On 10-11/10/2023, the project consortium met in Turin. An integral part of project meetings are study visits which always give participants an unique and inspiring insights. This time couldn’t be different. The partners had the opportunity to see how places very similar to their planned pilot sites work in practice. It was a great opportunity to ask questions and clear doubts about the functioning of such places, both from an entrepreneurial and social perspective.
We had the opportunity to see and learn about the behind-the-scenes operation of places such as Cascina Falchera, which is the headquarters of our partner from Turin, the Agroberiera Community Garden, which promotes the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in the neighborhood through agroecological practices and promotes active citizenship, or the extremely interesting Orti Generali.
Orti Generali is an initative that in the best way represents the activities undertaken by our consortium. This garden is located on the periphery of the city, near the Mirafiori FIAT factory, close to the banks of the Sangone stream. It is an urban food garden that aimed to build a social enterprise model to transform and manage agricultural areas in the Turin metropolitan district.
The Orti Generali garden has two parts: a vegetable garden space and a space for education and training activities. Agricultural land covering 2 hectares has been transformed into more than 160 individual plots that Turin residents can rent for a small fee, as well as common green spaces.
To encourage greater social diversity and engage younger inhabitants, low rental prices have been introduced for those under 35. In addition, members who volunteer in the life of the garden can count on a special discount and pay only a “token amount” for renting their own plots.
Gardeners are supported by experts, and the gardens are cultivated only with organic methods. Orti Generali is committed to using sustainable and innovative nature-based solutions. The garden area is equipped with a centralized irrigation system that depends on the weather and allows to reduce the use of water
Orti Generali treats the garden as a multidisciplinary tool to promote urban farming by building relationships with public and private bodies, associations, cooperatives and individuals. The creation of a cultivated area connected to an urban farm and educational gardens guarantees a continuous educational and training offer aimed at many types of users, as well as a place for sustainable recreation.
As a result, an abandoned peripheral urban plot was recovered and at the same time the possibility of developing the area was stopped. Residents got access to safe food they produce themselves, thus reducing CO2 emissions by avoiding the purchase of food that has traveled many miles.
It is worth remembering that the development of an economically sustainable social enterprise based on urban agriculture is a long term process and the duration of the project itself may be too short to build a strong community, but the example of Orti General shows that by investing time and passion it will bring finally the rich crops of fruits.