The urban agriculture initiative in The Hague raised eyebrows among growers. The city of The Hague made an empty office building available for urban agriculture and food-related businesses. Wageningen UR is involved in helping interested consortia and companies with technical knowhow and business development.
But why would you want urban agriculture with Westland at your doorstep? Urban agriculture is no serious business and trying to grow in an old office building is plainly a waste of money. Why would Wageningen UR invest time in this? Because this is a perfect opportunity to show the value and relevance of horticulture for society! Millions of euro’s are wasted on empty buildings and degradation of city bloks, obesitas is becoming epidemic, people live more and more in isolation and consumers have no perspective on how their food was made, take it as an industrial bulk product and allow cucumbers to be on sale for 25 ct. THAT is why we need to support urban agriculture. Food can help us change situations of degradation by bringing a new dynamic. Food production (how small scale it may be) can re-iterate the value of horticulture for healthy living – and give people a feel-good experience on the side. Next to ‘kom-in-de-kas’ and other great forms of communication we should use food and our knowledge of horticulture to bring our food closer to the people, with activities that matter to them.And what about the business case of urban agriculture? That indeed is a tricky one. In creative ways we will have to get financial reward for services that are now paid for by society or in the medical frame-work, such as health education, getting people to live more active lifestyles, social integration and social cohesion. A number of professional urban farmers in The Netherlands already experiment with such concepts. In The Hague we hope to build on these experiences to make urban agriculture an added value in society. Currently we are coaching 5 initiatives on their business model on food and health. Join us to make horticulture relevant in our cities.