Europe is aiming to be climate neutral by 2050. In order to achieve that, many programs and initiatives (e.g. The European Green Deal) are supporting the green transition. According to the EDGAR-FOOD, “a third of global and 30% of EU greenhouse gas emissions (EU 27 countries range 25-42%) comes from the food system” (2021). About half of the GHG emissions are CO2, mainly linked to land-use change and energy, one third is methane (CH4) due to livestock production but also waste over-production, which highlights an issue of food waste. In the EU, around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually with associated costs estimated at 143 billion euros (FUSIONS, 2016).
While an estimated 20% of the total food produced is lost or wasted, 33 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day (Eurostat, 2018). Given the important role of cities, the GrowGreen.com project will develop empirical knowledge about whether and how participatory, community-based interventions in a city can contribute to the reduced environmental impact from food production and consumption through a more plant-based lifestyle, shorter food supply chains and reduced food waste. The findings will feed into the research about the dynamics of urban households’ food consumption and about participatory food interventions in cities.
As a contribution to necessary green transition, the general aim of the Growing Green Communities (GrowGreen.com) is to activate the youth through co-developing learning and change strategies for local participatory and intergenerational urban approaches to increased consumption of plant-based food, shorter food supply chains, community gardening and reduced food waste. The partners have a need for more effective cooperation among institutions, e.g. between schools and universities, between NGOs and schools and similar. The project activities will be based on these exchanges and generate new knowledge that will feed into cross-sectional, co-creative processes. The universities have a need to directly access the target groups to transfer the research results into green actions and at the same time collect the data on the field for further knowledge.
The project will address those needs by implementing the main project activities and results. The situational analysis (R1) of capacities and needs of local communities will give the partners an opportunity to meet and co-create together with their target groups. This will be the basis for the Training Format (R2), which will be tested in a training activity (C1).
Creating the Smart Urban Regional Food strategies (SURF) handbook (R3) will synthesise the finding of previous research and newly created knowledge by addressing the partners’ need to exchange the experience and cross-sectorial cooperation, as well as provide a great asset for the direct target group – youth and youth organisations. GrowGreen.com online platform (R4) – Focus on how the experiences and the results from R1-3 can be applied in research, by other
communities and cities and their organisations, and by urban farmers and food manufacturers and their organisations.
By implementing this project we want to enhance the capacities of local youth as activate and vital agents of change for local communities, households, families, public and civil society organisations.
Concrete objectives are:
– Contribute to a better understanding of change pathways in urban household food production and consumption patterns by mapping out the participatory food intervention practices in selected communities
– Activate individual youth learners in supporting communities in initiating and developing urban gardening projects by creating and testing an inclusive Training Format
– Promote more sustainable, plant-based food consumption and shorter food supply chains by identifying effective ways to develop producer-consumer interactions, promote CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and create AFN (Alternative Food Networks) in the expanding cities
– Contributing to the EU’s green transition efforts by feeding practical findings into research on the dynamics of urban households’ food consumption, the role of young people and participatory food interventions in cities by creating an opensource platform for knowledge sharing and exchange.
In order to achieve the project objectives and delivery of the planned results, the GrowGreen.com team has drafted the project activities based on key milestones, work packages, results, staff training and transnational and online partnership meetings. The concrete results will be reached by implementing the WPs. WP1: Project Management, Quality Assurance and Risk Management (Lead: Crossing Borders; CRN and University of Copenhagen) – will be ongoing throughout the project and will ensure the smooth delivery of other WPs. It will ensure not only the time and budget control but also the quality of the results and impacts
WP2: Sharing, Promotion and Use of the Project’s Results and Stakeholder Engagement (Kalevan Lukio and SaluTerre) – will ensure that the project progress and results are properly disseminated across the partner countries, the EU and beyond.
WP3: Research and Handbook (CRN and University of Copenhagen) will coordinate the research activities for PR1 and PR3 and the finalisation of both of those results.
WP4: Pedagogy and Training Delivery (SaluTerre and University of Lugano) This work package is directly related to the delivery of content for the training format (PR2) and the development of an inclusive strategy for youth activation in urban gardening contexts. The activities of this work package will provide pedagogical compass guidance, curriculum and facilitation of the training (C1), linking it with digital resources/online platform (PR4) in WP5.
WP5: Digital Resources (CB, University of Lugano and Kalevan Lukio) This work package is directly related to the delivery of content for the digital resources being created as part of PR4. It is also providing a link between project outputs and research communities, cities and their organisations, urban farmers and
food manufacturers/producers and their organisations.
In order to activate the youth through co-developing learning and change strategies for local participatory and intergenerational urban approaches to increased consumption of plant-based food, shorter food supply chains, community gardening and reduced food waste the partnership will pool their resources together to undertake research and stakeholder analysis and deliver dissemination activities to develop the following results, which are the main outcomes of GrowGreen.com
R1 – Mapping and assessment of food practices
A situation analysis of capacities in the 5 selected communities (1 per partner) – a baseline and final mapping and assessment of needs. The outcome of this research will be new and organised knowledge about the food practices in households and how it translates into food-related habits in wider contexts. It will assess the existing capacity and opportunities for young people to participate and activate their communities, as well as the most urgent barriers for this to happen and the needs that are expressed by or observed in those communities.
R2 – Urban Gardening and (Community) Cultivation Training Format – Co-creating the manual on starting an urban garden, including hands-on methods e.g. assessing soil and water conditions and quality and developing and refining existing lots and spots for social gastronomy purposes and learning and change strategies. As a result of creating this Training Format, the expected outcome is a useful tool that can be used by youth organisations and other relevant institutions that have the outreach to young people in their communities. The training format will be easily adaptable to different contexts and environments and will outline a clear framework for delivering training about urban gardening and its possible positive impact on the community.
R3 – Smart Urban Regional Food strategies (SURF) handbook – Focuses on how “rurbal” producer-consumer interaction and interactivity can be developed, how CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) can be established and sustained and how Alternative Food Networks (AFN) can contribute to more plant-based food culture/habit and shorter supply chains. Focus on the sensory dimension, sense of belonging and rhythms in this type of food supply. The expected outcome of creating and publishing the handbook is an innovative, engaging and relevant resource for SURF strategies
R4 – GrowGreen.com online platform – Focus on how the experiences and the results from R1-3 can be applied in research, by other communities and cities and their organisations, and by urban farmers and food manufacturers and their organisations. The outcome will be a comprehensive and growing database that will ensure the long term sustainability of the project results. It will create an easy cross-sectorial gateway for Smart Urban Regional Food researchers and practitioners to share and exchange knowledge, research and share relevant information.
C1- Testing and iterating the Urban Gardening and (Community) Cultivation Training Format
In order to amplify the impacts of the project activities, the training will be designed as a 4-day LTTA for youth workers, trainers and learners. In this way, they can share their knowledge in their work contexts and reach out to a bigger number of beneficiaries – young people. The outcome of the training will be more youth workers, equipped with necessary skills to deliver the Urban Gardening and (Community) Cultivation Training Format – Co-creating the manual on starting an urban garden, including hands-on methods e.g. assessing soil and water conditions and quality and developing and refining existing lots and spots for social gastronomy purposes and learning and change strategies