Interview with Eva Wendeberg and Sarah Meyer-Soylu

Eva Wendeberg and Sarah Meyer-Soylu introduce the German hub

In the fourth installment of our video series, Sarah Meyer-Soylu and Eva Wendeberg of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology describe the German hub. Ashley, Sarah and Eva discuss the German context for sustainable food supply chains, what are the role of public “canteens” or cafeterias in schools or businesses, and how to connect local producers with end point consumers.

The focus of the German hub is on locally produced vegetables and the specific role of “canteens,” or cafeterias in schools, hospitals and businesses. Their local practice partner is called FoodCircle, whose vision involves being an intermediary in the local food chain between organic farmers, local consumers, canteens, and value-added products. While there is a decent amount of local production of vegetables, there isn’t clarity in the market between what kind of demand there is for specific value-added foods, like washed and packaged salads for schools, and FoodCircle hopes to help clarify the mismatch between supply and demand in the local food supply chain.

The goal of the German hub is to help facilitate connections between FoodCircle, farmers, cafeterias, and local policy makers to enhance the communications between all actors. There is a social justice component to this project, in that researchers are lending their privilege as academics to help the local practice partners, who are limited in resources and time. The way the German team sees it is that better communication between all the actors will lead to more resilience. For example, if the farmer overproduces or underproduces a specific vegetable for a season, their buyers can adjust to those differences in availability with good communication tools.

For Eva and Sarah, the greatest hope for the project is to see FoodCircle thrive in their mission, including being an important and well-known actor in the local food supply chain. Eva hopes that private customers will be able to gain more access and experience with more sustainable and regional foods. Sarah would like to point out that FoodCircle has just started, with no operations at the moment, but the goal of the Co-SFSC project would be to help them get their project operational. The larger hope is to expand organic food in the Karlsruhe region overall.

Sarah explains, “Such an organic, local, resilient food system solves so many problems for us in our world. It’s good for the environment, our health, it produces good jobs in the area. I hope people can see these positive aspects. I hope with this project we can see that it is possible, and that most people will follow in this path.”