Community involvement in urban agriculture initiatives

April 24, 2013

Contributor:   Bart Pijnenburg, Amersfoort

Workshop: Social inclusion, job creation, economics /  Education/formation and research sustainable food –  Innovative socially inclusive initiatives

Social cohesion and working on shorter food chains are core motives for many volunteers to work in urban agricoltures initiatives 

Many people are voluntary working in green initiatives in or around the city of Amersfoort. IN recent years several urban agriculture initiatives have started. These are only possible thanks to the many volunteers who like to work there. What are their motives?

So far we do not know of recent research but our guess is:

–       working with food from nearby is concrete and meaningful (many people are concerned over the negative effects of globalized food systems with the related schandals);

–       it is nice to complete a concrete job together with others. Many people who are (temporary) unemployed of self-employed like to work with others once in a while;

–       Working in the green space on an (urban) farm, with bare hands is very physical and totally different from working the offices behind a screen and therefore a welcome alternative for some hours per week;

–       Many people would like to grow their own food but lack the land, time, knowledge etc to do so. Working with others gives the benefit without the costs and the hassle of doing and arranging everything yourself.

–       People are learning a lot. Not to forget; they also learn that food production is not at all that easy, very season dependent, and prone to failure.


 What are the lessons learn to be used/transferred/implemented in the other partner cities?

Appeal to motivations when considering urban agric initiatives. The main focus should be on the social aspects. Urban agric initiatives should therefore be more relevant to the social/welfare departments of your city than to economic development.

Can urban farming be really about economic development, creating business and jobs? Or is the social aspect fundamental?