Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture

Food Safety Grant to Aid Urban Farmers

Published Date: Aug 24, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Associate Professor Eileen Cullen

A plant science professor is using $120,000 in grants from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the California State University Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) to create food safety training programs and practices for urban farmers.

Urban agriculture is becoming increasingly popular as city dwellers look to increase food security or obtain locally and organically grown food. About 15 to 20 percent of the world’s food is grown in urban areas, according to the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research group.

But many budding urban farmers aren’t familiar with local regulations that may present challenges to crop production. With the USDA ($60,000) and ARI ($60,000) grants, Associate Professor Eileen Cullen will develop food safety training designed specifically for urban and community growers, and mentor College of Agriculture undergraduate and graduate students in field and laboratory research projects.

“Food safety is just one of the important practices that urban farmers will need to know if they are to succeed in growing and marketing crops,” Cullen says.

The grant will also allow the Department of Plant Science to develop a food safety course as part a new urban and community agriculture minor that it will offer to students starting in the fall semester of 2018. In the minor, students will need to take 12 core units and six elective units that cover production, business, and urban agriculture policy and community development.

The initiative represents the Huntley College of Agriculture’s focus on urban agriculture. In addition, the college hosted a July 28 University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources workshop on urban agriculture at its AGRIscapes Center.

About 60 people attended the event, which focused on production issues on urban farms. They included urban farmers, educators, nonprofit organizations, school gardeners, farmers’ market vendors, public officials, and those involved in community food production or for-profit production in an urban setting.

The workshop was part of a series on urban agriculture that was put on by UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.