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Integrating Urban Agriculture with Youth Development through Community Tours

The Issue

Urban agriculture is the production and distribution of food in urban spaces. It includes a wide range of activities, from backyard and community gardens to non-profit farms to high-tech commercial operations. In addition to food production, goals often include increasing community food security, developing youth leadership, or creating neighborhood green spaces. Urban agriculture is gaining momentum and has been shown to have a wide range of benefits. However, urban farmers and gardeners face unique challenges, including limited availability of relevant information and technical assistance.

What Has ANR Done?

An ANR project team led by UCCE partners in LA and UC’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) in Davis organized a series of youth-led bus tours of urban agriculture sites in Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. The purpose of the tours was to foster youth leadership and connect urban farms to each other and ANR resources. Each tour was led by a team of youth who shared their perspectives on the benefits and challenges of urban agriculture. Regional ANR community partners attended the tours and helped provide pre-tour training during which, youth learned about storytelling and public speaking and had a chance to plan and practice their tours. A curriculum was developed based on the training, and two videos were produced featuring youth voices in urban agriculture across California. The videos can be found on the SAREP website: http://asi.ucdavis.edu/programs/sarep/research-initiatives/fs/supply/urban-agriculture

The Payoff

Tours built stronger relationships between ANR, urban farmers, and youth leaders

The major impacts of this project were increased connections between ANR and urban farmers and youth leadership development. The majority of ANR tour participants (93%) reported that the tours increased their capacity to serve the needs of urban farmers and gardeners in California, and 81% of non-ANR tour attendees reported that they are now more likely to reach out to ANR for support in the future. One community partner has already reached out to UC to explore opportunities for a more formal partnership. Youth tour leaders reported increased knowledge about storytelling, speaking in public, talking about their gardens, and planning a tour. Additionally, the tours resulted in a deeper understanding of the impacts of social and racial injustices in urban communities (especially among youth), which is helping inform the development of the strategic social equity goals at SAREP and the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute.

Clientele Testimonial

“We made more connections in one day than could happen over a year!”

“It is so unique to have a youth-led educational experience. They are not just future leaders, they are leaders now!”

“The tour reinforced that we are all learning from each other – students, youth, and professionals.”


Supporting Unit: Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program

Gail Feenstra, Deputy Director SAREP, gwfeenstra@ucdavis.edu; Rachel Surls, Sustainable Food Systems Advisor, ramabie@ucanr.edu; Shosha Capps, Community Food Systems Analyst, sacapps@ucdavis.edu