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Project deliverable Open Access

Status Report on the Implementation of the Living Labs in the Front-Runner Cities (D3.2)

Karlsson, Anneli S.; Degenhardt, Stephanie; Schmütz, Inken; Hennemann, Rutger

Edible Cities Network (EdiCitNet) is a European demonstration program that recognizes the social importance of urban agriculture initiatives for the city. There are a multitude of initiatives of urban agriculture around the world, but EdiCitNet aims to empower local communities to overcome social problems by their inclusive and participatory dynamics and to create new green businesses and jobs, and thereby local economic growth and social cohesion. The overall objective of EdiCitNet is to launch and develop a sustainable and constantly growing network of cities, empowering their inhabitants by a common methodology:

• to systematically explore the wealth and diversity of existing Edible City Solutions (ECS) and to build and share a common knowledge base,

• to adapt, plan and implement successfully proven ECS in their specific urban context.

The selection of the current EdiCitNet Living Labs (LL) (Andernach, Berlin, Oslo, Rotterdam and Havana) focuses on the most important societal challenges in European cities. In addition, the Living Lab Havana, as a pioneer of self-sustaining ECS, can reflect beneficial experiences and facilitate mutual support and interconnections beyond Europe.

The EdiCitNet Living Labs represent not only different social, economic, and ecological requirements of a varied Europe, but already have a broad basis of Nature Based Solutions (NBS) experience. Every single living lab is convinced by ECS and has invested in its development and programmes for years. The different EdiCitNet living labs are to serve both as knowledge and application base for the following cities, as well as to raise ECS in the front runner cities to a new, solid level. The EdiCitNet Front-Runner Cities (FRC) do not necessarily follow the attempt of representing geopolitical large-scale zones via punctual case studies, but strictly highlight urgent urban problems like inclusiveness, social cohesion, wellbeing, mental and physical health, safety, and criminality.

In their original Implementation Project Plans (IPPs, described in detail in the updated versions of D3.1) each city has formulated their own strategy to foster the urban agriculture initiatives in their cities. These strategies all include a co-creational framework in which all stakeholders concerned can partake in overcoming local challenges. The present document D3.2, contains a “Status report on the implementation of the living labs in the frontrunner cities”. Apart from a detailed description of the implementations in the FRC since 2019 the document also provides insights on the unexpected impacts on the IPPs during the last years and gives an outlook on measures that will ensure the sustainability of the LLs.

Andernach: The living lab aims to target the social aspect of the edible city, i.e., environmental education, integration of marginal groups and social cohesion. During the plan development focus shifted to target the heart of the city: its children. Schools, kindergartens, and a Youth Centre were involved in the planning and the implementation of the LL as were the city administration and several NGOs that together form the City Team (CT). Because Andernach could already build on 10 years of experience in planning the edible city in 2019 thirteen activities were planned and executed already. Based on the lessons learnt from the first year the LL focused on biodiversity and the introduction of new crops, edibles, and the enlargement of the scale. Despite disturbances due to the pandemic one of the large changes in 2021 in the LL was and will be the diversification of the Community Garden and extension to other locations in the city. Monitoring is well underway and focusses on participation, independence, visual appearance, soil health and insect diversity.

Berlin: The two LL in Berlin joined the project at later stages (2020) and aim to provide best practice examples of how densification can encompass productive green structures in a growing city while stabilizing disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Social and ecological themes are linked under the motto “help for self-help” and the LL support interculturality, active environmental protection, cultural activities, and knowledge transfer. The Berlin LL is jointly coordinated by the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing and the NGO Nomadisch Grün gGmbH (PRINZ).

Because 2020 was the first year of implementations in Berlin several workshops were held to plan the LL in detail. Towards autumn and winter, the sites were prepared for the next growing season and festivals served the celebration of newly establish sites and the promotion among residents. 2021 has so far seen the construction of a Tiny House, a multifunctional space that can be used flexibly as a shelter or for workshops. In addition, preparations for stable infrastructure for electricity and water, including a greywater treatment plant are under way. Activities in the second site in Berlin only started late 2020 with planning activities that are still ongoing, as are various activities like “Cultural and Culinary Neighbourhood Action Days”. Monitoring in the two LL in Berlin is at an early stage, nevertheless several indicators have been identified, including planted area, participation, adoption rate, quality of collaboration and profitability.

Oslo: In Oslo the CT is led by the Department of Environment and Transport of the Agency for Urban Environmental in cooperation with other associations, programmes, and initiatives. The main goal of the LL in Oslo is the piloting of Edible City Solutions (ECSs) providing social and economic values and creating opportunities for citizens and entrepreneurs through knowledge transfer, networking, and infrastructure. In 2019 several co-creation workshops defined a strategy on how to achieve the set goals with the implemented LL and were already followed by first growing pilots. In 2020 the community garden was physically implemented and opened to the public, followed by several community events despite delays due to Covid-19 regulations. In 2020 a follower LL was established and through several co-creation events developed school garden lessons for kindergartens, primary and secondary schools aimed at connecting local communities. The goal for 2021 is to refine and professionalise the LL and to create a network by spreading the knowledge and initiating further LLs. Oslo has collected data to monitor the social, economic, and environmental indicators.

Rotterdam: The Rotterdam LL was launched by the Rotterdam City Council in close collaboration with Groene Groeiplekken, but since the withdrawal of the City Council in late 2020 the association Groen010 has taken over. Unlike the other EdiCitNet LLs, the Living Lab in Rotterdam does not envision the establishment of a physical space for running its activities but focuses on the cooperation between the multiple initiatives in the city, and the relation between (the networks of) these initiatives and the city government. The Co-Creation process is therefore central to the activities in Rotterdam as is the self-research that had already started in the city long before the project. The withdrawal of the City Council has led to some delays in 2020. In 2021 the CT has already held several meetings on the topics of co-creation and self-research all working towards the goal of setting up a city-wide network of (edible) green initiatives. Monitoring mainly focusses on the organisation of processes that will support this goal and thus on the social aspects of collaborations. Certainly, environmental impacts of the network of initiatives and economic models that guarantee its continuity are of interest.

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