This is a recognised URBACT Good Practices in partnership with Urban Innovative Actions.
MAC proposes a series of activities with the aim of redeveloping the urban environment and, at the same time, fighting poverty in the Monterusciello district in Pozzuoli, where the current problems of the social context are combined with a difficult urban environment, characterized by isolation, anonymity and decay of public spaces. The overall objective of the MAC project focuses on the residents' poor economic conditions such as low income and unemployment, the lack of business activities, large abandoned green areas and unused public buildings, as well as a lack of quality relationships and trust between citizens and the administration. Through a process of economic, entrepreneurial, and social development, MAC is creating a new Agro-Urban Landscape based on an interconnection of urban areas and agricultural land. About fifty hectares of Municipal owned open areas are transformed into farmland, developed with the innovative techniques of permaculture to spearhead an economic process and urban growth as a means to combat poverty. The project is based on 4 four pillars: the launch of agricultural activities based on the principles of permaculture and organic urban agriculture; the improvement of the urban environment; professional training; encouraging entrepreneurship and employment.
Urban agriculture is going to offer job opportunities, training, and quality products, while the city will benefit from renewed common spaces and green areas. Along with architectural, urban, landscape and agricultural investments, professional training courses. The MAC project has put in action a strategy coordinated from a new Agro-Urban Center, which will increase the municipality role in the neighbourhood involving the residents in better identifying local issues and solutions. It has transformed thirty hectares of unused areas through the implementation of innovative agriculture while promoting work in the area and developing new skills. The project has also developed the local economy through the Laboratory of Ethical Production and Rural Marketing, trained new innovative business enterprises and supported new start-up companies which will be hosted within the Business Incubator Centre. It developed the Km0 local market through a network with other local producers, hence improving the current open-air week markets. Mac has also acted on the quality of the urban spaces such as architecture interventions and activated spaces within the existing and un-used public buildings for the laboratories and the Agro Urban Centre. Last but not least, it has provided areas for events, a bike path, walkways and seating areas, all to be set along the agriculture areas overlooking the greenery.
Through the construction of the AGRO URBAN CENTER (AUC) the MAC project installs on the territory, right in the central square of Monterusciello, a space of continuous communication between the municipality, the residents and the key local actors for the identification of local urban problems and the construction of solutions. Participation constitutes a foundation of the present and future actions of the MAC. The principle of local rooting is considered essential for defining co-design processes that lead to the realization of projects accepted by the local community and therefore sustainable. Together with the AUC, the MAC project developed the Consulta Urbana. This is a tool to better structure the process of sharing choices and to give a renewed centrality of the territorial requests within the decision-making processes.
Agriculture, and therefore Urban Agriculture, operated at a considerable scale and organized through professional work and means within an urban context, is an economic activity that can continue to be carried out even in periods where many productive activities must to be stopped, undeniably (e.g. the COVID 19), it becomes crucial for the well-being of the whole community: a key resilient economic activity. The contemporaneity of urban planning must look to a new green deal, in this sense, solutions based on nature, and in their integration with the training and production sectors, together with an innovative and shared conception of public spaces, as promoted within the MAC project, make a difference in the quality of life and in the development opportunities offered to citizens.
The MAC is a composite project in which the theme of urban agriculture (UA) defines the plot of a regenerative path that includes several components such as the redevelopment and re-functionalization of the public space, the requalification of public lands abandoned for years and their transformation in a productive asset, but also, of an enlarged public space: The community space. It also includes the redefinition of a cultural landscape: a modernist new town that returns to dialogue with those spaces and functions that it had cancelled with its birth in addition to the recreation and reinforcement of a local community disillusioned with public action, which begins to interact with the project, when the first results are seen. Lastly, it consists of the training and creation of job opportunities for many young people from Monterusciello, those most affected by the problem of stagnant unemployment.