The current agro-industrial production model is no longer working. It depletes natural resources. It threatens the health of citizens and impoverishes many farmers. But other scenarios exist!
Agro-ecology, a set of agricultural practices that bring together economic and environmental challenges sustainably, is one of the solutions.
The “Cité de l'Agriculture” is a non-profit organization founded in Marseille in 2015 with the objective of encouraging the transition towards a healthier, fairer and sustainable society.
The association promotes urban agriculture and facilitates rural-urban linkages. They are implementing concrete actions to combat food insecurity. The “Cité de l'Agriculture” encourages city dwellers to take back control on their food for healthier diets, more connection with farmers, and pleasure of eating.
Urban agriculture, as the “Cité de l'Agriculture” team sees it, aims to encourage the inhabitants of the city to buy local products, eat healthier and connect with local producers.
Urban agriculture is a way to:
- Raise awareness among residents on more sustainable diets
- Provide ecological services (reduction of pollution, reduction of heat islands, reduction in the risk of flooding, fire, protection of biodiversity, etc.)
- Reduce the food divide between social classes
- Break down barriers between land uses and create green spaces essential to our cities
How it works
In the “Cité de l’Agriculture”, the business model is divided into four pillars:
- Service delivery
- Private fundraising
- Public fundings
The ultimate goal is to develop partnerships with the private sector.
With the help of a bank loan from a solidarity based bank, the founders of the “Cité de l'Agriculture” managed to buy the 180m3 building hosting their activities in the city center.
The “Cité de l'Agriculture” has 4 missions:
- Raise awareness through trainings for the general public and professionals to understand our current food system and give keys to imagine alternative projects. Raising awareness is also done through conferences, festivals, shows and events including the 48 hours of urban agriculture organized in 2018 in Marseille (get to know more in video).
- Connect: The Cité organizes a monthly market at the centre of street arts with ten farmers selected for their quality products. They also connect through a canteen based on products coming from local smallscale farming.
- Experiment through the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and aromatic plants to supply the canteen. Experiment with mixed agricultural production: ecological hydroponics and organic farming in the city.
- Support by facilitating access to land, which is the main obstacle to the development of agriculture in the city. The Cité has identified 80 plots of 0,6 to 2,5 ha for farming in the city and has worked with the owners to convince them to make a good use of it. Find it on this interactive map.
- Through its operation “Food Desert”, the “Cité de l’Agriculture” is providing support to poor families by organizing cooking lessons and putting together a vegetable basket system to give them access to fresh vegetables at low cost. They also teach canteen workers to cook healthy and sustainable meals to children.
In 3 years, the “Cité de l’Agriculture” has become a key player in Marseille for the ecological transition.
The Little Extra
The “Cité de l'Agriculture” also published a journal every 3 months: “Le Persil”. This magazine gives members a voice and highlights the many local initiatives. You can find also recipes, interviews of local stakeholders, articles on the news, etc.
The “Cité de l'Agriculture” is also experimenting the production of compost from the food wasted in the canteen. And speaking of compost, faced with the growing demand for composting in all cities, the “Cité de l'Agriculture” is currently working scaling up the collection and recovery of bio-waste from and for professionals.
They are also studying the feasibility of having urban sheep or goat farming.
Written by Thomé Orenga, LFC volunteer - April 2020.
Last modification : 20 Apr 2020.
La Cité de l'Agriculture
The association promotes urban agriculture and defends close ties between citizens and producers. It is implementing concrete actions to combat food insecurity. The Cité de l'agri invites city dwellers to reclaim their food in the service of their health, pleasure and links with farmers.