The Milan metropolitan area has a large difference between the densely populated and highly urbanized north of the city and the more rural southern part, where there is the South Milan Agricultural Park (PASM) which acts as a green belt to the west, south and east.
The territory around Milan is characterized by an highly productive agriculture based on the cereal-zootechnical production, with a significant presence of rice and vegetable crops.
The agricultural system is the result of centuries of work of flood control begun in the high Middle Ages. The Cistercian and Benedictine monks (some abbeys are still present within the PASM), who introduced the practice of water meadows, that is permanent pastures irrigated throughout the year, contributed to this work. Many irrigation canals date back to the XV century; also Leonardo da Vinci made its contribution to their functionality.

The PASM take up an area of approximately 46 000 hectares and encompass 61 municipalities, including the municipality of Milan. There are about 1000 farms, including more than 300 farms with cattle or pigs. In recent years the proximity to the metropolitan area of Milan, which has over 4 million inhabitants, has led to the development of the transformation of products in the farms, often accompanied by direct sales. There are farms that directly produce and sell milk, cheese, meat, cold meats, jams, sweets, honey, vegetables, flour, rice. Particularly important, as well as farm shops, are the distributors of unpasteurized milk, which are present throughout the province of Milan (about 100), and farmer markets (currently 7), which every week directly sell products in the city of Milan.
New forms of short chains are being tested:

  • setting up of franchise stores supplied directly from local farmers;
  • automatic delivery of fruit and vegetables in schools and hospitals;
  • supply to catering companies

The agricultural system in the area of Milan has also developed several forms of multifunctional agriculture: farm holidays, educational farms, cultural and museum services, recreational and sports services, floriculture and garden maintenance services, etc.
Conversely, the urban pressure constantly threats the peri-urban agriculture and the spatial planning has problems to preserve the boundary between urban and agricultural land. Furthermore, the expectation of building determines an appreciation in the value of land and a subsequent fall in agricultural activity rents.
In this case study we aim to:

  • analyse strengths and weaknesses of the Metropolitan Agri-food System of Milan;
  • analyse the relationships between agricultural activities and urban pressure;
  • analyse how the presence of PASM affects agri-food supply;
  • identify, with the partnership of the Association “Agrimercato” and the Foundation “Campagna Amica”, new growth strategies for the Metropolitan Agri-food System.

A Case Study flyer is available in English and in Italian.

Contact: Guido Sali (guido.sali (a), Stefano Corsi (stefano.corsi (at)