Bologna and the Emilia-Romagna Region have a rich history of Solidarity Purchasing Groups (GAS in Italian). In 2013, Arvaia gave new momentum to the concept with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Through the cooperative, citizen-consumers support organic and biodynamic agriculture and take back rural education and culture in the urban context. In 2015, the Municipality of Bologna assigned 47 hectares of agricultural land to Arvaia for developing a multi-functional farm.

Contact details

Function / Organisation : Chairman of Arvaia , Arvaia

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Via Olmetola 16,
40132, Borgo Panigale, Bologna,, Italia


∙ Over 420 members of the cooperative (mostly consumers)
∙ Municipality of Bologna, which owns the land managed by Arvaia
∙ Banca Etica and MAG6 solidarity-based financial entity, which support Arvaia
∙ Campi Aperti, Labas Centro Sociale, 20 Pietre Association, Dynamo Bike station of Bologna, Creser-DES Bologna, URGENCI and Gartencoop Freiburg, with which Arvaia cooperates
∙ University of Bologna, involved in organic farming experimentations


∙ Producing and consuming quality food products through organic and biodynamic farming
∙ Reducing the environmental footprint, regenerating land and enhancing biodiversity
∙ Involving citizen-consumers in voluntary activities in agriculture and promoting social inclusion
∙ Communicating to strengthen the solidarity network of members and reach new target audience

Legal framework & Budget

Arvaia is a cooperative. Its members can be consumers, producers or funders. In 2016, it had 4.5 employees and planned to hire one more person in 2017.


Arvaia’s main activities are the distribution of organic products in the city of Bologna, the cultivation of 45 types of vegetables on 47 hectares of agricultural land, as well as the organisation of educational activities (157 visitors at the didactic farm and 41 trainees from high school and university in 2016) and public events (20 in 2016). Arvaia also develops collaborations with thematic networks and academic institutions to design and experiment solutions for organic farming and short-circuit food distribution.

>Innovation & Outcomes

Through the establishment of a new agricultural cooperative form, well-integrated in the solidarity-based economy, Arvaia developed a great distribution network of organic products (483 quintals of products through 8 distribution points in 2016), and involves citizens and institutions in the conservation of the rural culture and landscape. It is innovative in various areas: its CSA organisation and management structure, self-financed by members, the involvement of a wide spectrum of stakeholders, from local to European levels, and experimentations on organic farming with the University of Bologna.

SQM Cultivated
470 000
Jobs created
Project budget
276 800

Main obstacles & Next steps

The main obstacles faced by Arvaia are the high price of water, as well as the absence of irrigation system and appropriate building for storing equipment and produce in the multi-fonctional farm. The initiative was shaped by the concept of sustainability, from management to production and distribution: agroecology and environment protection, short-circuits and zero kilometre approach, deliveries with cargo bikes, zero packaging for product distribution, etc. Its growth creates new job opportunities, new professional collaborations, and new social and cultural models.

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Project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund