Behind this success is a national effort from Organic Denmark, which achieved a national government goal of 60% organic in all public canteens, as well as winning public financing for conversion and education in public kitchens, and an intensive collaboration among organic farmers, food companies and wholesalers in Organic Denmark to expand organic supply to public canteens.
The Municipality of Copenhagen has pursued the organic agenda since 2001, and has the explicit goal of reaching 90% organic throughout the procurement of all the 900 kitchens that produce meals across the city.
The 90% organic strategy has been a dual effort of both training and up-skilling kitchen staff and simultaneously restructuring the methods of procurement, to ensure supply of quality organic ingredients. The organic conversion of all approximately 900 kitchens across the city has been undertaken both by departments within the municipality and with the help of various consultants and trainers. The main idea behind the strategy in the kitchens is to train kitchen staff in cooking techniques, so that they are able to plan their menus sustainably and cook food from scratch, as opposed to using processed food and semi fabricates, and thus can afford to buy more expensive organic food. Other techniques that are taught, are the increased use of seasonal vegetables, reduced use of meat, baking, preserving, fermenting and a general reduction of food waste, all are aspects that serve to maximise the value of public food spending budgets, at the same time resulting in more nutritious, climate friendly and appealing meals. No kitchens have been awarded an increased budget in order to achieve the goal of 90% organic, the task has been to convert within existing budgets.
In recent years, the municipality has put much effort into ensuring that the organic transition in the kitchens will be supported by quality, organic procurement and tenders that encourage the market to develop the organic and sustainable parts of their product ranges. As a direct result, recent years have seen a professionalisation of the organic supply lines into the canteens, schools, hospitals and nursing homes, where it is now possible to get a wide range of organic products in catering sizes, freshly butchered organic meat in a wide variety of cuts, and a wide diversity in the offering of seasonal fruits and vegetables. For instance, none of the wholesalers operating on national level in Denmark, were offering fresh organic meat, only a small assortment of frozen cuts was available, until the municipality of Copenhagen published a tender in 2012 specifying a wide assortment of fresh, organic meat, that then shortly became available through several of the wholesalers. The market for organic and sustainable food in out of home catering in Denmark has developed much slower than the retail market, but the procurement officers of Copenhagen have been able to create a clear and concise demand and communicate it to the contenders in the marketplace, in an audible manner.
The three initiative organisations Demeter-Akademie, Öko-Junglandwirte Network and Bioboden cooperative (represented through Simone Helmle, Clemens Gabriel and Uwe Greff), developed the framework of the project and also lead the individual courses.
ogether with other educative initiatives and individual persons in the biodynamic sector we offer a series of 5 seminars for a closed and continuous group of 16 participants. The main aim is to offer guidance and space for mutual support in developing your own business plan, learning how to lead yourself and your enterprise and knowing what you need as a juridical and social secure base for your farm or business.
Our main targets are young starting farmers who either set up new enterprises or are about to take over running organic farms. We also take participants from the farm related organic sector.
The main impact of these seminars is to strengthen young starting entrepreneurs to set up or take over highly complex businesses as organic farms are today. Furthermore, the course is closing the gap between existing organic farming educations and the reality of being a farming entrepreneur, which is requesting a high level of self-reflection, self-leadership and the ability to gain knowledge.
Finally, the course will also be a possibility to practice and experience how to present an individual Business plan for to get the financial and social support needed.
There are many complex grown organic farms and enterprises in Germany, set up and continuously developed by a generation of pioneers. A new generation now has to take over these businesses or start up new ones, being able to compete within these grown structures. Therefore, we need to strengthen the new generation of organics to carry on the good work of the organic sector in Germany and to lift it up to a next level.
In the light of competing land uses, increasing concentration in land ownership, rising land prices, and land abandonment, access to agricultural land is gaining importance in Europe. In many European countries farmer or community led initiatives have been developing to ensure organic farmers have access to land. The European Network for Access to Land uniting several such organisations from Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, UK, Lithuania, Germany and Romania has emerged to share experiences and practical ways of assisting farmers in accessing land and engaging in good land stewardship. In their national or local contexts, the members of the network focus either on acquiring land through crowdfunding, private investments and other financial tools; engaging with local authorities to bring them to support access to land; or making arrangements with land owners willing to give access to their land with conditions that are favourable to organic growers. Although the scale of operations of organisations vary, they all make a valuable contribution to strengthening links between rural and urban areas and freeing land from the commodity market to be preserved through sustainable agroecological management powered by local communities. The Network aims at reconsidering land as a common good where citizens, farmers and public authorities collaborate.
The CSA movement has been growing in Europe in recent years, with around 6,300 farms and one million consumers in 2015. While the CSA schemes vary, the overall principle is to share the risks and benefits of farming between farmers and consumers. In Finland, instead of reaching an agreement with an existing farm as many CSA schemes would do, the Urban Co-operative Farm food co-operative in Helsinki rents a field and employs professional growers, or ‘personal farmers’, who produce organic vegetables for the co-op from early summer to late autumn. To be part of the coop, consumers pay a membership fee and a yearly harvest fee. In addition, they spend up to 10 hours per year, for example working in the field or at a distribution point. The co-op has also made investments, such as a new tractor, with the help of loans from members. Co-op members have reported a change in diet toward eating more vegetables, being introduced to more unusual varieties of vegetables, and gaining an increased awareness of wider food system sustainability issues. The farm also serves as an educational space for children, school groups and culinary school students, and the co-op has piloted a 'solidarity share' model aimed at low-income consumers. The co-operative has received much media attention and has done significant advocacy work around sustainable food in Finland.
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