How do we feed the city?
The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) as part of the International Green Week in Berlin dealt with the topic “How do we feed the city?”. Examples of the approaches that can be used to achieve this were presented in the specialist forums.
In the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, around 2.5 percent of the population of the state of Minas Gerais live with 2.5 million people. 20 years ago, the city administration started to take care of the food in the city. It all started with school gardens in 1991. Four years later, with the help of the United Nations, it became a full program, Mayor Marcio Lacerda reported. Today there are 144 city gardens between 200 and 3,000 square meters in size. Most urban gardens are run by small communities, five larger ones grow products for trade. The first contracts for direct food deliveries have been concluded with farmers from Minas Gerais, which deliver around 740 tons of food annually to special sales points.
The projects are based on training employees in the public and private sectors. Contents are planting calendars as well as tillage and crop rotation. Finally, there is also a quality control.
The participation of the people was important from the beginning. The city has expanded its food aid, making Belo Horizonte a “city without hunger” today. The city spends up to 11,000 meals a day on registered homeless people. 350,000 meals are distributed in schools every day.
It is not just the mosaic of “urban gardening” on a small scale and supply relationships between city and country that improves the situation of the people. Belo Horizonte residents can cultivate their own varieties. This is even legally guaranteed to them with a city law. In the context of communities, individual responsibilities for daily duties are assigned.
There is a similar movement in China. The loss of confidence in domestic products since the melamine scandal in 2008 has led to a new form of consumer-farmer relationship. Beijing takes up to two hours by bus to the countryside and farms around 30 square meters of leased space with “their farmer”. Individually, in community or with the help of the farmer. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the trend that Shi Yan, director of Shared Harvested Ecological Agriculture Services reported. The products directly from the farmer are twice as expensive as conventional food. However, only a few hundred people have practiced CSA so far.
According to Professor Dr. Sir Gordon Conway from the British Imperial College will continue to be unable to feed the majority of city dwellers through “urban gardening”. The main food crops such as cereals and legumes will continue to be grown on land. Further information: aid infodienst provides information on urban gardening at www.aid.de, under the heading Food, Sustainable Consumption (Roland Krieg, aid)