Communication Services & Information Technology
University of California
Communication Services & Information Technology

Rachel A. Surls Ph.D.

Photo of Rachel A. Surls Ph.D.
Sustainable Food Systems Advisor
Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County
700 W. Main Street
(626) 586-1982
Alhambra, CA 91801
626-586-1982 Create VCard



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. Rachel is a member of the leadership board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.  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. 


Ph.D. Higher Education Administration, Claremont University, CA. 2008
M.S. Agricultural Science, Cal Poly Pomona. 1994
B.S. Agronomy, Virginia Tech. 1985



urban agriculture, urban gardening, food systems

Areas of Expertise (click to see all ANR academics with this expertise)


Peer Reviewed

  • Galt, Ryan; Bradley, Katharine, et al. (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., et al. (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., et al. (2013) Community Gardens. UC ANR Publication 8499.

  • Baumeister, M; Savio, Y., et al. (2013). Community Gardens. UC ANR. Publication Number 8499. September.
  • 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., et al. (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.

Non-Peer Reviewed

California Agriculture Article Contributions

ANR Workgroup Associations

Return to Communication Advisory Board

Webmaster Email: