Fourth Newsletter June 2016

1) Enrollment is now open for the Urban Green Train pilot course!
An international online classroom to learn useful tools for operating in the world of urban agriculture.

Launching of the test phase of the new course in Urban Agriculture, resulting from the work by Urban Green Train, the international project funded by the Erasmus+ Programme and coordinated by the University of Bologna, which, in order to encourage and support new forms of business in the field, aims to train knowledgeable and competent professionals.
The content and structure of the course is created from a careful study of the potential and the requirements of European urban agriculture and is characterized by a specific educational profile that aims to cover the knowledge needs and to train with specific tools, as evidenced by the most relevant actors that operate within the sector in different capacities.

The course, which lasts 150 hours, will start on August 1, 2016, and will end on December 31, 2016, and it will be entirely free and accessible by online E-Learning mode, which allows its use to be easily adapted to individual schedules and needs. The content will be in English.
The Urban Green Train course will be open to professionals and students, and the participation of 60 registered students is estimated, equally divided among the project partners’ countries. It will be possible to submit the registration application form from June 6, 2016, up to June 27, 2016.

For more information and to download the registration application form, please visit the relevant page on the Urban Green Train site or click here.
2) Werkhof, the urban farm in Dortmund where salad grows rich in meaning
A place where the (strictly biodynamic) vegetable garden becomes a school to teach and the school creates marketing

Located in the northeast quadrant of Dortmund, a city in the metropolitan region of Rhine-Ruhr, which, on its own, is home to more than 500,000 inhabitants. Werkhof is an "urban" farm in all respects, whose services go far beyond simple cultivation.
Werkhof is a cooperative, which combines a for-profit orientation, through the sale of horticultural products, with social and educational purposes. This is not just one of the many cooperatives and social networks; Werkhof offers something more. Firstly, it operates in the horticulture biodynamic sector, in response to specific requirements of the local market; secondly, its social purpose is aimed at young people who experience difficulties in entering the workforce or who have not completed their mandatory education. In fact, in Werkhof diversified skills and knowledge are acquired not just with tasks that are unique to farming operations, but that also apply to processing, packaging and selling of agricultural products, thus allowing young students to experience different roles alongside experienced staff.
There is a lot of work: five cultivated hectares, one of which in the greenhouse, 40 kinds of vegetables are produced, processed and marketed through the store, and the weekly local markets and the home delivery service of vegetable crates (approximately 1,000 boxes delivered every week).

In the case of Werkhof, the key success factor is linked to the precise combination of social commitment and biodynamic production, which makes the product for sale full of meaning, quality and value. The urban location has also contributed to the success of the initiative, becoming a real asset since it makes fulfilling the demand for constantly fresh and varied products much faster, simpler and inexpensive.
Lastly, a key factor has been, and continues to be, the dialogue with public administration, which contributes to the costs of social work and facilitates real estate obligations.
To learn more about Werkhof and its business model, please read the relevant study conducted as part of the Urban Green Train project.
3) Urban Agriculture Europe, the book on urban agriculture in Europe
The first comprehensive, interdisciplinary guide to learn how agriculture and cities interact in Europe

Agriculture can no longer be considered the opposite of "Urbanity"; the need to consider it as a functional element of urban development has become more and more vivid and indisputable. It is no coincidence that many view urban agriculture with great interest in search of new ideas and strategies to address the social, economic and ecological challenges that cities cannot escape.
There are many examples of urban agriculture in Europe, often profoundly different from each other as a result of specific historical, sociocultural or even geographical influences. COST Action Urban Agriculture Europe, a networking project aimed at establishing a dialogue between academics and industry professionals, was created from the need to bring order to the current state of affairs.

The work took four years (2012-2016) to be completed, during which the COST “Urban agriculture Europe” netwrok tried to categorize, map and define the types of European urban agriculture, and the foundation for a common language on the topic was established. This was a necessary step to unequivocally and clearly communicate (in particular to political and institutional bodies) its potential for sustainable development and social welfare.

The book, Urban Agriculture Europe, published by Jovis, highlights the results of this great body of research and observation. The most common experiences and examples are retold throughout its 230 pages, with the support of many pictures and infographics. It includes experiences such as those of the large metropolitan regions of Barcelona, Dublin, Geneva, Milan, Sofia, Warsaw and the Ruhr, as well as those of lesser-known or decentralized, but particularly innovative areas.

The book cuts across disciplines, an approach that increasingly applies to this topic. Thus, Urban Agriculture Europe is about urban agriculture but also social sciences, economics, agricultural ecology and land planning. The many practical insights, guidelines, operating models and planning tools, complete the picture and make this book an essential reference for politicians, authorities, institutions, and of course, private citizens.

For more information on the COST Action Urban Agriculture Europe project and to view a preview of the book, click on this link.
4) Ideas and Recommendations for new entrants into farming - in Urban Agriculture as well!
EU expert group discussed ideas and models for starting a business in agriculture without successing a family farm - Final report, factsheets and mini-papers now available for free download and use

A group of experts of different European countries, half of them young practitioners, discussed within the framework European Innovation Partnership (EIP) chances and barriers of starting new farm businesses without direct succession of a family farm under the headline "New entrants into farming: lessons to foster innovation and entrepreneurship". Newly set-up urban and peri-urban farm operations were well represented among the case studies examined, and often new entrants are providing business innovations to the sector. Although the work of the focus group covered agriculture in general, there were a lot of interesting concepts and considerations quite helpful for new urban agriculture entrepreneurs. For accessing the online material, please click on this link (some factsheets are available in different languages).