The book launch of our publication was an event of 2 hours hosted by Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam

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The book launch of our publication was an event of 2 hours hosted by Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. The main idea was to share the knowledge we collected about how to use food as tool for urban development, showing international examples in order to inspire the participants to reason upon the upcoming local food policy.

The evening started with Vincent Skipper from Still City framing the historical urban momentum in which we are positioning our urban activities and lifestyle: the moment of stillness, where growth is not anymore a concept to base our planning models.

The first half hour was a celebration of the work of CITIES in the framework of FARMING THE CITY, which reached the third phase in 2013.

FARMING THE CITY is a project by CITIES which started in 2010 as a research platform. In 2011, we launched the global website www.farmingthecity.net : several urban agriculture project leaders from all over the world have the possibility to share knowledge and get visibility through this virtual platform. In the same year, we also focused on understanding the dynamic possibilities for urban agriculture in Amsterdam. Our framework, and new working methodology shifted towards the localization of the food cycle: food production, but also transportation, packaging, processing and awareness raising for more sustainable consumption. In 2012, we focused on the local context, innovating especially in the urban transportation field: http://foodlogica.com/index.php but also through a series of cultural events and initiatives (For additional info, check our project on the website: https://citiesfoundation.org/category/current-projects/ ). As an conclusion of to our work, we collected knowledge and shared experiences about how the localization of different food systems is having an impact in our urban environments in several cities in the Global North. The result is the book FARMING THE CITY: FOOD AS A TOOL FOR TODAY’S URBANIZATION.

This book collects several innovative “local food” examples from all over the world, three of which were invited during the book launch to be present remotely via Skype calls. Mark asked questions and the public could virtually interact with the international guests. Each of them talked us through the process of developing a community project and the benefits for the urban environment.

The second part of the evening was organized in the form of a debate. In order to start the debate, we asked two of the most influential people in this field to tell us their opinion about “which should be the main focus point of a food policy”.
Carolyn Steel and Dickson Despoimmier gently answered our question through a video interview, each of them brought up a different issue: while Carolyn broadened the subject towards a critical idea about the current state of our democratic system, Dickson lobbied for additional funding for research and project implementation.

5 among local professionals, entrepreneurs and activists came onstage to react to the videos and kick start the debate. Moreover, Pim Vermeulen from the Municipality of Amsterdam set a really interesting agenda by making an intervention and asking the public: which are the 5 themes that you would like the public food policy to focus on. A quite heated up and intense debate followed, and as usual, the public manifested an incredible amount of opinions, points of views and necessary aspects to take into consideration when approaching food as a tool for urbanization. We realized that talking about a better food system is is, as Carolyn Steel would say, just a different way to talk about life.

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