How Urban Agroecology Can Support Healthy, Sustainable Communities

In a UC Center Sacramento webinar, Dr. Charisma Acey discusses agroecosytems as an essential part of our urban landscapes.

April 27, 2022
By Berkeley Food Institute

Twelve percent of California’s population lives with food insecurity. In the East Bay, that rate is even higher. More than 120,000 people in Alameda County rely on CalFresh, California’s SNAP program, while pre-pandemic reports show that one in five residents relied on food banks to feed themselves and their families. 

For some, these statistics paint a picture of “food apartheid” — the legacy of discriminatory land use decision making that has left communities of color disproportionately food insecure. This food insecurity is also a symptom of an industrialized agri-food system that destroys soil life, marginalizes farmworkers, and makes urban areas dependent on highly commodified supply chains. In this system, farms are production centers, rather than places of community, culture, healthy food, and a reciprocal relationship between humans and nature.

For Dr. Charisma Acey, faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute and associate professor of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, this problem presents an opportunity for a solution: urban agroecology. In an April 13 webinar organized by UC Center Sacramento, Acey discussed the merits of urban farms as a public good worthy of investment and an essential part of our urban landscapes — not only as a source of food but also as a community green space, harbor for biodiversity, and point of culture and sovereignty. “Agroecological Urbanism entails ecological, non-chemical [agricultural] practices, and social justice and sovereignty,” said Acey. “It is a science, a movement, and a practice.”

You can watch the lecture in full below.

Acey’s lecture stemmed from a three-year interdisciplinary research project on East Bay urban agroecology funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Thank you to UC Center Sacramento for organizing this webinar and providing an avenue to discuss environmental justice and ways to strengthen California’s food system through urban agroecology. 

Check out these resources to read more about food insecurity, urban farming, and BFI’s research on agroecology as an essential solution: