When agroecology reorganises your municipality

Urban Centre for Agroecology

“Agroecology demands the complete reorganisation of municipalities. People from social economy, food production, the environment, health and planning, they all have to work as one multidisciplinary team.” according to Raul Terrile, one of  the driving forces behind the Urban Agriculture Programme of Rosario. “ Key member of the agroecological movement joined the ranks of the municipal administration and reached out to their new colleagues across different departments. It set off a wave of collaboration and capacity building across the urban administration that ensures the rootedness of healthy food in the capillaries of urban policies and investments. 

Dormant public land was made available; the former plant nursery for urban park management became an agroecological reference centre; parks were turned into garden parks, urban waste streams resourced for composting, buffer strips between roads rendered productive; the housing department started to stimulate growing on terraces and balconies; hospitals provided land for medicinal gardens; prisons set up demonstration gardens and many schools today cultivate their own educational garden. Looking at the list of what has been set up in the last 20 years, one begins to see the cross-over between urban and agroecological infrastructure. This summary can be read as a wish list for a future urban centre for agroecology. It is the result, however, of a persistent and consequent strategy to wield agroecology as an integrating and transversal urban strategy and bundle public investments accordingly.

The Rosario Agroecological Centre (CAR) is a public space that was implemented in 2017 within the framework of the Urban Agriculture Program of the Social Economy Secretariat of the Municipality of Rosario, to seek innovative responses to the demands of new actors interested in urban agriculture. The centre played an important role in valorizing and giving visibility to the knowledge and techniques built jointly in the territory during the last 30 years. The CAR works with research institutes, educational institutions, orchard organizations and non-governmental organizations, social movements and is associated with the Secretary of Extension of the National University of Rosario, the Polytechnic Institute, the Ministries of Production and of Health of the province and the Secretaries of Health, Environment and Production among other municipal dependencies; the Municipal Employees Association (AMTRAM), the Institute of Physics Rosario (CONICET – National University of Rosario), the National Institute of Agricultural Technology INTA and the Association for Biological-Dynamic Agriculture of Argentina.