"Urban Agriculture - Policies and Practices for Sustainable Cities and Regions" was the theme of the final conference of project CityZen Under the INTERREG Europe program, which focused on its benefits among local authorities and the public for the last three years.
The two-day event that take part in 11.05.-12.05.23 brought together CityZen team members, local authorities and stakeholders from the 8 organizations from the 5 project regions (Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Spain and Portugal) to present their work and achievements in support of urban agriculture policies and good practices. Local hosts were ARC Fund, Sofia Development Association and Sofia Green from Sofia Municipality.
The Mayor of Sofia, Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, also welcomed the guests and shared her vision of the many benefits of urban agriculture, which provides innovative and resourceful ideas for the use and restoration of unusable urban land.
Sofia Municipality, in its turn, supports schools and kindergartens in their desire to develop agriculture. Educational gardens for growing herbs and vegetables have been set up in 30 kindergartens in the capital, and 5 vertical gardens for growing plants have been installed within the framework of the CityZen project and the My Green School, My Green Kindergarten programme. This year is also the 4th year of the Compost at Home initiative through which 2000 composters will be distributed. The first "green island" is now operating in Sofia, which is a separate space for herbs and flowers, containers for separate collection of waste, including food waste. It is located at the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy and is planned to be made in other universities as there is a great interest in the initiative.
It is the commitment of the municipality to create conditions and support, and through such community building projects, spaces can be improved through the own contribution of citizens and adolescents. "In addition to the successes, big cities have big challenges ahead in terms of green policies. So we need more support from citizens and to find ways to encourage their participation. High community spirit is the greatest value of urban agriculture," said Ms Fandakova.
In the continuation of the conference, inspiring practices implemented within the CityZen project were presented, such as DIY prototypes for mini vertical gardens developed in Sofia, roof gardens, landscaping of unused or neglected sites in Castilla y Leon, Thessaloniki and Sofia, examples of multifunctional use of urban infrastructure sites such as urban gardens in schools in Castile and Leon, an urban vegetable garden of the University of Thessaloniki, an Agro Social Enterprise in Thessaloniki that successfully created a therapeutic programme based on urban agriculture for drug addicts.
More about the project and the good practices can be found on the CityZen project website.
On the second day a visit to a farm near Sofia was realised, which puts into practice the principles of sustainable agriculture and shows that living close to nature is possible in the city.
The CityZen project is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme, cofunded by EU’s ERDF.