Inspirational ideas: An Edible Park for citizens of Reggio Emilia
Food quality / processing and nutrition
added value product
short supply chain
Cities offer enormous potential for agri-food producers involved in food chains operating in urban or peri-urban areas. Smarter logistics can shorten the distance between producers and consumers, stimulating market opportunities for local farmers and giving citizens access to fresh, healthy and sustainably grown food. Close cooperation with cities and consumers can help agri-food producers establish a stable supply chain and a better income. Many interesting initiatives are being set up, including community-supported agriculture (CSA) and Food Hubs. Public food procurement in cities, for instance for nurseries, schools or hospitals, can also be organised to source food that is produced locally and in a sustainable way.
Near the Italian city of Reggio Emilia, the Operational Group ‘Edible Park’ has set up an agroforestry-based farm that supplies fresh produce to people from the city. The farm spans about 1 ha of farmland, with 80 mulberry trees planted in rows between the crops. This enhances biodiversity and helps to maintain the traditional rural landscape of the area. “Our customers can come in twice a week to buy fresh vegetables and food products”, says project coordinator Paolo Mantovi from research organisation CRPA. “We offer high quality products with a low environmental impact, thanks to our sustainable production model, and by selling our produce directly. Vegetables that are not sold are processed by an agricultural cooperative into, for instance, fresh vegetable mixes that can be used to make soup. ‘Edible Park’ is also the new brand for soups sold in stores.”
Edible Park wants to make sure the farm activities can continue after the end of the project. To make this agricultural model economically sustainable, the project is exploring ways to improve logistics and sales, for instance through a web platform to collect orders. Paolo says: “We want to involve our customers more in the planning and development of the project and know which vegetables, food products or packaging they prefer.