New Research on Urban Farming
group of graduate students in urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of
Public Affairs has created the first comprehensive picture of urban agriculture
in Los Angeles County, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
farming has long been the domain of rural landscapes, increasing interest in
the local-food movement, healthy eating and sustainable cities has sparked the
growth of farming in urban environments. The new report, “Cultivate L.A.: An
Assessment of Urban Agriculture in L.A. County,” is intended to aid city
planners as they learn how to accommodate these new land uses in the nation’s
most populous county.
managers also expect the data to be a useful tool for urban agriculture
practitioners and start-up entrepreneurs seeking information about current and
future business models and siting opportunities for urban agriculture
enterprises. Advocates, such as the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, will use
the research to inform efforts to create a more seamless infrastructure and
support system for urban agriculture in Los Angeles County’s food ecosystem.
researchers produced an interactive map detailing the location of every formal
urban agriculture site across the county, excluding residential backyard
gardens. The map is supplemented by a report, downloadable from the same
website, with in-depth analysis. The report includes an appendix that catalogs
laws and regulations governing urban agriculture in each of L.A. County’s 88
municipalities, case studies and other resources.
agriculture, as defined in the report, is any undertaking that produces,
processes, distributes or sells fruits, vegetables, livestock, floral goods or
other materials in urban settings or their immediate surroundings.
the group’s findings:
- There are a total of 1,261 verified urban agriculture
sites — categorized as school gardens, community gardens and commercial
primary growing sites — in Los Angeles County.
- L.A. County’s urban agriculture activity encompasses school
gardens with 761 sites and commercial agricultural operations (nurseries
and farms) total 382 sites, and community gardens. Unclear, complex and
conflicting regulations were found to constrain agricultural
- Definitions for agricultural activities in municipal
codes vary widely across the county, making it difficult — if not
impossible — for urban farmers to operate in compliance with local health
and zoning regulations.
- L.A. County’s urban farmers travel an average of 13.9
miles to distribute their goods versus the 46.8-mile average traveled by
the county’s farmer’s market vendors.
The University of California Cooperative Extension-Los
Angeles County assisted professors and students in this project. UCCE, part of
the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
works with home gardeners and commercial agriculture but has only recently begun
a coordinated effort to address the needs of urban farmers.
Labels: cal Ag today, CDFA, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Food Policy Council, UC ANR, UCCE, UCLA, Urban farming