FAO Rooftop Garden donates fresh produce to Casetta Rossa


Since its establishment in 2021, the rooftop garden of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been making strides in urban agriculture and sustainability efforts. This vegetable garden, a prototype agro-ecological laboratory managed by the Mountain Partnership, is the first of its kind installed on the rooftop of a United Nations building.

Equipped with an automated system developed by Ecobubble called "Ecomotica", the garden processes local data from ground sensors and external services, such as water detection, multispectral images, rain gauge and weather, enabling plants to communicate their needs and optimize growth based on reflectance spectra.

This technology, coupled with the cultivation of a diverse range of plant species without pesticides, showcases the potential of urban agriculture to alleviate food shortages in areas with limited agricultural land and reduce the environmental impact. Since the project began, it has been increasing and diversifying its production.

The fresh vegetables harvested in FAO’s Rooftop Garden, including crops at risk of extinction, neglected species, Slow Food presidia and mountain varieties, are regularly donated to Casetta Rossa, a local association in the Garbatella neighborhood of Rome. Through their food hub, known as Casetta Solidale, essential goods and food are distributed to more than 300 families in need within the local community.

Casetta Rossa has been actively involved in various social and cultural initiatives since 2001. During the beginning of the pandemic, they started delivering food packages to local families and the Casetta Solidale programme was established. The programme is run by a dedicated team of volunteers who receive support from local supermarkets and citizen donations and collaborations with other associations.

Matteo Di Bello, a volunteer at Casetta Rossa Food Hub, stated, "There is a misconception that valuable products and high-quality food are for sale, not donation. However, the users of the food hub are the ones who need higher quality and fresh nutrition. Usual donations are canned or leftovers from the supermarkets. Here at the Casetta Solidale, we try to include fresh products such as bread, fruits and vegetables. Fresh products are rare because the storage is more difficult."

The collaboration with Casetta Rossa showcases how innovative and collaborative initiatives can tackle food insecurity and promote sustainable agriculture in urban areas, supporting the right to high-quality food, regardless of income, resulting in a more equitable and sustainable food system for all.

Lear more about the FAO rooftop garden

Photo: ©FAO/Yuna Lee

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