“We have found a perfect location for our new initiative, Gardens of Connection!” – Arjan, Volunteer
Available urban locations at a glance
The Urban Agriculture Map is a tool that brings together new initiatives and available locations in the city of Amersfoort. It is a way to map the potential of vacancy and temporary-use spaces.
Amersfoort is a city in the Netherlands with approx. 155,000 inhabitants. It took part the URBACT II project ‘Sustainable Food in Urban Communities’. Together with local stakeholders (farmers, restaurant owners, distributors, etc.) the city administration made a Local Action Plan. In this joint plan, one of the actions taken by the city was to develop the Urban Agriculture Map to encourage the development of sustainable food projects. It has been functioning since May 2014 and has already helped multiple new initiatives to get off the ground.
This map gives an overview of existing locations: allotments, urban farms, school gardens and community gardens. In addition to this, the map also shows possible locations for future initiatives in the city. The map is being used as a matchmaking tool to bring together new initiatives (demand) and possible locations in the city (supply). The available locations are all city-owned; three different departments within the city administration worked together in selecting 17 possible locations. Vacant lots that are privately owned do not currently feature on the map.
Urban farming often does not fit into the green zoning of the planning regulations. If necessary, the city administration makes it possible with a temporary environmental permit for up to 10 years. This procedure takes eight weeks and costs €1,250. For a simple neighbourhood garden that can count on the support of the neighbourhood, a self-management agreement will often suffice. The latter option is cost-free and takes less time to arrange.
Supporting initiatives without taking over
The Urban Agriculture Map of Amersfoort has proven to be a useful tool for internal use. It has strengthened the collaboration within the administration between the Departments of Sustainability and Environment, Urban Planning and Urban Maintenance. It is being used by civil servants when new initiatives ask for help in finding the right location for their new project. However, the map has not been promoted very actively. When it was launched it appeared in the newspaper just once.
A map such as this serves a way to show the city’s support for new initiatives around urban agriculture, community gardens and sustainable food. It also helps the city administration to assume the role of ‘matchmaker’ (broker), without taking over the initiative.
Blog by Anne de Feijter (City of Amersfoort, NL)