A Cohesive Urban Farming Initiative In Downtown Rotterdam
Food urbanism or urban farming has become one of the major sustainable urban trends -a pleasant reason to dedicate this blog post to the production of fruits and vegetables within an urban contexts.
Nowadays, people are extremely concern about our current food system and supply chain. People welcome the need to begin producing local organic food. They have increasingly shifted their consumer behaviors into a more healthy, fresh and grown locally diet. They feel the call to reconnect with their roots, and the need to protects people’s right to access to healthy food and well-preserved environment while providing fair compensation to the thousands of farmers and growers.
Cities are the driving axle of such a tendency that is engaging many of us into the urban farming movement. Indeed, the increasing number of people living and setting down in already dense major capital cities of the world is an underlying reason that boosts the urban agricultural initiative to high levels of expectations. Cities like New York, Mexico D.F., New Delhi and Hong Kong are feeling the pressure to feed their residents and to grow sustainable food in their own cities. And the only spaces available in these urban areas are the rooftops and the abandoned old industrial buildings. I remember a few years ago rooftop farms, for example, were ideal imaginary places and only observable in renderings, drawings, and images. But, now they have burst around the world, making cities greener and sustainable from the top. Therefore, in the following sections, I present two of the most successful urban farms in the downtown of Rotterdam.
The Dakakker was founded in April 2012 by Binder Groenprojecten and developed by an architecture collective firm Zus in collaboration with the Environmental Centre Rotterdam. Located on top of the Schielblock building in the downtown of Rotterdam, the Dakakker is one of the largest rooftop farms in Europe. The garden is the house of a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, edible flowers, herbs and honey bees.
The rooftop farm functions as a test site for urban agricultural projects. Currently, one the most enthusiastic project the garden is participating in is the implementation of a smart rooftop. This smart rooftop consists of implementing a sensor and weather controlled roof with a much larger water storage capacity than a regular green roof. In addition to a test site to experiment with different ways of green rooftops and farming initiatives within the city, this place also offers workshops and educational activities and provide herbs and vegetable to local restaurants and shops.
During the summer period, the urban garden opens its doors for a bistro breakfast and lunch menu, and also organize special dinners, catering, and events with a great view of the city. Here are some nice pics.
Uit Je Eigen Stad
After a delightful breakfast at The Dakakker Café, I head myself towards Uit Je Eigen Stad, another extraordinary urban agriculture initiative that grows and sells fresh veggies, grass fed chickens, mushrooms, ornamental seasonal flowers and also provide a healthy menu option at its restaurant. Uit Je Eigen Stad means literally “From Your Own City.”
This story of success was initially conceived and began as a social enterprise, but at the moment the urban farm is a commercial business that provides to its customers a quality mixture of seasonal vegetables, and organic dairy products. It also provides a space for the Farmers Harvest Market on weekends and a full-service restaurant on a daily basis. One thing that was fascinating to me was the fact that the farm was situated in an abandoned old industrial building, which makes the place more appealing to customers and increases their interest. This place also offers stylish design conference rooms with vintage farm items for conferences, workshops and all type of events.
Rotterdam is an exceptional case when it comes to urban farming initiatives. Despite the dark times from the past, over the years the city has impressively and successfully recovered thanks to the active participation and positive attitude of their citizens. This participatory role led to goals that rebuilt the city and shaped the Rotterdam of today. The driving forces that have led the development and economic grow of the city have, without a doubt, been the city government involvement and the bottom-up citizen’s initiatives. I was very impressed with the spur of creativity, innovation and the level of engagement of the citizens, particularly when it comes to urban agricultural activities. And most importantly the straightforward support from the local government. The support is not always money. Instead, they are committed to providing the institutional strength, regulations, policies, and sustainability frameworks to push forward innovative ideas and programs related to areas such as education, food security, health, welfare and local economy.