How 'edible cities' can foster more resilient, sustainable and inclusive communities

How 'edible cities' can foster more resilient, sustainable and inclusive communities

RMIT Europe Research Fellow Nevelina Pachova explains her role in the Edible Cities Network (EdiCitNet) Horizon Europe project, and how urban edible solutions can contribute to socially resilient and sustainably productive cities.

RMIT is one of 32 partners involved in EdiCitNet, a network of cities from across Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia that includes representatives from local city administrations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other edible city solution initiatives. 

Professor Jago Dodson, Director of RMIT's Centre for Urban Research, and Nevelina Pachova, who is based at RMIT Europe, are the RMIT researchers involved in the project. 

Pachova said that the main goal of EdiCitNet is to make cities around the world better places to live in by catalysing implementation and driving institutional integration of Edible City Solutions (ECS).

"ECS comprises all forms of urban food production, distribution and use, such as neighbourhood gardens, bee or sheep breeding, green facades or high-tech indoor farming, cooking and dining events as well as the use of locally grown urban food in restaurants.

"Such activities can contribute to an overall increase of social welfare by improving micro-climate and biodiversity conditions, enhancing social cohension in cities, supporting the local green economy, and driving the sustainable use of local resources," she said. 

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'EdiCitNet' The EdiCitNet Living Lab in Oslo. Photo: EdiCitNet

What’s the biggest challenge in your field?

My work, which is situated at the cross-section of research and practice, aims to recognise, understand and enhance the power and impact of small communities and actions that make our neighbourhoods and cities more liveable, resilient, sustainable and inclusive.

The questions I'm exploring are whether and if so, small actions can bring about transformational change.

I work specifically with urban food initiatives, which use food as a way to connect people with nature, communities and themselves, in a more embodied and authentic way.

Through hands-on joint actions, they help people discover and experience a different way to see, think, and relate.  

One of the biggest challenges I see is that of demonstrating and translation of the values of care, agency and belonging that such initiatives create, into tangible benefits and convincing arguments for policymakers to act on.

Another area in focus is how we can best mobilise and weave the energy and goodwill of the many diverse stakeholders involved who would like to see a change into a clear shared vision and a strong commitment to break established ways of thinking and working and to co-create a more sustainable and inclusive future for all.

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Edible city solutions can contribute to socially resilient and sustainably productive cities.

– Nevelina Pachova

How is your work helping to drive change?

Shifting existing ways of seeing, thinking, relating and doing takes time, effort and courage to build trust, shared visions, taking action and learning through it. 

So we try to to use our limited time and resources wisely to experiment with different ways of catalysing and scaling-up change.

Specifically, EdiCitNet works with both place-based bottom-up innovation through urban living labs and participatory planning through a systemic perspective and a city-wide approach.

The role of researchers in the project is to accompany, facilitate and help participants reflect on the processes and approaches that they're experimenting with to drive sustainable change.

To find out more about the EdiCitNet project, keep an eye on the website, Twitter and LinkedIn

 

Story: Jordi Segarra Farnell

EdiCitNet is an Innovative Action funded by the European Union Under the Cross-Cutting activities Work Programme of Horizon 2020, Grant Agreement number 776665.

08 March 2022

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08 March 2022

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.