The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) welcomes Sara Bernal to lead the new Urban Agriculture Grant Program.
“Sara’s experience within all aspects of urban agriculture, from production and marketing to working with beginning farmers and community engagement, makes her the perfect fit to establish our new program,” CDFA-F2F Supervisor Elysia Fong said. “We are really excited to have her on board.”
CDFA’s Urban Agriculture Grant Program will help urban farmers and community-based organizations by funding urban food system infrastructure; supporting professional development opportunities, including ensuring youth from all backgrounds have access to paid positions and developing urban food systems; and funding technical assistance providers to offer mentorship, training and support.
Bernal’s job duties include developing the $12 million program, conducting listening sessions with the public, touring urban farms, providing bilingual (Spanish) technical assistance and developing resources that make federal and state resources more accessible to California’s urban farming community.
“I’m most excited to have the opportunity to engage with partners across the state, listen to their experiences, research policies and resources, and leverage this role to help Californians achieve their goals,” Bernal said. “This is a monumental time to be involved in supporting the world of urban agriculture and to find system-based strategies to elevate community work that promotes equity and creates stronger, more resilient neighborhoods.”
Bernal joins CDFA from the Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL) in Yolo County, where she established the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program. While with CLBL, Bernal designed, built and supported eight urban farms, led farmer-to-farmer mentoring programs, implemented a mobile farmers’ market, secured federal and state grants, and helped facilitate regional food system planning. Bernal immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 7. As an adult she lived and worked in various countries, from Bangladesh to Costa Rica, fostering a belief that the best solutions to issues faced by communities come from those experiencing them. Bernal’s interest in agriculture stems from knowing that food is medicine and that we must all work toward creating communities where healthy, nutritious, ethically produced foods are accessible to all.