Organizing for urban farming : Knowledge sharing in cross-sectorial networks

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Organizing for urban farming : Knowledge sharing in cross-sectorial networks

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Publication Conference Meeting abstract
Title Organizing for urban farming : Knowledge sharing in cross-sectorial networks
Author Björk, Fredrik ; Edvik, Anders
Date 2016
English abstract
During recent years, urban farming has increasingly been regarded as an important strategic approach to sustainable urban development. The aspects that urban farming are said to aim towards spans the whole spectrum of urban sustainability – from access to healthy food to increased biodiversity and social cohesion (Cockrall-King 2012; Bendt, Barthel & Colding 2013). While projects and inspirational activities have largelly focused on farming itself, less attention have been directed towards organizational aspects. Managing and developing urban farming initiatives (often organized as non-profit organizations) means that organizations needs to navigate between and collaborate with a range of partners, many of whom are part of public administration. The diverse character of the organizations involved, and the different aims that these organizations have with urban farming initiatives, means that there will be colliding and contrasting institutional logics and rationalities. This may lead to conflicts, but can also promote innovation (Coule & Patmore 2013). Both for public administration and for urban farmers, access to knowledge is crucial to reach the aims of the initiative. Also, it is not uncommon that several public administration bodies have interest in the urban farming. A common response is to form loosely organized networks which include a wide range of actors. Sometimes, these networks may also achieve more formal status, such as the Guelph Wellington Food Round Table, in which the University play an important role (Hayhurst, Dietrich-O'connor, Hazen & Landman 2013) or the Toronto Food Policy Council, initiated by the health department of the City of Toronto (Blay-Palmer 2009). An interesting example of local governance, is Malmö Stadsodlingsnätverk. In 2011, environmental coordinators in one of the City of Malmö’s departments decided to call for a network meeting, where anybody who had an interest in urban farming could participate. Five years later, this loosely coordinated network is still active. It includes public servants, urban farmers, non-profit organizations, activists and others (Larsson 2015). This form of organizing in the field of sustainability is interesting in several ways. By not having a formal role, it is difficult to use the structure to excercise power. Rather, the structure enables an exchange of knowledge between peers. Relevant knowledge and engagement are the factors that give participants legitimacy. With no administrative structure, knowledge sharing can be extremely efficient but at the same time difficult to plan or control. Using concepts from Svensson & Von Otter (2001) this may be regarded as a network- or activation strategy. A key question, however, is to what extent this networked or activation strategy will work if urban farming in Malmö continues to grow and take new forms, such as more commercially oriented activities. Formalizing the structure might lead to a situation where competing institutional logics become more pronounced, and may lead to less knowledge sharing and de-legitimize the network. The aim of our presentation is to discuss aspects of organizing for sustainability, using examples from urban farming. We suggest that these forms of organizing, which have taken similar form in different contexts, may also be relevant for other fields of urban sustainability, where cross-sector collaboration and knowledge sharing are crucial. References: Bendt, Pim; Barthel, Stephan & Colding, Johan (2013). Civic greening and environmental learning in public-access community gardens in Berlin. Landscape and Urban Planning. No. 1, pp. 18-30. Blay-Palmer, Alison (2009). The Canadian Pioneer: The Birth Generics of Urban Food Policy in Toronto”.  Journal of International Planning Studies. No. 4, pp.401-416.  Cockrall-King, Jennifer (2011). Food and the City. Urban agriculture and the new food revolution. New York: Prometheus Books. Coule, T. & Patmore, B. (2013). Institutional logics, institutional work, and public service innovation in non‐profit organizations. Public Administration, vol. 91, no. 4, pp.980-997. Hayhurst, R., Dietrich-O'connor, F., Hazen, S. & Landman, K. (2013): Community-based research for food system policy development in the City of Guelph, Ontario. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 18:5, 606-619 Larsson, A. (2015). Odling över gränser. Malmö: Stadsområde Norr Svensson, L. & von Otter, C. (2001). Projektarbete: Teori och praktik. Med sagan om diamanten som sprängdes, Stockholm: Santérus.
Conference
Sustainable City Development 2016 (2016-11-30 - 2016-12-02 : Malmö, Sweden)
Link https://malmo.se/Nice-to-know-about-Malmo/Sustainable-Malmo-/Sustainable-City-Development-2016/Abstracts.html .Icon
Language eng (iso)
Subject sustainable development
urban farming
urban gardening
cross-sector collaboration
governance
institutional theory
organizational theory
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/27195 Permalink to this page
Link http://malmo.se/Nice-to-know-about-Malmo/Sustainab... (external link to related web page)
Link to publication in DiVA Find this research publication in DiVA (n/a for student publ.)
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