Seven regional authorities, research institutes and a business support organisation from 5 European countries are coming together to explore local urban farming initiatives at home and in Europe, to exchange best practices and to propose measures and plans for the sustainable development of this activity. CityZen is an initiative of the Applied Research and Communications Fund and six other international partners, and is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE Interregional Cooperation Programme 2014-2020.
CityZen aims to strike a balance between good agricultural traditions and new technologies so that urban agriculture becomes a valuable resource for cities, an attractive business opportunity, and a social and environmental trend. The project covers analysis and recommendations on national and regional policies and financial instruments for better use of resources in urban environments (production of fresh and safe food, food waste management, more attractive urban environments) and to support green urban entrepreneurship.
“Urban farming has experienced a boom in Sofia and major Bulgarian cities in the last 4-5 years, gathering NGOs and citizens mainly through social media or in the neighborhood, becoming a hot topic for researchers. However, it remains outside the focus of national and regional policies and relies on local communities and private funding for its development. There is a need to establish a legislative framework and develop sustainable business models for the commercialisation of urban agro-food. Through CityZen, we hope to assist the Ministry of Economy in monitoring the various social, environmental and business effects of the Regional Innovation Centres under the OPIC procedure. We would be happy if the opportunities for the development of green and sustainable cities through urban agriculture and eco-innovation reach more cities and regions in Bulgaria”, said Marko Hajdinjak, expert at the Fund.
CityZen is implemented by the Applied Research and Communications Fund as coordinator, the Central Macedonia Regional Development Fund from Greece, the Municipality of Beja and the Association of Municipalities of Baixo Alentejo (CIMBAL) from Portugal, the Higher Technical School of Agrarian Engineering – the University of Valladolid and the Natural Heritage Foundation of Castilla y León from Spain, and from the Institute for Rural Development Research at Goethe University Frankfurt/Main from Germany.
More information about CityZen can be found on the initiative’s website.