Increasing urbanization rates, loss of natural resources and the effects of climate change are challenging the sustainability of European Cities. Therefore, ensuring the sustainability of the Urban Food System is crucial to achieve food and nutrition security. The Greenhouse Horticulture Business Unit of Wageningen University & Research is investigating, together with other 23 European partners, how to make resilient citizen-driven food systems happen.
The overall objective of the EU project FoodE is to encourage the development of sustainable City-Region-Food-Systems (CRFS). The design, implementation and monitoring of such food-related systems will be performed together with citizens, consumers, public authorities (e.g. municipalities), economic actors (e.g. SMEs), educational institutes by promoting local initiatives and co-developing innovative tools.
In order to provide insight into urban food systems, the feasibility of commercial activities and their sustainability, a detailed quantitative study is required. Fifteen pilot cases are set up and analyzed according to the 3 spheres of sustainability: environmental, economic and social. These pilots range from small-scale fisheries and low-tech market garden to semi-industrial high-tech greenhouses and vertical farming. Locations vary from Svalbard to the Canary Islands and Barcelona, covering cities in rural and coastal areas and urban agglomerations.
The vertical farm unit currently being built in Bleiswijk, will be one of the case studies and will be used to investigate a number of products with respects to their resource use, sustainability and public appeal, under different conditions. The list of potential interesting crops as well as the analysis of results and recommendations will be done in collaboration with the municipality of Lansingerland (NL). The latter is also a partner in the project together with other two Dutch organizations: Metabolic BV (Amsterdam), mainly focused on the transition to an economy that is regenerative and circular by design and Hague Corporate Affairs BV, involved in public affairs and communication projects for companies and organizations with regard to agri-food tech and circular economy.