Agromere, a great idea for the Netherlands?!

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!

Almere Oosterwold

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.

Cooperative project

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.

Working

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.

From plans to reality?

The plans are on the table and there is a great deal of enthusiasm. It is up to the municipality of Almere to ensure that Agromere is literally given its place on the map of Almere Oosterwold as one of the country’s best ideas.