Promoting education and training in urban agriculture building on international projects at the Research Centre on Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity

G. Pennisi, F. Magrefi, N. Michelon, G. Bazzocchi, L. Maia, F. Orsini, E. Sanyé-Mengual, G. Gianquinto
The RESearch Centre on Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity (RESCUE-AB), within the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences of the University of Bologna, is committed to promote urban horticulture and biodiversity in Europe and in several countries of the Global South, bringing together skills and research expertise in the fields of horticulture, environmental sciences and entomology. Educational activities build upon a range of international projects, specifically devoted to create innovative training tools. These range from adult education for urban gardeners and school educators, to higher education curricula. Lifelong learning instruments addressing the social and environmental functions of urban horticulture have been developed within the framework of LLP-Grundtvig projects, such as the project “HORTIS” (Horticulture in Towns for Social Inclusion and Socialisation, Successful application of the developed educational models are already being explored within social projects, such as the Urban Innovative Action “SALUS W SPACE” (Villa SALUS as a new Sustainable Accessible Livable Usable Social space for intercultural Wellbeing, Welfare and Welcoming in the Metropolitan City of Bologna), in which urban agriculture becomes a tool for social inclusion and capacity building among communities of political refugees and immigrants. Specific training on how to design and implement educational gardens in schools is then the main objective of the ongoing project “GARDENS TO GROW” (Urban Horticulture for Innovative and Inclusive Early Childhood Education), funded by Erasmus+. The same funding scheme promoted between 2014 and 2017 the project “URBAN GREEN TRAIN” (URBAN GReen Education for ENTteRprising Agricultural Innovation), with the aim of encouraging the creation of pioneering business initiatives in Urban Agriculture (UA), by reinforcing the so called knowledge triangle among Education, Research and Business. Within the project a partnership of public and private organizations from Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands, developed, tested and made available to different types of learners a pilot international, cross-sectoral, multi-targeted training path on Urban Agriculture Entrepreneurship. Similarly, the ongoing project Erasmus+ “BUGI” (Western Balkans Urban Agriculture Initiative) brings together the most innovative business models in urban agriculture in Europe and support their adaptation and diffusion in Eastern Europe and the Balkan context. Finally, the capacity-building of early-stage researchers was addressed in the project H2020 MSCA “SUSTURBANFOODS” (Integrated sustainability assessment of social and technological innovations towards urban food systems), where innovative research on comparative sustainability assessment of different urban horticulture models across Europe was set in place.
Pennisi, G., Magrefi, F., Michelon, N., Bazzocchi, G., Maia, L., Orsini, F., Sanyé-Mengual, E. and Gianquinto, G. (2020). Promoting education and training in urban agriculture building on international projects at the Research Centre on Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity. Acta Hortic. 1279, 45-52
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1279.7
urban agriculture, entrepreneurship, education, training

Acta Horticulturae