The city and agriculture have become increasingly separated from each other. The city is where people live and work. Rural areas are for agriculture and producing food. But this food production is not intended for residents in the region. The products from the farm are shipped all over the world.
And instead of using the natural green beauty of the countryside, neatly defined green areas and parks are laid out. Investments in housing, infrastructure and nature are often done at the expense of agriculture. This is neither logical nor sustainable. And there are other options!
Municipality, stakeholders and Wageningen UR
The Municipality of Almere has large-scale urban expansion plans on its agenda, making this the ideal time to chart a different course. Of course, this is not the kind of thing one does on one's own, but rather together with other stakeholders and experts. Specific knowledge and experience regarding this type of project was provided by researchers from Wageningen UR. In the first years of the new millennium, at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, they carried out a so-called “exploration of the future in terms of sustainable agriculture.” The central question to be answered was: which forms of agriculture will still exist in 2030? Urban-rural forms of agriculture turned out to be a promising option.
Too many cooks can spoil the broth. This certainly applies to this project, where a great many different parties are involved and have their own interests. A great deal of time was therefore invested in formulating a shared vision of the desired future situation. What will that future look like? What is required and what are the consequences? Expectations and preconceptions must be identified and dealt with. The result: a new way of looking at agriculture and at each other.
All parties represented
The various working sessions were attended by representatives from the municipalities of Almere and Zeewolde, the Almere Stadsboerderij (Urban Farm in Almere), farmers from the area, project developers, environmental organisations, the SME sector, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. In addition, the residents of Almere were involved in working out the plans for the new urban-rural district in more detail via two surveys.
Result: Agromere in the picture
Collecting input and information is one thing. Translating all this information into a feasible concept is another thing. The design process itself is also a cooperative enterprise, which integrates and uses the increasing level of insight gained as well as new ideas and questions which arise in the process. As a knowledgeable and objective party, Wageningen UR was involved in the process from the very beginning. Its role was to provide expertise and experience and supervise the process. Working together with urban & rural planners and urban development experts, the Wageningen UR project team worked out the plans for Agromere in more detail and visualised them.