First Newsletter November 2015

The Urban Green Train Project
Who we are and what we do

The URBAN GREEN TRAIN project aims to encourage pioneering business oriented initiatives on Urban Agriculture based on knowledge exchange, mutual cooperation and innovation among SMEs, policy makers and Higher Education Institutions as to meet the global demand for urban green innovation (environmental technologies, eco-friendly products and services, sustainable design and healthy food). The project’s general objective is thus to strengthen the knowledge triangle between Education, Research and Business in the field of urban agriculture and more specifically:

To raise awareness of potential employers and entrepreneurs for enabling the environment for green economy
To innovate curricula and learning methods in Higher Education, expanding existing forms of University-Society-Business Cooperation and crossing sectoral, disciplinary and national boundaries
To build capacity of youth to create their own business
To respond to the EU labour market need of highly qualified and entrepreneurial graduates in this field
To increase awareness on the role of new green enterprises in creating more sustainable cities from the side of local governments, consumers and other actors

URBAN GREEN TRAIN project has been funded with the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.


International Conference "Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society”
Huge success for the meeting held in Rome last September

The international conference “Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society” held in Rome from September 14th to 17th, brought almost 400 experts from 60 countries together around 24 thematic tables. The conference, designed to advance knowledge and scientific research in the field of multifunctional agriculture and city-country relations, paid particular attention to the development of new connections between dietary necessities and agricultural potential. Who will be the leading figures in the future of agriculture and food production? What environment will they be working in? Will there be applicable development models that will guarantee economic, social and ecological sustainability at the same time?
International experts, public entities, businesses and associations debated these topics, establishing the groundwork of a fruitful and enthusiastic network that once again confirms that the topic of urban agriculture is firmly in the spotlight.
Next meeting? Brazil in 2018.


Urban Agriculture? Here are the business models used in Europe
Urban Green Train's prize-winning study at the international “Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society” conference

"Business model in Urban Agriculture - answering cost pressures and social needs" is the title of the prize-winning paper for best scientific outcome at the “Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society” conference held in Rome from September 14th to 17th, 2015.
The work is the result of research by a special group, since Bernd Pölling, Wolf Lorleberg, Francesco Orsini, Francesca Magrefi, Femke Hoekstra, Henk Renting e Mattia Accorsi, who signed the paper, all collaborate on the Urban Green Train project.
Starting with the analysis of 80 case studies in 11 different European countries, the authors singled out six business models in which they could identify, each with its own specific characteristics, all the realities of urban agriculture they analyzed.
Here then are the resulting models:

"Cost reduction" (low cost, bulk production) that aims for resource optimization and high-value agricultural production;
"Differentiation" (niche markets) that aims for differentiation with respect to traditional agriculture in the production, manufacturing and marketing processes, and is based on a transparent and reliable personal relationship between vendor and consumer;
"Diversification" (multifunctional agriculture) that aims to diversify not just products, but also services offered (e.g. agro-tourism, care farming, training or landscaping measures);
"Experimental" testing innovative production techniques (e.g. aquaponics systems, indoor cultivation), new processes (e.g. recycle of the urban waste products) and combining collateral functions (e.g. revitalization of urban brownfields);
"Sharing economy" based on the sharing of resources (space, work, credit, tools and machinery), such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in which growers create a business along with consumers;
"Experiential" characterized by offering, along with the product, one or more authentic and exceptional experiences (e.g. gastronomic experiences).

This scientific work clarifies the economic strategies and business models that characterize urban agriculture in Europe and establishes an indispensable knowledge base for the development of the Urban Green Train project.