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On an adventure to Barcelona. Or how the Edible Cities conference will also give wings to our Smuljungle.

Needless to say, we were very proud to attend the “Edible Cities” conference in Barcelona as guests of honor. As winners of the “Local Hero Innovation Award,” all of our travel expenses were reimbursed and I was also allowed to bring a travel companion. Together with Sieglinde Heymans, I went to Barcelona and we certainly wouldn’t fly. Because the train was always a bit of travel and on the way we would make plans. Who could have predicted that just at that time a general strike would paralyze train traffic in France. Not only on the outward journey but also on the return journey. Meanwhile, we learned that it is better to book directly with the transportation company because otherwise refunking is a nightmare. That striking staff is not always friendly and that, above all, you have to hand a certain dose of “Go with the flow” if you want to survive twice over 16 hours of Flexibus. After more than 2 weeks, I am still recovering a bit from the jet lag from the trip. Or maybe it’s that summer hour that plays tricks on me. But Barcelona, of course, was much more than that….

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Festive reception

We were festively received at the University of Barcelona by the Edible Cities Network.

The Edible Cities Network (EdiCitNet) aims to work for more socially inclusive, resilient and sustainable productive cities) is a project funded by the European Commission and runs from September 2018 to August 2023 (grant agreement no. 776665). Let that be the very topics we believe in hard. The EdiCitNet Consortium is an international team of experts from different social sectors and scientific disciplines related to Edible City Solutions (ECS). The entire group consists of 32 partners with representatives from local city governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other edible city solutions around the world. The core of the project is a network of urban communities in Europe, Africa, Latin America and East Asia working together to build a better world for everyone in cities.

The Edible Cities Congress 2023 was primarily a time to exchange experiences and inspiration.

Access to sustainable and affordable food in a city where agriculture is far from a reality is definitely a challenge. So we took inspiration from cities like Barcelona, Oslo, Rotterdam, Berlin or the city of Cartaghe in Tunisia where heritage plays an important role. I think we are also now booked as the ladies who asked the most questions….

Biodiversity is central to Barcelona and the “Urban Planner” meticulously keeps track of which “black” spots in the city still need to be colored “Green. Temperature control is crucial when you know that Spain is already experiencing the reality of climate change today. The temperature can quickly get about 8° warmer there. Speaking of baking and roasting. The city’s trees bring coolness. But planting them correctly is important.

The city of Barcelona put the topic of food on the agenda about 2 years ago . In Barcelona, there is no farmland in the city. All food must be imported. Allee pieces of greenery are filled with edible goodies if possible, and by focusing on “community building,” they also include the social aspect. The proceeds are not sold but distributed through organizations to the most underprivileged people or used in the local community schools’ own kitchens. This makes us think.

Barcelona also has its own vineyard that was established as a care farm. The wine bottling plant and accompanying olive grove have an annual turnover of about 1.5 million Euros. At the visitor center, you can also sample local delicacies. The goal is to combine care and nature connection. Promote regional products and especially support with expertise what few local farmers there still are. To this end, 2 additional staff members have been hired to provide advice and support to local farmers. For here, too, the fear is that soon there will be no more farmers. Unfortunately, that sounds very familiar to us.

The city of Oslo also has its “own” farmer on the payroll. This feisty lady from Australia tells her story. How she works with local neighborhoods and associations and also manages to inspire schools to grow their own. The goal is to promote self-reliance and encourage nature connection. That sounds like music to my ears.

Or how a Finnish scientist’s research on “public procurement” inspires government agencies and local governments to also give small-scale “agriculture” a chance to find new markets. The agenda was well filled.

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All this inspiration we are sure to take to our Smuljungle in Aalst. Once we have all the presentations, we will organize our own webinar to share our knowledge? Would you like to join us? Then send an email to or subscribe to our newsletter.

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