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Food Connects 2050: a nature-based food economy for all in Washington DC region

Nature Based meets High Tech as a showcase for resilient, healthy and accessible food practices worldwide

Photo of Marian Stuiver
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Wageningen Research, Netherlands

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

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

Our team is comprised of Marian Stuiver, Bertram de Rooij, Rick van de Zedde, Bas Hetterscheid, Fusien Verloop and Sacha Tijmstra from Wageningen University and Research. We partnered with Sabine O’Hara, Camille Range, Juanita Gray and Haniyeh Shariatmadary from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Science (CAUSES). CAUSES has worked for years in neighborhoods in every ward of DC (especially 5 and 8). During the refinement phase we partnered with Andrew Mack of Agromovil App Development, Diana Dakik and Robert Spake of the Urban Ag Coop Student Collaborative of UDC, professor Edgar Cahn of Timebanking, professor Annemieke Roobeek of GrwNxt Amsterdam, Matthijs Koper of the WorldStartup Collective Netherlands, Ron van der Sterren of STUNST/Shared Studios, Menno Houtstra of KasKantine Amsterdam and Rio Pals of Urban Greenhouse Challenge in the Netherlands.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • Under 1 year

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


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

The Netherlands

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

Washington DC and it's wider region

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Marian Stuiver (Wageningen, the Netherlands) and Sabine O’Hara (Washington DC, the United States) have a mutual passion to build a community-based vision for a resilient, environmentally sustainable and socially just food economy for the Washington DC region.

O’Hara and her team members, Camille Range, Juanita Gray and Haniyeh Shariatmadary, live in Washington D.C and work/study at the newest of the UDC Colleges: the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES). CAUSES is dedicated to the green innovation economy and to build capacity in the DC metro area. UDC is an Historically Black College and University, the only public university in DC, and the only exclusively urban land-grant university in the US.

O’Hara developed the Urban Food Hubs model in 2013 and soon CAUSES began to build the Hubs in some of the most underserved DC neighborhoods. The team works with neighborhood residents, elected local representatives (ANCs), different DC agencies like DOEE (energy/environment), DCHA (housing) and DOH (health), several non-profit organizations like Dreaming Out Load, DC Urban Greens, and DC Central Kitchen, local schools and private sector organizations such as the DC Arch Angels and Kakovitch Global Business.

Stuiver and her team members, Bertram de Rooij, Fusien Verloop, Sacha Tijmstra, Rick van de Zedde and Bas Hetterscheid, work at Wageningen University & Research in the Green Cities programme that focuses on building resilient cities worldwide with stakeholders from industries, non-profits and government. WUR aspires to be 'the place to be' for engaged international scholars and students looking to “explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. The team combines knowledge and expertise on urbanization, landscape architecture, bio-based economy and food technologies. 

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.

The wider region of Washington DC is a microcosm for all the challenges faced by the current urban food system worldwide. The DC region grows and exemplifies socio-economically bifurcated urban areas that experience rising costs and land values. It is listed as the sixth largest US metropolitan area and the largest in the South Atlantic region (6.2 million inhabitants in 2017). DC itself is relatively small with 650,000 inhabitants but has a special status as capital.

Population and education: disparities

The growing disparities in the city associated with rising land values and population pressures create an almost perfect storm. Although one of the most educated and affluent metropolitan areas in the US and still grows -unlike many other areas along the East coast- not everyone is getting a fair share in the city’s development.

Called Chocolate City for decades, referring to it's predominantly African American population, DC demographics are rapidly changing. As DC continues to grow it also faces gentrification. New populations move in and push up land values. Long-time residents are at risk of being pushed out as they can no longer afford to live in the city that has been their home for generations. If current trends continue, demographers predict a completely new social composition for DC.

Wards and governance structure

DC is divided into eight wards that still display many of the characteristics of segregation including racial, socio-economic, education and health-related divides (table 1; fig.1; fig.2). The Wards east of the Anacostia River have the highest percentage of African American populations, higher unemployment rates, lowest household incomes and education levels, and highest rates of food-related preventable health issues (1).

Lack of access to affordable fresh food is a challenge for many underserved communities across the US. Eight census tracks in DC are considered food deserts with no access to fresh unprocessed food within a distance of 1.5 miles (2,3). The lack of full-service grocery stores that offer fresh produce and access to unprocessed fruits and vegetables in the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River (fig. 3) is chiefly contributing to the disparities in preventable illness. And it is here that the Urban Food Hubs are being developed.

Natural resources and the circular food economy 

Despite the region’s growing demand for food, agriculture faces significant challenges, with the number of farmers, farms, farmland and regional production of popular foods in decline (4,5). The impact on the wider food economy of the region has been significant and only a small portion of the food needs can be met from within the region today. At the same time, food trends are changing. Offering major opportunities for local food enterprises (6) - the region has more farmers markets per capita than any other regions and vast numbers of local craft beverage operations and agritourism (5). Urban and peri-urban food production can also contribute positively to the natural resource base of the region and resilience once policies result in action.

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

Diets: Several neighborhoods in Washington DC are designated food deserts without access to unprocessed fresh food. Integrating circular agriculture concepts into the food systems will provide better access to fresh local food, reduce storage and transportation needs, and use locally available resources and biomass streams more effectively while also improving nutritional health (7).

Culture: Diverse and rich in culture and traditions, Washington DC has the opportunity to build a model of global relevance. While the different cultures in the wards once had a thriving network of small grocery stores, corner stores selling beer and beefaroni are now the norm. There are, however, more powerful buttons that need to be turned in addition to grocery stores: the social divides of income, education, housing and jobs.

Economy: Disparity is the keyword when looking at the urban economy. Food deserts are the tip of the iceberg: income, education and opportunities are segregated along spatial and racial lines at the Ward level (table 1; fig. 1). While urban neighborhoods lack food access and jobs, the agricultural sector of the surrounding areas struggles with an aging farmer population, farmland loss, fragmentation, a loss of support services, restrictive zoning laws and limited water availability. This contributes to further food disparities and environmental decline. A clear vision that can overcome spatial, cultural and socio-economic divides is crucial if opportunities and potential are to be unlocked.

Sustainability: The current food system comes with many environmental challenges such as fresh water availability, soil quality decline, nutrient run-off and a large energy footprint. Climate change will have additional effects (8,9,10,11). The current food system is highly dependent on transportation. Significant food waste and losses along the food chain is also impacting resources and biodiversity. The aquatic systems of the Potomac river, the Anacostia river and the Chesapeake Bay show the ecological impact (12,13).

Technology: The technological challenges in the city and its region are diverse. While DC has one of the largest number of green roofs and LEED-certified buildings in the US, it is still a long way from being energy neutral (14). Technologies that work with nature and use its systems to their advantage must be developed and implemented to make cities more sustainable and reduce resource and pollution pressures on surrounding peri-urban and rural areas that sustain the population density of cities (15).

Policy: As food system policies are distributed across more than a dozen DC agencies, coordination a challenge. This is exacerbated by the fact that DC does not have a department of agriculture. Land use and resource pressures associated with population growth and urban development also play their part. The way these challenges are addressed can be a model for coordinating institutional initiatives at different governance levels and areas of responsibility. Washington DC’s reality is one of centralization with downtown being a major tourist destination and culinary mecca while the surrounding Wards are neglected. 

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

Our vision for a food system in 2050 starts with the award-winning Urban Food Hubs Model. This model demonstrates effective ways to create a circular urban food economy that integrates a green infrastructure and energy economy. It seeks to minimise waste, maximise energy efficiency, contribute to urban resilience and improve the quality of life of urban residents from all walks of life. Each Hub features four integrated components: Food Production, Food Preparation, Food Distribution and closing the loop through Waste and Water Management.

The Hubs demonstrate a systemic approach to building capacity as improvements in economic capacity and quality of life are inextricably linked to the environmental/physical and social/cultural context of local communities. The mission and commitment is to improve not only economic outcomes, but also the social/cultural and physical/environmental context within which every economic activity takes place (7).

The linked circular economy model illustrates the point that food systems are uniquely connected to sustainability. This is clearly demonstrated in urban neighbourhoods characterised by high density, space constraints and ecosystems deprivation. Urban food production can increase permeable surfaces, green roofs absorb storm water run-off, and both reduce pressure on urban storm water systems (16). Producing food in dense communities also requires notion on new issues like integrative pest management and opportunities like mitigating heat islands (17). The four components of the UDC Food Hub address these complex connections:

1. Food production through bio-intensive methods, hydroponics and aquaponics;

2. Food preparation via kitchens that add value and offer nutrition education;

3. Food distribution through farmers markets, CSAs, restaurants and niche markets; and

4. Closing the loop by composting, water harvesting, rain gardens and other green infrastructure initiatives.

Each Hub comprises a cluster of business opportunities embedded in the neighbourhood where a Food Hub is located. Good examples are health assessment and nutrition counselling, growing micro-greens and herbs for high-end restaurants and grocery stores, green roofs that serve as food production and event spaces, and native plant seedlings grown for urban parks and rain gardens.The Urban Food Hubs seek to build a network of food-related activities that improve food security, nutritional health, employment and resilience, especially in neighbourhoods that have deficits on all counts. 

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.

Food Connects 2050: a nature-based food economy for Washington DC

Food in Washington DC and it's surrounding areas has become the connecting link for an inclusive and resilient region that values its natural resources, cultural diversity and commitment to nature-based innovation. Diets are largely plant-based and offer opportunities to share cultural roots and new ideas; technology enhances natural resources and strengthens ecosystems rather than depleting them; economic activity is circular and recharges rather than exploits; and policies emphasize cross-regional collaboration rather than isolation. Urban actions and rural strategies form an interconnected system that builds upon natural and social characteristics and values.

The power of food is a strong force to bring about change. Food can connect people and cultures, urban and rural areas, and humans and nature. A more inclusive culture becomes a positive side-effect when we manage to make people proud of what they eat. Food can be Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, medicine, exercise, culture, tradition, and so much more.

The guiding principles evident throughout the Washington DC region in 2050 are:

- Living environments that are green, resilient, adaptive and productive.

- Circular food economies that link to green technology and green infrastructure sectors,

- Diets that are plant-based and have eliminated the negative health impacts of too much and too little food.

- Nature-based technologies that replenish resources and sustain healthy ecosystems.

- Cultural diversity that embraces difference as a basis for socio-diversity.

- Food production systems that are complementary, diverse and sustainable and link urban, peri-urban and rural communities.

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

"Food Connects 2050: a nature-based food economy for Washington DC" projects a future in which the entire food system of Washington DC and it's surrounding areas is connected and connective. People have access to local and sustainably grown food, connect with their neighbours and neighbourhoods, make use of the latest technologies and work in circular business parks. The city preserves, restores and enjoys it's natural resources and urban nature. We believe that urban leadership in 2050 has become an important competence for many residents in the city. Urban leadership means co-creating solutions together with local residents and stakeholders from the private, public and non-profit sector.

We portray a dream in which all eight DC Wards are equally strong and rooted in a nature based food economy. We have developed eight distinct dreams that illustrate the diverse yet interconnected opportunities associated with a circular food system rooted in nature and culture.

Ward 1: Washington DC automated fresh food mobility center

Food connects the wards

Come 2050, hundreds of drones have alleviated the traffic jams in downtown DC. They zip about making just-in-time deliveries of strawberries fresh from the urban farms in Ward 4 for breakfast. Seedlings for plant-based water filtration systems are distributed from Ward 7 to downtown offices. Personal ‘silent natural wings’ drones fly to tourists on the Mall and entertain those waiting for entrance to one of the Smithsonian museums. The lower traffic congestion has opened up former traffic lanes and pavements for added green space that makes a meaningful contribution to reducing the summer heat in downtown DC.

Ward 2: Hotels and restaurants serve local food

Food connects economy and the world

Visitors to the city in 2050 are proudly presented with a guide to plant-based regional cuisine in the area on internet and upon arrival at the Washington DC airports. Passionate youth movements started the revolution that brought about the change needed to implement a local and regional food system. There is a network of hotels, government buildings, hospitals, community centers and schools that produce their vegetables and fruits in energy-neutral climate rooms. At the same time, they also support outdoor food systems in raised bed gardens that encourage wellness and community. A new generation of students and employees are working in a circular food sector that features locally diverse and culturally sensitive cuisine.

Ward 3: Removing barriers - celebrating food cultures

Food connects people and the world

People living in the affluent neighbourhoods of Ward 3 embrace and encourage the cultural diversity expressed in the food traditions of other DC Wards. By 2050 food has become a vehicle for learning languages, traditions, poetry and music, and food festivals highlight minority niches that give new residents and immigrants the opportunity to share their roots and traditions.

Ward 4: Cool and green neighborhoods

Food connects people and nature

Ward 4 has long been a diverse neighborhood sometimes characterized by contrasts and contradictions. Its close connection to Rock Creek Park, the largest in Washington DC, make it the perfect location for a wide variety of gardens and landscapes. Grape arbors, medicinal herbs, berries and ethnic crops serve as a rich source of vegetables, herbs and fruits for communities throughout the DC metro areas. Various food production techniques are shared and management practices constantly improve to increase soil quality, reduce nutrient loss, enhance freshwater reservoirs and improve air quality. The diverse landscapes of the rural Mid Atlantic Coastal plain, the foothills of the Appalachian Piedmont and the Folded Appalachians/Blue Ridge to the Appalachian Plateau brings richness and diversity to the innovative gardens rooted in the diverse neighborhoods of Ward 4. These outdoor growing spaces are interspersed with cutting-edge soilless systems growing food at maximum intensity in vertical systems that blend seamlessly into the formerly industrial landscape of Ward 5.

Ward 5: City forest garden parks

Food connects economy and nature

Ward 5 has become the lung of Washington DC in 2050. Its neighborhoods are dotted with urban forests featuring eatable fruits, nuts and berries. The highly productive eatable landscapes emit oxygen and enhance the air quality of the city while also contributing to a much-needed cooling effect during the summer months. The more mature sections of the urban forests deliver wood for wood products and a thriving artisan community. In addition to the eatable forests, greenhouses and vertical farms are interspersed throughout the diverse neighborhoods of Ward 5. New attractive urban and peri-urban pathways with multifunctional green-blue veining provide a sustainable basis that links the city to the wider regional food-shed. The region gives space to high tech circular agriculture and aquaculture that provide for the culturally diverse dietary needs of the DC metro population and have a sound export value chain.

Ward 6: Providing ecosystems services

Food connects natural resources and the world

Given its close proximity to the rivers that cut through the city, Ward 6 has become the natural resource hub of Washington DC. In 2050 the Anacostia river is swimmable and fishable providing many wellness and food system-related resources to the city. Moreover, the river has become the centrepiece for state-of-the-art plant-based water filtration systems that have taken considerable pressure off the city’s water treatment facility in blue plains. Water is recirculated through a series of sediment and plant-filled growing beds that are arranged in sequence and installed in greenhouses to allow for year-round water filtration. Any excess water from the intensive food production systems in Wards 4 and 5 is also channelled to Ward 6. Here the water runoff is tested for nutrient content and any nutrient rich run-off diverted for fertigation purposes to ensure all nutrients are used to their maximum.

Open spaces with native plants, grasses and shrubs also enhance the landscape and contribute to air quality enhancement, heat island mitigation, biodiversity, and pollinator protection. Nature trails serve as study areas and outdoor classrooms throughout the Ward. This fantastic landscape has become an exemplar for other cities, illustrating how they can positively contribute to larger meta region and global environmental quality improvements, especially climate change mitigation.

Some of the areas along the rivers serve as aquaculture centres for the city, raising fish in pristine conditions to serve as local high-end protein source for local restaurants and food festivals. The annual fish fry is an especially popular event. The fish refuse generated in the aquaculture centres is used as nutrient rich organic fertilizer for agriculture and gardening projects throughout the region. The green-blue veining that characterises Ward 6 combines multiple benefits of climate services, energy production, health and food, and is highly valued by DC and metro region residents as well as visitors to the region.

Ward 7: Nature-based technology centre

Food connects technology and economy

A nature-based lifestyle meets high-tech in Ward 7. By 2050, technological advances have merged with sustainable solutions and an enabling environment to form the backbone of a thriving network of technology businesses. The Ward also prides itself on the rich history of African American entrepreneurs. Nature-based technology and biomimicry techniques established in the Ward have made it possible to move the entire energy generation for 75,000 residents off the grid, making households independent of the local utility. Ward 7 also builds the sediments and plant-based living machines for the water filtration systems in neighbouring Ward 6. STEM-focused technology entrepreneurship classes are a staple of the businesses in Ward 7 and many have become a mecca for small-scale green technology entrepreneurs from around the world.

Ward 8: Community access to plant-based diets

Food connects people and people

The much-needed shift to personalised diets that embrace less meat and more plant and protein-based food while maintaining culturally embedded tastes and textures has been fully realised in Ward 8. Local community farms, restaurants, bars and music venues form a thriving network of culturally diverse go-to places in 2050. True to its rich African American history, hip-hop and bee bop are the beating heart of the food and people scene of Ward 8. Wellness too is an important feature of this culture, with walking, biking, lifting, stretching, dancing and drumming clubs all over the city’s far south-east neighbourhoods. Residents of all ages and backgrounds share their knowledge of healthy lifestyles and food cultures and community-based greenhouses, incubator kitchens and canning sheds dot the neighbourhoods. The public space surrounding these food and wellness hubs has contributed to shared expertise, reduced crime, and increased trust in this culturally rich community where many native Washingtonians live alongside neighbours from every continent.

Collectively, the dreams of the DC Wards express an inspiring vision of a food system that effectively integrates improvements in health, employment, infrastructure, ecosystems and resilience. The grounding of the vision in the Urban Food Hubs model ensures that the vision is practical and achievable yet creative and aspirational at the same time. Given its commitment to social, cultural and environmental physical context and place the vision has relevance far beyond Washington DC and provides a road map for a sustainable, resilient and just food system for communities around the world.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • We were invited to participate

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

We developed a more in depth local perspective for the Wards of Washington DC as well the Washington DC region. We involved community leaders, technical collaborators and regional innovators to build a feasible plan of action. Partners from the Netherlands met with partners in Washington DC to start building a global (digital) network. We engaged students and artists in developing our vision. We refined the feasibility, synergies and trade-offs of our vision based on drivers and signals of change. 

While the current COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging to navigate the engagement process of partners and stakeholders, it has also pointed the way toward future engagement and successful collaborations even in times of external shock events. The network we developed is diverse, multidisciplinary, and reflective of the combined local and credentialed expertise necessary to successfully implement our vision. 

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

1. Partners in our Vision Team by category:


University of the District of Columbia CAUSES, Washington DC


Agromovil, Washington DC

GrwNxt, Amsterdam

Social Enterprise: STUNST, Wageningen

Non-Governmental Organization:

Agricultural Coop of UDC, Washington DC

KasKantine, Urban Farm Cafe, Amsterdam

Service Organization:

Timebanking USA, Washington DC

WorldStartUp Collective, The Hague

2. Supporters by category:

Science and Education:

UDC Centre for Nutrition and Health, Washington DC

Charles Houston Elementary School, Washington DC

Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, Amsterdam

One Planet Research Centre, Wageningen

Program Circular and Climate Neutral, Wageningen

Investment Group: DC Arch Angels, Washington DC

Company: KB Aqua, Washington DC


Advisory Neighbourhood Commissioner 7C07, Washington DC

Dutch Embassy, Washington DC


Ag Salon, Washington DC

Green Circles, Wageningen

Shared Studios USA, New York

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.

2 community leaders involved in the focus group process represent their respective neighborhoods in Ward 7 and 8. These two Wards have the highest percentage of children under the age of 18 among the 8 DC Wards. The Wards also have the highest percentage of female headed single parent households.

Agromovil is bi-lingual (English/Spanish) which makes it especially valuable as an app that can be used by the urban and peri-urban farmers that supply Washington DC farmers markets and CSAs. A national coalition of small Latino Farmers supports the UDC CAUSES farmers market and several others in Washington DC. Collectively the National Latino Farmers and Rangers Association represents approximately 75,000 small Latino farmers. The student coop groups is a new organization consisting currently of about 6 student leaders. Their network represents 30 younger adults.

One time banking network is currently well established in Washington DC. Interest has increased because people recently lost their job during the COVID-19 pandemic. The global time banking network has over 100,000 members.

GrwNxt reaches the majority of the key international players in the horticulture (>1000 companies). The director is a renowned speaker from Amsterdam to Singapore. She is actively involved in the Bootcamps of the HortiHeroes that reach hundreds of young people, from students to young professionals.

WorldStartup has outreach to thousands of entrepreneurs. The majority of this audience are millennials, committed to sustainable innovation and shared-value creation. US based Shared Studios connects people in person through 40 portals, physical meeting places located at numerous places across the globe. Through those Studios every year 30.000 citizens around the globe meet. Urban Green House Challenge in Wageningen covers a network of over 30 international, interdisciplinary student teams that design ultimate urban greenhouses.

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.

There are major trends that we see as highly relevant for our Vision, ranging from environmental change and technological advancement to economic, societal and political drivers of change.

Climate change, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss are crucial drivers. The World Economic Forum underlines the importance of a paradigm shift (18,19). Climate change is expected to affect all aspects of society, from livability to food distribution to the nutritional values of crops (20).

Digitalization and the Internet of Things are important trends. As the speed at which advances like smartphones have spread shows, there will be leaps forward in every decade. Artificial intelligence, drone technology, sensors, blockchain and big data will all influence food systems, resulting in new forms of smart farms and new ways of developing value chains and food communities (21).

The on-going trend to globalization is no longer as clear as it was a few months ago, While it would be naïve to think that globalization trends will be reversed, the current COVID-19 pandemic has also brought the vulnerability of global supply chains into sharp focus. Other future shocks might have the same effect. The solution is to make resilient systems focusing on the most essential goods and services including food and water (22).

The ongoing rise of urbanization will stay a major trend. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic has brought the impacts of urban population density into sharp focus. Food systems are challenged as long supply chains and urban density on the one hand, and the absence of services in rural communities on the other hand, have amplified social inequalities across communities. Therefore we address the links between urban and rural systems (34) as an important part of the food systems solution (23,24,25).

These trends result in a range of change signals that inform our vision. The first, naturally, is food justice (26,27). The COVID-19 crisis has amplified existing disparities that have long shaped the food access conditions in Washington DC. The pandemic has also highlighted the need for strong urban, peri-urban and rural partnerships. In light if the fragilities of today’s food system and global supply chains, decentralization and local trust are critical elements of a more resilient food system. The urban-rural divide can therefore become an opportunity for regional coordination of shorter value chains that benefit all (28,29).

Other signals embrace resilience thinking and circular economy initiatives and assume that good resource management is crucial for all sectors and opens the way to more nature-based design of urban food systems (22,30,31).

Other signals of change are time banking, commoning, the gift economy and the resilience movement sparked by the Greta Thunberg generations (32,33,50). These initiatives stress the importance of economic and social innovations and to build on the strengths of the next generations.

Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

We present three key food system actors in 2050. Their stories are depicted in three visuals as well as elaborated in the Full Refined Vision

Kaleminia, the ‘magic’ black kale, is a celebrity of the culinary scene at schools, restaurants and neighborhood markets throughout Washington DC and its surrounding area. Famous chefs have invented dishes with Kaleminia. She appears in a movie where she moves to China. Kaleminia represents the cultural roots and diversity of the Washington region and exemplifies a dramatic shift to a more plant-based diet. 

Today is Kevin Masons’ retirement party. In his 50s, Kevin was at the forefront of implementing the neighborhood-based green technology vision that was first developed by focus groups in Congress Heights and Deanwood. Twenty years later, he can retire safe in the knowledge that his efforts have been firmly embedded into the infrastructure and utilities strategy of DC.

Alina Mendez, born and raised in Ward 8 in 2020, used to accompany her mother to the community garden. Today Alina is the owner of an ingestible sensor linked to an app that provides personalized dietary advice. The app was based on a new comprehensive AI platform combining data from behavior, food choices and shopping, sensors in the digestive system and user’s medical care account. Alina helped thousands of people worldwide. Alina was recently notified that her app had won an international award!

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

Climate adaptation and resilience are important elements in the future food system we envision. The green/blue infrastructure and elements of our vision provide a resilient structure to mitigate and adapt to climate change, its effects and its expected extremes. 

Moreover, the decentralized nature of our circular food system, takes local circumstances in terms of physical/environmental constraints and cultural/social qualities into account. This makes the system more adaptive and resilient even to unforeseen shocks like the current COVID-19 outbreak. The envisioned system will also have a mitigating effect on climate change as it will lead to a reduction of the food system footprint by promoting plant-based diets and much shorter supply chains.

Resilience is not only about coping with climate-related disruptions: it also considers dependencies on renewable and non-renewable resources and rests on strong new social structures and safety nets. Through circular design, valorisation of waste streams and increased diversification, our vision will make a significant contribution to local and global resilience.

The main elements in our vision related to building an adaptive and resilient community and region are (35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43):

1. Reducing the food system carbon footprint through more plant-based diets and shorter supply chains

2. Expanding the Food Hubs, which are themselves an example of a circular food economy, to further illustrate how our circular model can include a range of new valorization techniques, including insects, waste streams, and water run-off.

3. Redesigning the regional food economy as a bio-based and circular economy,

4. Boosting resilience, especially in cities, through an urban food system that is based on balance with nature and social responsibility.

5. Incorporating pandemic resilience as a major focus of a resilient food system, especially in light of COVID-19; this will require a focus on building up stocks (44).

6. Focusing on public-private partnerships as a way to build up stocks and optimize flows to provide a buffer against shock events that especially threaten food and water security.

7. Water-efficient farming and water reuse/recycling, which will be greatly facilitated through technologies that enhance water aeration in highly efficient ways. Rainwater capture and the aeration of rivers and streams will also contribute significantly to the freshwater management capacity of Washington and its greater metro area. 

8. There will be intergenerational food coops everywhere, with retired and young people working closely together to tend to a green/blue network of gardens, greenhouses, rooftops, landscapes and fish hatcheries. They will be compensated by time banking systems that will be dotted around neighborhods across the region.

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?

Our food system will take action to address malnutrition and inequalities from the outset. The vision addresses the dual problems of hunger and obesity by promoting a nutrient-rich, largely plant-based diet with limited saturated fat, sugar and salt. It focuses on optimizing harvest yields in terms of nutrients rather than weight, volume or even calories: this will include an emphasis on improved nutrient yield through fortification.

We see cultural sensitivity as key to a successful transition to more plant-based, nutrient-rich diets. Our community-based approach recognizes that a one-size-fits-all strategy is not helpful given culture-specific issues related to food and body image. Our vision will aim to achieve dietary change through personalized nutrition advice aligned to individual preferences and cultural backgrounds. In addition to advising on nutrition, a personalized app can track exercise and provide information about the ecological footprint of particular food choices.

Food will be produced in a series of concentric circles around the urban core. In the city centre, urban agriculture will focus on highly perishable, highly nutrient-dense crops. Due to the high land values here, yield and harvests should be measured in nutrients not pounds. Urban growers will therefore focus on high-value crops like greens, lettuce, herbs and other nutritious produce, including baby greens and baby lettuce that is especially high in nutrients. Herbs, hot peppers and cherry tomatoes will complement this selection of nutrient-dense crops that will be grown in bio-intensive systems in Wards 4 and 5, as well as community gardens throughout Washington DC. These community and home gardens will make a meaningful contribution to healthy plant-based diets of residents in every ward while also allowing household budgets to go further.

Gardening skills will greatly improve through intensive short courses offered by the UDC CAUSES cooperative: training programs will first focus on certifying trainers form the community to effectively implement a train-the-trainer model where certified trainers, will then teach their neighbors. This each-one-teach-one approach will not only increase food production capacity by several magnitudes – it will also improve physical and mental health through outdoor activity and a return to interacting with nature, which will in turn lower nature-deficit syndrome and other stress syndromes related to nature deprivation, especially among school-aged populations.

The peri-urban ring will focus on less perishable and bulkier crops that will benefit from a shorter supply chain enabled by keeping production close to market and through a focus on direct marketing to consumers, restaurants and food processors. The main crops in the peri-urban area will include tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, aubergines, cucumbers, squash, okra and a wide variety of other vegetables, including unusual crops that cater to the tastes of immigrant communities. A DC favorite, namely sweetcorn, will also be prominently featured, as will a range of berries. Some peri-urban locations will also produce small animals like chickens, ducks and rabbits.

Rural locations will grow lower-priced crops that require larger land areas and are less affected by transportation and storage. These will include potatoes and grains, as well as some animal products such as milk, beef, pork and mutton. Fruit production will include apples, pears, cherries, persimmon, paw-paw, mulberries, quince and figs – these are among the most popular fruit trees in the region and are grown in peri-urban and rural areas as well as the urban neighbourhods of Washington that feature eatable landscapes.

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

The U.S. food system is currently highly centralized. With 80% of food originating in just 140,000 farms and food processing in the hands of only a handful of companies, this situation increases the food security risk. In our vision, jobs need to be relocalized to the metro DC economy, which will create shorter supply chains with a system that is less vulnerable to external shocks.

We are convinced that much of the work involved in food production will eventually be automated. However, in our Vision there will be growth in new support jobs in services, design and creativity that cut across multiple sectors of the economy. Jobs that can be created in hospitality, education and technology. ‘Freshineers’ are a new type of job: people from the neighbourhods interested in fresh food who have an affinity with technology and engineering are trained to work in the Food Hubs (48).

Time banking is an important step forward. In 2050, when robots will have taken over some of the work of humans, time banking will be the ideal way to maintain the value of human contributions to their local community and region. As members of a neighbourhod contribute their time to a thriving local food system in the DC metro area and work on the edible landscapes, soilless food production systems and community gardens of Washington, they will be compensated through a network of local goods and services provided in the time banking community.

The egalitarian structure of time banking (33) will revolutionize civil society and the interactions between neighborhoods and municipalities. In their free time, people will engage in jobs such as gardening and processing foods, and in sustainable practices to maintain edible forests and river systems. Collective brainpower will be used to continuously adapt to changing conditions via citizen science. A common working week will be 25 hours, providing people with more time for study and leisure.

Growing food crops in a way that respects nature and region-specific environmental conditions – both in the city and in the surrounding peri-urban and rural areas – will be the basis for a more diversified economy that makes the region more self-sustaining and supports new jobs in the service, design and creative sectors.

The idea of strengthening local economies by substituting imports with local goods and services produced in decentralized local business networks is not new and has been called leak plugging or relocalization (45). There are two principal strategies: to attract outside businesses to relocate to the community and to grow businesses from within. The UDC Urban Food Hubs promote the latter by focusing on local entrepreneurship (27,28).

In urban areas the most abundant local resource is waste, related mostly to food and materials such as building components, pallets, household appliances and furniture. Once access to these resources has been established, their abundance and status as public property means that the products made from these resources are widely shared. In other words, nobody can really claim the products are theirs, because the resources of which the products are made were not theirs to begin with. This gives rise to a whole new mode of production in urban areas, which we call a ‘Gift Economy (32)’. Giving stimulates giving back as a reciprocal act. A ‘Gift Economy’ may strengthen the social fabric of local communities and ultimately lead to a more vibrant local civic society with a diversity of activities and jobs for the local people.

The cooperative initiative that is being formed by UDC students is based on public and communal approaches to economic activity both in terms of its productive and consumptive contributions. This is a critical component of our vision for 2050, since we are convinced that successful models of a sustainable future economy must be based on collective ownership and collaborative production models which are embedded in the culture and social & physical structure of the region, and counteract the present economic system that often results in ever-longer supply chains and associated risks.

Local farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs continue to be popular in 2050. Rather than charging a price per pound, CSAs charge their customers a flat fee at the beginning of the growing season. In exchange, CSA members receive a weekly delivery of in-season produce. Those participating in one of the popular Time Banking networks can pay for their CSA share via time committed to their Time Bank. Some of the time sharing options include crop maintenance, harvesting, and delivery of produce to other CSA members; others include administrative and coordinating functions.

We are convinced that with our focus on leadership, diversity, inclusiveness, the role of women is crucial in the local food economies and female leadership will be enhanced in our education programs and business incubator schemes (67).

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

We believe that the power of food can be a strong driving force for cultural change and new inclusive connections. Food can be the main commodity enabling a transition to an inclusive culture with multiple connections between people in the city and with farmers outside the city. If we manage to make people proud of what they eat, a more inclusive culture will be an obvious and very positive side effect as well as a source of renewal of the food system of 2050.

A collective story of Wards 7 and 8 makes these broader connections of food very clear. The story was developed in focus groups of local residents organized by Sabine O’Hara and some of her students at UDC. The residents and stakeholders who participated in the focus groups wrote a story of the Deanwood (Ward 7) and Congress Heights (Ward 8) neighborhoods of Washington, and the sustainable future the residents envisioned.

The collective story starts with the statement that, by 2030, both neighborhoods will be “… thriving communities that are popular among residents and visitors alike (7)”. The neighborhood demographics will represent a spectrum of young to middle-aged singles, families, and people of retirement age and a diverse mix of races, ethnicities, and cultures that give the area its vibrancy.

The story takes pride in the African-American heritage of the so-called chocolate city by envisioning a museum that will feature African-American inventors, scientists, and entrepreneurs. It will connect the rich history of African-American inventors to the cutting-edge energy generation facilities, water filtration systems, and Urban Food Hubs located in Wards 7 and 8 (7).

The museum will offer many hands-on exhibits that invite children and adults to learn by doing. It will also be connected to one of the neighborhood’s business incubators and feature weekend workshops where visitors can conduct science experiments and learn from the inside out how the neighborhood’s innovative green technologies work and what benefits they create in terms of water savings, lower energy consumption, and reduced heat island effects, to name a few.

The story continues by painting a future with a strong education system focused on continuing education for all ages that aims to encourage entrepreneurship and continuous innovation, parenting training, and skills in growing and preparing food to improve age-appropriate diets and eating habits. The story also stresses the importance of social connections in the culturally diverse tapestry of Washington that appreciates the diversity of its neighborhoods.

The entire story of food, wellness, knowledge and knowledge creation is infused with the spirit of a proud African American, Hispanic, and more recent immigrant community that takes pride in its roots and in its accomplishments in its new land. The special beauty of the story is in its emphasis on diversity. It does not portray an African American community or a young neighborhood, but instead paints a future where young and old, different races and cultures and diverse traditions and origins live together as neighbors. At a time of growing divisiveness and extremes we are committed to nurturing the spirit of this story by giving it a larger context through our Vision.

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

Our vision embraces technological developments that focus on the interaction between nature based solution and high tech options (21,30,31). One of these developments is the concept of circularity by design. Closed loop designs, which reuse everything from water to nutrients, waste and energy, are standard in technological innovation. In such designs, all materials are renewable and biodegradable, or even edible – one example is packaging. We will support green infrastructure firms that produce green roofs, green walls, rain gardens and green buildings. Green high-tech businesses stream the data that optimizes the energy generation and plant-based water treatment facilities called blue houses for green islands throughout the city (66).

Digitalization, the introduction of AI and the data revolution are other technological advances incorporated in the vision. Farming will also rapidly change and join in this data-driven trend. Farms become smart farms, where smart, unmanned autonomous devices will become common tools for farmers, as will automated harvesting/planting and crop maintenance robots assisted by drone swarms.

Data-driven personal nutrition advice provided by AI will assist consumers. People will rely on the advice of AI doctors based on behavior analyses via wearables combined with ingested health sensors and smart toilets analyzing their excreta. All this sensor input combined with personal and context data will create human digital twins on which AI doctors will be able to predict diseases at an early stage, enabling the healthcare system and insurance companies to modernize and proactively reach more clients in a more cost-effective way (21).

Data has been key to a successful decentralized economy. Effective data management will assist in coordinating urban, peri-urban and rural production, and bring producers and consumers together. Agromovil (46) is an example of a data management approach that could be deployed and has become widely used in the DC metro area as well as globally. This Match-Batch-Pay platform helps small farmers connect with buyers, sell directly and find optimized transport routes to minimise the cold chain and reduce food waste. Its power of coordination has helped Agromovil make local food dramatically more efficient and profitable.

Our technological innovations will also focus on water quality and soilless food production in high-efficiency hydroponic and aquaponic systems and indoor farming facilities (47,48). Sensing technologies (49) will be fully integrated into the hydroponic and aquaponic systems as well as in the river aeration systems. Aquaponics systems require less than 10% of the water normally used to grow plants in traditional soil production. The systems are also energy-efficient and can maintain high levels of dissolved oxygen even at high ambient temperatures. This will make the concept very effective in counteracting eutrophication in the two rivers and numerous small creeks that cross Washington. Fish will have returned to all rivers by 2050 and residents will regularly catch local fish as a protein source.     

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?

A gift economy is an essential part of our governance approach (32). Giving away things and services allows people to exchange goods and services outside a money-based economy. Gift economies appear to be more resilient in times of shocks like natural disasters and pandemics, and time banking is an effective vehicle for a gift economy. One movement that needs governmental support is commoning (50), where public space that is not privately owned can be used by the DC neighborhoods that manage the land for urban farming, recreation and leisure. Local governments should enhance these principles by adopting diverse forms of participation of citizens. 

A local resource that needs to be governed better is space. While the prices of real estate in urban areas are often sky-high, space overall is often inefficiently used, and can actually be quite abundant. Public space that is not safe or properly managed, like parks, abandoned buildings, dirty canals, unused rooftops or empty building plots waiting for large-scale development, have enormous potential for temporary use by the local communities. Once access to a commonly owned plot has been secured, the space can become a place of abundance for the local community, for instance in the form of a community garden or cultural center.

True pricing (51) that incorporates social and environmental externalities will be applied in 2050 as a policy tool to help customers understand the actual price of food and nudge (52) their behavior toward more climate-positive decisions, while encouraging companies to implement innovations that reduce the environmental impact of their production system.

Local food communities need to become more visible in the plans of DC agencies, several of which already have sustainability, resilience and equity plans that offer synergies with our vision (54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64). Chief among them are the Sustainable DC Plan developed by the DC Department of Energy and Environment (60,61) the Resilient DC Plan developed by the office of Resilience and the Deputy Mayor’s office of Economic Development and Planning (64) and the Health Equity Plan developed by the DC Department of Health (57).

To bridge the rural and the urban, integrated policies are needed. We will start cooperation with representatives at different governance levels as a linchpin for wider regional development of the food economy. According to the recent report of the Greater Washington Board of Trade (62) and the Resilient DC Plan (61), significant opportunities exist for linking regional initiatives to the different wards in DC.

A new learning ecosystem is needed of so-called ‘Green Circles (53)’. These ensure an optimal exchange of knowledge between stakeholders for instance on experimentation with food production innovations in terms of products as well as sustainable methods. It will also give the producers the possibility to cooperate with each other in representing their interests in the political domain.

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

Our vision is based on a food systems approach in which all themes connect (34,65). This approach offers a holistic perspective on food and nutrition security by broadening the focus to food security, social and environmental outcomes and the socio-economic and environmental drivers of these food system activities. As well as showing how food systems interact with other (ecological, economic or political) systems, this approach analyses how each element within a system interacts with the others in producing food system outcomes. The connectiveness of food system elements are depicted (fig. 5) in conceptual food system model (65).

The introduction of the true-price mechanism policy (51) will create awareness of agriculture costs and set in motion a rapid introduction of climate-positive agricultural and local production, which will be good for the environment and the economy. As the price of unsustainable and unhealthy products increases, consumer buying behavior and diets will adapt. The monetary gain of the mechanism will be used to improve underprivileged citizens’ access to food and accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system through public-private partnership schemes, innovative social organization and technological solutions. The connectiveness between the different themes will be reflected in integrated policies.

Technological advancement will introduce people to a broad range of intuitive technology solutions. An example is Alina’s personalized diet app, which will enable a paradigm shift by helping citizens make conscious decisions to maintain a balanced diet and improve health outcomes. The app will also give advice on the environmental footprint of diets, creating awareness of their impact.

In 2050, when robots will have taken over some of the work of humans, time banking will be the ideal way to maintain the value of human contributions to the local community and region. As residents contribute their time to a thriving local food system in the DC metro area and work in edible landscapes, soilless food production systems and community gardens in Washington, they will be compensated via a network of local goods and services provided by the time banking community.

Time banking and its egalitarian structure will revolutionize civic society and the interaction between neighborhoods and municipal entities. There will be effective communication, and metropolitan public agencies will assess their performance in a coordinated and consistent manner based on the categories in the Five Pillars study conducted in Wards 7 and 8. The indicators will be consistently monitored, allowing the region to longitudinally track progress of the quality of life rather than its economy alone.

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

While our revolutionary vision will often create win-win situations, like improved living conditions for citizens with better urban resource management, it will not be without trade-offs. Certain changes should be monitored and guided in a timely fashion to ensure the best possible outcomes.

The new food system will gradually replace the existing structures, requiring stakeholders in food supply chains to adopt the new practices or go out of business. Especially the introduction of a true pricing mechanism will dislocate a number of unsustainable farming practices. As people become more conscious of healthy diets and the carbon footprint of their food, we expect them to change their consumption in ways that will have a further impact on farming practices that are ecologically unsustainable.

The decrease in traditional farming and increase in peri-urban and urban farming will have economic consequences for people living in rural areas, inciting them to move closer to the urban areas or create innovative rural initiatives which fit into the new food system, like creating and maintaining production forests. New balances and opportunities will have to be found. By forecasting potential change and addressing it in a timely way, this transition can be smoothed out and shaped together with the affected stakeholders.

With urban food production in the Wards, the potential for conflict between urban producers and farmers in the surrounding region will arise. The farmers may be uneasy about the new competition and fear a decline in demand for their products. To some extent, they may be right, especially when it comes to fresh and highly perishable products that will also be grown in urban hubs. This friction can, however, be channeled in a positive way, with a smart specialization approach. Fresh and highly perishable products can be grown within the urban hubs, while bulk crops are produced in the surrounding region. This will lead to a multitude of benefits for the availability of fresh products, diets, health and local employment in the urban areas, while also restricting packaging and reducing logistics and (therefore) GHG emissions.

A crucial factor in enabling such a smart agricultural specialization will, of course, be communication about how this bigger picture relates to real-time, concrete incentives for the farmers involved. Therefore we introduce the concept of Green Circles; learning networks where the different producers can meet each other and learn and exchange knowledge for new viable business cases.

Automation and digitization of society will also make us more dependent on these systems, which are extra vulnerable to power cuts, internet blackouts and cybercrime. Another topic linked to the datafication of life is privacy. Policies and citizens will have to invest in resilience and back-up systems as well as continue to set policies to protect human rights issues.

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

Milestone 1: Business incubators in every Ward 

In three years, all Wards have business incubators helping them start food systems-related businesses active in production, processing, distribution and environmental preservation. Food entrepreneurs exchange ideas on how to develop and implement promising technologies and connect them to the stakeholder ecosystem, and how to get sound business cases. Visitors from around the world can see how the innovative green technologies work and the benefits delivered.

Milestone 2: Learning systems for improved diets

Ward learning systems explain the benefits of plant-based diets and their impact on healthy living and the environment. Local growing facilities showcase how fresh vegetables and berries can grow in the neighborhood. Chef’s Tables are organized in the Food Hubs where people try things they would not normally buy or cook and learn about tastes, vitamins, minerals and balanced diets. Chefs and people from the neighborhoods serve as guests and tasters, supported by a team of community workers, teachers, dieticians, plant physiologists and data scientists. We unleash the entire social ecosystem show how to be better consumers.

Milestone 3: Regional approach to nature-based solutions

Washington DC has taken a coordinated systemic approach as a linchpin for wider regional development of the food system in connection to local food activities in the Wards. The Wards provide the spark for the smart cities initiative of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, where spatial and functional links for nature-based solutions are developed. The foundations are laid for a practical, open, multilevel and multi-actor approach, coordinated at a regional level with ample space for locally driven development, actions, creativity and uniqueness. This milestone is initiated through the establishment of a coalition of the willing.

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

Milestone 1: Local food hubs are turned into successful business incubators that spawn other food-related enterprises such as restaurants, digital businesses, hotels and kitchens that sell their produce through omni-channels. A well-trained green infrastructure, with its green roofs & walls, rain gardens and small water filtration facilities, is largely headquartered in Wards 7 and 8.

Milestone 2: New education schemes are offered at universities and schools. They create the new workforce that combines food with technology and health related knowledge. These ‘Freshineers’ are (young) people from the neighborhoods interested in fresh food who have an affinity with technology and engineering. They provide digital services, apps, but also work in new jobs like agricultural education services and urban-rural cooperatives.

Milestone 3: There is a thriving regional food network, based on the active coalition of the willing between local and regional stakeholders, such as farmers, the wards, government officials and digital entrepreneurs. It is clear which nature-based solutions contribute to the region and the different wards. Implementation of the Vision has started, generating new opportunities in the wards while keeping links to the city’s surroundings and regional connecting structures. This ignites a Smart Region Movement, building on big data and technological connectivity & efficiency to create interpersonal relationships between region, people and food system.

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

We start by working with stakeholders in the Wards (especially 7 and 8) to make the milestones a reality. Key activities include generating support for the community-based vision from public sector players like the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Economic Development and Planning, the Resilient DC Office, the District Department of Energy and Environment and the District Department of Health.

We develop learning systems in the wards that explain the benefits of plant-based diets and their impact on healthy living and the environment. Wageningen and UDC will work with local schools and universities to develop new education pathways that link middle and high schools to post-secondary education in the food and green infrastructure economy

We cooperate with representatives at different governance levels in Washington DC and develop a coordinated systemic approach as a linchpin for wider regional development of the food economy. According to the recent report of the Greater Washington Board of Trade (62) and the Resilient DC Plan (61), significant opportunities exist for linking regional initiatives to the focus group work conducted in Wards 7 and 8 to ensure that the vision of residents in the most underserved DC Wards is honored. We aim to develop an active coalition that links the region and the different wards with benefits at all levels.

We also continue with building a worldwide network of Future Urban Food Leaders with Washington DC as a meeting place and a source of inspiration and renewal. For this purpose, we develop a global social media infrastructure together with Urban Greenhouse Challenge, Shared Studios and WorldStartup Collective: organizations that have a global infrastructure to connect entrepreneurs and younger generation. We therefore have send out a call for partners:

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

Food connects our bodies and minds. Food connects us to nature and to each other.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime opportunity for change as many people are now aware of the vulnerability of our global food system. Our current food system is a reflection of the challenges we face as a society: climate change, ecological disaster, stark disparities and the damage to physical and mental health caused by nature deprivation.The food system we propose for 2050 answers these challenges by:

1. Being a nature based food economy that is resilient, healthy and accessible for all.

2. Building a food economy that restores ecosystems services, as these are essential to the globe, it’s food systems and to maintain a high quality of life.

3. Developing an economically just food economy characterized by short supply chains that reduce vulnerabilities like those made evident by COVID-19.

4. Building a food economy that links to the newest technologies and innovations in science.

5. Constantly improving the food economy through the use of local, scientific and intergenerational knowledge and innovative capacity.

6. Supports healthy culturally sensitive diets and creating awareness of the link between personal, social and environmental care.

7. Investing in a global and diverse network of leaders in these new food economies that value sustainable innovations and the future of our planet and people.

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

The first visual shows the stakeholders of 2050 in the Wards, between the Wards, on a regional level and on a global scale. There is a variety of stakeholders such as entrepreneurs, governmental organizations, scientists and non-governmental organizations.

The second visual shows the Drivers and Signals of Change as described in the Signals and Trends section. We used them as sources of inspiration for our Vision.

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Team (15)

Rick's profile
Rick van de Zedde

Role added on team:

"“Rick van de Zedde is a senior scientist/ business developer for Phenomics & Automation at Wageningen University & Research, where he has worked since 2004. His background is in Artificial Intelligence with a focus on imaging and robotics. In 2002, he graduated with a MSc in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Groningen.”"

Marian's profile
Bas's profile
Bas Hetterscheid

Role added on team:

"Bas Hetterscheid is project leader Food Systems at Wageningen Food and Biobased Research. He leads food system related projects to support in creating innovative solutions for a healthier, more sustainable and prosperous world."

Bertram's profile
Bertram de Rooij

Role added on team:

"Bertram de Rooij is senior researcher and landscape architect at Wageningen Environmental Research, part of Wageningen University & Research ▪ Strategic integrative spatial planning, concept development and policy support ▪ Regional and rural development, integrated land and water management ▪ Key topics: Climate change adaptation and disaster risk management Green cities: climate adaptation and feeding cities Changing Routes and Nexus: migration and the environment"

Sabine's profile
Sabine O'Hara

Role added on team:

"Dr. Sabine O’Hara is distinguished Professor & Program Director at the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environment (CAUSES) and led UDC’s efforts to build a new model for urban agriculture and urban sustainability that integrates training in the agricultural, environmental and health sciences with the aspirations of students and residents to create successful careers in the green economy."

Haniyeh's profile
Haniyeh Shariatmadary

Role added on team:

"Ms. Haniyeh Shariatmadary is Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Leadership & Entrepreneurship at the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environmental Sciences (CAUSES), University of the District of Columbia. Her current research focuses on the central role of food in the economy and understanding the food system from a circular economy model perspective where food waste is incorporated in the economic analysis of the value of food and its pricing and income distributions effects."

Fusien's profile
Fusien Verloop

Role added on team:

"Fusien Verloop is working as director of the University Fund Wageningen, managing the development team and alumni relations for Wageningen University and Research."

Sacha's profile
Sacha Tijmstra

Role added on team:

"Sacha Tijmstra is a communications officer at University Fund Wageningen. She manages the online and offline communication channels for the fund, edits proposals for funding, and develops strategies to expand and improve communications towards alumni and philanthropic relations. She has previously worked as an editor, writing texts for a range of organizations focused on the future of agriculture, restoring biodiversity, ecological monitoring and sustainable cities."

Menno's profile
Menno Houtstra

Role added on team:

"Ir. Menno Houtstra is founder and chairman of Urban Farm Cafe “the Kaskantine” in Amsterdam, a social initiative he started 6 years ago as a way of living communally in harmony with nature in the city. Currently, the Kaskantine has 13 refurbished shipping containers, three greenhouses, and a restaurant and can host up to 150 guests and volunteers. Completely off-grid in the city."

Mathijs's profile
Mathijs Koper

Role added on team:

"Mathijs Koper is founder and Director of WorldStartUp, a collective with outreach to thousands of international impact-driven entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial professionals. Mathijs’ mission is to help other succeed with their social business. He has a unique talent to motivate others to commit themselves to shared goals. He is a true believer that entrepreneurship and tech can create a more fair and inclusive society."

Annemieke's profile
Annemieke Roobeek

Role added on team:

"Prof. dr. Annemieke Roobeek is Professor of Strategy and Transformation Management at Nyenrode Business University and founder of GrwNxt. the firm that develops a data-driven infrastructure for feeding megacities. She will provide knowledge and expertise on plant based production systems."

Andrew's profile
Andrew Mack

Role added on team:

"Andrew Mack is CEO and Founder of Agromovil, an award-winning app platform linking farmers, transporters and purchasers to dramatically improve the efficiency of small scale agriculture. Agromovil has won support from the Toyota Mobility Foundation, Ernst and Young, Carnegie Mellon, and the Walton Family Foundation among others, and is currently in use in Colombia with plans to expand work in the US over the course of 2020."

Ron's profile
Ron van der Sterren

Role added on team:

"Ron van der Sterren is curator of the regional Wageningen Portal of Shared Studios. Shared Studios mission is to create meaningful human connections between people who would never otherwise have the chance to meet. We bring together people separated by distance and difference to talk, dance, play, and collaborate as if they were in the same room. The portal in the region Wageningen has a deliberate focus to connect people and organisations related to food innovation and circular food economy."

DIANA's profile

Role added on team:

"Diana Dakik is the Sustainability Innovation and Entrepreneurship project specialist for the University of the District of Columbia. In her role she will facilitate collaboration and encourage entrepreneurs to connect urban farmers to a common goal of improving urban sustainability and urban health. She has a decade of experience designing and managing environmental performance programs for Governments, Utilities and Private agencies."

Juanita's profile
Juanita Gray

Role added on team:

"Juanita Gray is Director of Community Relations of the University of the District of Columbia. In her role, Ms. Gray regularly meets with community organizations and residents across Washington DC to assess research, capacity building, and educational needs from workforce skills, to recreational interests, and formal undergraduate, graduate and professional education."


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