by Lara Sibbing
Today, food is no longer just a rural issue. With more than half of the world population living in cities, food is a relatively new topic for cities and especially for municipalities to deal with. This is also the case for the municipality of Ede, which is close to Wageningen. This municipality expressed its ambitions for 2025 in a vision document entitled ‘Ede chooses food’. Frankly, the ambition of the municipality of Ede was to ‘go for food’. But what does that actually mean?
The municipality of Ede is one of the largest in size in the Netherlands – funnily enough though, Ede is officially not even a city, as it never got city rights, as opposed to Wageningen – and besides the actual city (or, village) of Ede, the municipality also encompasses a large rural area with several small villages. It is therefore an interesting place: it includes a city with a rural background that is still vivid, and is colored by a splash of knowledge of agricultural research coming in from Wageningen’s agricultural university; and all of that in one municipality.
This is the context of my internship: Ede chose food, but what type of food, where, when, how and what that food would taste or look like, nobody really knew. What Ede needed was a food strategy. A strategy to add more focus and content to the choice for food. That’s how I ended up with the task of developing a food strategy for Ede. But where to start?
A strategy starts with a vision, or the direction in which you’re going. This was perhaps the hardest, but most important part of the development process and it formed the core of my internship. Co-creation and communication are key here, so I included, talked with, and discussed different topics with many different people. Municipality officials, aldermen, food strategy experts, farmers, entrepreneurs, marketing and communication experts, teachers, chefs, and even the mayor himself have all contributed.
The vision document that is now ready can be seen as a framework for new policy on food and will be presented to the city council before elections in March. This is a great and very exciting opportunity for Ede, since the vision document is a very strong argument for the municipality to embrace food as an entirely new field of policy. Food as a recognized field of policy has the potential to boost urban agriculture, education about healthy and sustainable food at schools, the acquisition of sustainable, innovative agri-food companies, the implementation of a food policy council, and much more.
At this moment, I continue my work developing this food strategy for the municipality, and I have high hopes that, together with the citizens and municipality of Ede, we can get food recognized as an important policy topic.
If you are curious about the importance of a food strategy, the process of developing one, or if you want to know more about the content of the vision of Ede, pay a visit to the food strategy workshop at the Food Otherwise Conference on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 February 2014.