On September 26, Governor Jerry Brown signed seven pieces of legislation, known collectively as the "farm to fork bills," while Sacramento was in the midst of its Farm-to-Fork Celebration.
The bills are aimed at promoting local agriculture and bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to communities and schools that are underserved by grocery stores.
Despite being home to 81,000 farms and ranches stretched across every county in the state, California still has nearly 1 million residents living in what are known as food deserts — mostly urban but sometimes rural areas that have no access to affordable produce.
One of the newly signed measures, Assembly Bill 2413 (authored by Assemblyman John Pérez, D-Los Angeles), will establish the Office of Farm to Fork within the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
"Having an agency dedicated to working with federal, philanthropic and nonprofit efforts to increase the availability of quality, nutritious foods is critical, especially in rural and urban areas that don't have access to fresh produce," Pérez said in an email.
Another significant measure, Assembly Bill 2561 (authored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena), will void a number of restrictions that prevent urban and suburban dwellers from growing their own fruits and vegetables. Under the new law, landlords cannot prohibit renters from growing food in containers in their private outdoor spaces, and homeowners' and condo associations cannot forbid the cultivation of food on residential property.
Assembly Bill 1990 (authored by Assemblyman Richard S. Gordon, D-Menlo Park) will allow gleaners and community food producers to engage in direct sales of their produce to the public. That means if you're a vegetable gardener, chicken-keeper, or fruit forager, you won't have to battle bureaucratic red tape to legally sell your wares.
Assembly Bill 1789 (authored by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara) will trigger a state review of the systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which have been implicated in the decline of bee populations. The use of these neonics will be reevaluated and control measures will be taken to ensure they do not harm honeybees and affect the pollination of California's food crops.
For more on these bills, visit the website for Governor Jerry Brown's office.