Theory of Cange for three Alternative Food Networks in Zurich and Basel

Written by Dubravka Vrdoljak (ETH Zurich, Maria Tereza de Alencar (University of Graz), Anja Tesic (University of Basel)

Many alternative food networks (AFNs) developed over the past few years in Zurich and Basel. AFNs are an umbrella term that encompasses different foci in sustainable food systems, such as community-supported and urban agriculture, short food supply chains up to direct farm retail or food cooperatives with the objectives of shortening the food chain from farmers to consumers, bringing it closer to urban or peri-urban areas; the promotion of community engagement and participation; and the reduction of food waste (Moschitz et al., 2018).

We analyzed three AFNs operating in Zurich and/or Basel, namely Too Good To Go, Urban Agriculture Basel and Bachsemärt for their goals, visions, interventions and formats and organized it in the process-oriented Theory of Change (ToC).

In summary we have built ToC analysis based on the informations on the webpages of each AFN, crucial contributors to diverse agri-food chains. With the help of the ToC, we could provide compelling evidence that alternative food system initiatives work with a long-term goal model, even though they don’t clearly communicate it to the public. This approach has the potential to help emerging AFN’s to learn from existing ones and to establish a bigger network and best practices.

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The seminar “Sustainable Plant Systems” (VVZ: 551-0209-00L) is organized by the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center for MSc and PhD students of ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel every autumn term.

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