Farming the Ethernal City
Eng. Flavio Lupia
Italian Institute for Agricultural Economics (INEA), Rome (ITALY)
Urban agriculture (UA) has been acknowledged for several positive effects such as access to fresh food, human activities moderation, agro-biodiversity and social and cultural relationships.
In the city of Rome due to social and economical trends this kind of activities are spreading, but so far very few attempts has been addressed to inventorying the UA areas (e.g. community gardens, residential gardens, school gardens, illegal vegetable gardens, urban farms, etc.) through Earth Observations techniques. Some mapping experiences have been carried out but all lack of a well established methodology to be applied for a complete inventory.
Urban agriculture (UA) has been credited for numerous positive effects in cities, such as access to fresh food, agro-biodiversity and as a contributor to improved social and cultural relationships. Like many other regions, urban agricultural activities are spreading in the city of Rome, but few attempts have been made to inventory the UA areas (e.g. community gardens, residential gardens, school gardens, informal vegetable gardens, urban farms, etc.) Some mapping attempts have been carried out, but to date all have lacked a well-established methodology for generating a complete inventory.
Researchers from the National Institute of Agricultural Economics (INEA) have recently developed a methodology for mapping cultivated parcels of land in the city supported by photointerpretation, harnessing the features of web-mapping services such as Google Earth, Google Maps and Microsoft Bing Maps. Google Earth has been used as basic tool for visual interpretation and polygon digitalization, while other services have been used for their additional features to support the cultivated plots detection (for example, the oblique view of Microsoft Bing Maps).
In addition, all the ancillary data available in the area has been integrated with the web-mapping services to improve the UA sites detection, offering the opportunity to define both the land cover and, in some cases, the land use. The assessment accuracy of the geodatabase is based both on a physical field check and a “virtual field check” realized with the analysis of Google Street View images. The digital approach enables a result in cost and time required to catalog a huge metropolitan area
An innovative “living lab” has been set up in a former warehouse in the heart of Greater Manchester to research the best ways for people in urban areas to feed themselves in the future.
The Biospheric Project in Salford asks: “With rising food prices, climate change and growing urban populations, how do we make sure we can continue to put food on our tables?”
Vincent Walsh, founder and director of the Biospheric Foundation, explains how the project is hoping to develop a sustainable urban food production system.
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Urban agriculture is playing an increasingly important role in global food security, a study has suggested.
Researchers, using satellite data, found that agricultural activities within 20km of urban areas occupy an area equivalent to the 28-nation EU.
The international team of scientists says the results should challenge the focus on rural areas of agricultural research and development work.
The findings appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
“This is the first study to document the global scale of food production in and around urban settings,” explained co-author Pay Drechsel, a researcher for the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
“There were people talking about urban agriculture but we never knew details. How did it compare with other farming systems? This assessment showed us that it was much larger than we expected.”
The team acknowledged that the study could actually be conservative, as it focused on urban areas with populations of 50,000 or greater.
Dr Drechsel said that when urban farming was compared with other (ie rural) farming systems, the results were surprising. For example, the total area of rice farming in South Asia was smaller in rural areas than in urban locations.
Likewise, total maize production in sub-Saharan Africa was not as large as the area under cultivation in urban areas.
UN data shows that more than 50% of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, which could explain the changing landscape of global agriculture.
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“This is not happening in large parts of the developing world because the urban sprawl is happening far too quickly. The legislative, administrative infrastructure is unable to keep pace.”
Technology has come a great length in the last century, but the high cost of some devices makes them inaccessible to most people. And that’s unfortunate because the purpose of technology is to serve mankind and not only some. The common technical stuff might be the solution you were looking for. Take the vertical aquaponic system for example. You could take this intricate yet highly comprehensible device, fit into a 3ft by 5ft (1m x 2m) area and you could provide your family with a year supply of food. The benefits of the aquaponic system is known for a while now. Using fish waste as fertilizer for vegetables is a sustainable way of providing yourself with the required amount of weekly food. Imagining some tasks, as pumping water to the fish, be operated with other kind of technology like solar panels, can take the whole thing to a new level. Take a look over the necessary materials and schematics in order to build an aquaponic system in your own home. Spread the news about this amazing way of providing food with your friends and acquaintances.
HORTICITY nasce nel 2006 a Padova, riunendo diverse e qualificate figure professionali per realizzare prodotti e servizi volti al comparto orticolo, con particolare riferimento all’orticoltura urbana e alle realtà dei paesi in via di sviluppo
HORTICITY collabora dalla propria costituzione con diverse università (Bologna, Padova, e Napoli “Federico II”), organizzazioni non governative (Terre des Hommes, Cesvitem, Amici del Burkina Faso, Funaci, AES-CCC), associazioni ed enti no-profit (Biodivercity, La Bilancia), ed enti privati (Proger, In-Flo, Cifo, Eugea, P.A.N.).
Le attività riguardano principalmente tre settori: promozione dell’orticoltura urbana; realizzazione di prodotti per la coltivazione fuorisuolo di frutta ed ortaggi; formazione e diffusione di pratiche di orticoltura sostenibile. Tutte le azioni di HORTICITY sono accompagnate da costante attività di ricerca e sperimentazione.
PER MEGGIORI INFORMAZIONI: http://www.horticity.it/