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

Launching of the “Rooftop Urban Agriculture” book

The new launching of the Urban agriculture series of Springer (edited by Christine Aubry, Éric Duchemin and Joe Nasr) is the book Rooftop Urban Agriculture, which has been edited by Francesco Orsini, Giorgio Gianquinto (Research Centre in Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodivercity), Marielle Dubbeling and Henk de Zeeuw (RUAF Foundation).

The book was launched during the International Symposium on Greener Cities for more efficient ecosystem services in a climate changing world, GreenCities2017, which was held 12-15th September in the city of Bologna, Italy.

Here, the list of contents and authors is available:

Part I The Status and Challenges of Rooftop Agriculture Marielle Dubbeling

·        Introduction Marielle Dubbeling, Francesco Orsini, and Giorgio Gianquinto

·        A Panorama of Rooftop Agriculture Types Joe Nasr, June Komisar, and Henk de Zeeuw

·        Rooftop Farming Policy Tim Delshammar, Sofie Brincker, Kristian Skaarup, and Livia Urban Swart Haaland


Part II Design of Rooftop Agriculture Systems Francesco Orsini

·        Elements of Rooftop Agriculture Design Silvio Caputo, Pedro Iglesias, and Heather Rumble

·        Soil Based and Simplified Hydroponics Rooftop Gardens Alfredo Rodríguez-Delfín, Nazim Gruda, Christine Eigenbrod, Francesco Orsini, and Giorgio Prosdocimi Gianquinto

·        Technology for Rooftop Greenhouses Juan I. Montero, Esteban Baeza, Pere Muñoz, Esther Sanyé-Mengual, and Cecilia Stanghellini

·        Rooftop Aquaponics Beatrix Alsanius, Sammar Khalil, and Rolf Morgenstern

·        Integrating Rooftop Agriculture into Urban Infrastructure M. Gorgolewski and V. Straka


Part III Rooftop Agriculture Management Giorgio Gianquinto

·        Water Management and Irrigation Systems Ioannis L. Tsirogiannis, Francesco Orsini, and Paulo Luz

·        Managing Mineral Nutrition in Soilless Culture Alberto Pardossi, Luca Incrocci, Maria C. Salas, and Giorgio Gianquinto

·        Sustainable Pest Management Giovanni Bazzocchi and Stefano Maini

·        Produce Quality and Safety Beatrix W. Alsanius, Andrea Kosiba Held, Martine Dorais, Cecilia Moraa Onyango, and Lars Mogren


Part IV Multifunctional Rooftop Agriculture Francesco Orsini

·        Rooftop Agriculture for Improved Food and Nutrition Security W. Baudoin, Y. Desjardins, M. Dorais, R. Charrondière, L. Herzigova, U. El-Behairy, N. Metwaly, C. Marulanda, and N. Ba

·        Biodiversity of Flora and Fauna Francesca Bretzel, Francesca Vannucchi, Stefano Benvenuti, and Heather Rumble

·        City Resilience to Climate Change Teodoro Georgiadis, Ana Iglesias, and Pedro Iglesias

·        Resource Efficiency and Waste Avoidance Esther Sanyé-Mengual, Joan Rieradevall, and Juan Ignacio Montero

·        Community and Social Justice Aspects of Rooftop Agriculture Kathrin Specht, Kristin Reynolds, and Esther Sanyé-Mengual

·        Designing Green Corridors Network Within Cities: A Case Study in Vienna Maeva Dang

Part V A Geography of Rooftop Agriculture in 20 Projects Henk de Zeeuw, June Komisar, Esther Sanyé-Mengual, Rémi Kahane, Giorgio Gianquinto, Emmanuel Geoffriau, Ching Sian Sia, Alfredo Rodriguez- Delfín, and Salwa Tohme Tawk

·        A Geography of Rooftop Agriculture in 20 Projects Henk de Zeeuw, June Komisar, Esther Sanyé-Mengual, Rémi Kahane, Giorgio Prosdocimi Gianquinto, Emmanuel Geoffriau, Ching Sian Sia, Alfredo Rodríguez-Delfín, Salwa Tohmé Tawk, Heshem el Omari, Saumil Shah, Juan Ignacio Montero, B. N. Vishwanath, Rajendra Hegde, Luana Lori, Jessie Banhazl, Christopher Horne, Saber Osman, Carl Philipp Schuck, Viraj Puri, Bryna Bass, Edwin “Pope” Coleman, Chris Somerville, Pol Fabrega, Mat Pember, Amelie Asselin, Ricardo Omar, Sergio Eiji Nagai, Lyvenne Chong-Phoon, Allan Lim, Maria Lloyd, Shuang Liu, Gloria Samperio Ruiz, and Arlene Throness

Part VI Conclusions G. Gianquinto, F. Orsini, and M. Dubbeling

·        Conclusions Marielle Dubbeling, Francesco Orsini, and Giorgio Gianquinto


Susturbanfoods at #GreenCities2017

Next week Susturbanfoods​ will engage in the GreenCities2017 – International symposium​ on greener cities for more efficient ecosystem services in a climate changing world.

Tuesday 12, 17.30h, co-chairing the session “UrbanAg. Networking higher education initiatives on Entrepreneurial Urban Agriculture” at Archiginnasio.

Wednesday 13, 12.45h (Session S3.D) Co-chairing the session on “Urban sustainability”.

Wednesday 13, 12.20h (Session S2_C_1). Oral presentation on the social acceptance of urban agriculture in the city of Bologna – Forms and products of urban agriculture in Bologna: A survey on demands, preferences, and social acceptability. Specht, K., Sanyé-Mengual, E., Krikser, T., Orsini, F., Pennisi, G., Gianquinto, G

Thursday 14, 14.30h. (Session 4A). Oral presentation about the participatory process and the engagement of stakeholders in sustainability research. – Employing participatory research design in accounting for the sustainability of urban food systems: the experience of the SustUrbanFoods project. Sanyé-Mengual E, Gianquinto G.

Thursday 14, 15.00h (Session S4_A_3) Evaluating the current state of rooftop agriculture in Western Europe: typologies and implementation constraints. Sanyé-Mengual, E., Kahane, R., Gianquinto, G., Geoffriau, E.

Experts on green cities will meet in Bologna for international symposium

The International Symposium on greener cities for more efficient ecosystem services in a climate changing world will take place the next 12th-15th September in the city of Bologna, in the framework of the International Society of Horticultural Sciences. Dr. Francesco Orsini and Prof. Giorgio Gianquinto from the Research Centre in Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity (ResCUE- AB) of the Alma Mater Studiorium-Università di Bologna and the Dr. Teodoro Georgiadis from the Institute of Biometeorology of the National Research Council (CNR) are the convenors of the event. The opening of the conference will take place in an emblematic space of the city of Bologna: the Archiginnasio building.

The event will cover thematic areas ranging from horticulture to innovative technological solutions aimed at improving the efficiency and the management of urban green infrastructures. Transversal visions in which landscape architecture and environmental engineering meet the functional management of horticulture in the urban environment to maximise ecosystem service provision. The main topics of the symposium are cities and climate change, smart horticulture for sustainable cities, green infrastructures for more efficient ecosystem services and designing and engineering greener cities. The objective of the conference is to provide a discussion forum to scientists, entrepreneurs, practitioners and policy makers. The conference is organized as a cluster event, including traditional scientific sessions, business sessions and training and research networking sessions.

Ten keynote speakers are participating in the conference. The lectio magistralis will be offered by the architect Mario Cucinella (Mario Cucinella Architects, Italy) on “Creative empathy”. During the opening ceremony, Dr. Andrew Karvonen (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden) will give a talk on “Greening cities through urban innovation: Experiments, laboratories and testbeds in the twenty-first century city” and Prof. Cecilia Stanghellini from Wageningen University and Research Centre (The Netherlands), will talk about “Technological solutions for the urban horticulture in the future city”. Prof. Andreas Matzarakis (University of Freiburg, Germany) is the leader of the Research Center Human Biometeorology of the German Meteorological Service in Freiburg and will talk about the influence of urban green on human thermal bioclimate. Dr. Isabelle Anguelovski (Universitat Autònoma, Spain) co-directs the Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability and her talk is entitled “Contradictions and tensions in urban greening: For what and for whom are new environmental amenities in cities?”. Dr. Chiara Tornaghi (Coventry university, United Kingdom) works at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience and is the chair of the Sustainable Food Planning section of the AESOP (Association of european schools of planning). She will present the results of her recent research: “Building resourcefulness in the food-disabling city: a conceptual and political pathway for resilience”. Prof. Alessandra Bonoli is the coordinator of the Engineering of transition group (University of Bologna, Italy) and will talk about “Urban green technologies for energy saving”. Marco Marcatili (Nomisma, Italy) will give a talk on “Nature based solutions in the context of a circular economy”. Finally, Sean Lockie (Italy) and Pan Pan (Switzerland) from Climate-KIC complete the keynote list.

1 Comment

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.


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?


  • 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

Case study: DIE URBANISTEN aquaponics system – Dortmund (Germany)

Location: Dortmund, Germany
Typology: Modular protected aquaponics
Urban area: Urban
Innovation type: Technological innovation
Main functions: Water recirculation – Polyculture – Research



The aquaponics system of die Urbanisten is placed in the Union Gewerbehof in Dortmund. It was implemented in 2013 for demonstrative purposes. The installation consists of a 22m2 unheated greenhouse made of aluminum, plastic and glass, where the aquaculture and soil-less production are integrated. On the on hand, the aquaculture production is performed in a 1m3 IBC container and water is filtered by biological and mechanical processes. On the other hand, the soil-less production system is done on expanded clay in polyethylene boxes.


Crops: Tomatoes, Mint, Lettuce, Arugula, Lettuce, Lemon balm, Basil (African blue), True Water Cress

Fish: Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), Tench (Tinca tinca)

Techniques: Aquaponics production: Aquaculture tank with filters (biological & mechanical) + Soil-less vegetables production with expanded clay

Irrigation: Tap water – Recirculation – Automatic irrigation

Use of renewable resources: –

Sustainable practices: Pesticides-free – Integrated pest management – Local production – Minimization of water consumption – Sustainable production of protein sources

Other products: –