Food In The City – September 2020 Meetup – Social Business and Agriculture in the City

About the monthly meetups: On the last Wednesday of every month, Farmlyplace hosts a monthly meetup called ‘Food in the city’. These meetups provide an opportunity to network in a relaxed manner. In every meetup we invite food in the city advocates to talk about a certain theme in relation to their innovative work and to discuss the challenges/opportunities they face. The meetups are a space to generate new ideas and collaborations around the future of food and the local food economy. 

A benefit of networking in such a local manner is that you get to know more about how you can help or play a role in the local businesses/organisations around you. Farmlyplace is based in Berlin, however anyone is welcome to join the online format of meetups from anywhere in the world. Our blogs will keep you updated with our key takeaways from these meetups and hopefully inspire you to learn about similar businesses/organisations in your community!  

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In the month of September, we had an interesting meetup focused on Social Business and Agriculture in the City. We aimed to involve people from Solidarity Agriculture (Solidarischen Landwirtschaft, or SoLaWi, in German) initiatives, supply-chain transparent grocery stores, fresh food educational programmes, and much more to understand how can we can collaborate to create a local food system in a holistic manner.

The very basis of any social business lies in causing an impact while being financially feasible. To cause a social impact, we need to consider different aspects like social awareness & engagement, economical ease, education etc. We had a chance to discuss each of these aspects with our speakers this month and discovered how they are dealing with those different aspects in order to create an impact.

About our speakers and the discussion:

  • Annemarie Mörl introduced us to 2000m2. When we think about awareness and engagement regarding how we grow our food, 2000m2 is an interesting initiative. Considering the population of the planet, we may arithmetically find roughly 2000 sq. m. area that can be allotted per person every year. The goal is to grow everything that we need in that plot of land. Their project, Weltacker (The Global Field) has developed an inquisitive calculator that tells you how much arable land is required for a particular dish. This calculator is called mym2.de and it tells us not just about the arable area but also about the origin, nutritional value and growing conditions of our food.

    The impact of this is to make the consumers reflect upon their food choices and purchasing decisions by showing them how it affects the land. Also, it takes into consideration how the consumption of animal products affects the arable land use.

    If you want to stay up to date with the activities of Weltacker, then head to their facebook page here : https://www.facebook.com/2000sqm and do not forget to check their blogs for more!
  • Blanka Vay from Circles UBI (Universal Basic Income) talked about the economic aspect of the impacts. She highlighted how having more diversity can lead to having more stability when it comes to payments. Circles is one such cryptocurrency that is aiming to build a local economy through an open source community. Want to use Circles? Find out how it works through this short video. You may also join their community if you are interested in meeting those building their own local economy.
  • Next, we had Julia Dalmadi from SuperCoop. SuperCoop is a cooperative supermarket which aims at providing fresh, affordable products which are provided through the collaboration of the involved members and all this with transparency about sourcing & management! This involves reinventing the current supermarket scenario and paying the producers fairly. Having such supermarkets and grocery stores plays an important role in causing an impact as they provide the valuable information about the products we purchase and help us to assess if we are making sustainable choices. Transparency is an important factor to achieve more solidarity between the producers and consumers to form a healthy system together.

    Julia also addressed how challenging it is to maintain and bring transparency as it involves a lot of data about where the products are coming from, their costs and the way they were manufactured etc. To be a part of SuperCoop’s Buying Club prototype, read more at http://supercoop.de/en/buyingclub/

What were our key takeaways from the meetup?

We learnt about different factors that are necessary to build a healthy system around food. It includes the mindset, economy, accessibility and many more.

  • For building a mindset, educational projects & initiatives around food are important.
  • For building trust between the producer & the consumer, cryptocurrencies like Circles and smart contracts like Farmlyledger are important (not only regarding the economical factors, but also the overall quality of the entire process)
  • For building accessibility to available sustainable food choices for consumers, transparent grocery stores and supermarkets are necessary

Additionally, in order to work towards the goal of attaining solidarity through an impact caused by a social business, we need to find answers to some of the very important questions. These questions are as follows:

  • How can different initiatives work together to have a larger impact?
  • As a producer or a provider, how to build a stronger relation with the consumer which ultimately leads to more solidarity between the producer and the consumers?

Along with these questions, we need to think about better solutions which increase the efficiency of the current systems. One such issue that demands our attention is ‘logistics’ in supply chain management. We have addressed the topic of micrologistics in one of our previous meetups. However, logistics is a broad topic which must consider many factors. This leaves us with more options to discuss and improve it further.

We also talked about how changing mindsets around the food plays an important part here. And it all starts with education! Hence, our next meet up is to explore and understand the role of education in building sustainable communities around food. If you would like to discover interesting initiatives or to learn about those who are solving some of our biggest food system challenges, you are welcome to join us each month at Food in the City. Join our Meetup Group here: https://www.meetup.com/Food-in-the-City/ 

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

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