Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture ortoloco Zurich: Urban agriculture as an economy of solidarity
City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action Volume 16, Issue 6, 2012
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This paper asks to what extent urban agriculture projects based on principles of Solidarity Economics are in a position to develop new economic forms based on solidarity—rather than competition—thereby posing an alternative model to neo-liberal capitalism. It seeks to understand how solidarity economies function concretely, what motivations, interests and goals move people to establish and participate in such initiatives, and what utopias they associate with such projects. It focuses on the Swiss gardening cooperative ortoloco, which can be defined as a peri-urban organic farm organised on principles that go beyond the supply of food to embrace explicit political aims and to realise an alternative economic model. For two years of existence, ortoloco has successfully applied these principles on its economic practice, but also constantly questioned them and developed them further. Extending the diversity of products and activities, and intensifying practical and theoretical cooperation with similar projects, the activists hope to apply the tested models on an ever-broader range of economic activities and spheres of living together in general. Whilst neo-liberal policies are presented almost worldwide as natural and without alternative, these projects are living proof that other ways of thinking and acting are possible.