“Urban agriculture efficiency is measured in terms of social impact”

There is a lot of talk about high-tech, high-tech, high-tech greenhouses. However, despite their strong business model, these facilities may not be able to solve all of the food apartments in suburbs of large cities with low incomes and limited access to fresh food. Smaller urban farms may play a role.

Bringing food products to cities is the goal of the University of Wagengen City Greenhouse Test. The third edition of this challenge will begin in November 2021. This year, WUR will partner with the University of Columbia University.

What is unique about UDC is that it has always had a public university, a large number of African American students, and an urban focus. The UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) trains people in the District of Columbia as well as in other parts of the world to influence the local economy and quality of life. This strong landscape is a major addition to Wanggen University’s international focus, ”said Martha Eggers, one of the organizers of the event.


Urban Food Center in Washington DC – East Capitol City Farm.

Connect with existing food centers
Due to environmental concerns, UDC has some urban agricultural projects in the city. One of these ‘food centers’, the Eastern Capital City Farm, will be this year’s challenge. With no fresh produce, people struggle with health problems. People can only access processed foods that cause problems such as obesity. This challenge is not only about producing healthy struggles but also about creating social impact, ”explains Martha.

The social impact section is new to the test, as previous editions focused mainly on food production. “It is easy to get a great product with a large investment and a technically knowledgeable staff, but we want teams to create a realistic business plan that agrees between high-tech and low-tech. We are not just high-tech, cost-effective solutions. The idea is to have an accessible, easy-to-manage urban farm in Washington, DC, so we really need solutions that meet local needs.


Social impact is the focus of this year.

Economic viability
The biggest challenge in this regard is to create an economically viable business model. “Energy is always a topic of discussion, because you need to heat or cool the appliance. A team that manages to create a business model that takes into account both energy use and the environment will be the ultimate winner.

Although the term greenhouse is part of the title, it does not necessarily include the greenhouse, Martha clarified. “We prefer to call it the food production structure. Groups can choose to use greenhouses, vertical farms, and hydroponic systems: to create sustainable food production throughout the year. Winter in DC can be cold, so some sort of indoor system is needed.

Multi-disciplinary cooperation
The multidisciplinary aspect of the test forces students to work together in a variety of disciplines, disciplines and cultures. UGC # 3 is a learning adventure in which students participate in all types of study programs. “The test requires students to consider not only architecture and production but also social impact, meeting the needs of this particular neighborhood,” says Martha. “Previous editions featured teams from all over the world – Brazil, China, the United States and Europe. Since we do not have teams from Africa, we look forward to a more diverse year this year.


UGC # 2 winning team

Students from many different programs are invited to take part in the test. “In previous editions we have seen many students in horticulture, agriculture, landscaping, but also in social sciences, engineering, and economics. In fact, all of these attitudes add to the urbanization we need.

The application is open until October 17, 2021.

For more information –
WUR Urban Greenhouse Test
studentchallenges@wur.nl
urbangreenhousechallenge.nl

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