Localising the food economy in Arnhem?

Von Thunen’s famous ring model

Can the city-region of Arnhem be self-suffient for food? Certainly not for meat, but surprisingly for quite a few other product categories such as potatoes, eggs and most probably vegetables. And suppose we reduce our meat intake, could the region then also produce wheat for bread consumption?

Today five students of the Academic Consultancy Training course presented their recommendations to Stichting CASA in Arnhem. CASA is a non-profit for Architecture and urban development in Arnhem which focused on food and the city this year with a program called ‘Taste the city’. CASA commissioned research with the Science Shop on the question of regional food production and consumption in the region Arnhem and development of a food strategy.

The multi-disciplinairy team worked eight weeks from research proposal to recommendations. I focus now on their calculation exercise to estimate regional production and the theoretical consumption needs. The region Arnhem- Nijmegen was taken because this is an existing governance level of 2 cities and 18 surrounding municipalities. This region has a density of 707 persons per square kilometer which means there is only 0.06 hectare per person available. The group translated national statistics on yields per hectare and regional land-use knowledge into rough estimates on regional production and contrasted this with the total number of people and their average consumption pattern (national statistics again).

Of course these averages, such as on consumption, are sweeping generalisations, but the stark contrast between sufficient and insufficient availability was remarkable. Insufficient production is mainly related to meat and human consumption granes. For pork and chicken the rest of the Netherlands can fill this gap (without taking fodder into account), which is not possible for beef and granes, for which we are dependent on other countries to a large extent. The estimated real regionalised consumption is very hard to make. General distribution channels are not focused on regional products and to estimate the volume of on-farm selling points, farm shops and other alternative channels will be a new research on its own. As well as on smart micro-logistics, although many inventive solutions are on their way. However, I can imagine that soon the citizen collectives for solar energy enterprises, local green distribution solutions such as electric cars or bikes and trendy consumers in search for fresh and fair food will form a powerful coalition.

One thought on “Localising the food economy in Arnhem?

  1. Re. the very last statement: ‘soon’ needs to be very soon, swift & smart, in order to realize some sort of resilience in access to quality AND affordable food, and -simultaneously- re-educate and re-inform light-green citizens (i.e. followers). No luxury challenge since recently the Ahm/Nijm area saw its approx 8th McDonalds branch emerge. The urled ‘Puurland’ now in pilot, is advertised as an urban promise. Yet, regional chains, fresh-markets, auctions and and off-farm sale on non-negligable scale have existed way before regional food chains were defined / described by scientists, governors and urban architects. And here, some old-school (rural/urban) logistics may be dusted, refurbished and adapted to modern practice, serving this regional resilience aim.

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