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Producer-consumer collaborations

Cristina Grasseni and Ola Gracjasz organize and participate in workshop with Polish scholars in Gdynia, Poland.

On a windy afternoon of 26th of May 2022, in the seaside town of Gdynia, Cristina Grasseni, the project’s principal investigator and Ola Gracjasz, one of three PhDs, in collaboration with UrbanLab Gdynia, met together with Polish scholars to present and discuss the topic of collective food procurement networks and producer-consumer collaborations.

The rationale of the day was to bring together researchers currently working with qualitative social research and in-depth understanding of cultural context, on and around the ‘social’ or ‘collective’ dimension of food procurement in Poland today, including new developments and dimensions of producer-consumer collaborations, from multiple points of view (such as urban gardens, cooperatives, new farmers, collective learning, new food entrepreneurs, etc.). How does this rich ethnographic/empirical research in Polish urban contexts position itself vis-à-vis current academic debates on ‘alternative food networks’, ‘food sovereignty’ and ‘food justice’? How do the topics of ‘citizenship’ and ‘sustainability’ interact and contaminate each other in these social phenomena and in these networks? What does the distinction, complexity and singularity of the Polish context offer to the international debate to reposition, question, or perhaps redefine some of the terms of the debate? Are (any of) the analytical categories the project used in its comparative framework (solidarity, diversity, skill and scale) useful to capture (some of) the aspects of the (work-in-progress) results and research interests?

The workshop was hosted and co-organized by the UrbanLab Gdynia: the space of a pop-up, flexible ‘living lab’, which is part of the broader Social Innovation Lab of Gdynia’s municipality (which includes amongst others a participatory budget programme, community centres, and an urban revitalization project). Joanna Krukowska, manager of UrbanLab opened up the meeting by briefly introducing the role and the wide variety of activities the UrbanLan coordinates. Agata Bachórz (University of Gdańsk), member of project’s Advisory Board, introduced the workshop with Cristina Grasseni, who presented the Food Citizens? project and  i-doc.

Cristina Grasseni presenting the i-doc.

This was followed by a set of presentations, starting with Ola Gracjasz who shared her work-in-progress on the topic of community around vegan eating in Gdańsk. Next, Agata Bachórz presented “Career shifts, new food entrepreneurs and the micropolitics of food storytelling” focusing on a particular example of a local enterprise and its history of development and change.

 Sadly, due to illness, Magdalena Popławska (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań) could not join the workshop and share her ongoing research in the area of knowledge and learning practices within food communities. Aleksandra Bilewicz (Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw) presented results of her study titled “Building the resource base – new farmers as part of food networks in Poland”. Finally, Ewa Kopczyńska (Jagiellonian University in Kraków) closed off the workshop part of the day discussing her food concerns approach as a conceptual frame to study food citizenship.

The discussion which followed was facilitated by Wojciech Goszczyński (Mikołaj Kopernik University in Toruń), Ruta Śpiewak (Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw) and Renata Hryciuk (Warsaw University).

Renata Hryciuk and Jaro Stacul in the midst of discussion.

Cristina Grasseni and Ola Gracjasz would like to express their thanks to all speakers and participants, including Jaro Stacul and Jacek Kołtan (European Solidarity Centre) for their engagement as well as the team of UrbanLab Gdynia for organizational help. The meeting generated a lot of fruitful and passionate discussions in the topic of collective food procurement practices.

Cristina Grasseni, Agata Bachórz and Jacek Kołtan
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