SustUrbanFoods

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


SustUrbanFoods at the AESOP Sustainable food planning conference – 14&15th November – Coventry, UK

Last week, Susturbanfoods joined the AESOP Sustainable food planning group in the annual conference, hosted by the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University (UK), on the 14-15 November.

The concept of the conference was the following:

After seventeen years from its early conceptualisation, and ten years on from its institutionalisation (Van der Valk and Viljoen 2014), sustainable food planning is a thriving transdisciplinary research and policy field bringing together policy makers, academics, and practitioners across the globe. Food charters, food strategies and food policy councils have multiplied, ‘alternative food networks’ have gained significant and growing shares of the food market and new forms of localisation of food production, including urban agriculture, are gaining ground and becoming central components of new food policy strategies.

Yet, the scale and speed of the ‘food’ crisis make us see these achievements as modest and utterly inadequate. Urban food poverty and malnutrition, and the related use of food banks, are on the rise even in some of the most wealthy countries of the world; the most vulnerable populations in both the global North and South are unshielded by austerity politics, food-commodity speculation, land grabbing or staple food price rises. Diet-related diseases (such as diabetes and obesity) are growing at alarming rates among children in the supposedly ‘well-fed’ countries of the world. We still waste between 30% and 50% of the food we produce while millions of farmers and land workers growing our food across the globe are struggling to make a living. And the environmental impacts of our food ‘regime’ and diets are devastating.

Planning for sustainable food production and food provision is more than ever urging us to look for more effective, equitable and just approaches that radically change not only the way we grow food, but the very core of our living space.

In the conference, we participated with a study on how urban agriculture is implemented on vacant spaces towards social inclusion and urban regeneration, presenting the results published in an article in Sustainability (MDPI).

Two case studies of SustUrbanFoods exemplify these practices:

Via Gandusio is a community rooftop garden that was implemented by the municipality of Bologna, in collaboration with the University and the association Biodivercity to foster the community building of the residents.

ViaGandusio

The Spazio Battirame of the Eta Beta social cooperative renovated an abandoned building and the adjacent agricultural space in a suburbial district of Bologna with the aim of producing local and organic vegetables that are sold to Bologna citizens and employing adults and youth in risk of social exclusion.

Battirame

We took part in the session “Urban agricultural planning & design” 

  • Daniel A.C., Aubry C., Colle M., Barbillon A. “Development of an urban agriculture project: “projection” and “revelation””
  • Solman H. van der Valk, A., Pedroli, B “Alleviating tourist pressure on city centres by fostering alternative food experiences away from tourist hotspots”
  • Sanyé-Mengual E. Gasperi D., Pennisi G., Rizzati N., Bazzocchi G., Magrefi F., Mezzacapo U., Centrone Stefani M., Orsini F. Gianquinto G. “The use of vacant spaces for urban horticulture in the city of Bologna (Italy)”
  • Mees C. “Participatory design and planning for food production, shelter and cultural expression: Shared urban gardens in New York City”

During the conference, a Book launch on the topic took place, including the following publications:

 

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Seminar at the Department of Agricultural Sciences of UNIBO

As part of the dissemination of the project, three seminars will be held in the Department of Agricultural Sciences as an opportuniy to exchange knowledge with the colleagues from UNIBO.

Today, we offered the first seminar at DIPSA where we presented an overview of the project, including objectives and expected results, and we showed the dynamics established in the past WORKSHOP with the stakeholders in Bologna.

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The two other seminars at DIPSA are planned as follows:

  • October 2017 – Presentation of the methodological framework and preliminary results
  • May 2018 – Final presentation: Results and policy recommendations

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Case study: iPom Pellerrossa – Bologna (Italy)

Location: Bologna, Italy
Typology: High-tech protected farm
Urban area: Peri-urban
Innovation type: Technological innovation
Main functions: Water recirculation – Integrated pest management – Geographical synergy

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HISTORY & CONTEXT

PELLEROSSA is born as the first eco-friendly tomato in the region of Emilia – Romagna by employing agronomic techniques that respect the environment. They are promoted as “100% sustainable” since it grows in a clump of earth wrapped with coconut fiber in a high greenhouse, solid and bright. Every day, hour after hour, is fed with natural substances in order to grow healthy and tasty.

AGRICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS

Crops: 2 varieties of tomato

Techniques: Hydroponic rockwool production

Irrigation: Use of well water – Drip irrigation – Use of fertigation (NPK)

Use of renewable resources: –

Sustainable practices: Pesticides-free (Integrated pest management with benefitial insects) – Local production – Minimization of water consumtpion – Use of residual hot water from the bioenergy plant

Other products: –

LINKS


Visit to Serra Pellerossa

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Today we visited the periruban farm of IPOM Pellerossa in the outskirts of Bologna. This farm employs technological innovation to minimize the environmental impact of their tomato production. In particular, the name of the farm “Pellerossa” refers to a local variety of tomato that the farm recovered. This is one the case studies for technological innovation in SustUrbanFoods.

 


Case study: Arvaia (CSA, cooperative) – Bologna, Italy

Location: Bologna, Italy
Typology: Community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm
Urban area: Peri-urban
Innovation type: Social innovation
Main functions: Cooperative – Social cohesion – Ecological production – Community empowerment – Volunteering

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HISTORY & CONTEXT

Arvaia is a social cooperative founded in 2013 to manage a piece of peri-urban agricultural land as a community in order to obtain local (km.0) and ecological food through cooperative work among citizens. The land is a concession of the community of Bologna and now is an area restricted for urban development. Nowadays Arvaia is made of 324 members and cultivates 75 different variaties in 47ha in the outskirts of Bologna.

The approach is collaborative and dedicated to sharing the common good land to farm. Members has a single annual fee that covers the annual budget and will give right to reception of the products weekly. Members are invited to participate in the agricultural activities because of some half-day year. Cooperation to the farm is based on their skills or professional ability (accountant, community manager, etc.). Pursuing the “zero waste” goal, the surplus of production will be transformed and redistributed. Memebers can pick up their weekly harvest directly at arvaia or in some points of the city centre.

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AGRICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS

Crops: 75 varieties of diverse products (tomato, melon, watermelon, zucchini, lettuce, eggplant, wheat, etc.) [+ info]

Techniques: Soil production – Rotation for promoting organic matter content – Protected cultivation for certain crops (tunnel)

Irrigation: Use of tap water – Drip irrigation

Use of renewable resources:

Sustainable practices: Ecological production – Seasonal production –  Production km.0 – Minimization of food waste – Biologic seeds (own production)

Other products: Beekeeping – Added-value products (e.g. tomato sauce)

LINKS


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Case study: Community garden of Via Gandusio – Bologna, Italy

Location: Bologna, Italy
Typology: Community garden
Urban area: Inner city – building – rooftop
Innovation type: Social innovation
Main functions: Social inclusion – community development – food self-production
Users: Private users – Neighbours

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HISTORY & CONTEXT

Via Gandusio is a social housing complex in the North of Bologna (Italy) that was originally built for hosting workers that migrate from the South of Italy in the 60s. Nowadays, Via Gandusio still host two different communities: advanced-age Italians (former migrants in the 60s) and current international immigrants from Africa and Asia. The difference of age and nationality create some conflicts and limits the relationships among the community.

The community garden was designed by the Municipality of Bologna, the association BiodiverCity and the RESCUE-AB (Università di Bologna) with the aim of setting a meeting point for the community where food production is the link between neighbours to exchange knowledge, culture and experiences. The 250 m2 roof garden started in 2011 becoming the first rooftop garden of the city of Bologna and of Italy.

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AGRICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS

Crops: leafy species (lettuce, chicory), vegetable crops (tomato, pepper, melon, watermelon, eggplant) and herbs (basil, aromatics)

Techniques: Three different cultivation techniques are employed in the garden: organic soil based production in the containers, floating hydroponic production in the containers and nutrient film technique (NFT) in the pipe.

Irrigation: Fertigation with NPK – Use of tap water

Use of renewable resources:

Sustainable practices: Pesticides-free production – Use of home-made compost – Production km.0

LINKS

AVAILABLE LITERATURE:

  • Marchetti, L., 2012. Above our heads , below the sky : a step-by- step procedure for creating and managing a soilless roof community garden. Alma Mater Studiorium Università di Bologna.
  • Orsini, F., Gasperi, D., Marchetti, L., Piovene, C., Draghetti, S., Ramazzotti, S., Bazzocchi, G., Gianquinto, G., 2014. Exploring the production capacity of rooftop gardens (RTGs) in urban agriculture: the potential impact on food and nutrition security, biodiversity and other ecosystem services in the city of Bologna. Food Secur. 6, 781–792. doi:10.1007/s12571-014-0389-6
  • Sanyé-Mengual, E., Orsini, F., Oliver-Solà, J., Rieradevall, J., Montero, J., Gianquinto, G., 2015. Techniques and crops for efficient rooftop gardens in Bologna, Italy. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 35, 1477–1488. doi:10.1007/s13593-015-0331-0