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Gearing up to support urban farming in California: Preliminary results of a needs assessment

  • Rachel Surls (a1), Gail Feenstra (a2), Sheila Golden (a2), Ryan Galt (a3), Shermain Hardesty (a4), Claire Napawan (a5) and Cheryl Wilen (a6)...

According to the United States Census, California is the most urban state in the nation. Although there are many outstanding examples of urban farms in California, in general, urban agriculture (UA) has been slower to gain momentum here than in some other states with large urban populations. Over the past several years, urban agriculture's popularity in California has begun to escalate, with strong emerging interest in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles and other metropolitan communities. One challenge for urban farmers and municipal decision makers engaged with UA in California has been limited availability of relevant information and technical assistance. A new project team at the University of California Cooperative Extension, part of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is working to develop web-based educational resources that will be grounded in a needs assessment that is currently underway. The needs assessment includes a literature review, an internal survey of UC ANR personnel, and community clientele interviews. This paper will report on preliminary findings and analyses of the needs assessment, particularly how UC ANR personnel are engaged with UA, and what tools they think would best serve urban farmers. We suggest implications for those involved with UA, such as personnel of land-grant universities, local governments and non-profits seeking to address the needs of urban farmers in an environment of constrained resources.

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