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Edible city

Technological and bio environment, where healthy food is part of life.

Photo of Uliana Kovalenko
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name


Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Natalia Harzu, Elena K, Design Thinking Center - Moscow

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Just beginning now

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Russian Federation

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Moscow, a city in Russia, covers a total area of 2,511 km²

What country is your selected Place located in?

Russian Federation

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

First of all, all team members live in Moscow, and some have families here. It is a place where we spend most of our lives living and working. For some of us, it is a place where they grow kids. Moscow is a city with developed cultural life, consequently, we spend much time outside in the city engaging in different activities and cultural events.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Moscow is the capital and business center of Russia. It is the largest city in Europe, which is located on the flat terrain on the banks of the Moscow river. Moscow has a climate with cold winds and rains, and summer lasts nearly 3 months. It is a highly urbanized city with developed infrastructure and post-industrial economics: trade, services, real-estate, research, and development prevails. 

The pattern of rings and radials that marked the historical stages of Moscow's growth remains evident in its modern layout. The center is a mostly non-living area, marked by the abundance of expensive restaurants with diverse and experimental food. Suburbs are dormitory area with fewer restaurants and more cheap shops. Though, south districts tend to be more wealthy on average. There are many parks, which makes Moscow the greenest city among other megapolises. 

Moscow is a multicultural city. It attracts people from different regions through accessible jobs. Traditionally muscovites cooked dishes from affordable in-season products or what grew up on dacha. But now updated recipes with exotic products are popular and dacha is the place for rest, not for farming. Many youngsters prefer fast food, like shawarma or burger, because it’s trendy, cheap, timesaving and available at every turn. In recent years there is a growing gastronomic trend. It is marked by frequent weekend markets or food fairs, where people with mid and high income can try different cuisines, and buy fresh and high-quality food. 

You can buy or order almost any food anytime, at day or night, at home or work. Food services offer a variety of options: fresh food from farms or restaurants, cheap delivery and food product sets for cooking.  The Moscow market is very competitive and expensive. Small private business is suffering due to political and economic restraints, lack of support, which prevents farmers from development.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

We work with different stakeholders: farmers, retailers, endocrinologist-nutritionist, a psychologist specialized in eating disorders, consumers (muscovites and migrants), optic scientists, NGO trying to learn different aspects of the Moscow food system.

Despite the high quality of life, being Muscovite isn’t easy. Stress, high-load life 24/7, lack of work-life balance – all that things have a vicious effect on mental and physical health, which leads to various eating disorders and obesity.

On the other hand, people do not know what is proper, balanced nutrition means. They mistakenly believe that a healthy diet means prohibitions and restrictions. A community or family doesn’t teach healthy eating habits, marketing only make the situation worse. Lack of time makes them eat what is accessible and usually, these are high-fats, empty food without needed nutrition.

Moscow only imports food. Due to the harsh climate, retailers import greens, fresh vegetables, and fruits. It makes vegetables and fruits quite expensive and not accessible, especially in winter for people with low income.

At the same time, delivery increases transport footprint. Long supply chains mean that fruits and vegetables are breeding for transportation, not eating, which affects taste and quality. It also reduces production transparency and requires more packaging.

Convenient digitized life in Moscow is not free. Immigrants pay for it by working on non-prestigious low-income jobs like couriers, taxi drivers, shop assistants, janitors, etc.

Vulnerable groups are people with low income, usually: kids from single-mom or large families, elderly, disabled, migrants and some women face establish and support a healthy diverse diet due to high prices on fresh seasoned, lack of time, habits, and knowledge... Within the food system and services, workers such as waiters, couriers, cashiers have to face increased workload and bad treatment. Migrants face cultural and social isolation.


We predict the Moscow metropolitan area will grow insignificantly up to 25 mln people much of its provided by migrants. But the city will remain the most populated in Europe and save leading positions in terms of economic development in Russia and the same post-industrial GRP structure. Digitalization will make time problem even worse. Climate change and political isolation can lead to non-stable prices, though will allow cropping vegetables and fruits which couldn’t grow in Moscow before due to the cold climate

We hope waste management will be fixed, at least in terms of garbage sorting and composting organic wastes. Organic production will spread and local organic food will be ubiquitous.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Our focus is that the result is a system, not a product. In our system, a balanced diet should be a side-effect. 


Moscow became a system, where humans and their needs are in the center. Our goal is to create a technological and bio environment, where healthy food is easily accessible and is part of life. From personal flat, apartment block to yards and parts: everything is edible.


Partial in city production within communities to reduce supply chain, change breeding focus, increase transparency and resilience. Local food production less dependent on climate and policy changes and reduce the need for certification and control on a governmental level. 


Quality and healthy diet scenarios with the help of intuitive education, awareness and creating local apartment block communities, supporting complex and diverse eating scenarios.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Moscow of the future will be less dependant on surrounding areas and the international market, therefore being more resilient and less harming for the environment. Empty spaces: roofs, yards, basements can be transformed to support people who live there and partly powered by what Moscow produces: heat and waste. 


Small area production based on communities united via location and messengers will create flexible systems, where people can easily influence on what is produced. Transparency and engagement can provide support for vulnerable groups and activate sharing. Local popular companies can help to set community-based kitchens, growing facilities and help with predictive technologies.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our focus is that result is a system, not a product. In our system balanced diet should be  side-effect.

Reduce risks and strive for mental and physical well-being.

First of all, balanced diverse diets are vegetables, fruits, berries, whole grains, fish and decreased fats, red meat, sugar, and salt. Special attention is for Ferrum and vitamin B, as there is a deficiency. Diet also should be moderate. This is based on the insights from our endocrinologist-nutritionist, local nutritionist, and insights from Carelian and Canadian diets.


Transparency and locality. The diet is a side effect of our system that provides easy access to the food and food system itself. The system is built around humans and their needs: variety, quick access, awareness, and understanding.



Food diet is built upon different sources - indoor farming, outdoor farming, rural farms, and international production sites. In the future system, we focus more on indoor and outdoor farming, rural farms than international production sites. It is needed to increase food system resilience, reduce supply chain and decrease the transport footprint. In this case, vegetables and fruits are bred for eating, not transportation and storage.


Quick access

Next level variety focuses on how people cook. In the future, we expect an increased time deficiency for vulnerable groups, therefore local companies like "Kuhnya na rayone", whose desire to take cooking from people will be more relevant. One of the scenarios is local, community-based kitchens and growing labs that provide meals for people with the help of AI, prediction, and distribution. Production and growing have to be transparent (maybe physically) and open, so people can be aware of what they eat. We imagine these kitchens and cafes be a point of engagement for the community and they will very flexible to changes according to what people want. In addition to that, heat and energy from Moscow can be used to warm up farms in the winter.


Another scenario is personal farming facilities that will help people with low income get more fresh vegetables with lower costs. Small indoor farms will be managed by AI and robots to save time and be fruitful in any season, working in a way of a circular economy: using warm, ‘grey’ draining water and organic waste products witch inhabitants and meal kit producers generate.  In this case, certification is not needed, as people responsible for what they eat by themselves, which decreases the load on the policy system and makes it more flexible. Businesses can focus on producing personal technologies for growing, not food itself.


To help people maintain a balanced diet, as we learned from immigrants' insights, it is important and convenient to inform people about an easy quick variety of recipes that make many dishes from several ingredients. Giving people a quick tool to choose and learn valid recipes and healthy recipes will decrease time in deciding what to cook.


In season (Spring, Summer, and Autumn) eatable fields will place in yards, around houses, and on the roofs. Everybody, who loves and wants could work there, developing their gardens that remind an old traditional dacha but with new technological components.



Awareness and understanding

Transparent production will work for education as well. Youngs will see how food is growing not only in the picture but IRL and could get in at any time. According to psychologists specialized in eating disorders, relationships with food build-up from the childhood experience and influence behavior all our life. It is important to educate children on food literacy: growing, cooking, understanding why we eat and what, how emotions can cause us to eat. Food is a big part of our life and we have to learn about it in schools, but also local surroundings - farms.


The city is a circular food system

According to George Afanasiev, local farmer our systems are linear and highly decorative. It means that we have to invest energy to sustain them. As he believes, the city should be edible and self-sustaining, we agree with him. One more direction to go is to develop local urban areas like yards and parks to complex biocenosis with wildlife, berries, and plants and let people enjoy and sustain them. Using public spaces and parks for growing foods, replacing decorative plants with edible ones, optimizing urban spaces for greenery and recreation, enriching biodiversity in an urban environment, strengthening capacities in animal and plant health, animal welfare and management – this is steps for the next stage

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Facebook


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Photo of Archiebold Manasseh

Good project! all the best

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