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Exploring the growth potential of (peri-) urban short food chain initiatives: a case study of Ghent

Mettepenningen, E., Koopmans, M., Van Huylenbroeck, G.

Short title: Exploring the growth potential of (peri-) urban short food chain initiatives

Many cities face the challenge to reduce their ecological footprint, but at the same time improve the quality of life for their citizens. Likewise, the global food system is facing major sustainability challenges. This paper starts from the observation that (peri-) urban agriculture has many potential functional ties with the city (e.g. reconnecting farmers and citizens, productive use of space and urban waste) that could contribute to its sustainable development. In the city region of Ghent, in Belgium, several short food chain initiatives have emerged that show significant potential to increase the sustainability of urban food provisioning by exploring possibilities for multifunctional land use and closing the gap between producer and consumer. However, these initiatives are still very scattered and most of them fail to reach the scale that would be necessary to really challenge the dominant urban food regime and significantly increase its sustainability. Based on in-depth interviews and transition theory, this paper uses a Multi-Level Perspective analysis to identify opportunities and bottlenecks for (peri-)urban short food chain initiatives in Ghent to develop and significantly challenge the dominant urban food regime. The results reveal important opportunities for growth in the stimulating political and social climate in Ghent, but also show that further development of the short food chain initiatives is considerably hindered by traditional views on (peri) urban land use patterns and difficulties to reach cost-efficiency with small-scale production. Solving these issues not only requires action at the level of the city government, but also a change in regulations at higher institutional levels and change within the consumers themselves.

Mettepenningen, E.,Van Huylenbroeck, G. Ghent University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. evy.mettepenningen@ugent.be

Koopmans, M. Ghent University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Research, Burgemeester Van Gansberghelaan 96, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium

Spanish Journal of Rural Development, Vol. V (Special 1): 79-90, 2014
Copyright © 2014 Ignacio J. Díaz-Maroto Hidalgo
DOI: 10.5261/2014.ESP1.07