“Organic Metropolis Nuremberg” : Increasing organic and local food production

Lenny MARTINEZ, 2015

The city of Nuremberg has a long and steady concern for environmental questions, especially waste management and energy efficiency. For long, food has not been perceived as a priority; only in the last few years a specific food division has been created within the environmental department of the city.

The main food concern is about the increase of organic and local food production, with the project « Organic Metropolis Nuremberg » in relation with the regional agriculture development. In the city itself agricultural and horticultural areas account for 16.3%. The city has developed a strong and pragmatic action to support local food producers, mainly by stimulating the demand. It is able to get a strong focus on the local area and local products while in parallel, it is opening itself to international cooperation.

Therefore, it is using the large shop front to the world provided every year by the Biofach international event to stimulate local urban organic/local markets on a regular basis. Nuremberg was also the first German city to join the international association « Città del Bio” with the aim to increase networking in the organic product sector.

As a positive result, the amount of regional food served in the public food service is very high respect to the European average situation, despite low budget, for instance in the hospital, but also in nursing home.

Nuremberg is also nurturing a vivid cooperation with civil society and the population is involved in a rich calendar of events. Young generations, not only children but also students, are clearly perceived a one of the main target for campaign and events.

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Nuremberg: a city located in a region with a strong tradition of agriculture and food production

Nuremberg is the second-largest Bavarian city, and fourteenth largest municipality in Germany. The city is the center of the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region (NMR) which comprises 33 cities and districts, and is home to 3.5 million inhabitants. NMR is one of Germany’s ten largest economic regions.

Bavaria is the largest food producer and agricultural region of Germany and agricultural production is to a very great extent in the hands of small farmers, specialized above all on livestock farming, corn and milk production. Knoblauchslandarea in the northern part of Nuremberg provides fruit and vegetables grown in horticulture whereas in the metropolitan area, farmers mostly produce potatoes, grains, and livestock, intended largely for export to others parts of Germany and also in Europe. The Bundesland of Bavaria has also the largest number of organic farms of all German states. The region has set up the Bayern organic region 2020, which aims to raise the amount of organic agriculture from 6% to 10% in 2020. This target is already met in the metropolitan area of Nuremberg where the number of organic farmers has reached % since 2012.

According to an OECD Rural Policy Review (2013), “The NMR is a robust rural-urban partnership model. It has clear objectives and is working within supportive environment, with a strong sense of the need for rural-urban collaboration”. Among the main projects developed by the NMR, “Original Regional – made in the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region”, whose objectives are to foster local economic development, preserve employment and purchasing power in the region, safeguard the cultural landscape and contribute to climate protection. The city of Nuremberg is the heart of the economic, social and cultural life of NMR. It has a remarkably extended green area; according to the Statistical Almanac for Nuremberg 2008, 23% of city areas are used for agriculture (this farmland not being owned by the city); 17% of city areas are covered by forests and 5% by leisure areas (public parks, playgrounds and gardens).

A city with a longstanding and deep concern for environmental issues develops a food policy concentrated on the development of a regional organic sector through Organic Metropolis Nuremberg

In 1989, the Environmental Department was created and marked the beginning of a steady sustainability process. Nuremberg’s “Agenda 21” was launched in 1997.

In the first few years, Nuremberg Environmental Department was mainly involved to work on policies related to waste management. As soon as 2001, no municipal waste was tipped anymore on landfill sites, thanks to an integrated plan including household waste sorting, separate collection of recyclable /reusable waste, and an up-to-date incinerator plant, also incorporating energy recovery. The energy generated by the incineration is used for power generation and district heating and largely contribute to the municipal reduction of CO2 emissions.

Later, the Environment Department has become responsible for all environmental and health issues. It now includes the Environmental Office, the Public Health Department, the municipality-owned waste management company, the water supply and treatment company and an environmental assessment company.

Since 2000, Nuremberg has been a member of the Climate Alliance of European Cities, the largest European city network for climate protection. CO2 emissions dropped by 29,4% between 1990 and 2008. Among the measures taken to reduce CO2 emissions, the reinforcement of public transport system, the investment in renewable energy sources (hydroelectric power, photovoltaic energy, installed on private and municipal buildings), the generation of district heating and electricity in a cogeneration system, refurbishment of buildings and for new constructions, energy efficient landscape planning. The Municipal Energy Management (KEM) monitors energy consumption of all municipal buildings where between CO2 emissions were reduced by 50% between 2000 and 2007.

In 2006, Nuremberg City Council adopted the current land development plan with integrated landscape plan. This legally ensured planning reliability for all municipal green areas. The campaign « Green for the Southern Districts »(Grün in die Südstadt) was initiated as the main outcome of the first Conference for the Future, held in 2000, as a co-operative partnership between private and public institutions. As a further result of this conference, committed citizens established the volunteer project group « Green Ribbons » (Grüne Bänder). This project group, together with representatives from the Town Planning Department, developed a concept for green and free areas for the entire southern part of Nuremberg. This served as the basis for the Town Planning Department.

Since 2008, the biotope mapping for the City of Nuremberg, comprising 784 digitalised biotopes and a total of 2.455 individual areas, has been an important data pool for all environmental purposes.

In 2010 the City of Nuremberg joined the declaration « Municipalities for Biological Diversity » and established a local alliance for biodiversity, including nature protection associations, universities and the city. It has relied on national guidelines about organic agriculture launched by the Green Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, at the beginning of the twentieth century, to initiate the Organic Metropolis Nuremberg run by the Environmental Department. This project aims to support the production and consumption of organically grown food by strengthening the demand for organic food; showing the excellent quality of organic products and to raise the awareness about them; enhancing the perception and acceptance by politicians, associations and consumers. Others institutions are focused more in regional products. The Municipality tries to support both: regional and organic products. The organic Metropolis Nuremberg is led by the environmental Department but they work in a close relationship with others departments (school department, social department for the kinder gardens, economic department who runs the market activities). Located in the most important agricultural region of Germany, also leader in organic farming, Nuremberg is aware of the importance to foster the demand for organic food and products in order to promote efficiently organic agriculture. The main action plan is based on the conversion from conventional to organic farming within metropolitan area, and on the promotion of projects in cooperation with local private food sector to organise marketing events. Investments are mainly made to promote events where local and organic farmers and food producers can sell their products such as farmer’s markets.

In 2003, Nuremberg City Council unanimously decided that « the City of Nuremberg should set itself the goal of increasing the use of both organic products and regional products. Objectives for 2014 were 10 % of agricultural area used for organic food, 25 % of organic products and regional products for all municipal institutions, events, specialist markets, but in particular 50% in schools and day care centres, at receptions and at the City of Nuremberg’s farmers’ markets. The main method of promoting organic agriculture is fostering the demand for organic food and products. Indeed, the city works in close relation with the private sector and Biofach has been the cornerstone of such a strategy since 20 years. A staff of three people is employed by the Environmental Department to work specifically on OMN project, mainly to get in relation with organic food producers and to organize events. Regular round table discussions involve all organic food stakeholders such as consumers organizations, caterers, public and official organization, tenders, citizens, producers, farmers organizations).

Therefore a peculiarity of the food project developed by the city of Nuremberg certainly is the high level of activities directly funded by private sponsors such as local organic food companies. More generally within the NMR, given budget constraints, projects must be developed in co-operation with the business sector and the will of private sector to co-finance a project is positively interpreted.

For instance, since 2012 the city, together with national and local organizations has been promoting a biodiversity project build up a local cereal sector based on old wheat varieties such as einkorn, emmer or champagne rye to support regional economy and make a valuable contribution to biodiversity.

Biofach: the most important organic fair at an international level

This major event gives a comprehensive overview of the whole range of products from the global organic sector (food but also others organic products such as textiles, technology and equipment, etc.) The city is involved as one of the partners organising this fair. The Environmental Department promotes the city and the region, and increases networking in the organic product sector. Many events are also organized to involve a larger public as the Biofach fair is only open to organic sector professionals. In 2012, more than 40 thousands visitors from 130 countries met 2500 exhibitors.

The international network of Città del Bio

As the first German city, Nuremberg also joined the international association “Città del Bio”, thus promoting activities on international cooperation. The objective of this involvement is increasing networking in the organic product sector.

Città del bio not only aims to promote organic farming as a valuable agronomic technique but also as a vector to promote organic food as a good lifestyle. On the occasion of the BioFach 2010 trade fair, a joint marketing campaign was organised entitled « Nürnberg: Where organic people meet ».

A rich trade events calendar for organic sector}

In addition to Biofach, many events are also organized along the year. The « Bio Experience » on the Main Market Square is a yearly popular event, giving a wider public (up to 40.000 visitors) the opportunity to know more about certified organic food and also about related municipal best practices. About 100 exhibitors run an extensive cultural program, as well as a special program for children and young people. On the occasion of the Biofach 2010, a joint marketing campaign was organised in order to give increased publicity to the economic importance of the organic product sector in the city and in the region. Only the Bio experience is restricted to organic products. Other events include cooperation with other sectors of sustainable consumption such as the Market for Eco Design « Summer Kiosk » in Rosenaupark, orChristmas market « Winter Kiosk –Market for Sustainable Presents ». In 2012, the Christmas market hosted 72 stands whose one third was organic whereas this percentage is 14% on the weekly market in the main place.

Citizens’ education and empowerment

The dynamism of civil society shows the impact of the promotion activity organized within the project Organic Metropolis Nuremberg.

The national association Bio verbrauchergathers consumers interested by organic products, by giving advices to consumers also in schools or in kinder gardens (what’s good to buy and where). They participate to the event Bio experience. They publish a newsletter, participate in internet actions etc. They also have a lobby activity with politicians at the EU level.

Blue pingu.de is a regional network of people, most of them aged between 20-45 years, which promotes concepts at a regional level. The slogan is to do the first step, with the idea that it is possible to make changes only step by step in the right direction, starting at individual level. The first project was a guide for consumers. They also organize the event « Biofach meet Nuremberg » in order to extend the impact of this professional fair to a wider public. At this occasion they organize debates. They also promote activities such as urban gardening, small fairs, campaigns about sustainability, etc.

Using the lever of Public Food Service

Schools canteens and kindergartens

Only recently, the lengthening of the school day has led to a provision of school meals in Germany and the service is contracted to private catering companies, usually at the lowest price. Only 34 schools serve warm meals. The municipality has no direct influence on meal preparation processes: indeed the city does not manage directly the school canteens; they are run by private compagnies. They use call for tenders to set up a percentage of organic food in the school meals. In 2003, the City Council unanimously decided to increase the use of both organic products and regional products. among the objectives for 2014: 25 % of organic products and regional products for all municipal institutions, events and 50% in schools and day care centres, receptions and in farmers’ markets. This decision was renewed in 2008.

Actually, the average amount of organic food served in the schools is 18% with important variations between 10% and 80%. Two schools serve 100% organic food.

Besides school meals, Nuremberg was the second city in Germany after Berlin to participate to the project « Organic Lunch Box Drive » between 2005 and 2009. Children received reusable boxes made from recycle plastic containing organic snacks. The sponsors pay to be marked the top of the box and, in the case of Nuremberg, local organic producer gave products for free.

Vocational schools

In the context of their training, students of the Academy for Home Economics run their own school canteen independently. Every day, 60 meals are served to students and teaching staff. Since November 2009, there has been a 100% organic menu twice a week, at no extra charge. It was the first certified organic school canteen at a national level, awarded several times.

Hospital and nursing homes

The main hospital of Nuremberg serves 3.000 meals every day to patients and staff. German hospitals are funded by the state and food budget is low (3 euros by day, for all meals). The city of Nuremberg manages one large hospital, and meets fewer difficulties to introduce local food (up to 30%) than organic food (less than 10%). In order to increase this share, further networking with regional organic farmers is planned. In smaller structures such as nursing homes, 700 meals are served everyday using 10% organic and 60% regional food.

Municipal staff restaurants

The 275 meals served every day are prepared with 47% regional and 10% organic food.

Catering for special events

They represent about 3000 meals per year. The various organisers can make legal stipulations and/or safeguard that organic food products are served. 33% regional food and 5% organic food are served.


  • With the collaboration of Werner Ebert, project manager of « Organic Metropolis », Nuremberg environment department

  • OECD (2013) Rural-Urban Partnerships: An integrated Approach to Economic Development, OECD Publishing, Chapter 11, Germany:Nuremberg Metropolitan Region. dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264204812-en

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