Nowadays, agriculture must face a new challenge: produce more food with fewer natural resources. To achieve this goal, scientists are testing a technique called aquaponics. Aquaponics was introduced many years ago by ancient Chinese and Mexican populations. In aquaponics, fish and plants are farmed together. How is this possible? Bacteria change the fish poop into nutrients useful for the plants. The plants take up these nutrients and clean the water, which can then be reused to farm the fish, and the cycle restarts! Aquaponics allows farmers to obtain two products at once, and to recycle the same water many times. Almost no wastewater is released into the environment! Aquaponics systems can have different sizes and do not need soil. They can be installed in both outdoor and indoor environments. Big aquaponic systems are used for commercial purposes, while small aquaponic systems can be used for urban farming—growing food within cities.
The COVID-19 pandemic unveiled the fragility of food sovereignty in cities and confirmed the close connection urban dwellers have with food. Although the pandemic was not responsible for a systemic failure, it suggested how citizens would accept and indeed support a transition toward more localized food production systems. As this attitudinal shift is aligned with the sustainability literature, this work aims to explore the tools and actions needed for a policy framework transformation that recognizes the multiple benefits of food systems, while considering local needs and circumstances. This perspective paper reviews the trends in production and consumption, and systematizes several impacts emerged across European food systems in response to the first wave of pandemic emergency, with the final aim of identifying challenges and future strategies for research and innovation toward the creation of resilient and sustainable city/region food systems. The proposal does not support a return to traditional small-scale economies that might not cope with the growing global population. It instead stands to reconstruct and upscale such connections using a “think globally act locally” mind-set, engaging local communities, and making existing and future citizen-led food system initiatives more sustainable. The work outlines a set of recommended actions for policy-makers: support innovative and localized food production, training and use of information and communication technology for food production and distribution; promote cross-pollination among city/region food systems; empower schools as agents of change in food provision and education about food systems; and support the development of assessment methodologies and the application of policy tools to ensure that the different sustainability dimensions of the food chain are considered.
Attention to urban agriculture (UA) has recently grown among practitioners, scientists, and the public, resulting in several initiatives worldwide. Despite the positive perception of modern UA and locally grown, fresh produce, the potential food safety risks connected to these practices may be underestimated, leading to regulatory gaps. Thus, there is a need for assessment tools to evaluate the food safety risks connected to specific UA initiatives, to assist practitioners in self-evaluation and control, and to provide policy makers and scholars a means to pursue and assess food safety in city regions, avoiding either a lack or an excess of regulation that could ultimately hinder the sector. To address this aim, this paper reviews the most recent and relevant literature on UA food safety assessments. Food safety indicators were identified first. Then, a food safety assessment framework for UA initiatives was developed. The framework uses business surveys and food analyses (if available) as a data source for calculating a food safety index for single UA businesses and the whole UA landscape of a given city region. The proposed framework was designed to allow its integration into the CRFS (City Region Food System) toolkit developed by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), RUAF foundation (Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security) and Wilfrid Laurier University.
The last few years have seen an exponential development of urban agriculture projects within global North countries, especially professional intra-urban farms which are professional forms of agriculture located within densely settled areas of city. Such projects aim to cope with the challenge of sustainable urban development and today the sustainability of the projects is questioned. To date, no set of criteria has been designed to specifically assess the environmental, social and economic sustainability of these farms at the farm scale. Our study aims to identify sustainability objectives and criteria applicable to professional intra-urban farms. It relies on a participatory approach involving various stakeholders of the French urban agriculture sector comprising an initial focus group, online surveys and interviews. We obtained a set of six objectives related to environmental impacts, link to the city, economic and ethical meaning, food and environmental education, consumer/producer connection and socio-territorial services. In addition, 21 criteria split between agro-environmental, socio-territorial and economic dimensions were identified to reach these objectives. Overall, agro-environmental and socio-territorial criteria were assessed as more important than economic criteria, whereas food production was not mentioned. Differences were identified between urban farmers and decision makers, highlighting that decision makers were more focused on projects' external sustainability. They also pay attention to the urban farmer agricultural background, suggesting that they rely on urban farmers to ensure the internal sustainability of the farm. Based on our results, indicators could be designed to measure the sustainability criteria identified, and to allow the sustainability assessment of intra-urban farms.
of both economic and environmental viability. Appli-plications on production costs, literature on optimal the number of hours per day correlates with the total-1-2 d-1-1 m-2 d-1-1-2 d-1-Lactuca sativa Ocimum basilicum-Eruca sativa Cichorium intybus mol m-2 s-1-plant species. In lettuce and chicory, the adoption of a-2 d-1-1 photoperiod resulted-2 d-1-1 photoperiod resulted presented research. Keywords (EUE) What is already known on this subject? • LED light sustains plant growth in vertical farms. Research on plant growth and resources use in response to photoperiod management is limited. • chicory, basil and rocket were optimal when DLI is 14 mol m-2 d-1 at a photoperiod of 16 h d-1. What is the expected impact on horticulture? • Using a photoperiod of up to 16 h d-1 (DLI = 14 mol m-2 d-1) in chicory and lettuce cultivation may improve yield and sustainability.
Plant Factories with Artificial Lighting (PFALs) are spreading due to the claimed efficiency in natural resources use, although at the cost of higher energy needs as compared with more traditional food systems. In recent years, research literature on PFAL technological features and management protocols has bloomed, mainly targeting innovation in lighting technologies, growing systems and environmental control units. To date, however, a comprehensive analysis of resource use and environmental impacts associated with PFAL systems is lacking. The present review paper aims at providing valuable insights on PFAL sustainability and compare their applications against current technologies and food systems with a special focus on resource use efficiency.
In recent years, urban agriculture (UA) projects have bloomed throughout the world, finding large applications also in the developed economies of the so-called Global North. As compared to projects in developing countries, where research has mainly targeted the contribution to food security, UA in the Global North has a stronger multifunctional connotation, and results in multiple combinations of farming purposes and business models pursued. The present review paper explores the contribution and role that UA plays in cities from the Global North, defining its functionalities toward ecosystem services (ES) provisioning and analyzing the factors that hinders and promote its regional diffusion and uptake. The manuscript integrates a description of UA growing systems, as well opportunities for crop diversification in the urban environment, and a comprehensive classification of UA business models. The distinctive features in terms of business models, farming purposes and farm size are then applied over an inventory of 470 UA projects in the Global North, allowing for a characterization and comparative analysis of distribution frequency of the different project typologies.
Within the scholarly debate, Urban Agriculture (UA) has been widely acknowledged to provide diverse environmental and socio-cultural ecosystem services (ESs) for cities. However, the question of whether these potential benefits are also recognized as such by the involved societal groups on the ground has not yet been investigated. This paper aims at (1) assessing the perceived ESs of UA, comparing the views of different societal groups in the city of Bologna, Italy (namely: UA project leaders, stakeholders and the general public) and (2) to identify differences in the evaluation of specific UA types (indoor farming, high-tech greenhouses, peri-urban farms, community-supported agriculture, community rooftop garden and urban coop). In total, 406 individuals evaluated 25 ESs via a standardized Likert-scale survey. The study unveiled similarities and divergences of perceptions among the different societal groups. The statistical analysis indicated that the general public and UA stakeholders agree on the high relevance of socio-cultural ESs, while provisioning ESs was considered as less significant. UA types focusing on social innovation were expected to provide higher socio-cultural ESs whereas peri-urban activities were more closely linked to habitat ESs. We assume that involvement and knowledge of UA are determining factors for valuing the provision of ESs through UA, which needs to be considered for ES valuation, particularly in a policymaking context.
Some of the proximity agricultural experiences in Bologna demolishes the concept, typical of the twenty-century industrial agriculture, that considered the food as any agro-industrial product, and introduces the role of citizen consumer involved and co-responsible in the local food supply chain. The food, along with its production, is considered as a common good and inalienable right. The growing interest towards city/territory food systems, in an international research context, brings the develop of many initiatives that make social and scientific/technological innovation a challenge to meet. The systemic concept of urban agroecology introduces an innovative part in the regenerative management of a urban territory under high ecological, structural and environmental crisis.