Food Sharing Futures

Food Sharing Futures

Drawing inspiration from the three horizons approach to futuring, we have developed three alternative scenarios for the future of urban food sharing in 2050 using data from five years of in-depth international research, as well as findings from the multistakeholder 2019 SHARING FUTURES workshop.

In collaboration with RIVA Illustrations and illustrator Fiammetta Ghedini, we created visualisations of these three different future scenarios for urban food sharing: Desirable, Business As Usual and Technical Fix.

  • The Desirable scenario presents a situation where there are both supports for, and activities emerging from, food sharing initiatives, creating positive sustainability impact across social, economic and environmental arenas.
  • The Business As Usual scenario extends current trends for urban food sharing, which means that food sharing is present, but marginalised in a predominantly commercial food system focused on commodification.
  • The Technical Fix scenario illustrates what urban food landscapes might look like if technological approaches to urban food are embedded in urban food systems, prioritising a win-win for the economy and the environment.

Each scenario image* can be seen below:

  • Desirable Future Scenario © RIVA Illustrations - Fiammetta Ghedini
  • Business As Usual Scenario © RIVA Illustrations - Fiammetta Ghedini
  • Technical Fix Scenario © RIVA Illustrations - Fiammetta Ghedini

*These images may not be reproduced, transmitted or copied without prior written permission. For permission, please contact SHARECITY PI Anna Davies.

SHARECITY’s Food Sharing Futures work provides a novel means to create dialogue and foster engagement on urban food sharing sustainability issues with a particular focus on the regulatory and policy regimes which will be a powerful shaping force on those issues in the future. We are engaging with policy makers to evaluate whether our visualisations of future scenarios help support different kinds of debate around creating a supportive environment for sustainable urban food sharing.

We are also using our visualisations to engage young people in discussions about sustainable urban food sharing futures. You can read about our initial youth engagement here and see the three winning stories below:

Hiding in the shadows by Ella

Sharing… the word that changed everything. Not so long ago we wouldn’t have been able to open our own garden, we wouldn’t trust people to keep what we grew safe. We wouldn’t let others take control of the progress we made regarding food and development in our community. Thankfully this has all changed.

This morning, it was much easier to wake up. Market days have always been my favourite. As I walk across the street towards the City Hall, I see my friends. Approaching them feels different today. A loud buzz of conversation hangs around me. Looking around, everything feels out of place. To my left, families work together in our garden, the café overflowing with customers, as usual, the ‘Pay As You Feel’ sign sits untouched outside, guilt tripping anyone who walks by it. But we are happy here.

The solar panels on every building beam in the sunlight, blinding me. If I was to wave at any one person who has come to the market, they would wave back, as though I had known them my entire life. Society now works on trust. We trust the people around us to work for our community. Sharing the food we grow and the honey we collect from our hives allow us to connect with them. As I walk up to the community kitchen, I put my name down on the volunteers list, quickly reading the many other names that are written above mine. An uncomfortable feeling washes over me. I can’t explain it, but I feel as though I am being watched, the world around me feels staged, everyone smiling, each person easily slipping in and out of conversation with another.

The food at the cafe accommodates everyone’s needs. As my friends and I sit down at a table we wait for our order. I notice the plants that sit high up on the balconies around us, each decorated in a unique style. Although I am aware of the calmness floating around me, I still can’t shake the strange feeling of being watched. My friends notice how uncomfortable I’ve become but I tell them not to worry. Before I leave, I remember the vegetables I must collect from the garden. The carrots, cabbage, radishes and other crops are planted neatly, each in their own bed. I pick some of them to bring home and stop by the honey stand.

Suddenly, I freeze, the uncomfortable feeling sends a shiver through my entire body, and I almost drop the honey jar I have chosen. I waste no time in getting home, the feeling follows me as I get on the bus. I sit down and wave to my friends, who all stare blankly at me, each slowly raising their hand to wave back, anyone would think it was timed, I did.  Sitting down makes me feel a little better but my heart is still racing. I look down into my basket, I remember the days I spent growing fruits and vegetables, the many bee stings I received whilst volunteering to collect honey with the beekeepers. I thought it was worth it, helping out meant that I had played an important role in the development of the community.

I finally arrive home I can feel my hands start to shake as I rush over to my patient mother who awaits my arrival in our garden. I hug her and her cold hands wrap around my waist, the sickening feeling that lurked over me doesn’t pass as I thought it would. I walk inside the house and run up the stairs. I put down my basket and collapsed on my bed. I wrap my shaking body in my blanket and tightly close my eyes, hoping that this feeling would leave me alone…eventually. A sharp pain in my wrist draws my eyes away from the page. I let my pen drop. My eyes quickly scan the story I have just written. My fictional community suddenly stolen away from me; the words, neatly scribbled across the lines. As I look out of my window, reality hits me. I realise that the world I live in is not a world where we can trust the people around us, a world where people have no scruples about letting others do the hard work. It’s a dull world, where poverty and hunger lurk, hiding in the shadows watching you, every moment of the day, as they wait patiently for their calling.

Apple Picking – by Madeleine

The grass is green beneath my feet

And in the rising summer heat,

The orchard apples have never smelt so sweet

Grandma and I walk hand in hand

Passing by the lemonade stand

A rickety thing left unmanned

Shouts echo through the trees

Carried in the gentle breeze

This place is popular on days like these

Grandma helps me climb up with care

While a man beside us asks to share

We split it even, what’s fair is fair

The sweetest ones up really high

I almost fall. I almost cry

I smile at grandma’s promises of pie

We take as many as we need

Everyone’s got mouths to feed

And we’ve all been warned away from greed

I wave behind me as we go

You know it was different not long ago

We didn’t all share what we grow

Back then it was all take and take

Never a though for what’s at stake

A capitalistic society doomed to break

Grandma tells me stories of empty days

Empty stomach and selfish ways

I’m hoping our new system stays

We pay ahead for those less able

And that past feels like a fable

A warning away from days less stable

Grandma and I walk hand in hand

Together we can eat and learn and stand

In this hopeful place we’ve planned

The path is worn beneath my feet

By a thousand others it’s been beat

It was a nice day in summer’s heat

Corina by Margaux

Hey, I’m Corina,  (yes, I was named after the pandemic 30 years ago), and my mum recently decided to move back to her hometown Dublin, after she had heard all the changes made to the city for the environment. We moved in about a week ago, the house is so modern. All of our electricity is powered by solar or wind, and our shower is rainwater. There is a compost outside to put all our food leftovers in. Mum said I should go into town today and explore all the new changes they’ve made and to try and meet some people. I didn’t really want to go, I didn’t know the town and I would be alone. I was so nervous about getting lost. She said the easiest way to get there would be by bus, so, after breakfast I hopped on a bus. I found out it was 100% powered by electricity, which I was amazed by. I stopped at stop 21 right outside the council hall, and everything looked kind of daunting, there was so many people around and they all seemed to know each other.

I stood there frozen for a second, deciding where to go first. I decided to head to the co-op café, because I had forgotten to take my daily coffee this morning. The sign outside it read “Pay as you feel :)”. My stomach clenched. I didn’t have much money on me. Would people judge me for the amount I paid? Money had been tight for me and my mum lately with all the moving. I took a deep breath and walked in. I ordered my coffee and handed the barista 50 cents. I felt as though all eyes were on me. The barista must have felt I was nervous and smiled and told me it was okay no matter what I paid. A feeling of relief came over me. I smiled back, thanked her and sat down. This was a good start to the day. A few minutes later, the barista sat down beside me and told me her name was Ryan. She offered to show me around, I gladly agreed.

She took me to the community garden and we tried some of the tomatoes. They were really sweet. It was so cool to see people working together. A lady named Ann, handed us some watering cans and told us which plants needed watering. Then Ryan took me to the seed bank and we chose some strawberry seeds to plant back at the community garden. Everyone was so nice and welcoming and I felt as though I was a part of the community. Then she showed me the council hall, this was one of the things I found the coolest about Dublin. It was an open space, and everyone was allowed to listen in on the conversations that the town council were having. We were even allowed to vote on some small decisions and write some ideas in the suggestion box they had provided.

Then it was lunch time, Ryan showed me to the community kitchen and hub. She introduced me to the two people who had volunteered to cook. She told me everyone pitched in every week, and anyone can come in and cook. She showed me around the kitchen and we cooked some pasta for ourselves. After lunch, I bought a honey pot from the honey sale to bring back to Mum. Then Ryan showed me the food swap. I swapped my carrots (Mum told me to bring something to swap, she had heard it had been implemented in Dublin) for some green beans. Ryan and I also took out all of the moldy and rotten foods in the food swap and brought them to the compost.  While we were walking by, we grabbed a few apples from the orchard, they were so delicious. We walked back to the café and I decided I wanted to volunteer at the café like she did. We decided to exchange numbers and then Ryan walked me back to the bus stop. I took the bus home, and texted Ryan and told her I hoped to see her tomorrow at the café. Mum was very happy about the honey and the green beans. I sat on our couch, with the biggest smile on my face, I felt silly for being so nervous at the start.


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