The importance of defending the land

Ours is not the only Forum that is engaged in matters of the land. The need to come together and to break down the ideological or psychological barriers that lead us to act “alone” has become an urgent necessity. This was the conclusion reached by a group of university researchers and interested individuals brought together in 2015 by the Fondazione Basso in Rome. A series of meetings led to the creation of the “Forum Diseguaglianze Diversità” (Forum on Inequality and Diversity or Forum DD). Officially active since October 2017, the forum held its inaugural conference in February 2018.

Why are we telling you about this?

For two reasons. The first is that we can and must work together (as stated in the proverb at the top of this newsletter); the second is that early research by the Forum has identified land use as one of the most important influences on inequality and poverty  Continua a leggere “The importance of defending the land”


Can we live on agriculture in small-scale spaces?

Filippo Dattola had worked in in IT in Bologna (Italy) for 10 years. He landed in Brussels nearly 8 years ago, where he developed an interest in soil, became a fan of urban agriculture and began to look for answers to the question: ‘Can we live on agriculture in small-scale spaces?’.

After some research he realised that the only possible way to answer to this question could be found by creating projects, examples that could speak more than thousands of words. Action was needed, an example of which is one of the greatest drivers of change. In 2012 he launched his first project via an association: a biological garden on the rooftop of the Belgian National Library, 50 metres above land and at the very heart of Brussels (see picture). Produce never made people wait too long: 500kg of vegetables in 500 bags, each with a depth of +/- 30 cm and full of earthworms. After only 2 years, he was able to make do without the public subsidies allocated to the project, and he was able to pay his volunteers with the direct sales of the vegetable production. This shows that soil can even be generous in “precarious” situations: where there is earth, there is life! Continua a leggere “Can we live on agriculture in small-scale spaces?”

A guide to social agriculture in the Lazio region (Italy)

The article on social agriculture in the previous newsletter caught some of our readers’ eye. We were forwarded a book published by the Lazio region, which contains important information on social agricultural communities in Lazio, starting with the famous Capodarco. The new version of the “Guide to Social Agriculture – Lazio” dates from 2015 and shows how much this practice has increased compared to 2011. Starting from 36 in the previous version, the current version presents a total of 96 established communities (not counting an extra 50 or so, who did not respond to the questionnaire). This shows that many young people have returned to agriculture. People who, perhaps due to the economic recession, make social agriculture into an occupation and at the same time are motivated to protect soil, land and values of a human and supportive society. Continua a leggere “A guide to social agriculture in the Lazio region (Italy)”

Mondeggi – turning the “soil, common good” concept into reality

Those of you who have read Marco Cappato’s recent book entitled “Credere, disobbedire, combattere” (Believe, disobey, fight) you will have seen examples which reflect the saying “obedience is no longer a virtue”[1]. Our current society, one steered towards profit, needs to develop courage to prove that “another world is possible”. Putting ideas that are seen as idealistic or visionary and aimed at preserving human dignity into practice, is the real challenge we must face, and that future generations must solve.

“Soil, a common good” is one of these concepts: it is abstract on the outside, however it sums up its crucial impact on our lives. It indicates how a sustainable use of soil is a matter of urgency. If we want a society, which can be economically viable in the short run and sustainable in the long run, biophysical and socio-economic factors must inevitably go hand in hand. Human beings have full responsibility for this approach, as future soil degradation as well as its protection both depend on it. Continua a leggere “Mondeggi – turning the “soil, common good” concept into reality”

Soil is Life! – World Soil Day in Brussels

Soil has always been regarded as a specialists’ matter. Its “World Day” sees a series of initiatives in which only those who “work in the area” tend to participate.

The SIP Forum together through its Soil Europe Group opted for a different approach this year. They presented soil to those who do not know anything about it, by using simple language and clear means of communication.

Thanks to the availability and support of the Italian Institute of Culture (IIC) in Brussels, an event based on storytelling, videos, music and experiences took place. Professional and amateur actors, researchers, volunteers: a group of over 10 people took the floor of the IIC theatre. Spectators were encouraged to take part in the performances. The idea was to communicate via discussion and laughter, by exploring possible solutions and not constantly sharing catastrophic numbers on the soil’s condition. The event was therefore divided in two main parts: describing problems related to soil; and considering possible solutions and practical examples, some of which exist already and are not very well-known. This latter part was led by a series of youngsters who practice highly sustainable agriculture.

Further details:

Event Videos:

Tourist Cycle Path National System

A year has passed since an agreement protocol for building a series of cycle routes for tourists was launched. Together with the MIT (Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport) and the MIBACT (Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism), eight Italian regions have made the effort to build and maintain their bike routes: Piedmont, Veneto, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Campania, Basilicata e Puglia.

This is the first step towards building cycle paths, which will extend and join together all over the peninsula, including the ones formally recognised at European Union level. Continua a leggere “Tourist Cycle Path National System”

The SIP Forum’s Bill for Popular Initiative

A bill for popular initiative drafted by the SIP Forum on fighting soil consumption and on reutilizing urbanised soil has been finalized!

This was sent out to all those taking part (over 1000 organisations and thousands of individuals) to be evaluated carefully, and to in turn receive feedback for improvement.

The work was backed by the effort of 75 people of the SIP Forum’s specific Technical-Scientific Working Group. It is presented in a complex document, given the variety of different aspects of the matter to be confronted. We should also remind you that the current situation – Italy coming first in the EU soil consumption ranking (see Section D of the newsletter) – is due to the interaction and intertwining of various actors (from real estate promoters to politicians) who have not been defending soil and its fertility. To stop this unacceptable and incorrect behaviour every aspect had to be explained, and mechanisms devised to stop it were defined. Continua a leggere “The SIP Forum’s Bill for Popular Initiative”

EuropaCity – property speculation (France)

An old joke on city pollution ends with the following sentence: “Cities should be built in the countryside, because the air is cleaner”. This alone sums up the entire soil consumption issue!

Few people know (and those who do know, do not stress this enough) that Italy is the “leader” in Europe in terms of highest soil consumption. Italy alone accounts for 24,13% of the total loss of agricultural soil at EU level. This does not however mean that other States are much better off. Next in line is Spain with 19,61% and France with 11,85% , and there are other areas worse off than the Italian average. Continua a leggere “EuropaCity – property speculation (France)”