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Access to agricultural land in peri-urban spaces: social mobilisation and institutional frameworks in Rome and Valencia

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Urban and peri-urban agriculture have gained worldwide momentum within the framework of the renewed food and nutrition security agenda. This has a special significance for Mediterranean cities, due to their traditional strong links with their agricultural surroundings. However, the renewed dynamism of peri-urban agriculture is constrained by the limited access to farmland of new farmers or already installed farmers. This paper explores how socio-political movements that aim to renew local food systems and introduce new models of urban-peri-urban governance are revitalising the debate on access to peri-urban farmland. A comparative analysis was conducted in two Mediterranean metropolitan areas (Rome in Italy and Valencia in Spain), in which different policy frameworks shape the conditions of access to farmland. Despite the institutional differences between these two cases, the results show that, for the organisations involved in these movements, facilitating access to farmland is now a crucial challenge in achieving their multiple objectives. The paper also addresses the supportive role (and the constraints) of the local authorities in facilitating access to farmland for those producers willing to adopt alternative business models that can give rise to the transition towards more democratic and sustainable local food systems.

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  1. Definition provided by the City Region Food Systems Alliance in 2015, quoted in Blay-Palmer et al. (2018).

  2. For instance, Valencia was declared the 2017 World Sustainable Food Capital.

  3. Rome City Council Decision n.22, 12/02/2008.

  4. The Plan de Acción Territorial de Ordenación y Dinamización de la Huerta de Valencia (Territorial Action Plan of Management and Revitalization of the Huerta of Valencia) is a long-awaited comprehensive action plan for territorial planning at metropolitan level in the Huerta area. It has received a new impetus and currently is being developed by the regional government.

  5. Popular Legislative Initiatives are meant to be a procedure of participatory democracy, a mechanism for direct involvement by citizens in policy-making, although it hardly ever leads to the adoption of an act. In the Valencia Regional Parliament at least 50,000 signatures are required to start the process.

  6. The Decree on Liberalizations (DL, Decretolegge 24/01/2012, n. 1) and the Decree “Terre vive” (living lands), approved in 2014.

  7. Extracted from Accessed July 2017.

  8. The drop in the price of citrus fruits – one of the main crops in the study area - also contributed to farmers leaving the land.

  9. Formal contracts are regulated under the Agricultural Renting Law that stipulates minimum contract periods and a number of guarantees for tenants.


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This research is part of the project “Assessment of the impact of global drivers of change on Europe’s food security” (TRANSMANGO), granted by the EU under 7th Framework Programme; theme KBBE.2013.2.5-01; Grant agreement no: 613532.

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Correspondence to Pedro Cerrada-Serra.

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Cerrada-Serra, P., Colombo, L., Ortiz-Miranda, D. et al. Access to agricultural land in peri-urban spaces: social mobilisation and institutional frameworks in Rome and Valencia. Food Sec. 10, 1325–1336 (2018).

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