Email to Schumacher Ecodesign Group

Hi Robert, Alfredo and group,
I have little to add to your discussion. Except that it is hard to make a transition towards a truly sustainable society in a country that is so well-ordered as the Netherlands. I am trying, though, and today I have a question to the group on the ecological design of city-agriculture.
At the moment I am involved in a work group (consisting of an organic farmer/ therapeut, a restaurant owner/entrepeneur, a communication specialist, an agro-economist, an architect that works with recycling and me as architect/ecological designer) that wants to put (inner)city agriculture on the agenda in Rotterdam, Holland (the city I live in).
We propose a layered strategy with small people-oriented initiatives (showcases focusing on experience and meeting) in the inner city, more food-oriented agriculture with educational aspects around the centre and bigger farms in the perifery of the city. It will be a mix of more or less professional farmers and entrepeneurs and bottom-up initiatives involving local people of all ages.
Also integrated bio-systems could (and should) play a part, although we don’t have an integrated bio-farmer in our group. These systems seem to me very suitable for relative high density city areas and could make use of roofs, walls and basements.
I would like to ask the group if any of you know initiatives, prototypes and especially realised projects that can serve as reference or inspiration for city-agriculture in general and integrated bio-systems in particular. To give you some idea of what I mean:
I know Ocean Arks’ Intervale Ecopark, of course ( – how is that doing at the moment?)
An overview of some integrated bio-systems by dr. Jacky Foo:
Beer brewery by ZERI / Gunter Pauli:
Dream farm based on the work of professor George Chan:
One of the areas we are focusing on is the harbour area. As harbour related activities are moving down river towards the sea (as thing grow bigger) this leaves an area adjacent to the city centre open for new development. Related to this, I am interested in examples of floating agriculture and agriculture using industrial by-products (like spent grain from bear breweries or excess heat).
Finally, the harbour area is polluted so any illuminating thoughts on growing food in an area like that are welcome as well.
Kind regards,

Paul de Graaf


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