Event Invitation - Sustainable Agriculture and Food

How can we work together to support localisation of food? A highly interactive webinar to learn about opportunities in the EU and beyond.

Event date: 30th October 2020 at 18:00 - 20:00 CET or Brussels time.
Location: Zoom (the link will be sent 1 day before the event)
Organisers: EdgeRyders
REGISTRATION: Edgeryders Forms

Local farming in Central and Eastern Europe: we could look at the past and transform nostalgia into new ways

In the EU less than 10% are farmers under 35 years, but in Eastern Europe many more, and they tend to be different, they are more prone to innovation, to change mindsets and do new things. Most of them do agriculture in a more traditional way, where you are obliged to cope with nature and natural phenomena - floods, pests etc. Agriculture is slow, it cannot be fast, unless you grow vegetables in a greenhouse. Be careful: you cannot grow soy or beans, or wheat (the core of nutrition) in a greenhouse. The idea that greenhouses could feed the whole world is a myth.

When the Berlin Wall fell down, the idea in some Eastern countries has been to transform the big state cooperatives into big enterprises: in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary. They have huge farms that they inherited, in a sense. But in Poland and Romania, it was the opposite: when I was in Cluj 10 years ago, I talked to a professor saying: with the agrarian reform every Romanian wants their own plot of land, but this is not feasible because they were too fragmented. In these countries, you have the big companies - that are not bad - but also the small ones, that want to find new ways and do something on their own - ex. I met shepherds that found a way to sell their milk and other products to local supermarkets. There is this feeling of nostalgia.

But when young farmers come in, they can transform nostalgia into something good.

Are public or private structures, or others, needed to support innovation in agriculture?

Traditionally, innovation happened through researchers studying in the lab and then going to the field to show farmers what can be changed. After the Green Revolution, this has collapsed in the West, where food is no longer an issue of security, but where we think about new things. Corporate funding has replaced public funding, which is not entirely great - when you have public funding, you can do long term things, and bear the weight of asking questions for the environmental and social wellbeing. In corporate world, they want the return of investment, it’s not their job to think in social terms.

The EU has tried to finance and to support bottom up operational groups in the European Innovation Partnership in Agriculture (EIP AGRI). They are conceived as heterogeneous, with farmers, NGOs, researchers. Even with public support, the solutions they find have problems to scale up and be replicable.

The issue of public support now is not giving money, is to interconnect these projects. You have a website with hundreds, thousands of projects, but who’s going to connect the dots? If the state of public power does not do that, someone else has to.

In the webinar, everyone present will share about their project and ask questions to our guest and to the other participants. We want to learn together:

  • how local initiatives are confronted with the effects of covid19
  • how your local governments are supporting or not your work
  • what are the main obstacles for your project or business
  • what collaborations are possible between farmers and local producers, food coops, and platforms for more sustainable local commerce and communities

Webinar Guest:

Angelo di Mambro is a journalist who started focusing on agriculture and food in 2008, after the global price spikes in food commodities. The second wave of price spikes, in 2010, was even more impactful (it was one of the reasons behind the end of ‘bread democracies’ in the MENA region) and he had the chance to write, with others, a book edited by Paolo De Castro, MEP. The work had some little fortune in Italy and was accepted from an important niche British publisher. They were writing about sustainable development, but did not call it as such… Since 2016 Angelo has been covering also the EU news on climate, energy and environment. He is the “Green Deal journalist” for ANSA, the main Italian news agency.

Join our webinar on 30th October at 18:00:

Register here for the session. By registering, you will be directly introduced to our online conversation platform and you can immediately get in touch with others who will be attending.

Who is it for? Food producers, food entrepreneurs, organisations working to coordinate food supply and distribution, educational bodies, researchers, policy makers, and concerned citizens.

EdgeRyders is an international community of entrepreneurs, researchers, policy makers who are affecting change. Our goal is to connect them, and you, with opportunities that support your work.
Join us to learn and make new partnerships!

Interesting discussions on Edgeryders on the topic of food:

Meet the other participants!

How is this all financed?

This event is part of the POPREBEL initiative, funded by the European Commission under grant agreement number 822682 from 2019-2021. This conversation is hosted by Edgeryders, in partnership with University College London (United Kingdom), University Karlova (the Czech Republic), University Jagiellonski (Poland), University of Belgrade (Serbia). Learn more about the project here.

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this is looking really good


Looks great! I will join

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Hi Lyly, I hope this time we finally get to meet, albeit virtually!
Don’t forget to register via the lik above so that we can connect you with other participants ahead of the event,

Anything in particular you would like to learn about? Or perhaps a question to @Angelo?

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To those of you who attended our spring session on food entrepreneurship - perhaps this is of interest to you? @Puja @yannick ?
or to other Belgium food entrepreneurs @mex @Raphael-Molenbike?
We would be very happy to have you as participants: your knowledge of improving short food chains and how to make it sustainable for both farmers and distribution actors is very useful!
Hope you will be joining us,

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I wonder if any of the participants to this event are working on food commons?

I just got linked from Twitter to this article on the P2P Foundation’s site:

The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), what represents 40% of EU budget (52 billion Euro in 2014), deals with food as a for-profit commodity, subsidising the industrial food system and denying the food-producing commons. None of the five relevant regulations that conform the legal/political corpus of the reformed CAP include any mention to “commons”, “common resources” or the “right to food”.

They have a manifesto for what it means for the EU to consider food as commons:

1.- A Declaration of the European Parliament to consider food no longer as a commodity but a commons, public good and human right to be included in national legal frames & public policies.

2.- Set EU targets for food provisioning in 2030 : 60% private sector, 25% self-production (collective actions), 15% state-provisioning through Universal Food Coverage (see point 12).

3.- European Citizen Initiative to consider food as a human right, a public good and a commons in European policy and legal frameworks. Policy priorities should be geared towards safeguarding farmer’s livelihood and eater’s rights to adequate and healthy food.

4.- Food commons and right to food in the CAP reform with specific references and a recognition of the importance of the food-producing commons in Europe.

5.- Local, organic, freshly-made Schools Meals as universal entitlements , governed by parents and school staff

6.- Promote Food Policy Councils at all levels through participatory democracies, financial seed capital and enabling laws. Once enough numbers are achieved, an EU Food Policy Council could be established to monitor the reform yet-to-be Commons Food Policy.

7.- Farmers and fishermen as public servants . Food producers to be employed by the State to provide food regularly to satisfy the State needs (i.e. for hospitals, schools, army, ministries, etc).

8.- Guaranteed daily bread for all . Establishing public bakeries where every citizen can get access to a bread loaf every day (if needed or willing to).

9.- Universal Food Coverage to guarantee a minimum amount of food to every EU citizen, similar to universal health coverage and universal primary education.

10.- Patenting living organisms should be banned as an ethical minimum standard.

11.- Food speculation should be banned , because it does not contribute to improving the food system.

12.- Stricter and innovative rules to avoid food waste (binding regulations)

13.- All agricultural research funded with public funds to be in the public domain .

14.- Food-related subsidies to support innovative civic actions for food such as Territories of Commons, community-supported agriculture, food buying groups, open agricultural knowledge, etc.

15.- European Parliament to elaborate a communication to call for an EU food bank network that is universal, accountable, compulsory and not voluntary, random and targeted, shifting from charitable food to food as a right.


Do you agree? @angelo: do you think among the EIP Agri projects which are funded we could find more commons oriented projects to connect to?

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Hi Noemi,

I may agree with some points, I disagree with some others, and the rest are too vague. The concrete examples they could give are far more interesting than the ‘manifesto’. Personally, I liked the empirical approach in our last talk on the topic a lot. We started from a problem, a practical one, and try to find out practical solutions. This is why I suggested involving the EIP, because finding practical solutions is what they try to do.
In any case, it’s up to you to make a choice about shifting from this approach to a more conceptual one. Another option is inviting to give concrete examples, to appreciate the concept “at work”.
Sorry, but I don’t know if a project on “Commons” is in the Database. I haven’t such detailed knowledge of the vast DB they have :slight_smile:

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Of course, fully agree. I also enjoy starting from the practical problems, but I found it an interesting read.

I sent some invitations to EIP Agri, and hoping they can also put us in touch with some of their projects.
@Wolha, our community manager in Poland looked into it a bit. Wolha, did you find any particular project interesting while scanning their repository on the website…?

Hi Noemi,
I got a quick scan of the EIP-Agri DB and they do not seem to have projects on “Commons”. They have more if you want to talk about practical solutions within the current framework.

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I have found several contacts in their database, like agricultural consulting or food production firms and sent the invites. In my opinion this trade and farming community in the mountains is the most interesting as an example of regional sustainability, but I still wait for the reply Redirecting...

Another example of cooperation is a project @matthias has been working on in Germany: a platform for shared food supply, if I remember well? Matt: could you point us to some links, and tell us if the platform is already up and running? What was the reasoning behind it and what made it possible: involving some key actors I suspect? and the funding opportunity?

This is for @Dmjonic: when your registered you said that
‘‘It is very important to motivate small farmers into growing local, traditional foods.’’

You are from Serbia, a country where I suspect like in other Eastern European countries, the traditional way was the way… like Angelo says in his introduction above.
So how does your organisation manage to motivate them? Are there cooperative structures which make it easier for them to work and be stronger together?

I don’t remember that I mentioned this, but probably you mean OpenFoodBank, a friend’s project inspired by the pandemic-induced worldwide food shortages and food waste and made possible through the German government’s #WirVsVirus hackathon and the funding opportunities that followed it. I haven’t been involved much with this in practice, but still about three weeks total until now.

The idea is to have an effective platform for large-scale food donations and food rescue … which is both the same here, just from a different perspective. The platform is open source software, with source code here. There’s also a logistics platform connected to it (still in development) to also move the food around using donated spare capacity of logistics companies.

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Hi @noemi

Happy to connect with you in the platform. Hopefully we can meet in real life one day. I have seen @nadia and I met @alberto recently. I spoke about ILVO with him, and the Green Deal.

I have registered to the event, and I have a question for @angelo
I am curious to know what parts of the Food Commons manifesto he disagrees with. I was a member of the peer to peer foundation at some point :wink:

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Hi Lily,

No doubt that “Food as Commons” opens new perspectives to think about food systems. Maybe I am wrong, but, as far as I know it, the Food-Commons approach is mostly an umbrella-term to give coherence to very diverse experiences. I think we need to learn more from experiences and practices, to find an appropriate conceptual synthesis that is effective in political action. My curiosity is: in terms of agricultural practices (agroecology etc.), food processing practices (localisation etc.), and distribution practices (sharing, GAS) what is the added value of the Commons approach compared to the one of “Food Sovereignty” movements in the 1990s and 2000s?
The revival of Commons theory is not uniform and this may be a strength in analytical terms. But at this stage, that does not help in communication. And a manifesto is mostly about communication. This one, for instance, mixes up principles and actions and the levels are quite confused. Then, I cannot understand things like being against “industrial systems” and then promoting “organic” (point 5). The organic sector is an industrial system.
The manifesto is focused on food availability and production more than food-as-a-system. As the CAP… I don’t find a reference to eating habits and culture. The manifesto considers this aspect implicit but I find that food as a shared culture is a pre-condition for any “commonisation”. No reference to food quality (I intend an approach to quality able to break up the “quality as safety” and “quality as uniqueness” monopolies), and diversity. Education is mentioned by accident, just as a term of comparison. Weak references on how to involve not-producers (maybe just point 5 and 6).

Point 1: In 2000s and 2010s, many countries in the world put food as a human and universal right into Constitutions (considering it as an entitlement). Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa… have been the least able to resolve the imbalances of their food system since the declarations. If you think that this recognition is a game-changer in the EU (1st Point in the manifesto is an important position), then, why asking for a generic EP “declaration” (maybe meaning a resolution?) instead of proposing to change the EU Treaties?
Point 2: whence and why those numbers? I can’t understand the reference to Point 12 for clarification - potential contradiction “XX% of private sector” and “no speculation” point 11.
Point 3: An ECI on the same goal as point 1 - an ECI would be much more stimulating. Launching, making the ECI approved by the EU and winning 1mln signatures would oblige the European Commission to respond. Imagine if the EC starts a real dialogue on that. Politicians go (EP), bureaucracy (EC) stays. Maybe a better result than a political declaration. IMHO.
Point 4: The CAP framework - unfortunately - is not that of a “food system policy.” This is fixed in the EU Treaties (another reason why the call for a Treaty change makes sense). Yet, some tools are available. Rural Development Policy (the so-called 2nd pillar of the CAP) is decentralized and has interesting opportunities (if States want to activate the measures) for short supply chains, in-situ conservation of non-commercial plant and animal varieties, citizen participation (LAGs). In that context, one could think about concrete ways for fulfilling point 14, for example, if any interest in incremental change. But also this aspect is not clear.

I could go ahead, but to cut it short: I find principles exposed in points 10 and 13 sufficiently clear to agree.

Hope I answered

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Hi Noemi,

Just a check. Our meeting is postponed to Wednesday, right?




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Hi @Dmjonic that would be great, thanks for the understanding - same time, 10 am?

(for others reading: this is slightly off topic and unrelated to the main date of the event 30th Oct - which of course remains unchanged).

I’m happy to announce that Pacôme Elouna Eyenga from the EIT Agri Service Point is joining our event!

@Paco21: it will be a pleasure to have you, welcome here as well, we spoke a little on email and on the phone!

I’m curious what are EIP Agri’s challenges in the near future?
Angelo’s point is that we could think about ways to better connect the projects EIP Agri is already supporting - how do you personally see this need?

The issue of public support now is not giving money, is to interconnect these projects. You have a website with hundreds, thousands of projects, but who’s going to connect the dots? If the state of public power does not do that, someone else has to.

Hi everyone,

Thanks very much to welcome me in your community.

The near future of EIP-AGRI as policy instrument is bright as you should have seen in the leagal proposals. The real challenge I see is to make sure the knowledge / innovation reachs the local farmer and he applies it being convinced it will make difference.

Connecting EIP-AGRI projects should start at regional and national levels. it happened several times that projects dealing with the same issues and from the same member states didn’t know each other. They met the first time in EIP-AGRI events at European level. Another dimension is the cross-border or macro-regional one. In many cases, the challenge/issue faced by local actors (farmers…) doesn’t stop at the border.
It should be somehow required to describe in the project application form a strategy to connect the project with other relevant initiatives during & beyond the implementation preriod.
We should consider public support as an incentive to kick off a process or an action. Without public support, concerned actors must engage in connecting the dots.


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Dear Angelo,

Thanks very much for suggesting EIP-AGRI’s involvement.
I confirm we don’t have such projects as far as I know. EIP-AGRI is mostly oriented to practice - practical & concrete solutions - and this is what the local farmers and actors need in their daily work.