What we eat in the city creates the framework for agriculture and the good life in the countryside - and vice versa. This is why the Food Organization of Denmark launched an initiative to build a strong local food community in Aarhus and Copenhagen areas. The aim is to strengthen the link between country and city and support a diverse local food production toward a sustainable food system.
Launched in spring 2020, Madfælleskabet, "the Food Community," is a local partnering system that supports economic, social, and environmental sustainability in both country and city. The food community works to ensure that the catchment area produces more of the city's food and a greater understanding of and insight into production forms.
The many thousands of meals produced every day in professional commercial kitchens should be climate-friendly, healthy, and tasty - and preferably with local origins. The food community focuses on local food in season, preferably organic, grown sustainably in terms of climate, biodiversity, clean drinking water, and soil. When meals in urban public kitchens are more green, organic, and sustainable, food demand will change.
The food community is organized as a committed partnership, where all members contribute to the joint work. The Food Community's overall strategy is laid by the steering group, consisting of mayors and regional councilors from the Food Community members. The local anchoring and progress of the initiatives are ensured by the working group, which professional staff members put together. The Food Organization of Denmark acts as the secretariat for the Food Community, where they are responsible for organizing and running activities.
In the region surrounding Aarhus, Midtjylland, the partners of the food community are:
- Food Organization of Denmark
- Region Midtjylland
- Aarhus Kommune
- Syddjurs Kommune
- Norddjurs Kommune
The Food Community is all about local produce. But increasing local trade does not happen by itself. That is why the Food Community organizes the Book a Field speed-dating to strengthen the collaboration between producers of vegetables and actors from the public and private kitchens, such as canteens, hotels, and restaurants. The goal is to create new relationships, connections, and agreements.
These foodservice actors are gathered around the same table for one day for conferences, discussions, and speed-dating to exchange on their needs and challenges and to find new sales partnerships. During the speed-dating, each participant can expect six meetings for ten minutes with local stakeholders. The idea is simple: try to make the perfect match in terms of needs and size so the buyers can reserve a field from producers. Then producer and foodservice player plan together which crops are to be grown in the field and used in the chain's kitchens in question. They can even ask for technical specificities of vegetables, such as form and size, to correspond to their peeling machine.
After the event, the Food Community ensures a follow-up with participants to take the discussion one step further and make sure they can make a deal. This demand-driven approach is based on the fact that production develops in step with the city's and the market's increasing needs. More agreements on food purchase for the city's public and private kitchens from producers in the Food Community will contribute to more countryside jobs and sustainable consumption in the cities.
The Book a Field events were tested with great success in Copenhagen in Autumn 2020. The two first events gathered around 50 participants each. The local producers represented were mainly vegetable producers. In 2021, new Book a Field speed-dating will be organized in Aarhus and Copenhagen areas and include a wide range of food producers.
Besides, the Food community is also working on setting up 2021 events focusing on plant proteins and how they can more easily find their way to the restaurants' kitchens. And there are plans for the Food Community's activities to be part of many food events in Denmark, including Food Week in Aarhus, to raise public awareness.