Saving the world – Cultivating the city: Invitation to the 14th Weihenstephan forum (21 & 22 October 2021)

How food production in the city contributes to a sustainable future

21 & 22 October, 2021 [Hybrid Event]

The industrialization of our global food system and growing urbanization not only exacerbate the effects of climate change and accelerate the loss of biodiversity, but also significantly cause the spatial and mental decoupling of food production and consumption.

Against the backdrop of the associated socio-ecological challenges, a “renaissance” of various forms of urban agriculture can be observed worldwide over the last decade, accompanied by the emergence of new multifunctional productive ecosystems in urban spaces. Especially in the Global North, the manifold forms and different dimensions of urban agriculture increasingly show potentials how negative effects along the food value chain can be reduced and how ecological, economic and social added values can be created.

The 14th Weihenstephan Symposium will therefore revolve around a provocative question:

“Urban agriculture – A trend phenomenon or transformative element for the development of resilient cities and food systems?”

To explore this controversial question, the professorship for Urban Productive Ecosystems at Technical University of Munich invites practitioners from science, business, politics and civil society to debate their expertise and experience in the form of keynote speeches and subsequent discussion. Different forms and aspects of urban production – their limits and potentials – will be critically examined and their practical potential discussed from ecological, social and economic points of view.

We invite you to participate in the forum and discuss with us – participation is open to the interested public.

Registration & Participation

Due to the current Covid-19 related regulations, the event will take place hybrid, i.e., with a limited number of participants at TUM Campus Weihenstephan in Freising (Konferenzsaal iGZW, 3G rules apply) and the possibility to participate in the full program via Zoom. Please note that registration for on-site participation is required by October 18 to allow for planning the logistics and catering according to Covid rules. All admitted registrants will receive final information and the access link for Zoom closer to the event. The event will be held partly in German (GER) and partly in English (ENG) with no simultaneous translation. It is open to all and is free of charge.

Registration for participation in presence or in digital form for both event days:

If you have any questions, please contact

Request for a MSc student on leadership of place

Picture leadershipThe Rural Sociology Group is looking for a MSc student who is willing to do his/her master thesis research on leadership in 2 Dutch regions in the context of an international comparative research in the spring of 2016.
The central question is how leadership plays a role in rural and metropolitan regional development. Continue reading

Stage project / afstudeer mogelijkheid in de stad Groningen

De Werkgroep Pad de 2 Wijken in Groningen willen in het zuidelijke deel van de stad Groningen een communicatie aanpak voor de twee stadswijken Helpman en De Wijert. Doel is de bewoners meer te betrekken bij de aanleg en beheer van groen in de wijk. Dit project vindt plaats in het kader van een programma gericht op samenwerking tussen ‘groene scholen’ en heeft als nevendoel een aanpak te ontwikkelen voor het in kaart brengen van de betekenis die mensen geven aan groen in hun wijk.Helpman Wijert

Helpman en De Wijert zijn stadswijken in het zuidelijke deel van de stad Groningen met veel groen in de vorm van parkjes, groenstroken en plantsoenen. in Wijert zuid, Wijert noord en Helpman en Villabuurt wonen geheel verschillende bevolkingsgroepen. 10% van de bewoners heeft een niet-Westerse achtergrond. Op sommige plekken wordt het groen opgeslokt door bebouwing of verwaarloosd. Er zijn in de buurt ook bijzondere stukjes groen, zoals ‘vierkantemetertuintjes’, de gezamenlijke moestuin en de kruidentuin, groen dat door en met de buurt is bedacht en ontwikkeld en nu ook gezamenlijk wordt onderhouden.

Continue reading

Politics of place making in urban farming – an essay

By Anke de Vrieze

Last trimester, I had the opportunity to join the Capita Selecta course `A Global Sense of Place´, taught by Joost Jongerden and Dirk Roep. From my current working experience in the field of urban agriculture, the subject of the course – place-based approaches for sustainable development- interested me and proved valuable. In the course, different approaches to ‘place’ were discussed and related to culture, politics, economics and leadership. As we were a small group of students, we met in a weekly reading group, to discuss the literature and our written assignments.

Personally, I was most inspired by the work of Doreen Massey. Her perspective on place and space is a relational one, as she describes places as ‘temporary constellations’ or ‘bundles of space-time trajectories’. In one of her articles, she connects this relational perspective to ‘geographies of responsibility’ and shows how the ‘global’ is embedded locally as well. Taking the example of the City of London, i.e. it’s financial district, she argues against generalised understandings of the local as a product of the global, and demonstrates that indeed much of what we call ‘the global’ stems from local areas, such as the City of London. This leads her to plea for alternative globalisations, based on ‘a challenge of place’. I think, Massey’s perspective can prove meaningful for anyone studying ‘place’, whether it be in urban or rural settings.

For the final essay, ‘Growing community? Urban agriculture in the context of place-based urban development’ of the course, I discussed the ‘politics of place-making’ in a case of urban farming. By drawing on the example of an neighbourhood-based urban agriculture project, I showed how the different perspectives on place, as employed by various actors involved, creates a dynamic fields of interests regarding the ability of UA to address urban issues, and to achieve sustainable community development. Based on this short analysis, I argued for the need of a relational perspective on place, taking into account place-frames and positionality of actors, in (future) cases of neighbourhood-based urban farming.

Anke de Vrieze, anthropologist and project coordinator of FARMING THE CITY (, contact:

Metabolic rift

Organic recycling was part of the urban ecology during the middle ages. “However, as cities grew larger, their self-regulatory ecosystems began to break down” Carolyn Steel writes in her instructive chapter ‘Waste’ in Hungry City (2008:251). “If the ‘filth and muck’ of fourteenth-century Coventry caused a nuisance, that of London, a city 10 times the size, can be readily imagined.” (ibid). The other side of the coin was the state of agriculture, which was facing a rapidly decreasing soil fertility (see earlier blog 18-8). It was what Marx called ‘metabolic rift’ a rift in the metabolism of the human relation to nature through labor which “disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth, i.e. it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing” he wrote (cited in Foster 1999:379).

Marx was not alone in his opinion and he himself was greatly influenced by Justus von Liebig. Proposals to compost human waste as part of the design of the urban waste disposal system were propagated and sometimes tried in the UK, France and Germany (see Steel chapter Waste) and in the Netherlands (in Groningen see earlier blog 16-8). The sewage system with no in-built recycling won, most of the world sewage is dumped in the ocean untreated. The metabolic rift in terms of Marx widened and its effect is only delayed by chemical fertilizers and global transport. Yet, “nutrients found in sewage are a finite commodity” (Steel 2008: 259). In a few decades when the mines with phosphates are empty and the oil has leaked away in the sea, human sewage will most probably become a valuable resource again.