Urbanisation destroys agriculture.

How can we move beyond this conversation stopper?

Building territorial governance capacities

Bio-städte, Ökoregion

The paradigm of the eco-regione or bio-region comes with the desire to reconnect the urban agglomeration to the ‘natural’ regional geography that precedes urbanisation (foodsystemchange.org). Dynamics of urbanisation overwrite a pre-urban geography, threatening the hydrological integrity of the region, the soil structure, the nutrient cycles, the biodiversity, etc. Particularly inspiring is the way in which many eco-regional initiatives start from self-imposed ecological and territorial boundaries and re-think urbanisation as part of the care for the landed resources within the particular region.

In the German and Austrian context we can witness many Öko-region initiatives. Most of them have their origin in the promotion of organic farming (not in agroecology per se). The focus on organic farming cements the link between regional policies and soil care (ie. Ökoregion Kaindorf and the Humus+ project). Soil and farming are recognized as the necessary basis for an ecological regional geography. These initiatives do establish a strong connection between resource sovereignty and an understanding of territorial control built around place-based solidarities between actors within a region, and move well-beyond protectionist and identitarian regionalist logics. They give farmers a potential place within regional constituencies, and indirectly a place in the territorial governance of urbanisation, a place often denied to them within urban and metropolitan territorial governing bodies.

Building Block: Agroecological Park

Sharing among family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues

Pašam sava lauku māja ar lielu augļu dārzu

In amateur gardening and livestock farming, an occasional or seasonal overabundance of produce is inevitable. In the Latvian context, not unlike other post-socialist states, the free sharing of surplus is still a common practice and rooted in a long history of auto-production. Sharing is not limited to family members, but includes a wider network of colleagues, friends, and neighbours. This tradition partly stems out of a sense of solidarity and dates back to times of Soviet occupation when food and other resources were scarce, and family members of different generations had to actively support each other. While today, sharing is no longer a bare necessity, interviews carried out as part of the Urbanising in Place project show that people find joy in offering others self-grown food, and feel pride for their own accomplishment. And even those in need do not hesitate sharing the surplus of their self-grown produce.

These practices are often not considered within sustainable food planning initiatives. Individuals and communities involved in informal practices of food sharing are not campaigning around such practices. Local farmers engaged in direct selling initiatives tend to replace informal traditions of sharing. Can we imagine urban food policies in which self-growing and sharing practices would be celebrated and valorized?

Building Block: Territorial Food Hub