Tell Us About Your Urban Ag Needs!

By Patrick Murphy, Program Manager

Installation of a garden bed at Faith Food Fridays in Vallejo

Sustainable Solano firmly believes that the best community projects are community driven. We believe strongly that solutions and ideas need to come from locals who know their area, the neighborhood, and what they can expect from their community. Most communities are acutely aware of the local problems they face, and may have insightful and unique solutions to solve these issues, but lack the funds to put their ideas into practice. Through our Solano Gardens program, we have encountered many informal groups of interested citizens needing support for smaller urban agriculture projects who lack funds, materials or planning support to get their project off the ground.

Sustainable Solano is applying for an Urban Agriculture grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Farm to Fork office. This grant would support the continuation and expansion of the Solano Gardens program, which focuses on creating, renewing and supporting community gardens in Solano communities to create more access to healthy, seasonal produce. The program is currently funded through Solano Public Health.

The CDFA grant would also allow us to give small, flexible funding to local urban ag projects, which could include a variety of needs, including the creation of a new community garden, revitalizing garden beds, adding chickens or creating a seating space within a community garden. It would open up new opportunities for organizations or groups of individuals that need materials and support. We envision creating a simple, straightforward application and approval process to make it easy to reach out to Sustainable Solano for the help needed to support urban agriculture in your communities.

This is why we want to hear from you! We want the best possible picture of what types of urban ag projects, what resources and what support your organization or community could use. This will inform our own grant application and help us to create a database of the urban ag needs we could serve through the expanded Solano Gardens program.

Share Your Ideas & Needs

Please send your needs, project ideas, questions or suggestions to with “CDFA Urban Ag Needs” in the subject line.

Tell us about your proposed project or support needs, who you are, where your project might be located, and anything else you’d like for us to know.

Bringing Chickens to the Community

By Lauren Gucik, Solano Gardens

Violette Kyse leads an in-person class on chicken care for the families receiving chickens through the program

Solano Gardens works to increase in-county food production, supporting communities so that they can grow and process their own food and help eliminate food insecurity. Building community health and wealth and creating systems of care that are culturally responsive are at the heart of these efforts. Our garden and culinary philosophies revolve around celebrating local, seasonal and culturally uplifting foods grown in ecologically regenerative ways.

For many families in Solano County, protein and nutrients are found not only in plant-based options like legumes but also in animal products, like eggs, honey or meat. In an effort to diversify the types of food we help local residents produce, we connected with six families to pilot a Chicken Steward program. Each family participated in a hands-on class in Vallejo, assembled their chicken coops at home, and learned about and committed to the responsibility of caring for three birds. They agreed to provide a clean and humane environment for the birds, food and water, and ongoing care. After months of preparation, they each received three 10-week-old pullets, a combination of either Speckled Sussex, Salmon Faverolle and/or a Bielefelder.

Chickens on their way to their new homes

The purpose of this program was to provide residents with the supplies and knowledge they need to care for chickens that will provide food for their communities. A bird can lay quite a few eggs over the course of its lifetime and offer an opportunity for companionship and community connection. The Solano Gardens team estimates that each chicken will provide its family with around 260 eggs (about 22 dozen) over the next five years. Each of these families were very excited to bring their bids home, start their journeys and hold power for themselves in sustaining their families’ foodways. If you are interested in stewarding chickens at your home or community garden, check out our English-language Chicken Care Sheet here and Chicken Resource Guide here and both documents in Spanish here.

A Statement of Gratitude

With any pilot program there is much to figure out. Without the support of many individuals this pilot would not have been nearly as successful. A special thank you to:

    • The families who choose to walk this path with and give us the opportunity to set up the legal and logistical framework to start this program and replicate it in the future;
    • The farmer who raised these chickens for us, and the people who introduced us to the farmer;
    • Our lawyer, without whom we could not have facilitated this resource exchange;
    • The whole community of Chicken Stewards, including our chicken educators, for sharing all your knowledge through conversations, online and in books;
    • Local vendors for the supplies needed to care for the animals;
    • The community gardens that hosted us and the chickens;
    • Solano Public Health, for providing the funding support to make this program happen;
    • And the chickens for providing us with food and joyful interactions.

Solano Gardens is funded by Solano Public Health