SustUrbanFoods

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


Networking: Visit to Toronto’s urban agriculture projects and Ryerson University

Urban agriculture project have spread over Toronto, as it can be seen in the UA projects map of the Toronto Urban Growers website. Project are classified among community gardens (Toronto parks, Public housing, other), allotment gardens, school and childern’s gardens, urban agriculture businesses (producers), organizations, rooftop gardens, greenhouses, beehives and orchards.

Taking advantage of my visit to North America for the ISIE-ISSST 2017 conference, I visited Prof. Joe Nasr at Ryerson University (Centre for Studies in Food Security), who showed me some of the vibrant UA projects in the city of Toronto.

 

Ryerson Urban Farm – link

Taking the advantage of a former green roof, the Ryerson Urban Farm started to cultivate the roof of one of the Campus buildings with a pilot plot. Currently, the Farm crops the entire rooftop, including two recent beehives, have some spots with container cultivation around the campus, a food forest and a flower garden. The Farm employs soil-based ecological growing methods (crop rotation, composting, mulching). Tours, educational programs and community engagement complement the food production of the rooftop farm. Food is sold through farmers’ markets (in the same Campus), to restaurants and via Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA).

The Farm in the news – link

 

Evergreen Brick Works – link

EVERGREEN Brick Works is a “place where the world can experience sustainable practices that enable flourishing cities of the future”. Through the renovation of a deterioring heritage building of past industry in Toronto’s Don Valley, this new spot of the city is a public space and meeting point to exchange and disseminate about green cities, ecology, planning, design, technology and arts. Regarding urban agriculture, Brick Works hosts a farmers’ market on Saturdays, the largest market of Toronto which started in 2007, engaging a large community to get to know local producers. Evergreen also hosts a demonstrative Urban Farming Unit by Ripple Farms (see below). Furthermore, citizens can find local seedlings and urban gardening elements in the EVERGREEN shop at Brick works to develop their own urban gardens.

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Know more: Evergreen Brick Works: A Story of Change – Video link

Ripple Farms – link

Ripple Farms is a social enterprise developing the aquaponics technology and business moel in Canada, with its first Urban Farming Unit placed in Evergreen Brick Works. The project aims to produce food locally, in an organic manner, year-round and seeking for resource efficiency (e.g., water and nutrients recirculation). Currently, the unit produces Tilapia and different greens (Arugula Microleaf, Buttercrunch Lettuce, Chard Flamingo, Frisee Endive, Little Gem Lettuce, Mustard Sprouts, Purple Basil, Sunflower Sprouts). Food production is combined with education and dissemination, such as workshops for citizens and schools.

 

FoodShare at Eastdale – link

The School grown program at Eastdale Collegiate Institute is one of the UA programs of FoodShare in the city of Toronto. The rooftop garden implemented in the former rooftop playground of the school is made of wooden beds and self-watering buckets. Soil with compost is employed for the cultivation. The main objective of the project is to educate and tran youth in food production, cooking and marketing. The education is also the main axis of the business model, complemented with the selling of the produce in farmer’s markets and to restaurants. A total of 65 crops are cultivated in this rooftop, dominated by leaf greens, which have the higher value in the market. Fertilization is performed with self-made compost, as composting and waste management is one focus of the School Grown program. During summer, the program employs students looking for summer jobs to fund their studies.

Learn more: FoodShare’s video

 

 


Scientific dissemination: Seminar at SWUAS

As part of the scientific dissemination of the project, seminars in scientific institutions of every country involved in the project will be held. During the secondment in Dortmund, a seminar in the Fachhochschüle Südwestfalen was organized to exchange knowlege with the researchers.

The seminar lead to an interesting conversation on what is the role of urban agriculture in the Global North and what is the viability of urban agriculture projects. The questions dealt with during the discussion can be summarized in a collection of recent news and online publications:

 


Outreach events: Participation in the first meeting of the “Aquaponics network of North Rhine-Westphalia”

Yesterday 18th May, SustUrbanFoods joined the first meeting of the “Aquaponics network of North Rhine-Westphalia” to talk about the sustainability of aquaponics and the case studies of aquaponics systems within the project.

The event was organized by Aufbruch am Arrenberg, the association die Urbanisten and the SWUAS university within the framework of the ERASMUS+ Urban Green Train project, as a multiplier event.

The goal of the event was to exchange expertise and experiences between the administration, aquaponics companies, associations and NGOs, service companies and academics of the sector. The three axis of the meeting were the following:

  • How can aquaponics contribute to sustainable food production?
  • Which social and labor market-relevant opportunities open up?
  • Which bodies are involved when an urban aquaponics project is to be implemented?

AGENDA:

  • 9:00 am Get-together
  • 9:30 am Welcome
  • 9:50 am What is Aquaponik – Rolf Morgenstern
  • 10:00 am The Urban Green Train Project – Bernd Pölling
  • 10:20 am Sustainability of Aquaponics – Dr. Esther Sanyé-Mengual
  • 11:00 am Break and exchange
  • 11:30 am Climate Expo – Michael Walther
  • 11:40 am The Aquaponik Verband – Mandy Schreck
  • 12:00 hrs Aquaponik Manufaktur – Ingo Bläser
  • 12:10 am Integrated Pest Management – Dr. Peter Dapprich
  • 12:30 am Aquaponics and Social Work – Yvonne Fischer
  • 12:50 pm lunch break and exchange
  • 1:45 pm Panel discussion: Mandy Schreck, Jörg Heynkes, Rolf Morning Star, Peter
    Dapprich, Mrs. Bonitz (?)
  • 2:30 pm The project Arrenbergfarm – Jörg Heynkes
  • 14:40 h Plantastik – Niels Rehkop
  • 14:50 am Aquaponics at the FH Soest – Rolf Morgenstern
  • 15:10 Food Safety – Dr. Eberhard Büker
  • 15:30 h Plant Nutrition – Wolfgang Grüne
  • 15:45 Coffee and closing day


Outreach events: explaining Susturbanfoods to highschool students during the “Giornata del Clima”

Last Friday we visited a highschool in Bologna (Liceo Scientifico Statale Albert Bruce Sabin) in the framework of the “Giornata del clima” event, organized by the ShowRoom Energia e Ambiente from the city council of Bologna (Comune di Bologna Iperbole Rete Civica). The event aimed to put together researchers and young students while raising the awareness of research as well as current Earth issues (commerating the 22nd April – Earth Day).

We talked about the role of local food cultivation in a more sustainable World. First, we presented the research lines at the Research Center in Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodivercity (ResCUE-AB). Then, we showed the global objectives and the case studies considered in the SustUrbanFoods projects, paying attention to the on-going initiatives in the city of Bologna. Lastly, our colleague Nicola showed how urban and home gardens can be set up by re-using bottles and soil-less techniques.


Starting of the secondment period in Dortmund (Germany)

The secondment planned in the project just started!

Until the end of May, I will be working in Dortmund with researchers, architects and urban planners of the Fachhochschule South Westfalia (SWUAS), the Company hei-tro and the association Die Urbanisten.

The objective of the secondment is to know more about the aquaponics technology and to value two case studies on aquaponics in Dortmund.

During the secondment, knowledge exchange will be produced as well as different outreach activities will take place:

  • Seminar at SWUAS for students and researchers
  • Participation in the Westfalia aquaponics network meeting

Regarding the networking within the project, during the secondment I will participate in two events:

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Launching a Cluster on Entrepreneurial Urban Agriculture

In recent years, the growing interest toward Urban Agriculture initiatives lead to the sprouting of a number of networks and think tanks of researchers, entrepreneurs as well as representatives of the public society. This is the case of the FAO group “Food for the cities”, but also of those born within several internationally funded projects (e.g. “Supurbfood”, COST projects “Allotment gardens in European Cities” and “Urban Agriculture Europe”, LLP-Grundtvig “HORTIS”, Erasmus+ “Urban Green Train”, “Carrot City”), or those promoted by world leading scientific societies (e.g. ISHS-Landscape and Urban Horticulture commission).

In order to extend the impact of these projects and activities and especially in the view of creating educational tools for boosting innovative urban agriculture enterprises, efficient forms of cooperation between Research, Education and Business shall be pursued.

This can be reached by creating an international and interdisciplinary Cluster on Entrepreneurial Urban Agriculture. The Cluster will involve different actors: HEIs, research centers, SMEs, NGOs, Policy Makers, etc into a forum addressing research, policy and market priorities, and implementing thematic workshops and awareness events.

The cluster, that will be constituted as a working group, will schedule periodical discussion forum, meetings and newsletter with the final aims of:
1) Create a knowledge exchange platform on most innovative entrepreneurial forms in urban agriculture and main potentials/drawbacks;
2) Connect experts from the different disciplines in order to create a discussion network on how to implement interdisciplinary training offer in the field of urban agriculture;
3) Respond to the needs of both private sector and the civil society at large in order to timely address relevant research questions and promote topics and initiatives to main funding agencies.

The members of the Susturbanfoods project have joined the cluster as representatives of Higher Educational Insitutions (HEIs).

The cluster will be constituted in July 2017 will first meet during the International Symposium on “Greener Cities for More Efficient Ecosystem Services in a Climate Changing World” that will take place in Bologna, Italy on September 12-15, 2017.

If you would like to join the cluster, contact Dr. Francesco Orsini (ResCUE-AB, UNIBO)

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