Incipit: the term “Abad”, in ancient Hebrew, means ‘to cultivate’ but its literal meaning is “to serve”, therefore cultivating the earth is also in serving nature and community.
The aim of the NEISOS project is to create an “identity card dedicated to urban gardens”. We started in November 2017 preparing a theoretical-experimental research aimed at acquiring new knowledge for the development of an innovative algorithm to support decisions (DSS) for the economic and technical management of urban social gardens, linked to the growth of social and environmental competences (identity map of the vegetable garden and its actors). The expected impact of the intervention will consist in the structuring of experimental models of management and organizational process with high impact on both technologies and management performance.
Raised garden shaped like a ship on the shore of Lake Gmunden (Austria)
Photo: Garten AigenStädtisches Gärtnern
CART_D’ORT – the acronym wants to evoke the concept of identity card of urban gardens and operators who in various capacities operate for the management, maintenance of the same, according to socio-economic and environmental requirements and innovative character, defined from the Neisos.
The Neisos is based in the city of Rome, which boasts among its specific features also the characteristic of being the largest agricultural community in Europe, with a total of 50 thousand hectares cultivated. The Capitoline Administration itself manages two farms directly: the Tenuta del Cavaliere and that of Castel di Guido for a total of 2,300 hectares. In the urban metropolitan area there are also farms that allocate part of the property to urban gardens and, finally, it is a consolidated fact also at an international level that, in recent years, has spread the phenomenon of cultivation in small urban land also thanks to administrations that adopt policies aimed at spreading a culture for environmental and landscape respecting and at least partially restoring naturalness destroyed by the phenomenon of urban disorderly and uncontrolled urban expansion together with the decline in the population density “urban sprawl” (Brueckner, 2001) . In the face of significant potential benefits, for the environment, for the economy and for inclusion, the research intends to study the phenomenon in depth, in order to trace innovative models of study and intervention to reduce and eliminate, where possible, the critical issues present. locally and internationally, namely:
legislative vacuum, often also given by a lack of regulation for the management and maintenance of areas.
Poor or absent knowledge of the possibility of ingestion of high levels of pollutants from crop consumption not adequately analyzed and reclaimed (possibility of higher concentrations of some heavy metals compared to vegetables purchased in stores).
Problems purely linked to agricultural skills and natural resources, first of all the availability of water for irrigation (urban gardens often live thanks to the use of small raised cisterns).
Poor ability to include in the case of spontaneous social gardens unaccompanied by targeted participatory pathways. The mere definition of “community garden” does not necessarily guarantee a real socialization action.
The secondary objectives of the research are essential for achieving the general objective:
the identification of the distinctive characteristics of urban gardens, achievable through the analysis of the literature and a sample of case studies;
the identification of significant design experiences belonging to the local, national and international scenario (Best practices);
the identification of tools and methods, including the Bayesian approach to trace from the frequencies observed to the probability of the phenomena and the evaluation of the existing.
Therefore, we intend to proceed to identify a methodology that allows the creation of a metadata on the forms of urban agriculture to frame the multiple forms associated with this system in order to avoid classifying these micro-systems by returning an overall picture of the complexity that characterizes them.
To achieve this result, all the actors involved in the subject will be interviewed, collecting inputs, needs and values that can only strengthen the development of research and development.
The planned activities concern a first 2-month action for the analysis of the existing literature and the generation of a dataset (and metadata) for the strategic data collection in order to identify the solutions and the methods for the realization of an innovative calculation process in response to the 3 main research factors and specific sector needs:
SOCIAL FACTOR (to support development such as formal and informal knowledge and skills, it generates an urban vegetable garden on the weakest people (elderly, children, disabled people, etc.) particularly exposed to their position in society). The answer to this question may support actions to strengthen the skills and recognition of the same according to the EQF (European Qualification Framework);
ECONOMIC FACTOR: what essential information should be made of a dataset that decisively helps the management, control and maintenance of an urban social garden? (also for financial management purposes, its transparency and the development of potential in the market)
ENVIRONMENTAL FACTOR: what tools and what minimum conditions can guarantee that the products of a vegetable garden are edible? It is necessary to develop a control dataset that, together with a measurement kit, can indicate the level of soil health and the potential for long-term wellbeing.
Neisos, in a second phase of R & D, intends to develop an industrial research for the realization of a demonstrative prototype for the precompetitive development of the solutions identified.