Frankfurt, Germany, where the Institute for Rural Development Research (IfLS) is located, might be most known for its skyscrapers, business and metropolitan flair. The region however, is also home to over 37 % of agricultural areas which play an important role in providing environmental and social services (landscape conservation, biodiversity, microclimate regulation, recreational areas and cultivation of niche products). That is why, although agriculture accounts for less than 0.1% of gross value added in the region, the development and support of new land management and entrepreneurial approaches is necessary. It needs to be supported under increasing pressure due to new construction projects or transport infrastructures.

In cooperation with the Rhine-Main Regional Park (RP), the IfLS will develop a concept with an integrated action plan as part of a regional strategy process that will support agriculture in the region. As part of the RP guiding concept of 2012, a new action plan "Urban Agriculture in the Rhine-Main Regional Park" is to give impulses for a better perception of their environmental and social services and to encourage innovative approaches as far as possible.

The aim is to highlight agricultural ecosystem services and best practice examples on topics such as resource efficiency, multifunctionality, sustainable income opportunities, civic participation and the preservation of green and cultural landscapes in conurbations. It is meant to secure sustainable income opportunities for urban farmers and addresses the growing demand for traditional production of herbs within the city boundaries for the local specialty of Green Sauce (Grüne Soße), and traditional orchards supplying apples for the production of Hessian apple wine (Äppler).

This is how the regional project fits into the Interreg project "CityZen", which promotes urban agriculture as a successful driving force for economic and social change together with four European partner regions (Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal and Spain).

Picture by: Gary Fisher (Pixabay)