• Copying Neighbours - augmented edition

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    Copying Neighbours

    More lessons learned about how to transfer inspiring practices between cities on sustainable food?

    Take a look at last BioCanteens URBACT Transfer Network publication


    From urbact

    How to facilitate the collaboration between territories, the exchange of inspiring cases, the translation between governance cultures, the emulation and transfer between cities and resilience through cooperation in the face of such as the pandemic, the Ukraine crisis, or other unprecedented future problems?
    BioCanteens is one of the 23 URBACT Transfer Networks engaged in a form of “action-research” to transfer "Good Practice" from one city to a set of partner cities across Europe. In this augmented edition completing the first publication based on the experience of BioCanteens1 with the experience of BioCanteens2 “second wave”, you will find out...

    BioCanteens Transfer Network is about ensuring the distribution of sustainable school meals in participating cities as a key lever towards the development of an integrated local agri-food approach, protecting both citizens’ health and the environment. The project aims to transfer Mouans-Sartoux’s Good Practice based on the daily distribution of meals that are 100% organic and mostly composed of local products, the drastic reduction of food waste thereby fully compensating the higher cost of switching to organic products, and the organisation of dedicated educational activities to raise children’s awareness about sustainable food. It tells the various “Transfer stories” of the 9 BioCanteens city partners: Gavà in Spain, Liège and Pays des Condruses in Belgium, Rosignano-Marittimo in Italy, Torres Vedras in Portugal, Trikala in Greece, Troyan in Bulgaria, Vaslui in Romania and Wroclaw in Poland. You may also learn about “Transfer outcomes” after BioCanteens 1 & 2 and in particular the European online event organized in March 2021 in partnership with URBACT and the Glasgow Declaration and the Mouans-Sartoux Food Festival « À TABLE ! » organized in September 2022 to share the networks experiences, to raise European cities’ awareness on food sovereignty and to call on Europe to consider the need for a food exception in public procurement.


    Read the full document HERE and start your revolution!

  • Food Sovereignty: back to basics

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    Food Sovereignty

    Each food-related action carried out by a local authority must be backed by a food sovreignty vision. This has been a key message during the BioCanteens#2 network, but not always easy to convey. In fact, the inappropriate use of the term food sovreignty is nowadays creating more and more misunderstandings, making it easily confused with national protectionism. But lets' go back to basics, and define food sovereignty. What is it, and why is it so important? 

    From urbact

    In one year and a half, the cities of BioCanteens#2 network have worked hard to transform the functioning of their school canteens. They have put into question their local agriculture and economy, drafting strategies on how to stimulate organic offer and demand. They have made a consistent job of sensibilization to food-related issues targeting not only kids but politicians, civil society and neighboring cities. All these actions have limited meaning and impact if taken singularly, but gain powerful sense if analysed altogether in a vision of food sovereignty. But what is the real meaning of this concept? 

    Food Sovereignty is not to be confused with sovereinism, as it often occurs. In the mouth of many politicians, food sovereinism cares for the growth of the country’s GDP through the structuration of national agri-food industries and value chains. Closing agricultural economy to export and trade becomes the solution to protect national excelleces and economies.

    This capitalistic vision of food and agriculture is often miscalled food sovereignty and disguised with messages of environmental and biodiversity preservation, creating confusion.

    Food sovereignty deeply cares for the territory at a smaller scale and aspires at decoupling food – essencial need for human beings – from market dynamics. Food sovereignty is about human beings having direct, democratic control over the most important elements of their society – how we feed and nourish ourselves, how we use and maintain the land, water and other resources around us for the benefit of current and future generations, and how we interact with other groups, peoples and cultures. (La via Campesina, 2018). The organisation La Via Campesina introduced this concept in 1996, based on 6 pillars: 

    1. A food system that focuses on food for people : rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity or component for international agri-business.

    2. A food system values food providers and aims at creating fair market conditions

    3. Localises food systems: brings food providers and consumers closer together. Importance of the territories. 

    4. Decisionmaking and control at the local level: recognizes that local territories often cross geopolitical borders and ensures the right of local communities to inhabit and use their territories; it promotes positive interaction between food providers in different regions and territories and from different sectors. No national protectionism

    5. A food system that builds knowledge and skills that are respectful for the future generations' needs

    6. A food system that works with nature, values agroecological practices and takes into account the perspective of Climate Change

    Inspired by the theories of François Collart Dutilleul (Nourrir, 2021), we like to add another pillar : Democracy –promoting equal rights for the individuals, for future generations and people, as well as transparency of information

    We put all these information on the table during the Biocanteens#2 project because only a strong Food Sovereignty vision will be the engine for future actions.

  • A Table! for an EU food sovreignty

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    Lunch at the canteens
    From urbact

    European local authorities are today the drivers of the transition towards sustainable local food systems. In a context of strong concerns about Europe's food security, the key role of cities in the food transition deserves to be further supported by the EU, notably in the next framework law for a sustainable food system to be proposed by the European Commission in 2023. 

    Mouans-Sartoux and the BioCanteens#2 partner cities are just some of many local authorities in Europe committed to food sovereignty and democracy. Ensuring fairer access to quality food for all, building resilient agroecological food systems, recreating urban food belts and developing more participatory food governance are not mere objectives but realities that are taking shape on the ground. 

    On September 26, 2022, the city of Mouans-Sartoux invited British activist Rob Hopkins to open the Mouans-Sartoux Food Festival, A Table! With his conference entitled "The urgency of transition" he was able to launch the debate of the next two days on the construction of a European food democracy and sovereignty.

    Rob hopkins

    Building on the work that Mouans-Sartoux has been carrying out on multiple axes since 2015, A Table! brought together more than 150 actors from 10 countries, including 50 local authorities, and more than 20 NGOs and official structures involved in the food transition, for the closing of the URBACT BioCanteens Network #2. The participation of a Member of the European Parliament and the European Commission allowed for a multi-level dialogue aimed at bridging the needs of local communities with the food policy strategies defined by Europe in order to co-create food sovereignty.


    Because cities are living labs of virtuous experiences to share and must make their needs known at the European level, the city of Mouans-Sartoux wanted to organise this event, where, in addition to the presentation of the Biocanteen#2 project and the visits to present the Mouans food project, numerous debates, exchanges and workshops were organised around the following three key themes 

    • How to build a European food sovereignty that protects people's health and the planet?

    • 100% organic school canteens throughout the EU: it is possible!

    • For a food exception in the European public procurement code


    Finally, the enthusiastic return after the 100% organic lunch at L'Orée du Bois school and the visit to the Municipal Farm, demonstrated once again the innovation of the Mouans-Sartoux project. The actions carried out by the town for more than 20 years are perfectly in line with the political priorities that are now emerging on the European agenda, and demonstrate that it can be a model not only for other towns of all sizes and countries but also for political organisations. 

    Check out the tribune of Gilles Perole published on the Parliament Magazine on this matter here

  • Thinking out of the box: setting up a Municipal Farm

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    Municipal farm

    Municipal Farm of Mouans-Sartoux

    From urbact

    Mouans-Sartoux is a territory where land pressure is very high and where agriculture has decreased significantly since the 1960s. In 2008 the city decided to aim for 100% local organic produce for our canteens. To supply the town's canteens, the public contracts have been modified to obtain organic vegetables from local producers with a view to sustainable development. There has been no response. Faced with this difficulty, the Municipality of Mouans-Sartoux decided to take up the challenge of producing vegetables grown in-house with farmers employed by the city. This decision, taken at the end of 2008, required a two-year feasibility study and an experiment in 2010 before starting in March 2011 with one local farmer. This municipal farm is located on the Haute Combe estate, which covers 6 hectares and is owned by the municipality. In a few years the project has found its cruising speed and with 3 municipal farmers and now the town produces 26 tons of vegetables each year, meeting 96% of the needs of the 1300 meals served each day (a total of 160,000 each year).

    In the summer, part of the production is frozen in one of the town's kitchens so that vegetables are available at the end of the winter when production is lowest. The children in the canteen therefore eat these good local and seasonal organic vegetables. Here, the Maison d'Education à l'Alimentation Durable (sustainable food education centre) has been set up, allowing children to take part in sustainable food classes to learn more about the vegetables they eat every day.

    This project, invented by Mouans-Sartoux, is so successful that many municipalities have come to visit it to replicate it on their territory. In Mouans-Sartoux, the municipal farm is an essential asset for supplying canteens with organic vegetables and fruit in the context of a highly urbanised area lacking in local agricultural production. The creation of this farm is part of a broader vision of food sovereignty, where the city is taking back control of the existing production on the territory and the will to increase the surface of agricultural land.

    Mouans-Sartoux was the first French town to create a municipal farm. In France now , around twenty municipal farms exist and thirty or so are emerging. The project is also of interest to European cities from the BioCanteens networks: One example among others, the city of Troyan, a BioCanteens partner, was able to establish its own municipal farm in two and a half years. Now it produces organic fruit, vegetables and honey on over 15 hectars for its school canteens. Thanks to this practice, the city has been distinguished this year by the EU Organic Awards of the EU Commission.

    Every local authority can rethink its local agriculture, by opening up to the idea of using public spaces as agricultural production units. Beyond organic production, each city can enrich the concept of the municipal farm with different interpretations:

    - a demonstrator of local organic farming to engage the local agricultural sector and encourage organic conversion

    - an educational farm to welcome school children and families, but also to raise awareness of local politicians and decision-makers on agricultural issues

    - a social asset to engage socio-dependent people and provide employment

    - a cooperative to bring together small local farms and provide food processing facilities.

    poster municipal farm


    Setting up a Municipal Farm has been an hot toping during the BioCanteens#2 Network. At the very beginning of the project, while visiting the Good Practice of Mouans-Sartoux, no one ever believed it could be replicated in their own city. But now, few months later some of them changed their mind. In Wroclaw, the city is seriously considering creating an agricultural hub in the outskirts of the city. 

    Liège inaugurated a Municipal Transformation hub, where all the products coming from the surroundings can be transformed and distributed to the city markets and the schools.

    This experience shows that setting up a municipal farm is not a dream, nor something specific from Mouans-Sartoux. Is a reality that can be achieved in a multiplicity of contexts. Each local authority can reinterpret this model in the most appropriate way, in line with their food sovereignty ambitions.

  • What’s cooking in Bergamo? Untapping food system transformation through sustainable food public procurement

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    Food matters. What we put on our plate impacts our health and the health of our Planet. Childhood is a critical time to promote healthy eating as this is the time when food preferences and eating patterns are developed. The early years of life – mostly spent at school – are essential for the setting of healthy and sustainable eating habits, and increasing availability and accessibility of better food in schools, along with food and nutrition education, has the potential to build the foundation for healthy eating habits later in life. Additionally, today’s food systems account for 21-37% of total greenhouse gases and are a primary cause of environmental degradation, socio-economic and health inequalities. Since thousands of school-age children consume at least one of the daily main meals at school, schools are key places to leverage the multiple health, environmental and social benefits of serving better food. For this reason, school public procurement offers an extraordinary opportunity for supporting healthy and sustainable behaviours, while supporting a system-wide food systems transition. Whether it is public health, organic agriculture, animal welfare, social considerations or proximity food economy, school public procurement of sustainable and healthy food represents a strategic means to achieve these goals. 

    School Meals

    Based on these considerations, “La Buona Mensa” is an initiative developed by the Bergamo City Council to promote food literacy and increased access to local, seasonal, organic plant-rich food among primary school children in Bergamo. The initiative receives funding from the “Food Trails” project, under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, whose goal is to speed up food system innovation and support the development of urban food policies to help ensure that all EU citizens have access to affordable, balanced and healthy food. Food Trails will enable the shared design of 11 pilot activities in as many European cities in order to better co-create urban food policy. 

    The “La Buona Mensa” initiative will kick off on September, and aims at engaging elementary school students, parents and teachers in food and nutrition education activities designed to train, raise awareness and educate them to responsibly consume healthy, safe, culturally appropriate, sustainable food that is produced and distributed with respect for human rights and the environment. Moreover, the initiative seeks to foster the creation of an enabling school food environment that facilitates the transition to healthy and sustainable diets. Specifically, it will innovate school food menus in line with the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with less meat and dairy products, and more plant protein, beans, nuts and fresh local produce. Plant-based culinary training will also be launched, equipping cooks with the knowledge, skills and inspiration they need to develop delicious and nutritious plant-based dishes and securing a healthy food culture is realised in and around schools. Finally, the initiative aims to  identify and implement food waste minimization practices, by educating students and changing their everyday habits, measuring and reducing waste in canteens and kitchens, and by bringing together all players in the school catering value chain to drive down food waste and reassert the value of food.

    Vegetable Gardens BG

    All this comes at a time when the City of Bergamo supplies more than 95 percent of organic food in school canteens. Such a staggering figure has been possible thanks to the dual effort of both the Education Department responsible for the tender writing process, and the catering company which committed to further increase supply of quality organic ingredients, mostly local and seasonal. Under this administration, “La Buona Mensa” will seek to further increase the amount of organic food sourced locally, as part of its territorial strategy to stimulate conversion and reinforce the entire local value chain. 

    To conclude, there's still a long way to go for the transition to more sustainable food systems. However, Bergamo is right on track and ready for action. 


    Cities play an increasingly important role in promoting production and consumption of healthy sustainable food. The City of Bergamo has committed to demonstrate how it is possible to leverage public procurement in order to improve food consumption among the population, particularly school-age children of local seasonal and organic food. The development of food procurement policy in school canteens can also provide significant opportunities for increased organic consumption and production. Through the “La Buona Mensa” initiative, funded by the H2020 Food Trails project, the City of Bergamo is seeking to promote food literacy and increased access to local, seasonal, organic plant-rich food among primary school children in Bergamo.
    From urbact
  • A Table! Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum

    BioCanteens#2 A Table event



    The objective is to gather and create a common diaglogue between the European local authorities around the topic of food sovreignity and democracy. Cities are a major actor in the development and construction of sustainable food policies and their commitment is already a day-to-day reality with concrete actions that are beneficial for the climate, the environment and the health of people. This is why we believe it is essential that their voices are heard and that their experiences inspire European policies.  


    In addition to visits to present the Mouans Sartoux food project, we are planning numerous debates, exchanges and workshops on the following three key topics:


    • Building a European food sovereignty the protects people’s health and the planet

    • 100 % organic school canteens across the EU: it is achievable!

    • Let's mobilise! Let's join forces to make the voice of local and regional authorities in Europe heard


    Find more information about the forum here.



    • Organic
    • Sustainability
    • Urban food systems

    As final event of BioCanteens#2 Transfer Network, the city of Mouans-Sartoux is organising the first edition of the Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum << A Table!>>. 

    URBACT Network
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    • Food
    Open to a wider public