The first CULTIVATE Mobile Research Lab on food sharing in Barcelona

Exploring Barcelona's food sharing ecosystem, the first CULTIVATE Mobile Research Lab embarked on a transformative journey from March 18th to 23rd, 2024.

The CULTIVATE team from Lund University, Yuliya Voytenko Palgan, Vera Sadovska, Oksana Mont and Andrius Plepys participated in the first mobile research lab on food sharing in Barcelona. From the 18th to the 23rd of March 2024, this was an intense week with 20+ study visits and interviews with volunteers and initiatives engaged in growing, cooking and eating food together, and redistributing surplus food, as well as other actors involved in food sharing and sustainable food systems in Barcelona and its surroundings.

The researchers visited urban gardens, community kitchens, food cooperative shops, social supermarkets, and food banks. They also engaged in sense making experiences such as gleaning of unharvested fava beans on the fields in Prat de Llobregat, delivering meals prepared by volunteers in a community kitchen and collecting unsold food from the neighborhood stores for further redistribution to people in need, tasting meals in community kitchens, and, of course, sharing food with colleagues and friends.

Barcelona Food Bank study visit

Here is a quote from Yuliya Voytenko Palgan, senior lecturer at Lund University who actively participated in the mobile research lab:
“This mobile research lab was an incredibly enlightening experience! We delved into a Barcelona vastly distinct from the typical tourist path. For us, the concept of social and solidarity economy gained a new meaning. We witnessed how sustainable, resilient food systems, though aided by municipal and regional governments, are fundamentally rooted in community networks and the tireless dedication of volunteers. In Barcelona, volunteering isn’t just a practice, it’s a vocation and a political stance, nurturing the growth of food sharing initiatives.”

On many visits, the researchers were accompanied by representatives from the Barcelona Metropolitan Strategic Plan (PEMB), food sharing initiatives Espigoladors and Food Cloud, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, all of whom are partners in the CULTIVATE project. This created a fruitful space for reflection, discussion, and exchange within the transdisciplinary team to better understand the challenges, costs, risks, perceived value, benefits, drivers, and success factors to establish and maintain food sharing initiatives in Barcelona.

Photo credit: Yuliya Voytenko Palgan