96676 - Urban Farming

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Horticultural Science (cod. 8883)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will know the main solutions for plant cultivation in the urban environment. The student will have a good preparation on the aspects dealing with typologies of urban farms, environmental stressors on urban grown crops and the available technologies for plant cultivation (including systems for building-integrated agriculture). The student will be familiar with strategies for designing, implementation and promotion of urban agriculture projects.

Course contents

The aim of this course is to respond to the global demand for urban green innovation (environmental technologies, eco-friendly products and services, sustainable design and healthy food) by equipping students with a set of useful skills and competences needed to start urban agriculture projects. The course has been defined and designed integrating knowledge developed within the H2020 project Food Systems in European Cities (FoodE) and targeting active urban agriculture project design and implementation, also in collaboration with the International Student Challenge UrbanFarm organized by the University of Bologna. The course is structured into 4 interdisciplinary teaching units (TU), namely:

TU1: Urban Farming (Face-To-Face, 11 hours)

Urban Agriculture: main concepts and challenges. Worldwide evolution of urban agriculture and relations with Sustainable Development Goals. Relationship between urban agriculture and urban ecology. Resource use efficiency in urban agriculture systems. Ecosystem service provision from urban agriculture. Sustainability assessment of urban agriculture projects. Typologies of urban agriculture systems in different world regions. Innovation technologies for urban agriculture. Importance of policy schemes and regulations. Emerging business models in urban agriculture. The economic dimensions of urban agriculture.

TU2: Dissemination, communication and exploitation of urban agriculture projects (Face-To-Face, 3 hours)

Communication with private and public stakeholders. Social networks for successful urban agriculture initiatives. Strategies for networking and interdisciplinary team building. Videomaking and implementation of communication material. Strategies for exploitation in urban agriculture projects. Funding schemes and opportunities.

TU3: Eco-design and self-construction: applications in urban agriculture (Face-To-Face, 6 hours)

Elements for interdisciplinary project design. Practical workshops on project design and 3D printing in collaboration with AlmaLabor.

TU4: Teamwork on urban agriculture project design (Face-To-Face + at distance, 10 hours)

Students are grouped in teams and requested to address specific challenges toward the development of sustainable urban agriculture initiatives. Targeted topics include access to land and natural resources, definition of growing systems adapted to specific urban environments, elaboration of project proposals.


Suggested readings:

Orsini, F., Dubbeling, M., de Zeeuw, H., Gianquinto, G., Eds. (2017). Rooftop Urban Agriculture. Springer, The Netherlands. ISBN 978-3-319-57720-3.

Kozai, T., Niu, G., Takagaki, M. (2015). Plant Factory: an indoor vertical farming system for efficient quality food production Cambridge Academic Press.

Lohrberg, F., Lička, L., Scazzosi, L., & Timpe, A. (Eds.). (2016). Urban agriculture europe. Jovis.

Bell, S., Fox-Kämper, R., Keshavarz, N., Benson, M., Caputo, S., Noori, S., & Voigt, A. (Eds.). (2016). Urban allotment gardens in Europe. Routledge.

Kozai, T. (2016). LED lighting for urban agriculture. Springer, Singapore.

Teaching methods

It will be delivered as blended course including face-to-face activities and integrative eLearning sources delivered at distance through Moodle. Teaching materials include E-learning, powerpoint presentations, online tests, forum, assignments. Students participation to the international student challenge UrbanFarm will be promoted.

Assessment methods

Preparation of an interdisciplinary urban agriculture project for a specific location identified during the course. Additional points are also available for student taking part in groupwork or assignments.

Teaching tools

Powerpoint presentations, exercise, theoretical and practical workshops and groupwork activities.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Francesco Orsini


Zero hunger Sustainable cities Climate Action

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.