Project launched to support EU urban food sharing initiatives

03 April 2023

CULTIVATE, a four-year project to increase understanding of urban food-sharing initiatives, was launched recently at Trinity College Dublin (23 March 2023). Taking in 19 partners, including collaborators from the ADAPT Centre, CULTIVATE aims to increase awareness and knowledge of food sharing initiatives, understand what drives or hampers their practice, and foster sustainability, inclusion, and resilience in urban and peri-urban food systems through food sharing.

Funded by Horizon Europe, this €10 million project will develop a “Food-Sharing Compass”, a support platform for food sharing initiatives, policymakers, researchers, and citizens. This will supply five free-to-use ‘tools’ to help all stakeholders navigate diverse food-sharing landscapes and cultures, and to understand, develop, and strengthen sustainable food sharing. 

At present, the activities of food sharing initiatives are often hampered by complex, fragmented food governance, uncertain finance and insecure tenure. 

Starting in three ‘hub cities’ (Milan, Barcelona and Utrecht) CULTIVATE will extend its tools into six ‘spoke cities’ (Dublin, Brighton, Lisbon, Brno, Freiburg, Athens) and ultimately launch them for use by any city in Europe. 

The 19 partners involved include four universities, five city councils, two international sustainability networks and seven charity/social enterprise partners.  

Dublin partners include FoodCloud, a social enterprise that connects companies with surplus food to charities, as well as Dublin City Council, Trinity and DCU (Dublin City University). 

This project builds directly on the success of Prof. Anna Davies’ award-winning SHARECITY project, which ran from 2016 to 2021 to assess the practicality and sustainability of food-sharing systems.  Project lead Anna Davies, Trinity Professor and Chair of Geography, Environment and Society, said: “The ancient practice of food sharing provides ways of growing, cooking, eating and redistributing surplus food collaboratively that can create many benefits for people and the planet. CULTIVATE will work with contemporary food sharing entrepreneurs, local authorities, food sharing initiatives, researchers and citizens to help identify, support and enact social innovation for sustainable and resilient urban and peri-urban food systems in the 21st Century.” 

The five tools are: 

  1. The SHARECITY200 Database: an interactive automated mapping, tracking and monitoring database of food sharing initiatives that will add more than 100 new locations to the SHARECITY100 Database;
  2. The Food Sharing Calculator: which enables comprehensive and holistic assessment of the costs, benefits and impacts of food sharing for all stakeholders;
  3. The Menu of Good Governance: which provides options for developing policy making which facilitates sustainable food sharing;
  4. The Library of Citizen Engagement: which supports establishing, expanding and maintaining inclusive participation in sustainable food sharing;
  5. The sustainable food sharing Community of Practice: which will be established through a bespoke Amplification Programme to optimise the potential for mutual learning and exploitation of the Food Sharing Compass well beyond the project.