Fifth newsletter November 2016

1) The Urban Green Train pilot course has begun
120 students from all over the world have come together online to learn about and discuss Urban Agriculture

We have had great success with the launch of the Urban Green Train pilot course, the international training course dedicated to urban agriculture, funded by the Erasmus+ programme. Due to the high demand, registration opened to approximately 120 participants, and the tuition mode, eLearning, allowed participation to be extended beyond the confines of Europe.

Most registrants come from the project’s partner countries (Italy, Germany, France, and Holland) but there are also participants from various countries, even from as far as Brazil, where urban agriculture is recognised as one of the most powerful tools for tackling poverty in the poorest urban areas.

The course is particularly lively, a sign that the subject matter is considered to be young and stimulating, and there are many open discussions on the dedicated forums where participants of various ages, nationalities, and backgrounds discuss the topics presented in the lectures. The pilot phase of the URBAN GREEN TRAIN course will end in December, and all participants will be asked to contribute to its improvement, with feedback and suggestions.

2) Urban Green Train arrives at the ISHS 
A place where the (strictly biodynamic) vegetable garden becomes a school to teach and the school creates marketing

Last June in Athens, the VI International Conference on Landscape and Urban Agriculture under the aegis of the ISHS (International Society for Horticultural Science) was held, during which experts from all over the world met to discuss how landscape management and the introduction of policies in favour of urban horticulture can contribute to social, environmental, and economic well-being. It is a subject more relevant today than ever, given the unstoppable expansion that characterises almost all countries, independent of their level of development, and which brings numerous worrying issues.
Urban Green Train also contributed to the working activities of the Society, and Dr. Francesco Orsini, from the University of Bologna, a UGT partner, was elected Chair of the Working Group on Urban Horticulture of the ISHS. This, in addition to being recognised for the work carried out by the entire partnership, brings Urban Green Train into the most important Horticultural Sciences community, with more than 50,000 associated scientists.
UGT was well represented at the 3rd Symposium on Horticulture in Europe (SHE2016 in Chania, Greece) in October 2016. Francesco Orsini made a general presentation on Urban Horticulture and Remi Kahane, on behalf of the project members, presented the first achievements of UGT in a session dedicated to higher education.
The next ISHS event will take place in Bologna, September 12-15, 2017, as an international symposium entitled “Greener cities for more efficient ecosystem services in a climate changing world”, in which there will be close involvement of the various players, whether public or private, working in urban agriculture

3) Eta Beta, when urban agriculture is multi-functional
The Bologna case study: social inclusion, eco-sustainability, landscape redevelopment, and synergistic harvesting

Eta Beta is a social cooperative, founded in 1992, in the first peri-urban district of Bologna city. Its main purpose has always been to offer an opportunity for employment, therapy, and rehabilitation to disadvantaged or marginalised people, through art and crafts (working with glass, ceramics, and carpentry). In 2013, the turning point came, with the acquisition of a section of an old industrial zone considered to be at high risk of degeneration, obtained with a license from the Commune of Bologna. In addition to a wing dedicated to artistic and artisan activities, Eta Beta now has a large area of arable land, and a rural building called “Casa del Contadino” (Farmer’s House), a name that recalls the old agricultural origins of the area.

The Eta Beta cooperative, redeveloping and adapting the spaces available, has opened up to urban agriculture, becoming a large bio-dynamic garden available to the citizen of Bologna where, in addition to fruit and vegetables, they cultivate moral, social, and relational values, and where they aim to be a concrete example of ethical and eco-sustainable economy. The harvests, always keeping strictly to what is in season, are sold fresh or in the form of canned foods for families who request it, and for some time now has also been served at the tables of the new restaurant created by restructuring the stables of the old “Casa del Contadino”, completely independently. Among the aspects which make the entire Eta Beta project unique is the large task of redeveloping the area, a project undertaken entirely by the cooperative, which has traded this commitment for free concession of the space for 17 years.

To learn more, visit the page dedicated to Eta Beta on the Urban Green Train website, where you can also watch an interesting video about the organisation.