SUPURBFOOD: towards sustainable modes of urban food provisioning

This research project, funded by the European Union and implemented by 8 universities coordinated by Wageningen University (Netherlands), studied the agri-food system in 7 European city-regions, focusing on: i) short food chain initiatives, ii) water and wastes recycling, iii) multifunctional land use, and iv) related social and institutional innovation. RUAF Foundation contributed by documenting and analysing experiences gained in cities in the Global South on these issues and by producing case studies, a policy and practitioner brief and supporting international dialogue and dissemination.

Duration: 4 years (2012-2015)

Funding: European Union

Project partners: Wageningen University (project coordinator, the Netherlands); RUAF Foundation (the Netherlands); Ghent University (Belgium); Universidade de Vigo (Spain); Countryside and Community Research Institute of the University of Gloucestershire (United Kingdom); Landbouw Economisch Instituut (the Netherlands); Forschungsinstitut für Biologischen Landbau (Switzerland); Baltic Studies Centre (Latvia); Associazione Italiana per l'Agricoltura Biologica (Italy); f3 – the local food consultants (United Kingdom); Stichting Uit Je Eigen Stad (the Netherlands),; Machine Ring Zürich (Switzerland); CMVMC Vincios (Spain); Willem & Drees (the Netherlands); Pico Bio (Switzerland); Cooperativa Agricoltura Nuova (Italy); RoomeR (Belgium); The Community Farm (United Kingdom); Kalnciema Quarter (Latvia)


SUPURBFOOD partners described and analysed the agri-food dynamics, policies and governance arrangements in 7 European city regions: City-region Rotterdam (The Netherlands); Metropolitan Area Rome (Italy); City-region Ghent (Belgium); Metropolitan Area Vigo (Spain); City-region Bristol (United Kingdom); City-region Zürich (Switzerland); and Greater Riga Region (Latvia). This is undertaken with special attention to: i) short food chain delivery, ii)  urban water, nutrient and waste management and recycling, iii) multifunctional land use, and iv) social innovation and institutional interaction in (intra-  and peri) urban areas. Platforms for the exchange of knowledge and experiences among various stakeholder groups (SMEs, policymakers, CSOs, NGOs, researchers) were organised in each of the 7 European city regions. These platforms also functioned to guide experimentation with innovations in each of the key themes of the project, with the involvement of small en medium-sized enterprises.

RUAF Foundation coordinated Work package 3, “Urban agriculture and short food chains: lessons from the South”; and implemented the following activities:

  • organisation of an electronic “Dare to Share” fair on the key themes of the project;
  • documentation and analysis of close to 50 experiences gained in developing countries regarding each of the above-mentioned key themes; production of 3 thematic reports and one synthesis report with “lessons learned” and recommendations for the studies in the European city regions;
  • participation in steering group and international project seminars; support to international dialogue and dissemination
  • production of a special issue of the Urban Agriculture Magazine on the results of the research project;
  • preparation of a policy and practitioner brief on the basis of the main findings and recommendations of the project. 

Results achieved:

The project contributed to improved sustainability and reallocation of agriculture and food delivery in city regions in Europe as well as in the global South by developing, together with SMEs, innovative approaches for:

  • the management and recycling of water, nutrients and urban waste in (intra- and peri-) urban agriculture;
  • short chain delivery of food for intra- and peri-urban areas;
  • multifunctional agriculture in intra- and peri-urban areas.


Policy briefs

  •  Policy brief featuring practices on municipal urban food policy & interventions.

Practitioners brief

  • This brief, elaborated by RUAF, features recommendations and practices for SMEs involved in sustainable urban food provisioning.

Special issue of the Urban Agriculture Magazine