93460 - Urban Agriculture

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Francesco Orsini

  • Credits 6

  • SSD AGR/04

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Sciences and Management of Nature (cod. 9257)


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

Zero hunger Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

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 actual and future entrepreneurs with the set of useful skills and competences needed to start business oriented initiatives in urban agriculture. The course has been defined and designed according to the results of the training needs assessment during the ERASMUS + project ""Urban Green Train"". It will be delivered as blended course: a part as eLearning (at distance learning delivered through Moodle) and the rest as face to face modality. The course is structured into 5 Modules: Module 1: Introduction into urban agriculture concept and types (main concepts and challenges related to urban agriculture and worldwide evolution); Module 2: Resource use from a challenge perspective (relationship between urban agriculture and urban ecology); Module 3: Urban agriculture types/production systems and short food chains (various urban agriculture types found in cities around the world); Module 4: Networking and governance (importance of policy schemes and regulations, communication with private and public stakeholders, and the building of social networks for successful urban agriculture initiatives); Module 5: World of business and urban demands (entrepreneurial and economic dimensions of urban agriculture).

Course contents

Unit 1# - Course introduction.

- Course description

- Methodology for groupwork and assignments

- Online resources and textbooks

- Assessment methodology

Unit 2# - Business models in urban agriculture.

- Classification of business models

- Cost-reduction BM

- Differentiation BM

- Diversification BM

- Share Economy BM

- Experience BM

- Experimental BM

Unit 3# - Vegetable crops physiology.

- Basics of vegetable crops physiology

- Plant growth

- Plant development

- Plant response to environmental factors (light, CO2, temperature, humidity)

Unit 4#

- Urban agriculture in the framework of city planning.

- Vertical farming systems.

- Sustainability assessment in vertical farms.

- Building integrated agriculture

Unit 5# - Groupworks

- Elaborating a pitch to support a urban farming project.

- Design and planning of an innovative urban agriculture project.

- Literature review and analysis of case studies.

Unit 6# - Technical visits

Technical visits will be organized on different urban agriculture projects.


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. (2021). 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

E-learning, powerpoint presentations, technical visits, online tests, forum, assignments;

Participation to the international student challenge UrbanFarm.

Considering activities and adopted teaching methods, taking part to this course requires the attendance to safety modules 1 and 2 (online, at https://www.unibo.it/it/servizi-e-opportunita/salute-e-assistenza/salute-e-sicurezza/sicurezza-e-salute-nei-luoghi-di-studio-e-tirocinio) and 3 (in presence, further information in the website of the course degree).

Assessment methods

Multiple choice test. Additional points are also available for student taking part in groupwork or assignments whenever they achieve at least 18/30. To pass the exam, students need to complete the written part and discuss and substantiate the answers within an oral session.

The test consists of closed-ended questions chosen in the areas listed in the course program available in IOL. For each correct answer a score equal to 1 is assigned, for each wrong answer a score equal to -0.5 is attributed, while in the absence of an answer there is no penalty. The overall score is obtained by the algebraic sum of the individual scores and their normalization on a 30/30 basis. To pass the exam (and eventually access additional points collected throughout the course), students need to score at least 18 in the quiz and undertake a short oral discussion on the answers provided during the quiz. Cum Laude is awarded when an overall score equal to or greater than 32 points has been obtained.

The maximum duration for the written test is 60 minutes.

Teaching tools

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

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Francesco Orsini