San Francisco’s urban water-food efficiency program

San Francisco has committed itself to a food secure and hunger free city by 2020. The challenges of achieving this goal is ensuring adequate:

  • Food resources (the ability to purchase sufficient nutritional food on a regular basis
  • Food access (the ability to obtain affordable, nutritious and culturally sensitive food
  • Food consumption (the ability to prepare healthy meals and knowledge of basic safe cooking)

More crop per drop

To help urban agriculture become more efficient in production – more crop per drop – the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) encourages applications for its Pilot Community Garden Irrigation Meter Grant Program to enable urban farms, as well as community and demonstration gardens, track and manage irrigation water use through the installation of a dedicated irrigation water service.

Water-efficient urban farming in San Francisco

Water-efficient urban farming in San Francisco

Funding for urban food-water efficiency

With a maximum grant of $10,000 the program enables the installation of a dedicated irrigation service and meter to track irrigation water use as well as enable users to separately shut off the irrigation system if needed.

To be eligible for SFPUC’s grant proposed activities must meet one of the following criteria:

  • An urban agricultural project with proof of receiving, or intent to receive, a change-of-use permit from the San Francisco Planning Department under its Urban Agricultural Ordinance approving an urban agricultural site
  • A small scale urban market garden designed and operated for urban food production
  • A community garden sponsored by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department with a signed Community Garden Plot Agreement
  • A garden established for demonstration or other educational purposes

The take-out

Water utilities can play a role in ensuring cities are food secure by initiating urban agricultural water efficiency programs that promote more crop per drop.

*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). Urban Water Security argues that, with climate change and rapid urbanization, cities need to transition from supply-side to demand-side management to achieve urban water security.

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Author: Robert C. Brears

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