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Agricoltura Nuova: a Multifunctional Cooperative Farm integrated in its territory. Periphery of Rome, Italy

Written by: Marta Fraticelli, Translation: Jesse Rafert

Writing date: November 2011

Documents of reference

Access to Land for Community Connected Farming. Seven cases studies from the UK, Germany, Romania, France, Lithuania and Italy. 2011. Project coordinated by Forum Synergy and Terre de Liens.

Summary

Overview

Agricoltura Nuova is an agricultural cooperative located on the south-western periphery of Rome. The cooperative was formed in July 1977 when a group of young unemployed people from Rome occupied 180 ha of agricultural land that had been designated for non-agricultural development. Their goal was to transform this land into a workplace and a residence, hence defending it against urban expansion. The cooperative was – and remains - a unique experiment that came out of a very particular historical context associated with social protest against the excesses of a rapidly modernising Italian society.

Over the last 30 years, Agricoltura Nuova has formed a strong relationship with the residents of Rome. From the start, the Cooperative has managed to mobilize support from the local community, particularly in preserving the agricultural use of the land and, more broadly, maintaining local agriculture around Rome. Over the years, the Cooperative has changed, but has remained true to the ideals and goals of its founders. Successive decisions all had the same unifying thread: to create an alternative rural space that breathes new life into traditional agricultural practices and values, wherein farmers manage complete production cycles, from working the land to selling food that has been processed on-site.

aGter participated to the project « Access to land for community connected Farming : new forms of socially and environmentally

responsible farming in Europe », coordinated by Forum Synergies and Terre de Liens, with an European network of actors. The purpose of the project was to document and enhance the citizen farming and land initiatives in Europe, in order to take part in the debate on renewal of European agriculture and the CAP. A number of interesting experiences of sustainable and community connected farming have been identified and analyzed highlighting social, economic, political and cultural factors that contribute to their development.

What do we mean by « Citizen agriculture »?1

For the last fifteen years, everywhere in Europe, we have witnessed the development of new forms of citizen agriculture characterized by: sustainable farm production, a refocusing on local territory, a share of risk and benefits between producers and consumers, the organization of short distribution channels, the environment protection and a minimal use of unsustainable resources.

There are many benefits to the community connected farming:

  • they meet the local needs, and the quality and food safety of consumers

  • they contribute to environment protection and carbon footprint reduction (cut of transports and synthetic products)

  • they create more employment opportunities, by hectare, than industrial agriculture

  • they better react to economic crisis, because they focus on niche markets

  • they are multi-functional and multi-active improving their economic viability and the rural areas vitality

  • they adapt well to suburban agriculture development.

However these new forms of community connected farming have to overcome many difficulties, among which:

  • to set up and develop an activity in a sector dominated and created for large agro-industrial and mono-functional farms,

  • to get access to land in a sustainable and stable way, with an affordable price and in sufficient quantity,

  • to be trained in biological and bio-dynamic agriculture, in environment protection, in social and solidarity project management, etc,

  • to obtain a sufficient support from community and territory where they set up.

These community connected farm experiences differ depending on the context and from one country to the others. However all of them contribute to open the way to new agriculture forms, that break away from industrial and productive model prevailing in Europe. Six experiences of community connected farms were the subject of study cases, in six European countries: France, Germany, England, Italy, Lithuania and Romania. aGter carried out the study of Agricoltura Nuova Cooperative, in Italy. The cooperative got back more than 200 ha of rural lands, shielding them from urbanization in area around Roma.

The study on Agricoltura Nuova Cooperative is downloadable from this page. The English translation, has been performed by Jesse Rafert. It is also available on this site in French, as well as the complete study involving 6 countries.

1By the project presentation document «Access to land for community connected Farming: new forms of socially and environmentally responsible farming in Europe», july 2010.

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