Daniela Poli: Urban Agriculture as an Instrument of Urban Regeneration

Cornell in Rome Spring 2019 Lecture Series

Daniela Poli is an architect and full professor in urban and regional planning. She holds a Ph.D. and teaches regional and landscape analysis and planning and design for landscapes at the University of Florence. Her recent research addresses the description of a contemporary sense of landscape, the relationship between regional historic substance and design dimensions, and landscape planning and descriptions where structural and perceptive dimensions converge. She focuses on the relationship between agriculture, rural development, and urban form, and has carried out commissioned research and planning projects for several local and regional public offices on these subjects. She collaborates with the Plan for the Province of Prato, the Landscape Planning Office of the region of Puglia, and with the Landscape Planning Office of the region of Tuscany. She is the editor in chief of the series Territori and the international revue Scienze del Territorio published by the University of Florence Press. She is the director of the Laboratorio di progettazione ecologica degli insediamenti in the architecture department of the Florentine University. She is part of the scientific committee of Società dei Territorialisti e delle Territorialiste. Among her publications are the monographs Formes et figures du projet locale. Patrimonialisation contemporaine du territoire (Eterotopia, 2018).


The lecture will illustrate the forces encouraging the increasingly common and visible urban and periurban agriculture evident in recent years throughout highly urbanized areas of Europe that are experiencing increasing ruralization. Rome, for instance, has apparently become one of the most rural cities in Europe. The lecture documents the way the process of increasing economic concentration — which is redefining the geography of production and consumption — is accompanied by projects that link in innovative ways the city to the countryside, supporting new lifestyles and new consumption patterns. Two large families of urban agriculture emerge: urban food gardening within an urban or infraurban setting with no aim to generate economic profit, and professional urban farming. In both cases, food production provides the opportunity to achieve more than simple productive aims, embracing a multifunctionality, which, in addition to food, produces social, cultural, environmental, and landscape values. A spatial continuum is created among the different forms of urban agriculture (professional, nonprofessional, community, hybrid, etc.) that tie together the urban and the rural, giving new life to residential fabrics. These practices help regenerate spaces of social life, through grassroots activities concerning food and food production, which expand access to the environment and to food and ensure greater social stability and inclusion through what some call civic agriculture.

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