Swedish farm somewhere

Building partnerships between rural peripheries and the urban core

Building partnerships between rural peripheries and the urban core

This was the aim of an EU-funded project in Gothenburg

On 6 November, the European Commission reported on the results of an initiative, which it had partially funded, aimed at developing the economy network surrounding the food-value chain in and around the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The project, called Urban Rural Gothenburg (and also Stadslandet in Swedish), had a duration of 3 years (2017-2019) with the purpose of engendering a new model of green business development, which would involve in the process all relevant actors in society, such as the municipalities, the private sector, local residents, civil society organizations and academia – a penta-helix model.

This kind of project capitalized on several contemporary trends

In recent years there is a growing demand for consumption, not only of organic food, but also of locally-grown food. Gothenburg is no exception to this phenomenon and since it was known that the City owns plenty of available agricultural land in its vicinity where food could be grown, the authorities saw an opportunity to foster not only economic development along those lines, but also provide space for social inclusion and low-carbon innovation.

However, we need to think more broadly about the food business here. This goes much further than only farming, grocery stores and restaurants. The much touted ‘farm to table’ journey often also involves logistics technicians, IT experts, marketing professionals and recycling enterprises.

That is why with a view towards this holistic understanding, the project was based around five innovative test beds and four local hubs, located in north-eastern Gothenburg. The goal was to come up with working solutions aimed at small and medium-sized companies that are involved in all the steps of the food value chain.

The main results of the three-year initiative were summarized as follows:

Much research was conducted through the test bed laboratories, one of which released a report called ‘Sustainable food in Gothenburg’, which provided a study on the development of carbon-neutral logistics system that can be applied to cities and rural areas.

Ways and strategies of increasing tourists from the cities to the rural areas were discussed at workshops and collaborative events. Likewise, the opposite movement of local agricultural products towards the city markets and increasing their share among the offerings there was the subject of future business models.

There was also a forum that included leading academics, which resulted in the publication of the book ‘Anatomy of a 21st century sustainability project – the untold stories’, with lessons learned from each of the hubs.

An important part was the organization of workshops in order to find new ways of sharing on the ground knowledge with academia and making research more applicable and pragmatic to real-world situations.



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