GROW the City: Urban agriculture for a sustainable regional food provisioning, The Netherlands

The RUAF Foundation, its partner ETC Foundation and PPO of Wageningen University are organising a series of thematic meetings in the Netherlands to foster policy debate on sustainable food consumption and production, to discuss opportunities and constraints for enhancing both intra- and peri-urban agriculture in the Netherlands and to facilitate exchange and dialogue in the learning community “GROW the City”.​

Duration:  1 year

Funding: Oxfam Novib

Project partners: RUAF Foundation (coordinator), Applied Plant Research Institute (PPO) of the Wageningen University & Research Centre.  

Activities:

  • Organisation of a South-North exchange of experiences in Urban Agriculture and drawing of lessons (e.g. regarding the embedding of urban agriculture initiatives in the wider urban system and their integration into urban policies and spatial planning) for use in the Netherlands. To that effect fact sheets on urban agriculture experiences in the global South and in the 4 involved cities in Netherlands are made available. Also representatives of cities with relevant experience in the South (like Rosario, Argentina; Cape Town, South Africa; Lima, Peru and Ghana) and North (like Ghent, Belgium; Toronto, Canada and Milan, Italy) are invited to come to the Netherlands to share their experiences.
     
  • Organisation of four so-called "Urban Farming Cafés" in 4 different cities (Groningen, Almere, Rotterdam and Utrecht) in the Netherlands. Each café has a specific central topic such as for example urban agriculture as a strategy for climate change adaptation, urban food policies, business models for urban agriculture, citizens' participation and urban food and agriculture planning.  Each Urban Farming Café is organised in collaboration with the Dutch host city, and the central topic is chosen based on their demand.
     
  • Organisation of targeted media activities preceding each Urban Farming Café, by stimulating discussions and sharing content articles and inspiring short videos through the social media. To that effect a project website and project pages at Twitter (#growthecity) and Facebook are established. Together, these social media activities aim to generate a social community in which the Urban Farming Cafés are embedded and to stimulate broader public interest.

Results achieved:

  • Exchange of experiences among cities in the global South and North resulting in joint learning processes and strengthening of knowledge and competences. 
  •  Improved dialogue in the Netherlands among different stakeholder groups and actors interested in urban agriculture and urban food strategies (citizens, entrepreneurs, governments, societal organisations, etc.) resulting in a strengthening of networks and new local initiatives.
  • Increased social and policy debates on urban agriculture and city food strategies in the Netherlands.
  • Demonstrated potential for integrating international exchange in local innovation processes in cities:

The project was well received by participating cities, as Henk Meijer from the City of Almere, organiser of the World Horticultural Expo Floriade in 2022, comments: “The urban agriculture café is a good example of how Almere wants to grow towards becoming a green city. The collaboration with GROW the City brought us the value added we were looking for, both locally and internationally”.

Also Andrea Calori, guest in the Almere café on behalf of the City of Milan indicates that he has taken several new ideas from the GROW the City collaboration. “By participating in the UA café, I have learned several concrete lessons that also could be applied in the City of Milan, for example: Organising the management of municipal land by a city farm, including environmental management criteria as part of the contract. And also the way in which Almere city mobilises young people and entrepreneurs  as ‘Urban Greeners’ is an approach that we can use in Milan” .

The following factsheets and videos on urban agriculture initiatives of the participating Dutch and Southern partner cities are produced.