Can a neighbourhood be designed where agriculture and food production are part of urban life? Yes, and Almere provides the proof. What started as an idea of Applied Plant Research (PPO) under the name Agromere has been turned into a complete new concept Almere wishes to apply in the city’s development plans.
Coming up with an idea is not the hardest part. Getting various parties involved to turn such an idea into reality. This is what the scientists of PPO have achieved.
Agriculture in the city
It started with a projection of the future. Companies, government bodies, stakeholder groups, and scientists came together for an exploration of the future. They saw a future for agriculture in and close to the city: urban farming.
The idea was that urban farming could reduce the distance between farmer and citizen. The city offers farmers an attractive market for products and services. Collaboration between city and agriculture can contribute to a more sustainable city, e.g., by closing cycles. The question, however, was: how can such a projection of the future be turned into reality?
Almere in the picture
The scientists got going. They sought a city where a neighbourhood could be developed in which agriculture and housing were combined: Almere. They worked out which parties are playing a role in such a neighbourhood and brought all these stakeholders together. These were besieged with information and examples, joint designs were made, and challenged. They of course supported their ideas with concrete visualisations, with figures, and again with new, elaborated ideas.
City embracing the idea
The idea of a neighbourhood with agriculture started to live. The Almere city council embraced the plan and businesses got inspired. In the end Almere did indeed decide to allocate a part of the development plans to a complete area with urban farming. Agromere, the project name of the scientists, came to an end and turned into Almere-Oosterwold.
The scientists are keeping involved in urban farming in Almere. Together with other partners they founded the Development Centre Urban Farming Almere (OSA). This centre helps businesses, institutions or citizens who are developing initiatives around urban farming.
Agromere also left its mark in other cities. The city of Tilburg is developing a neighbourhood which will include urban farming: The New Veranda.