Urban and peri-urban agriculture in Milan: opportunities and projects for short supply chain and connection between urban and rural areas

The results of the project “Next Agri” and “Mater Alimenta Urbes” presented in Cascina Cuccagna, during the final event of the European project Urbact NextAgri.

Milan 8th november 2022. The final event of the NextAgri – INnovative approaches to Education, eXperimentation and enTrepreneurship in peri-urban AGRIcultural territories project promoted by Network URBACT, co-financed by European Union, coordinated by Area Food Policy of the Municipality of Milan, with the participation of three European cities: Almere (Netherlands), Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal) e Stara Zagora, (Bulgaria), took place in Milan on the 3 and 4th November 2022.

The event titled “Urban agriculture and food system” realized last 4th November in Cascina Cuccagna was an opportunity to present the innovative design experiences of urban and peri-urban in the participating European cities and for the Milan case, to share the important results of the actions of the project “Mater Alimenta Urbes”, an Integrated Area Plan promoted by the Food Policy of Milan and financed by Development Rural Plan of the Lombardy Region. Experiences that highlight the value of Milan agriculture and the opportunities that can be developed in the coming years, considering the importance that this sector is assuming in terms of food security and sustainability of the urban food system.

The discussion with the European cities was focused on the specific tool designed through the NextAgri project, the Investment Plan, that helped cities to analyze the local context and to design local action toward the future invesments in the periurban agriculture sector.

In relation to the Milan context, this is characterized by the presence of Milan Parco Agricolo Sud, DAM (milan agriculture district) with 30 company, 1500 hectares, 14 municipal farmhouse and 19 private farmhouse, 11 agriculture market on public land and 19 on private land, 3 agricultural park: Parco delle Cave, della Vettabbia, and del Ticinello.

“We talk about agriculture with the importance it deserves. The drought that affected the Lombardy region and the city of Milan, and even before the effects of the pandemic as well as international conflicts, the issue of production put once again, the issue, at the center of the political agenda of the cities. Also for these reasons strengthening the promotion of local agri-food chains is strategic and we want to continue to work to combine environmental sustainability with agricultural productivity, fundamental elements of urban food policy and that of Milan above all” says Anna Scavuzzo, Vicemayor of Milan in charge of Food Policy and Agriculture. “Thanks to European projects such as NextAgri it was possible to share our experiences about the connection between urban and periurban areas and mapping the results of the current actions in the city on agriculture topics”.

In the project “Mater Alimenta Urbes” over thirty public and private partner involved have contributed to the implementation of various interventions in urban and peri-urban agriculture: 22 agricultural company in the agriculture districts of Milan, 2 agriculture districts (Distretto Agricolo Milanese e Distretto Agricolo Adda Martesana), 6 local agencies (Comune di Milano, Peschiera Borromeo, Liscate, Vignate, Cassina de Pecchi, Rodano) and Milano Ristorazione.

The interventions carried out thanks to this project have made it possible to achieve sustainability goals in terms of short supply chain experimentation and for environment protection of Milan’s peri-urban area. In particular, the works implemented were the renovations of the environment for educational and recreational activities, redevelopment of spaces for local markets, planting of hedges and field rows, the redevelopment of fountains, the investment in laboratories for the processing of products and the conversion of the company to new sectors.

In the Municipality of Milan, in the area of the Milanese Agricultural District, the farms involved were:

Cascina Campazzo that among the various activities carried out have restored and rehabilitated the rural buildings of the farm, with the creation of a laboratory for the production of yogurt, including services, cold room and technical rooms, as well as the purchase of equipment necessary for the production process. There was also a demonstration action on legumes and environmental restoration, with the cultivation of Cece;

Cascina Gaggioli has made investments aimed to the conservation of biodiversity and the reconstruction of the agricultural landscape, also to defend its crops. It realized a comprehensive project on the area with the reintroduction of hedges and rows;

Coop. Agricola Sociale Agrivis which has created a structure dedicated to storage and processing of products collected in the field, for which has started an organic certification process. In addition, six cold tunnels were built;

Soc.Agr. Ronchetto delle Rane: realized activities of improvement and conservative restoration of the rural buildings of the farm;

Cascina Caldera and Cascina Corte del Proverbio/Linterno (Apicoltura Veca) which have carried out interventions concerning the renovation of spaces designed for educational activities in the context of agritourism farm services.

You can see all the actions at this  link.

Through the Urbact NextAgri project, some of these actions have converged in a mapping which allowed to update the actions of peri-urban agriculture in Milan and that will be monitored and strengthened in the coming years through new designs and collaborations between the different subjects.

Aim of the initiative was to transfer and share with partner cities knowledge and good practices from Milan Food Policy and UIA “Open-Agri” project, dedicated to the promotion and strengthen of the connection between city and farmland in Milan, and some of the mentioned activities have been subject of field visits for european partners, who have worked for the replicability of some of these in their local contexts.

Photo credits: Alice Mantovani/ Milan Municipality