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Environmental education and social agriculture : new contexts of development and preservation of urban agriculture GARGNANO October 24-25 th 2003 Palazzo Feltrinelli EUROPEAN RESEARCH AND ACTION NETWORK ON “INTRA OR PERI-URBAN” AGRICULTURAL SPACES Teresa Fresu [email_address] Università degli Studi di Milano Istituto di Ingegneria Agraria
This speech would provide examples how capacity to be renewed, the versatility and transverseness are the only strategy of survival for the open spaces and neighbouring countryside standing by our small, medium, big towns. They have in common the fact that they represent new ideas of agriculture. The clearest limit of these projects is that maybe they couldn’t exist without the public financial support...
The setting up of “agricultural parks” and the promotion of educational, ludic and recreational activities, greenways, unusual productive activities, try to reconstruct these lost connections and to promote moments of meeting. The essential idea is that the preservation of last areas around the urban outskirts should not be seen only as “obligations”, but principally as new solutions of cohabitation as they could have new roles for the territorial players as well as the interest, the respect and the participation of the citizens users of the agricultural context.
What we report represent examples in Italy and France of not conventional use of the rural space, that represent the versatility that the peri-urban agriculture should reach. <ul><li>I was involved in these experiences holding different professional roles : </li></ul><ul><li>A training period in 2002 at the National School of Landscaping of Versailles, on a project about the agriculture of five villages close to Paris </li></ul><ul><li>In 2003 volunteer for the Associazione Vivai Pronatura in Milano </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental educator at the Regional Park of Montevecchia (Lecco) </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborator for the Ecomuseo del Biellese – Ecomuseum of Biella District in Piemonte Region in the fall 2003 </li></ul>
The first case is the social agriculture of Marcoussis, 7000 thousand of habitants, about 40 Km far from the south of Paris, in Essonne Department in the Region Ile the France. Marcoussis
The agricoltural reality was historically horticultural and now it has changed almost totally in monoculture of cereals Marcoussis
The C.A.T.- centre d’ aide au travail « La vie en herbe » (centre of help to work « budding life ») is a social-medication, which gives job to young disabled people who take care of biologic cultivation, of packaging and working of medical herbs, that are sold in natural feeding specialized shops in Paris.
<ul><li>The centre Les potagers de Marcoussis (The gardens of Marcoussis) is part of a national net, partly financed by the Social Affairs Ministry , the Reseau des Jardins de Cocagne (Net of the garden of plenty) for disadvantaged persons, recently gone out from prison or drug addicties. </li></ul><ul><li>The distribution of the product is based on a yearly subscription and on home delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables, cultivated by people in job-introducing. </li></ul>Marcoussis
Main problem ! The closeness to a big and complex city like Paris, its suburbs and its infrastructures, so voracious of space, is potentially lethal. But in this case this closeness is also a source of income, for the access facility to the market. Until when will this equilibrium stand?
Associazione per i vivai Pronatura from San Giuliano Milanese (Milano), on the Agricultural South Park of Milano (Parco Agricolo Sud Milano)
This organization of volunteers is active in the biodiversity of forestry species of the Po Valley, with management of a little forestry nursery and participation in educational project in the district penitentiary of San Vittore in Milano. The town of San Giuliano has offered a seat and 2 hectars of soil.
With the financial support of Ministry of Justice a greenhouse in a courtyard of the female section has been realized. The prisoners (in San Vittore about five women or more every year) follow theoretical and practical courses about chemistry, botany, and the technics of germination of a seed, taking root, plantation in the greenhouse and in the nursery.
They aren’t admitted to the forestry nursery, neither in condition of half freedom. They get a little salary for three months, during the course.
The great ambition of the project would be the re-habilitation of the convicts and ex convicts also outside, introducing these “original students” to environmental and forestry jobs.
Recently, some public institutions as the Cremona Province, for a project of reforestation in its territory has utilised young plants coming from germination cell of San Vittore, nursed, repoted by the prisoners and then transplanted in the forestry nursery.
The scientific collaborations with the University of Studies of Milano, the periurban seat in the Agricultural Park, the historic building of Rocca Brivio (farmhouse that dates from the XVII century) constitute a richness of image and a potential source of new activities.
Main problem ! The association is composed only by volunteers, everyday it collides with the indifference of the public opinion and of the establishment towards prison population troubles. There is not the full availability of the penitentiary administration, that maybe doesn’t understand the meaning of this project...
Regional Park of Montevecchia (Lecco) Brianza, hill country between Milano e Lecco. The Park has a size of 2300 ha, in most cases belonging to private persons, on its inside about forty farms work.
The conservation and rescue of hilly rural landscaping and nature reserve habitats not exclude the important roles of the environmental education, recreation and social use of the land: <ul><li>paths system </li></ul><ul><li>rich offert of didactic visits and creativity workshops (natural die, recycling paper, natural cosmetics, creation of plastic models with natural supports,...) </li></ul><ul><li>the restoration of ancient terracing with traditional cultivations (viticulture, officinal herbs, ancient fruit varieties) </li></ul>
The restoration of landscape, crops and, of course! of tastes ... has eductaional applications for youths and adults, for emergency of identity element between community, territory and its tangible and intangible property.
The Park benefits European grants “LIFE” for its own habitats. A provincial landscaping research is current, that could give further enhancements. The problem is that around the Park the territory is changing more quickly than the Park itself!
The Brianza agricultural vocation is almost stopped, this is almost completely a residential area, industrial (small and medium concerns), invaded by streets and business buildings (malls everywhere!). The traditional construction typology, the courts and the farmhouses made up with green and burned bricks, are twisted by not conservative and respectful restorations, choked by building residential speculation or derelict out of the Park boundaries.
Main problem ! The Park is a public consortium of 10 small and well-off villages, will it be able to resist against blandishments of beginning a simple and luxurious window of the past time? Will it win its challenge and establish as a new model of tradition management?
The town planning tool, the “obligation”, has included agricultural and forestry spaces so far in infrastructures of small, medium, big towns and their suburbs, to guarantee generically “a good quality of life”. For the green infrastructures the routine maintenance as any other infrastructures (streets, railway stations, bridges,...) will never be sufficient to guarantee their existence. The survival and the functional character are tied to constant search of new management solutions, involvement and education of every ages citizens.
These strategies should be flexible because the landscape and what constitute it, us first of all! are in incessant motion.
The French and Italian experiences show how important is the public financial support for those new forms of social agriculture and educational agriculture and which is their fundamental carachteristic (closeness to users) and their additional positive value (closeness to a consumer market well ready to pay, sensible, well informed about this kind of products). Operating on the territory in these cases represents an event of public interest, but this is more relevant thinking that at the same time contributes to defend the integrity of rural landscape and the vitality of its green infrastructures.