Vertical farming / city farm © TU Berlin
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Policymakers and practitioners urgently need knowledge about urban agriculture’s benefits, impacts, and risks. This will help them make policies to promote the good aspects of urban agriculture and reduce its problems. To make that happen, the EU is putting 5 million euros into a Horizon Europe project that creates tools to make smart decisions about which regulations are appropriate for urban agriculture.

Free University Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam) is taking the lead in the project, which has been named FOODCITYBOOST. Environmental scientists Nynke Schulp, Peter Verburg, and Pierre Chopin are coordinating the project, working with 19 European partners. The project is led by the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Department of Environmental Geography, and starts next week, on Jan. 1, 2024.

Negative impact

According to a VU note, Europe’s rural and urban areas face increasing negative impacts from climate change, biodiversity loss, unsustainable resource use, and a growing divide between citizens from urban and rural areas. These long-term developments threaten the sustainability of urban development and associated food systems. Different types of urban agriculture have emerged in cities across Europe, such as gardens on rooftops or vertical farming. These smart ideas can help deal well with the major problems at hand.

The tool developed in FOODCITYBOOST provides information on how well urban agriculture works in environmental, social, and economic terms in cities, regions, and the EU as a whole.

Six case studies

FOODCITYBOOST works with 100 stakeholders from six case studies, using an approach based on ‘living labs’. This approach allows for learning from regions and cities across Europe, where urban agriculture works well and is supported by regional policy. FOODCITYBOOST combines expertise in social sciences and humanities, land systems, urban agriculture, and life cycle analysis. This further expands basic knowledge about urban agriculture.