Past Experiences

Visions and impressions from former participants

Elisa Apolloni
University of Bologna, Italy
Team Future-A - DolomitiNet (Belluno) - UrbanFarm2019

“The experience of UrbanFarm represented an opportunity to test myself concerning organizational skills, design and management of a multidisciplinary project. In addition, thanks to the competition, I was able to deepen a theme of great interest to me: indoor and vertical agriculture. The interest has been growing during and after the challenge, until I decided to continue to deepen this topic. In fact, I'm currently doing a PhD and collaborating with the research group Rescue-AB, organizer of the UrbanFarm contest. My research is related to the use of artificial LED lighting and I am also working on other aspects related to soil-less systems and vertical farming.”

Francesco Lombardo, Luca Settanni e Gian Marco Tamborra
University of Bologna, Italy
Team ReGeniusLoci - Aquaponic Social Garden (Bologna) - UrbanFarm2019

“UrbanFarm2019 introduced us to. In particular, at the end of 8 months of work together, the current project SpinOff Aquaponic Design was born. United by the same passion, we had fun imagining the Fantoni Farm project, being able to freely express our ideas. From the experience of UrbanFarm2019 we have learned a lot, especially: how to work in multidisciplinary teams bringing home excellent results. Surely it is an experience that we feel to promote and in which we believe as it gives students of any sector the opportunity to face a first experience of innovative design with high social and environmental impact.
For us at Aquaponic Design it was the first project together and we always remember it with happiness because it was thanks to UrbanFarm2019 that we realized how much fun we would have working together to transform the city of Bologna into the first Urban Farming hub in Italy.”

Haidy Takieldin Adel Ali Mousa
Cairo University, Egypt
Team The Wanderers - GILGAMESH (Conegliano) - UrbanFarm2019

“I am Haidy Mousa, an award-winning architect. UrbanFarm created a transition point in my life, as it was a great starting point to find a solution to return life to the city. I used to walk in the streets and keep watching the city and people. I was always asking myself how can I get back life to the city, and if I will have a role in achieving this dream or see it from afar. After winning UrbanFarm, I was awarded by the President of Cairo University and Director of the Library of Alexandria for the best student project in Egypt. Furthermore, I was awarded by the President
of Egypt at the Arab and African Youth Forum from World Youth Forum 2019 for my role in shaping the future. I was also awarded for the best scientific research in the 5th Med Green Forum 2019, which is organised by the World Renewable Energy Network WREN, UK. The research has also been selected for publication in an international book from Springer Nature. I have a TEDx talk entitled: “Planting the Art” based on my winning in UrbanFarm. I see this competition is the future of enhancing our life and the planet.”

Ricardo Souza
Montepellier SupAgro, France
Team Phoenix - L'Azienda Zanussi (Conegliano) - UrbanFarm2019
Team GreenID - Green Cycle Urban Farm (Galliera) - UrbanFarm2020

“I was part of UrbanFarm for three years! I started as an undergraduate student in 2019 in Brazil. I heard about this challenge, and together with some Brazilian colleagues, we proposed the project L’Azienda Zanussi. The architect didn't collaborate with the project, still, we were selected for the Grand Finale. We did fundraising so one of our team could represent us during the final in Pordenone (Italy). A few days before the Final Event, we got the money we needed, and my colleague took a 23h flight to Italy. That year we won the ISHS Young Minds Award.
This award and the participation in an international student challenge fitted well in my application for a scholarship in a European Master.
In 2020, I was living in Spain for my first-year Master's. I was invited to join the GreenID team one week before the deadline of the first submission. They were looking for an agronomist with some experience in sustainable agriculture, and I was happy to join the challenge again. The second-year experience was harder. We were living in different time zones and in December the Brazilian university where the architect was from, closed for holidays. We couldn't finish the drawings for the second submission. Our project was well written, however, without good visual support we thought we didn't have a good chance to make it to the finals. In this process, some members of our team left, and the remaining ones had to work harder. A few weeks later, we got the email saying we were selected for the Grand Finale. That was my chance to travel to Italy and join two of my team members from Brazil. I saw with my eyes how engaged, and passionate the other students were about Urban Farming. This experience allowed me to make some networking with some of the professionals and academics who attend the NovelFarm. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge of that year was yet to come. The final was postponed a couple of days, and the leader of the team had booked her flight before that. So, her flight back to Brazil was on the final presentation day. Thus, I had to present the project by myself in front of the audience. I was shaking and very nervous. At the moment they call out our team and gave me the microphone I thought my heart stopped for a second. But when I was standing on the stage I gave my best. This experience is engraved in my heart and in my soul. It was life-changing for me. When I came back to Spain, everything changed in the world due to Corona Pandemic. But I wanted more challenges and tried to make the best of lockdown. So for this year's challenge, I decided to join the UrbanFarm competition differently. I used the Facebook group to find a motivated and passionate international student team. The experience has been
amazing. Unfortounelly, everything went online this year. It has been a bit strange to everyone.
I am very grateful to all those who make this UrbanFarm Student Challenge possible. I think that without this challenge and all the good things that happened in my life because of it, my life would be a lot different. Now I'm currently living in France, writing my master thesis, and thinking about the grand finale in June. In the previous years, I came up with a tradition. Winning or not, my Prosecco glass will be full to toast and celebrate all the good things. Tchin-Tchin.”

Mariam Shehata
Cairo University, Egypt
Team FENICE - Green Symphony project (Lanuvio) - UrbanFarm2020

“UrbanFarm competition is a very unique experience for students to learn and meet new people. Not only do you widen your perspective by researching further into solutions for the project, but it also adds value to your character by exposing you to a very diverse group of people. Pursuing my Architecture Bachelor’s degree at the time of participation, I had the chance to dig deeper into the academic knowledge I was gaining from school and to implement it in a project. In addition, being multidisciplinary, it was an extraordinary opportunity to learn a little bit about
other fields and to coordinate all our ideas together. This was particularly beneficial after graduation where I am more comfortable working in projects that include different professionals from different fields and cooperating with them to implement our solutions. Overall, I believe that UrbanFarm competition has positive impact on the social, academic and professional aspects of the participant.”

Andrea D’Aprile
University of Bologna, Italy
Team FENICE - Green Symphony project (Lanuvio) - UrbanFarm2020

"If I have to explain this experience in few words I could use: cooperation, challenge and future. UrbanFarm2020 has been the start point of my experience inside the incredible world of international research and cooperation. This competition let me know how Science and Research could join different people by different culture. I hope to collaborate again with a foreign University!"

Giuseppe Calore
University of Bologna, Italy
Team FENICE - Green Symphony project (Lanuvio) - UrbanFarm2020

"UrbanFarm was for me the opportunity to act in a concrete project, where I had the chance to put into practice what I have been doing in all my years of studies and to meet people from different countries and with different backgrounds. Thanks to this challenge I had the opportunity to being involved in the FoodE project for my university internship and thesis, which I started few months later the final challenge in Pordenone. I am currently working on it, but I am also enrolled in an architectural course and I am involved in a volunteering program about the environment of my country. UrbanFarm and other workshops influenced me on the choice to give an architectural footprint to my environmental studies, to look at the future cities not only from a modernization side, but also from an improvement of the environment around us, made of a better quality of life, well-being, social cohesion thanks to practices and structures that involve people to feel part of a community and a clean place to live in.”

Matteo Landolfo
University of Bologna, Italy
Team Symbiont Society - Ecological, environmental, energy and food challenge of the world's northernmost city (Longyearbyen) - UrbanFarm2020

“UrbanFarm is not just a challenge, but an all around experience that combines the educational, professional and personal experience of the participants in the competition and especially the members of my team. In three months you have the opportunity to know new colleagues with a different culture from yours, interact with them and their knowledge. Moreover, a
good friendship can be born within your team. It is important to get out of your comfort zone and be open to new perspectives for your own growth, this experience makes it real.
Currently I’m continuing my studies in this field, which is constantly developing. Certainly the UrbanFarm challenge has contributed to increasing my passion for these subjects, and the desire to make the energetic ecological and food challenge my job of the future has grown in me.”


Emanuele Durante
University of Bologna, Italy
Team Hop-E - SIEPE (Sustainability Inclusion Energy Production Environment) (Galliera) - UrbanFarm2020 

“While during my BSc degree I was so worried about getting over and done with my exams that the idea of doing something different, like joining a Student Challenge, would have never crossed my mind, when enrolling on my MSc I decided to be more open to such things. In that sense, UrbanFarm2020 was the perfect opportunity for me. I left a post on the Facebook
page of the Challenge, looking for a group to form or to join. I was struck by the enthusiasm of Brando, a student of agronomic science who was very carefully looking for truly dedicated team members. We decided to go for a big team of nine, as we wanted to work on a very large site near Bologna, the ex-SIAPA in Galliera. The team was very diverse and counted two Environmental Engineering students (myself and Michele), two Agronomy students (Brando and Patricia), a Resource Economics and Sustainable Development student with work experience in the social sector (Laura), a Management Engineering student (Luca) and three Architecture students from Cairo University (Yasmina, Sherifa and Mohamed). We realized right after our first meeting we were a solid team, all very driven and excited about the project. Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. There were a few communication issues along the way and even some arguments as deadlines approached. Everyone had to find her/his own place in the team and "bring balance to the force" (quoting Starwars). We didn't have the chance to meet in person until the last round at Pordenone Fiere. So, after months of online meetings with our colleagues from Egypt, it was such an awesome and unusual experience to see each other for the first time. The architects brought an amazing wooden model of the project and we started presenting our work to the public. I remember someone commenting "It's nice you are talking about it as if it was already out there in the real world".
Yes, we loved our project, but we were also amazed by the quality of other projects so, after a while, a bit of concern seeped through our minds. Of course, we were competing against other teams, but in a way we were all on the same boat, imagining and shaping sustainability for abandoned places and the people living around those. In the end, we presented our project to the jury and we were awarded first prize. We were over the moon. We partied right after with all the other teams and went on our own to eat pizza and celebrate. A year after I can definitely say that UrbanFarm had an important role in my recent life.
My team and I continued working on the project, which got also accepted for the World Renewable Energy Congress in Lisbon. We are still in contact with the municipality of Galliera, which is willing to implement a lot of the aspects we proposed for the site. 
As for myself, I am now working as a research fellow for the Department of Agricultural and Food Science at the University of Bologna, studying sustainability assessment of food production systems.”

Yasmina Ragab
Cairo University, Egypt
Team Hop-E - SIEPE (Sustainability Inclusion Energy Production Environment) (Galliera) - UrbanFarm2020

“We were nine participants from three countries, studying five disciplines working on a real existing brown field in Bologna. We had to communicate not only our diverse fields of study but also our cultures which made the experience quite unique. Exploring revitalization through the eyes of urban farming was quite new to me at the time and it intrigued me. We ended up creating a social-learning and agriculturebased center in the midst of the urban setting, and I was filled by an endless amount of pride and fulfillment. I am a junior architect as well as a master student. The competition was the main reason that today I am studying revitalization of historic city centers. Working on the Ex-SIAPA industrial site made me realize the value of the past and the value of what’s forgotten and the fact that history can teach us a lot. I came to understand the significance and urgency of revitalization nowadays, along with the value of incorporating urban farming in the midst of urban settings and its crucial impacts on city’s resilience and mobility. UrbanFarm helped guiding me with my first step right after my bachelor, I really hope it does the same to you.”

Sherifa El-Haggan
Cairo University, Egypt
Team Hop-E - SIEPE (Sustainability Inclusion Energy Production Environment) (Galliera) - UrbanFarm2020

“This competition was an eye opener to me, and one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I was an Architecture Student at Cairo University when I joined the competition, and Urban Farming was a new notion to me. I started gaining lots of insights on the importance and the technicalities of urban farming. Furthermore, the project included other complementary and diverse aspects such as: social, environmental, urban and economical, which made our experience and knowledge quite holistic. Moreover, working in such a diverse team was a great simulation of a real life project that expanded my perspective.
I graduated in August 2020, and started working in December 2020 in a multidisciplinary architectural design studio in the architecture and engineering department. My target is to explore different architecture scopes in the next couple of years, such as Interior Design, Landscape Design, and Heritage. However, I am currently working on WREC’s competition: HOME Kit, which targets selfsufficiency in energy. My team and I are implementing some learned strategies such as green roofs, rainwater harvesting, green walls, and a few others. We are more
than grateful for being ranked first in Urban Farming 2020, such a big stepping stone!.”