Rachel A. Surls Ph.D.
700 W. Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801
- UC ANR Urban Agriculture
- UC ANR Urban Agriculture-Twitter
- UC ANR Urban Agriculture-Facebook
- UC Master Gardener Program-Los Angeles County
Rachel Surls is the Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County, part of UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. From school gardens to urban agriculture, over her 30 year career with UC Cooperative Extension, Rachel has been involved in a wide array of programs related to urban food systems. She coordinates training, technical assistance and resources for urban farmers such as the UC Urban Agriculture Website and Blog. She directs the UC Master Gardener Volunteer program in Los Angeles, which helps residents learn to grow their own food and garden sustainably. A former Peace Corps Volunteer, her service in Honduras strongly influenced her decision to pursue a career related to food, farming, and sustainability. Rachel co-authored a book on the largely forgotten agricultural history of Los Angeles, “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles,” published by Angel City Press in 2016.
- Bradford Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award
Specialtyurban agriculture, urban gardening, food systems
Areas of Expertise (click to see all ANR academics with this expertise)
- Vegetable Crops - General
- Plants and Their Systems
- Plant Management Systems
- Human Nutrition, Food Safety, and Human Health and Well-Being
- Nutrition Education and Behavior
- Nutrition and Hunger in the Population
- Families, Youth, and Communities
- Youth Development
- Economics, Markets, and Policy
- Community Resource Planning and Development
- Domestic Policy Analysis
- Food and Society
- Building Regional Markets
- Community Food Security
- Food System Assessments/Policy
- Urban Agriculture/Local and Regional Food Systems
- Master Gardeners
- Healthy Families and Communities
- Sustainable Food Systems
- Chiarella, C.; Lamoureaux, Y.; Pires, A.; Surls, R.; Bennaton, R.; Van Soelen Kim, J.; Grady, S.; Ramos, T.; Koundinya, V; & DiCaprio, E (2023). A preliminary assessment of food policy obstacles in California’s produce recovery networks. Agric Hum Values. 40, 1239–1258. March 17.
- Surls, R.; Bennaton, R.; Feenstra, G.; Lobo, R.; Pires, A.; Sowerwine, J.; Van Soelen Kim, J.; & Wilen, C. (2023). Urban agriculture in California: Lessons learned from an urban farmer workshop series. California Agriculture. 77:2, 57-62. Sept. 8.
- Hartin, J.S.; Surls, R.A.; Bush, J.P. (2022). Lawn removal motivation, satisfaction, and landscape maintenance practices of southern Californians. HortTechnology. 32:1, 57-66. https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/32/1/article-p57.xml
- Sowerwine, J.; Oatfield, C.; Bennaton, R.; Surls, R.; Borel, V.; & Biscaro, A. (2020). California urban agriculture food safety guide: Laws and standard operating practices for farming safely in the city. UC ANR Publication Number 8660.
- Galt, Ryan; Bradley, Katharine; Christensen, Libby; Fake, Cindy; Munden-Dixon, Kate; Simpson, Natasha; Surls, Rachel; Van Soelen Kim, Julia (2017). What difference does income make for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members in California? Comparing lower-income and higher-income households. Agriculture and Human Values. 34:2, 435-452. June.
Surls, R.; Borel, V., et al. (2016) Soils in urban agriculture: Testing, remediation, and best management practices. UC ANR Publication 8552.
- Surls, R.; Feenstra, G.; Golden, S.; Galt, R.; Hardesty, S.; Napawan, C.; Wilen, C. (2014) Gearing up to support urban farming in California: Preliminary results of a needs assessment. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 10 DOI: 10.1017/S1742170514000052
- Baumeister, M.; Savio, Y.; Surls, R.; & Swain, S. (2013) Community gardens. UC ANR Publication 8499,
- Surls, R.; Drill, S. L. (2009). "Bringing the environment into the English as a second language classroom." Journal of Extension 47(3): Article 3IAW3.
- Surls, R. (2008). Land-grant universities and the county-extension relationship: Challenges, successes and emerging trends. Claremont Graduate University. Ph.D:AAT 3318542. 2008.
- Hagillih, D.; Hodel, D.; Surls, R.; Bender, G.; Lazaneo, V. (2003). "Performance of low-chill peach cultivars in south coastal California." Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society 116: 47-50.
- Mabie, R.; Baker, M. (1996). "The influence of experiential instruction on urban elementary students' knowledge of the food and fiber system." Journal of Extension 34(6): 1-4.
- Surls, R. (2022). Urban farms are stepping up their roles in communities nationwide. Civil Eats. Nov. 10. https://civileats.com/2022/11/10/urban-farms-food-access-community-support-fountain-heights-tri-cycle-alma-backyard-urban-agriculture/
- Surls, R. (2019). Designing urban farms. UC ANR Urban Agriculture Blog. June 21. https://ucanr.edu/sites/UrbanAg/?blogpost=30585&blogasset=70075
Mitchell, J.P., R. Bennaton, R. Surls, W. Brown, L. Altier, D. Goorahoo & Shrestha, A. 2019. (Video). Urban Agriculture. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. https://youtu.be/Q1pwSAEJ-bI
- Surls, Rachel (2017). UC ANR hosts workshops for California's urban farmers. UC Food Blog. July 12. https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=24575
- Feenstra, G.; Surls, R.; & Capps, S. (2016). California youth share experiences with urban agriculture. UC Urban Agriculture Blog. December 9. https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=22768
- Surls, R.; & Gerber, J. (2016). From cows to concrete: The rise and fall of farming in Los Angeles. Santa Monica, Angel City Press. 208.
- Surls, Rachel (2016). UC Food Observer Guest Blogger. UC Food Observer.R. Hayden-Smith. November 21. http://ucfoodobserver.com/2016/11/21/guest-blogger-ucs-rachel-surls/
Napawan, C.; Surls, R., & Feenstra, G. (2015). Meeting the Needs of Urban Agriculture in California: What Your City Can Do. Retrieved 4/5, 2016 from http://ucanr.edu/sites/UrbanAg/files/215416.pdf UC ANR: 4.
Surls, R. (2015). Urban Farms Can Help Feed the Hungry (Op-Ed). Retrieved 4/5, 2016 from http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article16116533.html. Sacramento, CA: Sacramento Bee.
Surls, R. (2015). Will Edible Native Plants Be a New Food Trend? UC Food Blog.
Hayden-Smith, R.; Surls, R. (2014) A century of science and service. California Agriculture 68(1): 8-15.
Hayden-Smith, R.; Surls, R.California Agriculture 68(1): 8-15.(2014) California milestones.
- Surls, R.; Borel, V. (2014). Lessons from California's urban farms. UC Food Blog. http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=15568
- Hodel, D.; Surls, R. (2014). Ornamental landscape date palm: An overlooked urban fruit tree. UC Food Blog.
- Surls, R.; Borel, V.; Golden, S. (2014). "UC Urban Agriculture Website." Retrieved 1/5, 2015, from http://ucanr.edu/sites/UrbanAg/.
- Golden, S. (2014). Urban agriculture impacts: Social, health, and economic: A literature review.G. Feenstra and R. Surls. Davis, CA, UC SAREP. Nov. 13. http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/sfs/files/UA%20Lit%20Review-%20Golden%20Reduced%2011-15_Aug%202014%20update.pdf
- Surls, R. (2013). 100 years of Cooperative Extension: The Smith-Lever Act centennial. UCANR Centennial Branding Toolkit. Los Angeles, CA, UC ANR. http://ucanr.edu/sites/100brand/History_of_UCCE/
Surls, R. (2013). From farm to fork: Understanding the scope of the regional foodshed. LA Food System Snapshot 2013. Los Angeles, CA, LA Food Policy Council: 22-23.
- Surls, R. (2013). Growing Power's Will Allen visits UCANR staff and SoCal urban farmers. UC Food Blog. http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=11066
- Surls, R. (2013). The power of the foodshed. UC Food Blog. 12/3/2013. http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=12244
- Surls, R. (2013). UC collaboration helps position urban agriculture for growth. Cooperative Extension Connection.D. Kim. UCCE Los Angeles County. 9/5/2013. http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=11377
Hayden-Smith, R.; Surls, R. (2013) UC Cooperative Extension's collaborations grow with the centuries. California Agriculture 67(3):118.
- Surls, R. (2012). Can small urban farmers sell at local farmers' markets? Yes! (But it takes some work.). Los Angeles Agriculture. http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=7918
- Surls, R. (2012). Growing solutions in urban communities. UC Food Blog. http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=7171
- Surls, R. (2012). Resources for beginning vegetable gardeners develop from LA Initiative. UC Food Blog. http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=8342
- Surls, R. (2011). "Small Farm Homes: An L.A. Tradition." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=4290.
- Surls, R. (2011, 2011). "Urban Homesteading (TM): An L.A. Story." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=4268.
- Borel, V.; Savio, Y. (2011). Vegetable Gardens: Part of the solution for hunger in Los Angeles. Los Angeles, CA. 2011.
- Surls, R. (2010). "An EPIC Campaign to End Poverty in California." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=3441.
- Surls, R. (2010). "Depression-era Angelenos and the Self-Help Cooperative Movement." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=3152.
- Surls, R.; McCawley, P.; Emshoff, B.; Flavin, F.; Holmes, D.; Martin-Worley, B.; McDaniel, R. (2010). "Final Report of the Urban Task Force Presented to Western Extension Directors Association April 10." from http://extension.oregonstate.edu/weda/weda-committees.
- Surls, R. (2010). "Flower Farming in Los Angeles: Yesterday and Today." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=2298.
- Surls, R. (2010). "From Cows to Concrete: A History of Los Angeles Agriculture." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=3050.
- Surls, R. (2010). "Grow L.A.!" from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=2420.
- Surls, R.; Gerber, J. (2010). "Los Angeles: A History of Agricultural Abundance." from http://goodfoodlosangeles.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/good-food-full_report_single_072010.pdf.
- Surls, R. (2009). "A feast grows in Baldwin Park." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1374.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Agriculture part of Compton's past, present and future." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1775.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Backyard chickens in Los Angeles." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1318.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Cherry picking in the Antelope Valley--A great family activity." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1401.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Jacarandas--A joy of early summer in L.A." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1362.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Lincoln's land-grant legacy alive in Los Angeles." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1029.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Local historian delves into South Bay agricultural history." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=969.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Los Angeles and the 'orange empire'." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=924.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Master Gardeners help Los Angeles County residents grow their own food." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=942.
- Surls, R. (2009). "Rooftop gardens in Los Angeles." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1020.
- Surls, R. (2009). "U.S.D.A. ag census shows more farms, smaller average acreage in L.A. County." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1304.
- Surls, R. (2009). "What to do when bees become a problem." from http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1047.
- Surls, R.; Aliaga, P.; Cox, F.; Drill, S. (2006). Environmental literacy among recent immigrants. California and the World Ocean Conference 2006: Implementing the Vision for Ocean and Coastal Protection. Long Beach, CA. 40. 2006.
- Surls, R. (2006). "Helping gardeners make the best use of their harvest." Retrieved February 2, 2009, from http://ucanr.org/delivers/impactview.cfm?impactnum=236.
- Surls, R. (2002). The impact of policy on school and community gardens: Experiences in Los Angeles. Symposium on Urban Agriculture: Emerging Opportunities in Science, Education and Policy.T. Davis. College Station, TX, Texas A & M University. 141-144. 2002.
- Mabie, R.; Hodel, D.; Pittenger, D.; Wilen, C.; Hartin, J.; Kabashima, J.; Savio, Y. (1999). University of California garden information center project. Report of the Elvenia J. Slosson Fund for Ornamental Horticulture. Davis, CA. 1999.
- Mabie, R. (1998). Community garden start-up guide. Los Angeles, CA, UC Cooperative Extension. 1998.
- Surls, R. (1996). Carmelitos: The growing experience garden. People-Plant Interactions in Urban Areas: A Research and Educational Symposium.P. Williams. College Station, TX, Texas A & M Department of Horticultural Science. 47-48. 1996.
- Pusey, J.; E. Bremner Eds. (1990). Children's gardens, a field guide for teachers, parents and volunteers. Los Angeles, CA, UC Cooperative Extension.
California Agriculture Article Contributions
- A century of science and service
- California milestones
- UC Cooperative Extension's collaborations grow with the centuries