Zurich is the largest city of Switzerland, situated at the Zurich Lake. Formally it is a community with 385,000 inhabitants. In the larger area in and around Zurich over 1.1 Million inhabitants are living. The city region shows a high density of settlements, industry and traffic roads. However a quarter of the land is forests and approx. 9 % are still agricultural land, mostly at the periphery recreational zones of the city. The agricultural land area comprises 940 ha. The town owns 10 farms, of which 9 are rented by farm families. Furthermore, 10 professional private farms do still exist on the city land.
In order to promote the “greening of the city” the city council has for the last 15 years, promoted their conversion to organic farming. Currently, 45 % of the agricultural land is organically cultivated.
In the city region of Zurich one can find quite different types of urban agriculture. The more traditional forms are: “classical” farms with direct marketing; regional production and distribution of the products through retailers or sold on several vegetable/fruit markets in the centre of Zurich City.
Second, the town council aims to maintain and support small-scale gardening: 130 ha are so called “family gardens” (5,500 allotments/plots), 80 ha are areas with small-scale community gardens, migrant gardens, hobby animal holdings (sheep, bees), etc. Third, several community supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives exist, a few already for a long time (e.g. Topinambur/Bruederhof). In recent years new groups of mostly young people have started CSA and urban gardening initiatives, partly with a slightly different focus than the established ones: Dunkelhölzli
Around the Zurich City there are several large scale horticulture farms, as well as still many small to mid-sized farms, either mixed farms (with beef or milk and arable crops) or specialised farms (e.g. fruit growers), which deliver food to Zurich or make direct marketing.
The City council together with the department for public green space management (Grün Stadt Zürich) is very keen to support sustainable urban agriculture, through conversion to organic and integrated farming with additional requirements with regard to biodiversity and high animal welfare standards. More recently the city has organised several future workshops, where potential projects on urban agriculture have been proposed and are now in discussion by the town council. Furthermore it is planned to support bottom up initiatives of neighbourhood groups of Zurich to create local small recreational farms. There are other projects, under the motto “green spaces – green knowledge”, e.g. with schools on farms. Furthermore the town nursery (Stadtgärtnerei) considers the conversion to organic farming practises, including also the conversion of their ornamental production.
Through the project SUPURBFOOD a participatory process in the city region with actors in the area of policy, market and civil society shall be implemented and fostered in order to support future collaboration and the sustainable development of the food system.
For more information, please see the Zurich City Region Report
on Agrifood dymancis and governance
, and case studies on Consumer cooperatives
(Ortoloco and Dunkelhölzli), Green Space policy
(Grün Stadt Zürich), and Short Supply Chains
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