Redlands farmers cheer approval of agritourism

Redlands City Council approves ordinance to allow new opportunities for local farmers

Redlands farmers cheer approval of agritourism
Redlands City Council approves agritourism in Redlands. (Photo: Old Grove Orange, Community Forward Redlands)

REDLANDS, Calif. – The future of farming in Redlands received a lifeline when Redlands City Council approved additional income streams for local farmers.

City Council unanimously passed ordinance 2961 on Tuesday, April 2, to allow for more than just farming on areas zoned A-1 Agriculture in the San Timoteo and Live Oak Canyon and smaller areas of remnant groves near the Redlands Municipal Airport.

With the passage of ordinance 2961, farmers can expand revenue streams without additional permitting for specific activities like roadside stands, preparation of farm-table meals, u-pick events, and compost production.

The code amendment also allows for conditional use permits for other commercial uses, including wedding venues, bed-and-breakfasts, wineries, food processing operations, or overnight camps. The proposal also notes that tours or retail self-pick operations with more than 150 persons per day would require a conditional use permit.

Anna Knight, a fifth-generation farmer at Old Grove Orange, submitted the proposal to amend Redlands Municipal Code Chapter 18.20 on behalf of the Two Canyons Farmers Guild.

Knight, who manages 81 acres in Crafton Hills and San Timoteo Canyon, explained to the City Council the importance of agritourism to the future of farming in Redlands.

"It allows us to do our jobs as farmers, but it also allows us to diversify our income stream and stay tenable in the future."

Knight explains that without the agritourism opportunities, farmers in Southern California do not make a living wage.

The devastating fruit fly quarantine zone since October 2023 makes matters worse.

"My family has lost 50% of our valencia crop, 100% of our navel orange crop, and 100% of our gold nugget mandrin crop, which is really what sustains our farm."

Since the quarantine, Knight explains that her family farm has been unable to sell a single orange to the 35 school districts they supply in a normal year.

Tony Hicks from Wild Oak Farms joined Knight in requesting changes to the ordinance to allow administrative review for activities requiring conditional use permits.

The City Council decided to vote on the ordinance and reconsider amendments later to make it easier for farmers to engage in certain activities, such as glamping, educational farm camps, and groups of more than 150 for u-pick events.

The ordinance has garnered widespread support from various quarters, including the Redlands Unified School District nutrition services, Redlands Chamber of Commerce, and Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action.

This unified backing underscores the community's recognition of the importance of this ordinance for our local farmers and the overall development of Redlands.

The City Council received no opposition to the ordinance.

Cheers and clapping followed the approval of the ordinance.

Read more about Knight's story here:

Agritourism: Securing the future of sustainable farming in Redland
Farmers seek support for a proposal to allow local farm tours, retail u-pick, farm-to-table meals and more before City Council April 2

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Community Forward Redlands.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.