The Urban Agriculture City Network is a great hit. It helps council officials who wish to stimulate urban agriculture within their councils but also at national level. This is precisely what Applied Plant Research (PPO) envisaged when the scientists took the initiative to set up this network.
Officials of many city councils are working on urban agriculture. They are loners, pioneers, all trying to get the subject on the agenda in their council. They are looking for official as well as political support for further development of the subject. Or they are searching for ways to help citizens and farmers and growers who themselves wish to get going with a vegetable garden, local sale of agricultural products, or a different form of urban agriculture.
The scientists of PPO wanted to bring these pioneers together. Only together they are strong enough to let urban agriculture make a real move forward. For the scientists this was the reason for setting up the Urban Agriculture City Network which meets a few times each year.
In this network the officials learn from each other and get inspired to put urban agriculture on the map in their own environment. And they find mutual support, learn from each other which strategies do and which don’t work, and how they can solve bottlenecks.
Meetings following fixed pattern
The scientists of PPO are organising the meetings, together with one of the councils. Three principles are observed during the meetings:
- Deepening. The meeting is set up in such a way that any lacks of knowledge required to let urban agriculture grow are emerging. If necessary, research is carried out to come up with an answer. An example of such a question concerns the costs and benefits of urban agriculture for society.
- Connecting. During each meeting local growers and farmers and individual citizens are contributing their expertise and experience and link this to the experience of the participants. This provides them with inspiration and practical tools.
- Broadening. The scientists and participants are ‘merchandising’ their ideas and knowledge, to other cities, to governments, and to other initiators of urban agriculture to stimulate urban agriculture in other councils.
Council officials together with entrepreneurs
The city network is continually developing. Meanwhile it is not only officials who are participating but entrepreneurs as well. This brings councils into contact with enterprising people who are developing initiatives in the field of urban agriculture.