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Zukunftsforum & Ethical Volunteering: A Weekend of Outreach Activities for the EdiCitNet Team

On August 21st, Principal Investigator of the EdiCitNet project, Dr. Ina Säumel, lead an interactive workshop on everyday life and sustainability – with a focus on Edible City Solutions – as part of a series of four workshops held at the first ever “Zukunftsforum” event organized by the Humboldt University and the Joachim Herz Foundation.

In a day filled with workshops and barcamps, more than a hundred participants worked together to envision the resilient, livable and healthy cities and societies of the future. At the end of the event, all of the ideas were collected and discussed in a final presentation, and all of the participants were invited to visit the Humboldt Labor’s “After Nature” exhibition at the newly opened Humboldt Forum.

On the same day, other members of the EdiCitNet team spent the afternoon meeting the public at a networking event for people to volunteer with sustainable initiatives in Berlin. Organized by a recently founded association, Climate Action Berlin, the event, which took place at the backyard of Haus der Statistik in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, featured numerous associations working towards sustainability and climate justice, including the initiative 100% Tempelhofer Feld and Berlin’s first cooperative supermarket, SuperCoop.

As well as  introducing the project to a large number of people and expanding the reach of the EdiCitNet project, the team also had the chance to promote volunteering opportunities at the two Living Lab sites organised by the Prinzessinengarten Kollektiv, an urban gardening collective and key partner in the EdiCitNet project.

New publication: State of the Art and Latest Advances in Exploring Business Models for Nature-Based Solutions

Within the European Commission’s Nature-Based Solutions Task Force 3: “Governance, Business Models and Financial Mechanisms”, EdiCitNet project lead Suhana E. Reddy was part of a joint publication which explores the different possibilities of financing nature-based solutions (NBS). NBS offer multiple solutions to urban challenges simultaneously, but realising funding for NBS remains a challenge. However, by collaborating and sharing knowledge through the EC Task Force, a set of EU projects has now laid important knowledge foundations, reviewing existing literature, and compiling empirical evidence of different financing approaches and the business models that underpinned them.

This paper presents the findings of these projects from a business model perspective to improve our understanding of the value propositions of NBS to support their mainstreaming. This collaboration provided comprehensive insights into collaborative work within a transdisciplinary group and working together with all members of the publication writing team in order to improve the scientific landscape and the view on NBS was a fruitful experience. Edible-NBS of course offer an added social value, when compared to non-edible NBS, while Edible City Solution Initiatives also play a crucial role in Nature-Based Solution business models. You can read the full text of the publication here.

EdiCitNet explores alternative insect proteins at the Open Humboldt Festival

On August 17th, the EdiCitNet team took part in the Open Humboldt Festival, a series of public events held throughout August that celebrating and uniting science and art. Located at the university’s North Campus in Berlin Mitte, the team had the opportunity to present the project to members of different university departments and members of the general public.

For this afterwork event revolving around food and health they were joined by EdiCitNet Marketplace member Insec2Eat, a startup which offers insect snacks and flours as an alternative protein source. Despite the bleak weather, visitors were able to enjoy not only this whole range of exotic treats, but also learn about other ways that the EdiCitNet project is making cities greener, more sustainable and more inclusive – and what they can do to get involved.

New playbook “Growing Jobs in Urban Agriculture” offers practical insights into developing sustainable business models in urban agriculture

It is not very straightforward to survive as an ECS (Edible City Solution) initiative under the immense cost pressure often found in urban settings. Whether or not an ECS initiative is a for-profit business or not, at the end of the day, financial sustainability is crucial in order to maintain impact and change the urban food system. That’s why, last year, the Norwegian NGO Nabolagshager hosted, in collaboration with other EdiCitNet partners, including the Borderstep Institute, an online interactive workshop called “Growing Jobs in Urban Agriculture”.

The workshop aimed to facilitate exchange among practitioners working on urban agriculture, researchers, policy-makers and aspiring entrepreneurs on a major challenge urban farmers are facing: the need to develop business models that are tailored to their community’s needs and the wants of their customers.

An interactive space was provided for participants to explore business models for urban agriculture, with 8 different sessions of 30 minutes each. The sessions were highly interactive with short sessions of knowledge transfer from experts in the field accompanied by space to work in groups through real-life cases. The goal was for participants to gain an in-depth understanding of how to develop their own business model for an urban agriculture enterprise.

This collaborative work paved the way for the creation of a new practical playbook called “Growing Jobs in Urban Agriculture”, a publication designed to allow existing ECS initiatives – and aspiring ones – to identify the necessary and sufficient conditions for economic and social success, and equip them with a tool to explore solutions and address the needs of their organisations.

This playbook follows the Edible City Solutions Canvas (ECS Canvas) tool, an upgraded and calibrated economically sustainable model Canvas for organisations that provide sustainable food solutions within the urban setting. Its predecessor, the Business Model Canvas, is a one page overview which informs how the key drivers of a business fit together. Here the ECS Canvas has taken into account the fact that not all ECS aim to be a ‘business’. This tool consists of 11 segments enabling readers to dive deep into various dimensions of achieving economic sustainability to maintain and expand their impact.

This publication is a useful resource for all ECS initiatives, organizations and entrepreneurs who are working to have sustainable impact on the food system. It is also a helpful tool for those working to help ECS initiatives towards this goal.

It is available now for download at the EdiCiNet Marketplace: www.edicitnet.com/biz

Workshop II – project development in the urban neighborhood

The non-public workshop took place on the 7th of June 2021. The main aim was to support the implementation of edible city solutions in Berlin’s social disadvantaged neighborhoods. This half-day event was aimed at the members of the neighborhood management program in Berlin.

The workshop benefitted from the inputs of Simone Antony (District administration Marzahn-Hellersdorf) and Annette Biernath (degewo AG).

The two speakers gave a quick overview and clarified questions about the implementation of different ECS in cooperation with the district administration or housing companies.

Afterwards, an exemplary ECS project was planned in small groups using the design thinking method. One group focused on “participation and integration through edible city solutions”, while the other group dealt with “strengthening resilience through edible city solutions”.

At the end, participants gave short descriptions of problems and challenges in implementing edible city solutions and citizen participation in their neighborhoods. These are valuable impulses for the upcoming workshop in August.