The relationship between city and countryside has always been characterized by reciprocal interdependencies based on the exchange of value. In the Milanese area, this balance has been the basis of the success of the entire territory for centuries, with an economy based on agriculture, expressed in its role as a multifunctional activity and which therefore creates economic, social, historical, cultural and landscape value.
Starting from 2011, through the Framework Agreement for Territorial Development (AQST) “Milano Metropoli Rurale“, the Municipality of Milan in collaboration with a series of public and private entities has launched a process for the enhancement of the rural matrices of the Milanese metropolitan area , promoting the economy and the quality of the environmental and territorial context with a view to sustainability.
The governance model thus outlined, aims to define a shared strategy with an eye towards the creation and consolidation of relations between agricultural companies, distribution platforms, processing companies, local trade and media distribution, ethical purchasing groups (GASes), consumer cooperatives, schools and public, private and social training agencies, social cooperatives that provide skills and work to farms and other entities.
In particular, AQST “Milano Metropoli Rurale” sees the direct participation of a plurality of subjects:
- Public institutions: Municipality of Milan, Regione Lombardia and Metropolitan city of Milan
- Agricultural districts: DAM, DAVO, DINAMO, Distretto Riso e Rane and DAMA
- Irrigation and river basins authorities: Est Ticino Villoresi and Fiume Olona
Lines of action
Through this agreement, the subjects recognize the role of integrated rural systems and multifunctional agriculture in relation to the provision of services (ecosystem, cultural, social, etc.), and to the creation and consolidation of new relationships between urban and rural realities. The current action plan provides for 95 planned actions for a total value of 82.1 million euros, of which 40.4 are already allocated in the 2020 Action Plan.
The lines of action identified are:
- improvement of the irrigation system
- landscape and environmental requalification
- improvement of architectural and corporate heritage
- innovation of products and services
- multifunctionality: fruition, social and didactic activities
- enhancement and promotion of the territory and rural culture
- strategy consolidation
In particular, the new 2020-2021 Action Plan sees these two lines as a priority: the innovation of products and services, with particular attention to the strengthening of short supply chains and the search for possible synergies with circular economy processes ; agricultural multifunctionality in the double meaning of strengthening and development of ecosystem services and integrated promotion of the territory, supporting its attractiveness and visibility.
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Mater Alimenta Urbes: a project for short supply chains in Milan
“Mater Alimenta Urbes” is an Integrated Area Project (Rural Development Plan), within the framework of the AQST “Milano Metropoli Rurale”, aimed at reconnecting the city of Milan with productive agricultural areas through public procurement.
In particular, the objective of “Mater Alimenta Urbes” is to promote the supply of local food produced in a sustainable way and the strengthening of relationships between rural and urban actors.
In 2016, the Municipality of Milan, in synergy with the Milanese Agricultural District – DAM and with the investee company Milano Ristorazione, launched a 12 months-experimentation in which, Milano Ristorazione, was able to acquire locally from the DAM farms, all the supply of rice for the year 2016 (180 tons / year for a value of € 300,000 / year).
The experimentation has thus allowed the farms of the DAM and Milano Ristorazione to consolidate dialogue and organizational skills. This initiative has also helped to spread awareness of the value of local products among companies, institutions and restaurant users
19 supply chains of the South Agricultural Park for school canteens
Starting from the results of this experimentation, Milano Ristorazione has published a list of 19 local supply chains (including fresh pasta, gnocchi, potatoes, zucchini, chickpeas, lentils, etc.). The company has made itself available to evaluate similar experiences, thus scaling the experience developed on rice for all selected supply chains.
Therefore, in 2018, the “Mater Alimenta Urbes” project officially got underway, involving 33 partners of which 22 agricultural businesses from the Milanese Agricultural Districts, including DAM and DAMA, 6 local authorities, the University of Milan – Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Milano Ristorazione. The project was among the 15 selected (SEO23_04-06-2018), and, at the end of the final procedure, it was among the projects financed with 4 million euros of public and private investments.
In 3 years (2019-2021) the project aims to build 19 short supply chains starting from the agricultural territories of 15 Municipalities of Parco Agricolo Sud Milano and to test their supply within the school and collective canteens of Milano Ristorazione for a total of 1,200 tons of food (1/8 of the total requirement).
The project includes 42 diversified interventions that allow companies to orient the production towards useful products at the local level, to purchase machinery, to modify monocultures, for conversion to organic, etc. Other actions consist in the renovation of agricultural buildings and the redevelopment of the agricultural landscape (hedges, rows, etc.), as well as the redevelopment of a covered market for the sale of zero-kilometer products.
In particular, in the Municipality of Milan, in the area of the Milanese Agricultural District, the farms involved are Cascina Campazzo, Cascina Gaggioli, Coop. Agricola Sociale Agrivis, Cascina Bel Casule, Podere Ronchetto, Cascina Caldera and Cascina Corte del Proverbio (Apicoltura Veca). The interventions under Mater Alimenta Urbes involved multiple activities including:
- space renovation for didactic and hospitality activities
- the modernization of machinery
- the planting of hedges and field rows
- the construction of irrigation systems
- some investments for the processing of products
- the conversion of the company to new supply chains
“Parco Agricolo Sud Milano” (the South Milan Agricultural Park)
The affected area develops mainly in the area corresponding to Parco Agricolo Sud Milano, extending within the area between the Navigli Grande and Martesana, ideally joining the city to its rivers. It includes protected areas belonging to 4 Regional Parks (Parco Agricolo Sud Milano, Parco Lombardo della Valle del Ticino, Parco Adda Nord, Parco Adda Sud), 2 Local Parks of Supra-municipal Interest (PLIS) (Parco Agricolo Nord Est, Parco Adda Martesana), and 2 Sites of Community Interest (SCI) (Bosco di Cusago, Sorgenti della Muzzetta) of Rete Natura 2000 (Natura 2000 Network).
The project is part of the implementation of the Food Policy address related to the connection between local Milanese and metropolitan production and access to healthy and sustainably produced food (priorities 1 and 2). The previous work of collaboration with numerous players in the food system has made it possible to grasp the innovation provided by the new integrated calls for the 2014-2020 Rural Development Program, promoted by the Lombardy Region, and thus to build a broad coordinated action on the territory.
At the end of the three years, the reconstruction of the 19 supply chains will allow Milano Ristorazione to evaluate the possibility of continuing with the procurement.