Food Systems Advisor
700 W. Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 586-1982, ramabie@ucanr.edu