The agricultural tradition in Milan

With a significant presence of farms distributed throughout the municipal area, Milan is the second largest agricultural city in Italy. The Municipality of Milan, as part of the implementation of the Food Policy guidelines, has developed a strong interest and commitment towards connection between local Milanese and metropolitan productions and access to healthy and sustainably produced food. The area affected by projects and interventions develops mainly in the lands of the Southern Milan Agricultural Park, extending within the area between the Navigli Grande and Martesana, ideally uniting the city to its rivers.

Agricultural production in the Municipality of Milan affects a significant segment of the overall city area. On an extension of 18.175 hectares, the Utilized Agricultural Area (UAA) consists of 2.910 hectares. The 2019 Territorial Government Plan provides that atagriculture are intended 3.225.735 sqm. (source: Istat, 6th General Agricultural Census, 2010).

Today, more than ever, the theme of agriculture in Milan develops through a multidisciplinary approach relating productive, economic, social and environmental aspects. The farmhouses that dot the agricultural landscape do not limit themselves to tracing a historical testimony, but also represent a necessary change that manifests itself in the renewed desire to enjoy the territory, its values ​​and its products.

The theme of agriculture also touches on important aspects such as water management and the maintenance of the ecosystem and for this reason, several of these issues are also addressed at a supra-municipal level with local bodies and subjects such as: the Lombardy Region, reclamation consortia, basin authorities and the Metropolitan City of Milan.

They are part of the agricultural heritage of the Municipality of Milan:

  • Farmhouses: 14 municipal and 29 private
  • Agricultural Markets: 11 on public land and 19 on private land
  • Be agricultural parks: Cave Park, Ticinello Park, Vettabbia Park, Forlanini Park, Lambro Park and North Park
  • I agricultural districts which revolve around the city and of which one is an integral part are: DAM (Milan agricultural district), DAVO (Valle Olona agricultural district), DAMA (adda martesana agricultural district), Rice and Frog District, DINAMO

Thanks to this important environmental heritage, the Municipality of Milan has undertaken actions for several years promotion of local productions, with the purpose of favor the short supply chain and the possibility of also supply the city's school lunches as happens, for example, with the cultivation of rice.

DAM – Milanese agricultural district
Il Milanese Agricultural District it's a rural district characterized by a homogeneous historical and territorial identity deriving from the integration between agricultural and other local activities, as well as from the production of particularly specific goods or services, consistent with the traditions and vocations of the territory.

The district scenario is aimed at valorisation of Milanese agriculture, understood as a collaboration network between local authorities and companies located near the built-up city and which have developed production and multifunctional activities in close relationship with it.

It is a method of agriculture that, by virtue of physical proximity, maintains bonds of interdependence and mutual collaboration with the city, not only of production but also of service.

As part of the Milanese rural agricultural district, the DAM Consortium (Milan Agricultural District Consortium) which brings together the most representative agricultural companies overall in terms of areas operated in the municipal territory.

The DAM Consortium, an agricultural cooperative consortium company, is made up of more than thirty agricultural companies located in the Milan area. These lead approximately the 40% of Milan's agricultural territory for a cultivated area of ​​approximately 1.155 hectares. The work of the DAM Consortium contributes to landscape-environmental redevelopment and enhancement of heritage of farms and business centers.

The agricultural farms
The farmhouses represent one of the material and immaterial evidence of Milanese rurality and they are often properties of landscape interest. In addition to peri-urban agriculture, agricultural land is also present in the city and often accompanied by farmhouses, which are one of the testimonies of Milanese rurality and are often properties of landscape interest. 
How is a farmhouse made? It usually reflects the organization of work: the spaces are divided between the main house, workers, stables, barns and areas for moving machinery. Many farmhouses have retained wooden windows, tiles and trusses and it is peculiar to still see these elements preserved in these structures right in the city.

Today, in Milan, the farmhouses are also there corporate headquarters of agricultural companies which, while respecting the original architectural features, have progressively developed new projects and services aimed at the public. For example, in many farms agricultural and livestock activities are also accompanied by educational farms and agritourism activities developed in recent years.

In Milan they can be counted 14 municipal farms, still home to agricultural companies.

Farmers' markets
Over the years, several agricultural markets have been opened in the Milan area where it is possible purchase agricultural products directly from farmers. Are approximately 9 agricultural markets where producers exhibit and sell to the public. These are companies from Lombardy or the nearest extra-regional provinces, therefore a trade that has one close link with the territory and almost to zero kilometer.

The relationship between city and countryside has always been characterized by mutual interdependencies based on the exchange of value. In the Milan area this balance has been the basis of the success of the entire territory for centuries, with an economy based on agriculture, expressed in its role as a multifunctional activity, i.e. creator of economic, social, historical, cultural and landscape value.

Starting from 2011, through theFramework Agreement for Territorial Development (AQST) “Milan Rural Metropolis”, the Municipality of Milan in collaboration with a series of public and private entities has started a process for the valorisation of the rural matrices of the Milanese metropolitan area, promoting the economy and the quality of the environmental and territorial context with a view to sustainability.

The governance model thus outlined has the objective of define a shared strategy with a view to creating and consolidating relationships between agricultural businesses, distribution platforms, processors, local trade and media distribution, solidarity purchasing groups, consumer cooperatives, schools and public, private and social training agencies, social cooperatives that provide skills and work for agricultural companies and other entities.

In particular, AQST “Milano Metropoli Rurale” sees the Participation direct of a plurality of subjects.

  • Public entities: Municipality of Milan, Lombardy Region and Metropolitan City of Milan
  • Agricultural districts: DAM, DAVO, DINAMO, Rice and Frog District and DAMA
  • Irrigation and/or reclamation consortia: East Ticino Villoresi and Olona River

Through this agreement, the parties recognize the role of integrated rural systems andmultifunctional agriculture in reference to the provision of services (ecosystem, cultural, social, etc.), and to the creation and consolidation of new relationships between urban and rural realities. The main purpose of this document is consolidation of governance of the process of strengthening the rural matrix of the urban settlement to allow the achievement of the objectives set out in the Memorandum of Understanding of 3 May 2012.

In line with the inspiring principles and development strategies of the Institutions, as well as with the general objective of consolidating the rural matrix of the Milanese metropolitan urban settlement, the AQST pursues the following objectives:

  • strengthen rural systems in the metropolitan area as a strategy to contain land consumption and as an operational method to define a balanced model of sustainable economic development from an environmental point of view;
  • contribute to sustainable development thanks to the integration of the production system with multifunctional activities that are sustainable for the environment and capable of satisfying - at least partially - the demand for food, energy, natural resources and well-being;
  • support forms of diversification of agricultural activity that can broaden the perspective of traditional agricultural production to also respond to the new needs of the city, creating synergies with other economic sectors and consequent market opportunities, in particular through the support of a competitive agricultural activity capable of combining traditional production with a more overall ecosystem redevelopment;
  • contribute to the containment of potential degradation and to the landscape-environmental regeneration and redevelopment, in its broadest sense, in order to achieve objectives of protection and enhancement of common goods (water, soil, biodiversity, landscape);
  • consolidate and enhance the peculiarities of the urban-rural territory through methods of connection between urban and rural areas such as blue-green infrastructure, aimed at integrating urban and extra-urban realities with the aim of increasing the resilience and biodiversity of ecosystems and restoring to the inhabitants not only spaces for work, but also spaces for enjoyment which contribute to an improvement in the quality of life and contribute to identification and belonging to a territory.

Updated: 04/04/2024