The Stadbruk method is developed by Botildenborg in Malmö, in cooperation with, among others, Malmö city, Gothenburg city, Växjö municipality, SLU Alnarp and White arkitekter.
Stadsbruk - a winning concept in urban farming
Stadsbruk (City Farming) is a tailor-made method for municipalities to develop and implement an urban farming strategy. It also provides help for entrepreneurs to start their own business in the field and make a living on cultivation in the city. Stadsbruk hosts Europe's only incubator for companies engaged in commercial urban farming – and the concept is growing fast! We met Cyrille Gaubert, project manager at Stadsbruk, to learn more about their work and future plans.
Can you tell us more about the Stadsbruk incubator? What happens there and who can join?
– The incubator is a meeting place for urban entrepreneurs. Anyone can join, but workshops and seminars focus on how urban farmers can develop their companies or business ideas. A lot of people want to start their own urban farm and if we meet up and share experiences, instead of working in our own corners, we become stronger.
At the moment we are testing new business models, with inspiration from Canada. We want to learn new ways of how to optimize our current farmland, and how to generate more money without having to scale up.
You proclaim that “Through urban farmers you as a consumer have the opportunity to buy chemical-free vegetables produced without transport.” How can you be sure the vegetables are free of toxic in the city?
– The Stadsbruk method is based on organic principles. The farms are always placed with a distance of at least 25 meters from a main road and the quality of the soil is always measured before the land is used. The idea is that consumers easily can come and have a look themselves, meet the growers and buy directly from them. There are very few third parties involved. If you are concerned about the quality of the vegetables grown in your city it’s a sign the environment in your city needs to change.
The biggest impact that Stadsbruk has is hard to measure, but we see a change in habits of consumers in the city. Even though they do not buy from us, they hear about us, they see the flow of products grown in the city and their general awareness of seasonal and local produce increase. Slowly people are re-connecting with their food sources and becoming more aware of the food they eat.
Can you mention two examples of farms in the city? Perhaps one bigger and one more small-scale? What are their business models?
– Los Perros is the biggest urban farm in Sweden. They have over 11 000 followers on Instagram and have won many awards. Sofia, from Malmö, and Buddha, from Sydney Australia, started their farm in the outskirts of Malmö only three years ago. They grow crops on 2500 m², and sell to both restaurants and the local community.
Vegostan is a successful one-man urban farm in Malmö. Göran Claesson is a student at SLU in Alnarp, with a background as an engineer, with no previous experience in farming before he started. After only one year of hard work his company is doing great, focusing on greens and microgreens such as salads and sprouts. Just like Los Perros, Göran is selling to restaurants in Malmö and is a part of the Malmö REKO-ring.
This seems to be a winning concept. You are now active in Malmö, Göteborg och Växjö, and have Ängelholm, Lund, Trollhättan, Skurup och Landskrona in your network. What are you expansion plans?
– We are giving courses for municipalities all over Sweden, and will soon go to Bergen in Norway. Locally we hope to start soon expansion in Söderslätt through a new project. We are also applying for new projects, via Horizon 2020 and Vinnova. Our plan now is to test the Stadsbruk concept in other contexts than Sweden and hope to spread the method in Europe in the upcoming years.
Another new initiative is the Stadsbruk Educational Farm, at Botildenborg in Rosengård, where you can come and learn different farming skills and techniques and simply copy-paste what you have learned into your own farm.
And visions for the future?
– We are building a positive momentum and the goal is to establish long-lasting urban farms to show municipalities that this is something to invest in and give space to. We hope to see new farmer hubs take form – in Sweden and abroad - and that they develop new optimized and sustainable business models that both generate jobs and income, while reducing the gap between producer and consumer.
SLU Urban Futures