Between ambitions and actions: how citizens navigate the entrepreneurial process of co-producing sustainable urban food futures

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Springer Nature
Cities increasingly envision sustainable future food systems. The realization of such futures is often understood from a planning perspective, leaving the role of entrepreneurship out of scope. The city of Almere in the Netherlands provides a telling example. In the neighborhood Almere Oosterwold, residents must use 50% of their plot for urban agriculture. The municipality formulated an ambition that over time, 10% off all food consumed in Almere must be produced in Oosterwold. In this study, we assume the development of urban agriculture in Oosterwold is an entrepreneurial process, i.e. a creative (re)organization that is ongoing and intervenes in daily life. To understand how this entrepreneurial process helps to realize sustainable food futures, this paper explores what futures for urban agriculture residents of Oosterwold prefer and deem possible and how these futures are organized in the present. We use futuring to explore possible and preferable images of the future, and to backcast those images to the present day. Our findings show residents have different perspectives of the future. Furthermore, they are capable in formulating specific actions to obtain the futures they prefer, but have trouble committing to the actions themselves. We argue this is the result of a temporal dissonance, a myopia where residents have trouble looking beyond their own situation. It shows imagined futures must fit with the lived experiences of citizens in order to be realized. We conclude that urban food futures need planning and entrepreneurship to be realized since they are complementary social processes.
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agriculture and Human Values, 2023, available online at: . Keywords: food; sustainable; futuring; entrepeneurship; urban agriculture; Almere; Netherlands.
van der Gaast, K., Jansma, J.E. & Wertheim-Heck, S. Between ambitions and actions: how citizens navigate the entrepreneurial process of co-producing sustainable urban food futures. Agric Hum Values (2023).