Four prize winners have been announced for the Edible Cities Network Awards, a programme celebrating urban food initiatives around the world that are creating meaningful change in their local food systems. Winners are awarded a funded place at the Edible Cities Network Conference in Barcelona in March 2023, where their projects will be presented and they will get the chance to connect with other sustainability pioneers. The winners were chosen by a jury of food systems and green city practitioners, as well as through a peer-to-peer voting process. Applications were received from 18 different countries across 4 continents.
Winner of Most Innovative Individual Action – CUIB, Romania
Operating as a plant-based bistro and a community-space, CUIB is a hub for sustainability in Romania’s second-biggest city, Iași. CUIB takes a holistic approach to sustainability, focusing upon nature, society, and economy. The hub operates a membership system that allows for a solidarity-model approach, its menu is currently 90% locally-grown menu, they use saved food wherever they can, food waste is turned into compost for growing new crops, free meals are offered to vulnerable communities, and it is making plans to go fully zero-waste.
Winner of Most Innovative Individual Action (Local Hero) – Trees de Bruyne, Belgium
Trees de Bruyne founded the NGO ‘bark.today’ at the beginning of 2022 in Aalst, Belgium, and has overseen the project since then, helping it grow into a thriving food forest in the town centre that has had over 330 participants. ‘Nature-connectedness’ drives the project, which includes mindfulness, storytelling, creative endeavours, and nature-based education within the food forest, creating new connections and long-lasting knowledge about urban food within the city of Aalst.
Winner of Most Innovative Social Engagement Process – The Centre of the Earth, Greece
‘The Centre of the Earth’ is an urban farm that has been operating for over 10 years in Athens. Its goal is local mitigation and adaptation to climate change through sustainable food production, taking an approach that focusses upon sharing agroecological and organic growing skills – with a particular focus on catering to vulnerable groups. Activities are co-designed and adjusted in conversation with participants, and to date over 70,000 adults and 50,000 children have participated in educational activities on the farm.
Winner of Best overall Edible City Approach – Edible City Cologne, Germany
Edible City Cologne is a citywide strategy working to make Cologne more ‘edible’. Its basis is an Edible City Action Plan which sets out how the city can improve its food system. This developed as a participatory project that became part of the city’s political agenda, and includes a programme covering edible public green spaces, community gardens, urban orchards, and more. As well as public spaces, they also focus upon bringing gardens into schools, housing associations, and companies.
Speaking of her experience on the expert panel, Vic Borrill from the UK’s Brighton & Hove Food Partnership commented that: ‘Sustainability is about more than just about ecology – it’s about making sure that you’re giving people equal opportunities to participate, and looking at ways to make your model financially sustainable so that it can continue to make long-term impact. The winners we have chosen for this year’s awards are all examples of holistic approaches to sustainability, and we’re delighted to celebrate them internationally’.
Laura Martinez, from the Norwegian think-and-do-tank Nabolagshager, added ‘given that 56% of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and an estimated 7 out of 10 people worldwide will be living in cities by 2050, there is a pressing need to make our cities more sustainable, livable and healthier. Creating spaces for food growing and food production is an important step towards this goal, and this year’s award-winners play their part in doing that’.