Accepted paper:

City farming ecopreneurship: an exploration into the start-up culture of urban food production


Alexander Schwinghammer (Bauhaus University Weimar)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation is about the cultural practices of city-based start-up food producing entrepreneurship in Germany. The paper explores the multi-layered connections, which constitute a field of start-up culture situated within differing discourses of sustainability.

Paper long abstract:

A seemingly rampant system of food speculation, subsidizing and circulation questions present notions of food security. Food scandals, scarcity of resources, economic deterioration and climate catastrophes forcibly put the vulnerability of a globally connected network of food on the map. Even more, the spatial decoupling of food production from food consumption of an increasing number of people living in cities contributes to this impression of uneasiness. The flourishing trend of "locavorism", the attempt to construct one's own diet from regional resources, is an evident symptom to this development. While a growing number of people live in cities, a significant figure appears to have less reservations towards food items grown in their vicinity then produce harvested in far-away places. Food start-up projects emerge, following the slogan »bring production back to the city«. They attempt - or at least proclaim - to support a local, urban market through their produce harvested in close range. These new forms of urban food production are visible imbedded in economic regimes. Even though maximizing profit in a narrow understanding of economy may not be the key frame of reference here, alternative forms of exchange develop within differing economic logics. Linking the notion of "entrepreneurship" with (culturally constructed) expectations of sustainability this paper inquires "ecopreneurship" as a particular formation within start-up culture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, emphasis is put on the cultural practices of urban food producers in Germany. Hereby, questions of status, distinction, social participation and promotional culture complement the entrepreneurial aspect of urban food production.

panel Urba04
Sharing the city: economies and ecologies of urban dwelling