It’s Monday, 26th of June in Turin – Italy’s fourth largest city. An exceptional heatwave has hit the city, ice cream shops experience a high demand these days. FUSILLI partners had been warned by the organisers of the 6th FUSILLI project meeting to pack light. Around lunchtime, the partners slowly arrive one by one at the meeting venue in the city centre. This meeting is the biggest so far with 90 participants from every corner of Europe: Oslo in the North, Kharkiv in the East, Athens in the South, Castelo Branco in the West and all other places in between.
The 3-day meeting has two main goals: to re-align the project partners on their mission to reach the set project objectives and to take a deep dive into Turin’s local food system. The agenda is a mixture between internal workshops for the project partners and presentations by stakeholders of Turin’s food system, including site visits to the most important places where the transformation of Turin’s food system thrives.
Day 1: the power of data and governance
In FUSILLI, we often talk about the Urban Food Plan. It includes a multitude of activities carried out in the cities‘ Living Labs along the entire food chain. FUSILLI’s objective is to share these individual plans with other cities and find out which activities are successful. A big part of our work is therefore evaluation – a crucial task in innovation projects that is present internally throughout the entire project duration but only gets the chance to shine externally at the end when conclusions can be drawn. A presentation of Turin’s Food Atlas and the Food Metrics Report by the University of Turin underlines the importance of collecting and evaluation data. With the help of these two documents as a sound basis, recommendations for policies can be drawn both on a local but also on a higher administrative level. Another crucial driving force for the transformation of food systems is governance which we also consider as one part of the food chain in our Living Labs. Representatives from the Interdepartmental Food Working Group, the PUNTO al cibo Network and EsTà provide insights both from the case of Turin and other cities which allows the group to reflect together on common challenges and potential solutions.
Day 2: Training brains and senses
Day two, the heatwave is in full force, strong coffee and a full agenda awaits the FUSILLI partners in the morning. The group starts with reflections and discussions on key tasks in the project: Learning, Maintenance and Growth:
Sharing learnings from Living Labs as mentioned when talking about evaluation can of course only be done once the learnings have been made and structured in the project itself. Our research partners accompany the FUSILLI cities in this learning journey and present the progress of their work on this day. This also includes learning from each other – other FUSILLI cities, cities from other Food projects and external coaches. The FUSILLI partners responsible for this present an impressive set of occasions for this exchange, evaluate the past events and look ahead at events to come. If you follow our project closely, you might have already heard of our webinar series „Hungry for Exchange“ or our recent online conference „Feeding Cities“.
Maintenance and Growth
We have 1,5 years left in FUSILLI which is a long time but we have to consider what happens after the project ends and develop strategies to not only keep developed measures alive but even more importantly to give them a boost for further growth. This is the task for our FUSILLI partners responsible for exploitation and financial schemes who present the status quo of their work in Turin.
After intense discussions, it is time to experience with our senses. In other words: time for a site visit! The first stop is at Locanda nel Parco. The restaurant and community space in the neighbourhood of Mirafiori is home to two key actors of Turin’s Living Lab: Fondazione Mirafiori and the University of Gastronomic Sciences Pollenzo. For lunch, the restaurant serves a menu with innovative circular dishes: the celebrated Circular Pizza with seasonal ingredients usually regarded as food waste, beer brewed with leftover bread and local honey produced in the neighbourhood. The next stop is Orti Generali, a huge green space which was transformed from an abandoned park with a residual agricultural area to a park of urban gardens open to citizens and visitors thanks to a concession notice from the City of Turin. A place for gardening, education, community and for slowing down. The inspirational place serves as an open air workshop space for the last activity of the day: identifying drivers and barriers for changing food behaviour of consumers and what role municipalities can take to support the transformation.
Day 3: Bottom-up or top-down?
The last meeting day, FUSILLI partners are now used to high temperatures and strong coffee. The morning begins with an internal training for the online Knowledge Community Platform. The platform is one of FUSILLI’s most important results as it gathers the learnings from all FUSILLI cities in a structured way. The training’s intention at the Turin meeting is also to gather feedback on usability before the platform will be officially launched to the public.
The training is followed by a discussion on developing business models for FUSILLI results and an online exercise on designing Food Strategies in cities. Using the reflective momentum, it’s time for a creative workshop. It invites the FUSILLI partners to express how a transformed food system can look like and how effective collaboration can overcome challenges that seem impossible to solve at first glance.
A presentation of the local Turin project RePoPP shows a solution to the challenge of food waste. The community projects cooperates with refugees who collect unsold food from Europe’s largest open air market Porta Palazzo, distribute it to people in need and organise a community program including cooking workshops with famous local chefs.
The day concludes with presentations of two activists from the social movements Point to Food and Slow Food Youth Network, and a reflection session on how to involve social movements in the development of Food Policy Councils.
The time has come to say goodbye. FUSILLI partners grab one last cookie, arrange calls for a follow up from the project meeting, wish everyone a relaxing summer and head back home. It will need a couple of days to digest the effect of the meeting with many new acquaintances, new food (for thought) and a true deep dive into Turin’s food system. The date for the next meeting is already marked in the partners‘ calendars: on 13-15 November, the 7th FUSILLI project meeting will take place in the Portuguese City of Castelo Branco, followed by an international conference „Farm to Fork“.
Stay tuned for more FUSILLI updates!