The FUSILLI project steers European urban areas towards sustainable food systems and supports urban policies that promote them. A total of 34 partners from 12 cities and other organisations have been working on the topic for 3.5 years. One of the most important tasks of the project is to make recommendations to decision-makers and act as ambassadors for a sustainable food system. Participation, innovations and experimentation are also at the core of the project in Tampere’s living labs.

The production, sale and consumption of food are part of a complex food system that is also influenced by regulations, practices, values and attitudes. Many private actors, public bodies and institutions, as well as citizens participate in the operation of the food system.  

Inviting city decision-makers, educational institutions, students, researchers and residents to develop food systems allows Living Labs to bring together the needs of target groups for the innovative experiments of the project.

Significant number of results in partner cities

Tampere hosted a period meeting for partners from San Sebastian, Nilufer, Oslo, Kolding, Turin, Castelo Branco, Differdange, Rijeka, Kharkiv, Athens, Rome, and beyond. An in-person meeting is always good to come together and reflect once again on the concrete results and best practices from each Living Lab.

We were lucky to be greeted by Pekka Salmi, Deputy Mayor of the City, who stated that in addition to climate and environmental impacts, food plays a significant role in promoting the well-being and health of residents in the City of Tampere. In addition to the statutory free school meals, the City of Tampere also offers free lunch to children under the age of 16 in summer in parks around the city. According to Salmi, this is a significant investment by the city for the benefit of children and families.

Emilia Järvinen from Vegemi explained how food education is promoted in early childhood education in a concrete and innovative way.  The goal is for children and young people to get used to eating vegetable-based foods and tasting different flavours. Encouraging the consumption of vegetables and fruits begins already in kindergarten.  

For lunch, Matliisa Lehtinen and Susanna Järvinen introduced the consortium to a Finnish speciality, the school meal system.  School meals have been offered in Finland for 75 years. At the Alexander School where lunch was offered, Pirkanmaan Voimia produces the meals. They are an important catering service provider based in Tampere, producing more than 12 million meals annually.

TAMK Catering Studio living lab connects students, companies and service providers

Tampere has two innovative FUSILLI living labs: TAMK Catering Studio and AhlmanEdu, although living lab activities have been carried out around the city from the Market Hall to the main library Metso. 

– At Living Labs, we take all phases of the food system in a more sustainable, fair and equitable direction, from food production and processing to logistics, consumption, food waste, waste management and administration, said Mikael Lindell, Team Coach at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. He pointed out that the transformation of the food system requires open dialogue in many directions.  

Education is the key to change in the food industry. TAMK Catering Studio Living Lab is a learning environment for future service business and hospitality management students. There companies, service providers, teachers and students can experiment and develop.


The participants enjoy a tasty lunch at TAMK Catering Studio Living Lab.

The perspectives of food producers and consumers are important

On the last day, we got the chance to see AhlmanEdu’s unique campus which offers vocational training, art and game training and coaching, targeted training for professionals, as well as local food, meeting and accommodation services.  

“Our FUSILLI living lab consists of a 1,000 m2 permanent bench plantation based on a biointensive farming method, bioactive compost and a Food Club. The principles of regenerative agriculture are central to us, said Dora Tkalec, project manager and expert in composting and soil nutrient systems.

Oskari Pikkarainen presented AhlmanEdu’s FUSILLI Living Lab.

Her colleague Oskari Pikkarainen, a multi-talent in food cultivation, presented the biointensive bench farming:

“Every square metre is used efficiently and systematically, and this serves as a scalable example for professionals and home gardeners alike.  

The perspectives of food producers and consumers are also important. Promoting local food systems, direct access to food and citizen participation through urban gardens and extended market hours can effectively combat rising food prices. 

The consortium gathering for the last day of the meeting

Impact is strengthened – the results of work are visible and growing

During the remaining six months, the project will produce more key usable results and impacts. One of the most important tasks is to make recommendations to decision-makers and legal experts and act as ambassadors for a sustainable food system. Communication and dissemination of results are emphasized. 

“In each of our 12 European cities, we are promoting a sustainable food system in innovative ways. Our results are starting to show and grow. We let the world know what we have done and achieved with the FUSILLI project,” said Julia Pinedo Gil of CARTIF, the project coordinator.

In Tampere, active FUSILLI project actors have acted as ambassadors for residents, decision-makers and companies and organisations operating in the food system. Dialogue and close cooperation bode well. The new practices of the project will live on even after the project has ended, as the city’s various actors share the same goal: a more sustainable food system for Tampere residents and nearby residents. 


Photos: Snapshots from the 3-day meeting

Modified from original text published at: 

Author: Hanna Ylli

Main Photo: Marjo-Riitta Alitalo

Other photos: Canesia Amarysti and Hanna Ylli