Integrated sustainability assessment of social and technological innovations towards urban food systems

NEW PAPER: Social acceptance and perceived ecosystem services of urban agriculture in Southern Europe: The case of Bologna, Italy

New paper of Susturbanfoods published in Plos ONE.

ABSTRACT: Urban agriculture has become a common form of urban land use in European cities linked to multiple environmental, social and economic benefits, as well as to diversified forms (from self-production allotments to high-tech companies). Social acceptance will determine the development of urban agriculture and specific knowledge on citizens’ perception is required in order to set the basis for policy-making and planning. The ecosystem services provided by urban agriculture can be determinant in this process. The goal of this paper is to evaluate the social acceptance and the perceived ecosystem services of urban agriculture in the city of Bologna (Italy), as an example of a Southern European city. In particular, we evaluated the preferences for urban land uses, for different typologies of urban agriculture and for the resulting products, the perceived provision of ecosystem services and the willingness to engage in new initiatives. A survey that investigated these topics (including open questions, closed questions and Likert-scale evaluation) was performed on the citizens of Bologna (n = 380) between October and November 2016. Results showed that urban agriculture is widely accepted by the inhabitants of Bologna, particularly regarding vegetable production. Although intensive farming systems were the least preferred forms to be implemented in Bologna, citizens highly accepted a large variety of urban agriculture goods, with preference for those obtained from plants as compared to animal products. The willingness-to-pay for urban food products was mostly the same as for conventional ones, although the participants recognised the social values, proximity and quality of the former. Socio-cultural ecosystem services were perceived as more valuable than environmental ones. Policy-making recommendations can be extracted from the results to facilitate the development of urban agriculture plans and policies.

Link to the publication here.


[POSTER] Eco-efficiency assessment of LED lighting solutions for urban farming

Next Wednesday 20th June, Susturbanfoods will be present in the XII Giornate Scientifiche SOI (Società di Ortoflorofrutticoltura Italiana) at Bologna, Italy, with a poster talking about the “Eco-efficiency assessment of LED lighting solutions for urban farming“, which will be presented by Giuseppina Pennisi.
Check out the program here:                              

Outreach events – May 2018

The SUSTURBANFOODS project and the final results will be presented during this month in two outreach events:


22 May 2018 – 10h-13h, Scuderie Urban Food CooLab (Piazza Verdi, Bologna)

  • SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT OF INNOVATIONS IN URBAN AGRICULTURE, Dr. Esther Sanyé-Mengual, as part of the Bologna study visit programme of the ERASMUS+ BUGI “Western Balkan Urban Agriculture” project



24 May 2018 – 14h-18h, Fondazione FICO (FICO EatItaly World, Bologna)

  • FINAL CONFERENCE of the SUSTURBANFOODS project, “Integrated sustainability assessment of social and technological innovations towards urban food systems”, led by Prof. Giorgio Gianquinto and Dr. Esther Sanyé-Mengual, with the participation of Dr. Francesco Orsini, Dr. Daniela Gasperi and MSc. Giuseppina Pennisi (Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy) and Dr. Kathrin Specht (Humboldt University, Berlin,  Germany)
  • PHOTO EXHIBITION “BUILDING SUSTAINABLE URBAN FOOD SYSTEMS: from SustUrbanFoods to the Globe”, by Esther Sanyé-Mengual: 

24 Maggio ore 14-18 – presso Fondazione FICO: Conferenza finale del progetto “SUSTURBANFOODS: Valutazione della sostenibilità delle innovazioni sociali e tecnologiche nei sistemi alimentari urbani, In collaborazione con il Centro Studi e Ricerche in Agricoltura Urbana e Biodiversità (ResCUE-AB), Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Agro-Alimentari, Università di Bologna. Include la mostra fotografica “La creazioni di sistemi urbani alimentari sostenibili: da SustUrbanFoods al mondo” di Esther Sanyé-Mengual.


Case study: Azienda Agricola Floema – Bologna (Italy)

Location: Bologna, Italy
Typology: Organic farm
Urban area: Peri-urban
Innovation type: Social innovation
Main functions: Organic food production – Direct marketing – Producer-Consumer relationship



Floema produces seasonal and organic vegetables in an extension of 0.75ha and fruit in a extension of 2ha in Crespellano (Bologna, Italy). Created in 2016, the company is run by four young farmers and innovates in a just-harvested direct selling strategy through social media: WhatsApp and Facebook. The business weekly proposes a list of products, from which customers can order their basket (minimum of 15€) to be received the same day of harvest at their homes. Customers can employ WhatsApp and Facebook for this purpose, ordering the basket the day before delivery. Floema complements they offer of fresh produce with added-value options: flour and preserves, which are produced in collaboration with local companies. 


Crops: 60 crops and varieties

Techniques: Organic open-air production

Irrigation: Drip irrigation

Use of renewable resources: Manual harvesting – Organic fertilizer (manure)

Sustainable practices: Pesticides-free (Integrated pest management with beneficial insects) – Local production – Local varieties – Seasonal production – Minimization of packaging use – Use of organic fertilizer from local farms

Other products: Preserves, flour 


Join our Instagram campaign: #mysusturbanfoods

#mysusturbanfoods is an Instagram campaign that aims to collect the ideas and examples of sustainable practices in urban food systems around the Globe. Tell us what makes urban food systems more sustainable and tag us to be featured in the account.


Best shots will be included in the final exhibition of the H2020-MSCA Susturbanfoods project in May 2018 – Bologna (Italy).

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January 2018: Training, data collection, and dissemination activities of Susturbanfoods

With the new year, we have started the last phase of the Project, we are performing the Assessment of the case studies while collecting some missing data. In parallel, we are completing dissemination and traning activities around Europe.


Data collection:

  • Arvaia (CSA, planned agriculture, Bologna, Italy
  • AgroParisTech rooftop garden, third session of data collection, Paris, France
  • New case study: Azienda agrícola Floema (Social innovation, farmer-consumer distribution via WhatsApp), Bologna, Italy


  • Seminar at AgroParisTech, Paris, France: “Sustainability assessment of social and technological innovations in urban agriculture” for researchers and HEI students