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.

Evergreen.jpg

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

 

 

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Workshop on participatory research design – Bologna, 9/11/2016

A total of 20 stakeholders of the urban agriculture development in Bologna joined the workshop in participatory research design for the development of the methodological part of the project. We had representation from the administration – City Council of Bologna, the Regione Emilia-Romagna, ENEA-, associations – Associazione BiodiverCity-,  companies – Horticity, Azienda agricola Floema, Associazione Campi Aperti-, on-going projects in Bologna – Via Gandusio, Spazio Battirame, Làbas, Progetto Orteo, Orti Salgari -and young researchers on food systems.

The workshop consisted of three main parts:

A) Introductory presentations:

  • Presentation of the project SUSTURBANFOODS: “Integrated sustainability assessment of social and technological innovations towards urban food systems” – Prof. Giorgio Gianquinto, Dr. Esther Sanyé-Mengual  – Centro Studi e Ricerche in Agricoltura Urbana e Biodiversità, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alma Mater Studorium-Università di Bologna
  • Presentation of urban agriculture projects in Bologna:
    • Orto sul tetto di Via Gandusio, Luana Iori
    • Spazio Battirame, Joan Crous
    • ResCUE-AB e l’agricoltura urbana a Bologna, Dr. Francesco Orsini

B) Group dynamics:

  • Elements of environmental, economic and social sustainability of urban food systems
  • Quantitative methods and indicators for valuing the sustainability of urban food systems

C) Individual exercise

  • Valuation of the ecosystem services of urban agriculture: environmental and socio-cultural services

Watch now the VIDEO of the workshop, clicking in the following image:

vimeo

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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

DSC_0091

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.

DSC_0213 festa gandusio

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