The FEW-meter is one of the projects funded by the Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative (SUGI), under the Food-Water-Energy Nexus call, jointly established by the Belmont Forum and the Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe (https://jpi-urbaneurope.eu/calls/sugi/).
The FEW-meter project will model the resource flows of urban agriculture, using case studies located in Gorzow Wielkopolski. (Poland), the Ruhr area (Germany), Paris and Nantes (France), London (UK) and New York (USA). The FEW-meter is a platform to collect, analyse, and share data about the food, energy, and water impacts of urban gardens and farms. The project’s team (comprising urban gardeners and farmers, organisations and researchers) will measure environmental, economic and social benefits of the participating urban agriculture projects. The data we gather will be used to develop city-wide scenarios that explain how urban agriculture can improve the urban metabolism of the cities participating in the project.
The research questions
Urban agriculture is increasingly attracting interest and it has branched off into diverse production systems which include intra-urban commercial farms that rely in part on the commercialisation of produce for their economic viability. Despite this increased interest and activity, many perceive urban food production as marginal to the flow of resources into and out of cities, or “urban metabolism.” The FEW-meter project will provide a deeper understanding of the Food-Water-Energy Nexus in relation to the diverse types of urban agriculture.
The project addresses the following research questions:
(1) How efficiently do urban gardens and farms use resources?
(2) To what extent can different types of urban agriculture contribute to the sustainable use of limited resources?
(3) How can health risks, especially soil contamination, be minimized?
(4) What role can urban agriculture play in managing urban wastes? and
(5) How can farmers learn from each other to improve their efficiency?
(6) How can urban policies and legislation support resource-efficient UA?
Working with farmers and gardeners, we will gather data over the 2019 and 2020 growing seasons. Data from each farm or garden will be collected, organized, and visualised on this website, showing levels of resource use and production. Data about soil enhancement and social benefits will also be presented to identify the links between methods of production, practices of urban growers, and the outcomes of each project. For each city, data on the flow of materials into and from the farms and gardens will be analyzed to estimate the effects of increasing the scale of urban agriculture.
Our project is organised in the following steps, which are shown in the diagram below:
1) Developing a methodological framework and recruiting garden and farm partners;
2) Designing the FEW-meter together with gardeners and farmers;
3) Data collection;
4) Materials flow simulation;
5) Scenario building;
7) Coordination and project management.