After the IRI THESys Edible City Solutions Summer School was cancelled in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic in Berlin, in 2021 the schedule was re-designed to work in a purely digital format – with online lectures and virtual group work. From September 20 to October 1, the EdiCitNet Project team embarked on a two-week learning journey with 30 participants from Asia, Africa, Europe, South and North America, exploring sustainable urban food systems with many talented experts from among the EdiCitNet project partners – including the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, Prinzessinnengärten Kollektiv, Association la Recherche en Action, Transition Oststeiermark, the City of Andernach and Bundesverband Gebäudegrün e. V. – BuGG.

The summer school opened with a public webinar entitled “Urban Transformation: Building City Resilience with Edible City Solutions”, led by Dr Ina Säumel, Suhana Reddy and Thomas Wachtel from the EdiCitNet Project. Then the participants were introduced to their challenge for the next two weeks – to develop their very own Edible City Solution, designed to tackle specific urban challenges in a city of their choice.

Throughout the two weeks, the participants were introduced to the four pillars of Edible City Solutions – social, economic, ecological and political – via input sessions with experts from the field. In between the sessions, they worked collectively on their group projects, across time zones and borders, using Miro, Slack, Zoom, Moodle and other online tools. At the halfway point, the Berlin participants of the Edible City Solutions Summer School got the chance to meet offline as they went on a “Harvest Your City” foraging tour through the city with project partner Mundraub. At the end of each week, in an interactive “Reality Check” session, the groups pitched their creative Edible City concepts to the expert panel and received practical feedback on the feasibility and potential impact of their concepts.

The participants developed an incredibly diverse and creative range of Edible City Solutions: a citizens’ cooperative turning rice straw residue into biochar in Valencia (Spain), the development of policies and guidelines to support the integration of edible landscapes into the outskirts of Girona (Spain), an edible garden initiative for social housing in Vienna (Austria), the installation of a rooftop farm in an abandoned carpark in Berlin (Germany) and a strategy to strengthen a farm-to-fork initiative in Jeonju (South Korea), through the introduction of permaculture practices.

When we asked the participants if they enjoyed the summer school we got some great responses:

“I loved the structure the summer school set for our conceptual approaches. It seemed so clever to start at one point, consider the 4 pillars separately but bring them all together as one in the end.”

“It was fantastic! Great choice of lectures and speakers to teach on the 4 pillars each lesson”

“I enjoyed these days a lot, thank you! I hope that from here new real edible projects emerge and we can continue sharing knowledge.”

And what did they learn?

 “Inspiration comes when different countries and backgrounds work together.”

“The value of transdisciplinarity!”

 “Learners from all over the world can cooperate and come up with amazing ideas!”

We thank all of the participants and all of the experts who took part, for their dedication and motivation throughout these two inspiring weeks!