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BCFN Young Earth Solutions YES!

Manna From Our Roof Abstract: In response to urbanized spaces' alienation from food production and its ecological, recreational and economic values, it is necessary to reconceptualise the cities from the key viewpoint of sustainability and to educate its citizens about a new ecology of food. The manna FromOurRoof project will engage young people across the OECD countries in an international network of activities combining education, communication and business: participants will actively take part in cultivation, preservation, cooking and sale of local food products. By the means of roof gardens, window farms and edible walls, the facilities they will be working in will be providing the urban community with fresh and local produce, while taking care of their own energy supply, water and waste. The participants will personally cook the greens they themselves will be cultivating, while also attending cooking classes and talks by international food, nutrition and sustainability experts. Moreover, they will sell the yield surplus in the buildings' shop, city markets and the Internet. The project will encourage environmentally responsible behaviour, create a short loop between producers and consumers, support local production and promote cultural, didactical and agricultural tourism, in order to revitalize the cultural, environmental and social importance of food.

Author

Federica Marra


manna From Our Roof

Federica Marra Leiden University, NL


manna From Our Roof

Around half of the population in the OECD countries today lives in urban areas, figure that is bound to reach 70% by 2050.1 Citizens will be increasingly more dependent on purchased rather than home-produced food, which will require agricultural production to increase by 60% globally.2 Despite this, urbanization is taking place at the expense of agricultural land and its relative economic, recreational and ecological values. Nevertheless, although cities are indeed putting pressure on the environment and on natural resources, they also represent a key part of the solutions for climate change as centres of innovation.3 Urban migration brought the estrangement of the agricultural tradition and contributed to people’s alienation from food production, its social and health dimensions. The food scenario in developed cities now seems to hang in the balance between ideal diet, environmental choices and particularly busy lifestyle. In order to reconcile these apparently diverging dimensions, it is therefore necessary to redefine the urban living spaces from the key viewpoint of sustainability and to educate about a new ecology of food. The manna F.O.R. (From Our Roof) project addresses young generations in the cities across the OECD members with a range of activities combining education, communication and business. In a cross-border youth mobility setting, both national and foreign young people between the age of 18 and 30 will be offered a cheap short-stay in a network of buildings (named after each city, e.g. ‘Manna F.O.R. Milan’) in which they will actively take part in cultivation, preservation, cooking and sale of local food products, from which they will raise a small revenue. The facilities will be interacting with each other in an open-source online platform across the countries. The aim will be to reconstruct social responsibility towards food by engaging young generations in a working activity to develop managerial competence and relational capacities, while also promoting international cultural exchange. The idea unfolds around a reconceptualisation of abandoned buildings4 as a bridge between the countryside and the city. This will be achieved by the implementation of building-integrated agriculture5 to provide the urban community with a close tie to food production while feeding it with fresh and local produce. Roof gardens will serve as space for small-scale urban agriculture, while also providing temperature control for the buildings themselves. The latter will be taking care of their own energy supply (with retrofit building-applied photovoltaics), water (rainwatercatcher and wastewater-recycling systems using stone beds) and waste (biodegradation of dehydrated organic waste with compost bins). Food cultivation will be supported all along the floors of the buildings via window farms and edible walls (vertical hydroponic gardens). All the spaces inside the facilities will be provided with recycled and recyclable furniture and reconditioned appliances.

Sources:

OECD (2012), Compact City Policies: A Comparative Assessment, OECD Green Growth Studies, OECD Publishing. 1

2 OECD/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2012), OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012, OECD Publishing.

Kamal-Chaoui, L. and A. Robert (2009), “Competitive Cities and Climate Change”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2009/02, OECD Publishing. 3

4

www.impossibleliving.com

5 Caplow, Ted. “Building Integrated Agriculture: Philosophy and Practice.” Heinrich Böll Foundation: Urban Development and Urban Life-

Federica Marra Leiden University, NL

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manna From Our Roof The lower floors will include communal kitchens and cafeterias, in which the participants will prepare food for their peers using their own vegetables and other locally grown products provided by local farmers. Occasionally, lunch events will be addressed to elementary school children and elderly people, in order to create conviviality in the community and get them involved with the project. Food scraps from the cooking activity will be used as nutrient for the gardens after composting. In addition, talks by international experts about facts on food, nutrition and sustainability will be held in turn across the network of the buildings, with the purpose of promoting conscious consumption among the participants within formative/informative spaces. Similarly, chefs will be invited to hold cooking classes aiming at promoting the implementation of the model of the Double Pyramid,6 while also educating on how to avoid food waste by effectively using leftovers. The surplus from the gardens’ yield will be kept for the buildings’ retail shops on the ground floor, which will provide fresh, seasonable, organic, zero-mileage and cheap products to the community coming from the roofs and from local farmers (in exchange for compost and further access to urban markets). The same will take place through internet sites offering a home-delivery service carried out by the participants. On specified days, stalls will be placed in the city markets and in strategic locations to allow busy city workers to shop despite the lack of time (e.g. near office buildings). In order to promote sustainable mobility, transportation of goods within the cities will be organized by freight bicycles and/or public rail vehicles with depots in the suburbs. During the first stages of the project, the financial viability could be preserved by partnerships between governments and non-profit organizations or private companies.7 Moreover, it could benefit from fiscal instruments and incentives that support urban sustainability initiatives, seeking complementarities among and within urban sectors to enhance each other’s policy effectiveness (i.e. increased green space can reduce GHG emissions and the impacts of heat extremes).8 The energy saving and the efficient resource use will then compensate for the initial investment costs (kept anyway low by the use of recycled and refurnished items) in as little as a few years, resulting in significant reductions of costs in the long term. Cycle and public rail vehicles will drastically cut the costs of conventional private transportation. At a later stage, the project will also benefit from the revenue of the hostels, the marketing of the food products and from the contributions to the cafeterias. Besides these, it will also provide the additional co-benefits of encouraging environmentally responsible behaviour, creating a short loop between producers and consumers, supporting local production and promoting cultural, didactical and agricultural tourism. The experience of gardening as a community activity will improve its quality of life and strengthen its internal communication to promote mutual learning and networking. By this open source collaboration, the project will create a cultural bridge reconnecting pleasure and responsibility, quality and sustainability, locality and globality in order to appreciate the cultural, environmental and social importance of food.

Sources:

6 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (2011), Doppia piramide 2011: alimentazione sana per tutti e sostenibile per l’ambiente, Parma. 7 e.g. Slow Food, Kitchen Gardeners International, The Windowfarms Project,Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Youth Food Movement etc.

Kamal-Chaoui, L. and A. Robert (2009), “Competitive Cities and Climate Change”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2009/02, OECD Publishing. 8

Federica Marra Leiden University, NL

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manna From Our Roof

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Federica Marra

2 http://www.psfk.com/wp-content/ uploads/2009/07/6240_2031927103 71_203183935371_7674040_2319 669_n.jpg 3 http://capitolhillurbancohousing. org/content/roof-top-urban-farm

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4 http://ethicalfoods.com/urbanrooftop-farms/

Federica Marra Leiden University, NL

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1 http://donnadiservizio.com/wpcontent/uploads/2010/05/Rooftop01. jpg 2 http://our.windowfarms.org/fi-

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3 http://www.archidir.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Edible-WallGarden-by-Tournesol-Siteworks.jpg 4 http://cdn1.stbm.it/zingarate/gal-

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lery/foto/cosa-c-e-sui-tetti-di-newyork/tetti.jpeg?-3600 Federica Marra Leiden University, NL

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