URBAN SOIL 4 FOOD - Establishment of Innovative Urban Soil Based Economy Circles to Increase Local Food Self-sufficiency and Minimize Environmental Footprint

Submitted by UIA admin on Mon, 12/18/2017 - 14:46


Mestna Občina Maribor
Maribor Urban Soil 4 Food
Challenge addressed

Maribor is the second largest City in Slovenia with 111.500 inhabitants and spreads across 147,5 km². It is also the capital of Podravje region. Cities such as Maribor are at the heart of Europe`s economy, but are heavily dependable on outside resources to meet their demand for energy, water, food and to accommodate waste and emissions. Self-sufficiency in Slovenia is low, soil is disappearing, quality of nutrients in the food is lowering and young population has lost knowledge and motivation for healthy eating. Also, in the world economy, where multinational companies are taking Control of seed production, leading to local seed to die out, it is extremely important to use traditional and local seeds.

Therefore, the main goal of the project is to use the City’s waste to produce and valorise new products and food using an innovative process to produce urban soil, with the aim to increase local food self-sufficiency and minimise the environmental footprint of the City of Maribor.

Solution proposed

Urban soil 4 food project starts from the challenge of using cities‘ waste (biological and mineral) to produce a useful product (soil), which could be later used for meeting different cities‘ needs, such as food production, parks and construction. As main innovative Output of the project, project partners will develop a safe and certified soil with by-production of energy (through using technology of fermentation and pyrolysis).  The project will be articulated around four main interconnected aspects (‘circles’) backboned with two key investments: the establishment of a pilot system for urban soil production and the establishment of four urban gardens (using the urban soil produced).

The material circle will analyse the material flows of waste within the City that are usable for production of urban soil.

The food circle will turn some currently unused Municipality land into urban community gardens, where agricultural Activity will take place, ending with the establishment of an urban food label.

The open innovation circle will establish agri-living lab to develop and test innovative pilot concepts, such as urban flowers for urban bees, micro urban gardening and urban soil rehabilitation, while simultaneously supporting innovative start-ups working in the field of circular economy.

The knowledge circle will share the knowledge stemming from the project to other cities in Slovenia and in the EU, ending with development of certificates and patents in order to bring urban soil technology to the international level.

  • City of Maribor
  • Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship - NGO
  • E-institute for comprehensive development solutions - NGO
  • AKTIVIRAJ SE Development of social projects and promotion of active life association - NGO
  • Snaga - Infrastructure and Public Service Providers
  • Wcycle Institute Maribor  - Infrastructure and Public Service Providers
  • Deltaplan - service and consulting company
  • Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute (ZAG)
Expected results

The project seeks to achieve the following results:

1. Change of material flows from currently unused (landfilled) to recycled and reused within the City will lead to:

-  decreased amount of currently landfilled waste- specifically reduction of biological waste (for 2.400 tonns/year) and mineral waste (for 2.000 t/y)

- production of different types of soil (3.000 t/y) to be used for urban agriculture, parks, roadworks, constructions....)

- production of energy (590 kWh) to be used for the needs of operation of soil production

2. Change of food flows from imported to locally produced will lead to:

- establishment of 7.398 m2 of new urban gardens for public use

- establishment of local labelled food (1 label, used by at lest 50 farmers)

- established food chain from local farmer to local consumer (at least 10.000 users of local food per year)

- decrease of greenhouse emissions.

3. Enabling circular economy transformation change of society will lead to:

- established Agri-living lab will bring circular economy closer to the people (6 social innovation pilots)

- workshops will increase people's involvement and interest to open innovation (200 participants of the workshops)

- SMEs will get support for development of innovation and for working in the field of circular economy (15 SMEs)

Main milestones

April 2018: Kick off press news. Kick off press news will be prepared to present main purpose of the project and invite Stakeholders and target groups to the project.

October 2018: Fully developed integrated production system in laboratory with results and optimisation. Clear results on which components are to be used for urban soil production to achieve optimal results will be gathered and ready for further uptake and demonstration of the project.

April 2019: Start of production of urban soil. After validation, a final optimisation of technological assembly for each type of outgoing urban soil will be implemented. For various growing cultures recipes will be made for optimized use of the production pilot for each type of produced urban soil.

September 2019: Urban community garden network set up. Four organic gardens will be established, offering the citizens a holistic and motivating gardening experience. To complement the gardens, a community organic orchard will be set up, where different fruit tree species will be planted. Local food chain established and operational. The Local food chain will establish cooperation between local producers and local consumers. This will contribute to better local food self-sufficiency and lower CO2 footprint.

June 2020: Inno RUrb Platform for Sustainable Local Supply created raising awareness of health and quality of life, and Inno RUrb smart App developed, showing the citizens the offer, quantities, availability of local production. Standardization and Certification carried out.

October 2020: Roadmap for policymakers on how to replicate the project in their City will be prepared and distributed to the similar-sized cities. The roadmap will give step-by-step instructions on how to prepare and certify urban soil, how to make urban gardens and how to run co-creation processes with citizens in order to speed up circular economy.

“Only tight cooperation between public companies, citizens, industry and local government can lead to successful mutually connected system, which optimizes resources and economic, environmental and social results. This is a long term project of transformation to a different society, which ensures developmentally focused management of resources in local and regional area.”

Andrej Fištravec, Mayor of Maribor
The project in numbers
of food produced is lost or wasted along the food chain
of Slovenia's demand for fruits and vegetables reaches self-sufficiency
60-160 million
hectares of soil in Europe affected by soil-degradation
less potassium produced by tomatoes compared to the 1950s, and 78% less iron for cucumbers: quality of nutrients in the food is lowering
Contact of the project
Brina Lazar
Project manager
Daniela Patti
UIA expert

Project News

On the project side - Interview of the Urban Soil 4 Food project

The UIA Secretariat conducted a series of interviews with the projects selected under the topic "Circular economy", with a special focus on soil management. What is the most innovative elements of their project? What are the main changes they are expecting? What are the main challenges they are confronted with? Read the interview from Urban Soil 4 Food project from Maribor, who is implementing a very innovative horizontal systemic approach to circular economy, and learn how they integrate it with the promotion of education and inclusion at city level!


Urban gardens

Urban gardens