According to the FAO, urban and peri-urban agriculture consists of growing plants and raising animals in and around cities. Urban agriculture can meet several objectives: participate in food security, be a source of fresh products, be a source of employment, recycle urban bio-waste, enhance wasteland, create fresh places, be a place of education and awareness...
Urban agriculture is not just a current concern: in the 19th century in Paris, Father Jules-Auguste Lemire created allotment gardens in order to restore their food independence to households.
Today in a context of changes in dietary practices and citizen expectations, urban agriculture is a subject that is increasingly important.
The Metropolis of Marseille is no stranger to these issues. Indeed, the city is already home to 52 shared gardens in its territories accounting for an area of nearly 4 hectares, as well as 12 family gardens representing an area of 23 hectares. Similarly, the city has several production farms and micro-farms in abandoned urban spaces as well as on the fringes of the city. “Terre de Mars” for example, is a permacultural micro-farm in diversified market gardening offering visits and school workshops (you can find the sheet concerning Terre de Mars on this link).
In June 2018, the Aix-Marseille Metropolis adopted a Metropolitan Project which should serve as a framework of coherence for public policies by 2040 in order to meet the challenges of quality of life, preservation of nature, and employment. Subsequently, in December 2018, the Metropolis adopted its Environmental Agenda in order to respond to the challenges of the environmental crisis (air quality, energy transition, protection of the sea and preservation of biodiversity). It is also in this context that the Metropolis developed its Territorial Food Project (PAT). The PATs, resulting from the 2014 law “for the future of agriculture”, are local initiatives, led by public authorities, within which the actors of a territory will meet, establish a diagnosis of the food situation and research concrete solutions to respond to local issues. The PAT of the Aix-Marseille Metropolis and the Pays d´Arles wants to enable the population of the territory to eat healthy, good and above all local. This is one of the most important projects in France in terms of population area and issues because it directly concerns more than 2 million consumers in a sector covering the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis and the Pays d' Arles.
Finally, it is in this context that on October 24, 2019, the Action Plan in favor of urban agriculture was born with the objectives of developing more sustainable agriculture and food as well as the desire to revitalize the territory of the Metropolis.
The action plan concerns more than 40 hectares of land put or put back into cultivation on the territory of Marseille as well as more than 20 professional farms, all for a budget of 2.1 million euros dedicated to urban agriculture in 2020.
This action plan intends to respond to three major challenges:
First, a food issue by providing residents with access to ultra-fresh products while raising public awareness of healthy eating.
Second, to make the Metropolis a greener territory where agriculture makes it possible to better manage the urban fringes and reduce the risks associated with climate change (forest fires in particular) as well as to create islands of freshness.
Finally, strengthen the social bond between the inhabitants of the neighborhoods around shared, collective or school gardens.
The action plan must also make it possible to coordinate the actions of the various partners on the subject by setting up a strategic framework capable of responding to the challenges encountered by urban and peri-urban farmers. It must guarantee the right institutional conditions for the development of private initiatives and support public and public-private initiatives likely to be replicated.
Initially, the action plan targets a restricted area corresponding to the city of Marseille because of its potential in urban agriculture and the presence of specialized players in the area. Secondly, the action plan will be extended to other cities in the Metropolis. The action plan is spread over 2 years from the end of 2019 with a phase 2 initiated in 2020.
In the first phase of implementation, the plan presents a total of 30 flagship actions, including the setting-up of public systems from which around a hundred urban agriculture initiatives identified in the territory of Marseille could benefit. These initiatives often face many administrative and economic difficulties (access to water, land, subsidies, etc.). These 30 actions are classified according to three strategic axes:
Axis 1: Support local production and food
The objective is to adapt local urban plans in order to remove regulatory obstacles to urban agriculture, to facilitate access to agricultural water and land, to set up a coordination-installation group dedicated to professional projects in urban agriculture, promote recognition of an urban farmer status at the national level and provide support for local distribution and marketing capacities.
Axis 2: Mobilize urban agriculture in the service of a sustainable city
This second axis should allow urban agriculture to strengthen the place of nature and green spaces in the Metropolis. This also involves better management of the urban fringes (eco-grazing, development of agricultural nurseries, creation of an experimental orchard in peri-urban areas, etc.).
Axis 3: Promote the emergence of an inclusive city
This last axis aims to support the creation of non-professional shared gardens, as well as the creation of micro-farms in Priority Districts of the City (in French: QPV). Finally, this also involves the establishment of a support system for the creation of solidarity baskets and AMAP producers' markets in food deserts.
In addition to these three axes, there are various transversal actions implemented by the Metropolis. Indeed, the action plan provides support for the development of training in urban agriculture as well as coordinated financing of private urban agriculture projects by relying on existing mechanisms and creating new dedicated financial envelopes. These are also accompanying actions to strengthen the environmental quality of projects. Finally, the plan also provides support for the Cité de l'Agriculture for the benefit of urban agriculture, awareness-raising and education projects (you can find the link to the sheet on the Cité de l'Agriculture on this link)
Finally, among the concrete measures provided for in the plan, we will note, for example:
- The installation of a semi-wholesale producers' hall in the east of Marseille
- Support for the installation of pilot projects of urban micro-farms in Frais-Vallon-La Rose as well as in Aygalades.
- Financing an urban farm at the Calanques vocational school
- The creation of an agricultural park on the slopes of the Etoile massif over an area of 250 hectares
On this last point, it should be noted that the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis, in July 2020, decided to amend the PLUI (local inter-municipal urban planning plan) to reduce the perimeter to be urbanized of the Hauts-de-Sainte-Marthe and allow the creation of an agricultural park of 300 hectares on the foothills of the Massif de l'Etoile.
Last modification : 09 Sep 2020.
The Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis is committed to the implementation of an action plan in favor of urban agriculture intended to meet the food, environmental and social challenges of urban and peri-urban areas. This approach is in synergy with metropolitan strategies. It is part of the broader framework of the Metropolitan Project, adopted in June 2018, the Environmental Agenda presented in December 2018 by the Metropolis and the Department, the Territorial Food Project initiated in March 2019 and the Climate-Air-Energy Plan.