The FEW-Meter - an integrative model to measure and improve urban agriculture, shifting it towards circular urban metabolism
As urban agriculture grows worldwide, a key need is to ensure that the nexus of food, energy, and water is optimized in order to utilise urban resources in a sustainable way. This project will ask farmers to measure the efficiency of urban agriculture case studies in five developed countries by quantifying usage of energy, water and other resources. Data gathered will be used to model the resource flows of urban agriculture in five countries. This will enable the identification of methods to improve efficiency, also at a city-scale. An on-line platform for urban food producers will be created to share knowledge generated within the project and learn methods to increase the resource efficiency of their production methods.
The project aims to create a truly comprehensive system to understand the contribution of existing types of Urban Agriculture (UA) to the sustainable development of cities; measure the quantity of produce as well as related energy and water usage associated with UA; expand knowledge about possible health risks and use this system to ascertain and identify approaches to advance the performance of UA in terms of Food / Water/ Energy (FWE) nexus.
This will be done through extensive case study analysis from a transdisciplinary perspective, which encompasses key factors of urban food production and consumption systems. Resulting data will be elaborated through modelling of flows (of energy, water and other resources), with a methodology also based on urban metabolism. Objectives of the project include: the development of an innovative and comprehensive system (FEW-meter) to measure UA from a FWE nexus perspective; the establishment of an on-line community of growers that will help gather data; the development of scenarios of optimal use of urban resources, based on an expansion of UA at city scale; and the generation of digital tools to support urban growers optimising the urban metabolism of their agricultural practices. The project thus contributes to the transformation of cities towards sustainability.
The ILS-led work package provides for a review of the urban political framework conditions of urban agriculture in order to identify those factors that are conducive or hindering a resource-efficient UA. Particularly innovative is the development of city scenarios in a series of workshops with all stakeholders and decision-makers involved, which address the possibilities and limitations of resource-efficient upscaling of UA. They lead to a roadmap for a generally optimised urban agriculture in relation to the FWE nexus and urban metabolism. In addition, the ILS is involved in other work packages, partly as co-lead.