Favorite city 11 - Great cooperation for self-sufficiency

"In a time of increasing crises, dependence on foreign food is simply irresponsible. We should produce all the food we need locally, preferably in organic quality."

Dear Reader,

After Lieblingsstadt has become a safe place where people can move around safely and carefree by day and night, Mayor Michael Miteinand is tackling the next big issue. Inspired by Andernach, the successful 'Edible City', he wants to make Lieblingsstadt food self-sufficient.

"In a time of increasing crises, dependence on foreign food is simply irresponsible. We should produce all the food we need locally, preferably in organic quality," Miteinand argues.

Food self-sufficiency kick-off meeting

Michael calls together his team of experts. He also invites the favorite city farmers and gardeners to the meeting. The meeting is to be the start of a 'Great Cooperation for Self-Sufficiency'.

"I hear you can get huge yields with permaculture in a small space. Who knows anything about it?" he asks the group.

Sabrina, permaculture expert and chair of the Favorite City Horticultural Society speaks up:

"Yes, that's right. Permaculture aims to mimic natural ecosystems to create sustainable agricultural systems. It's about using the land efficiently while promoting biodiversity."

High yields with permacutur

"How do the high yields come about?" wants Michael to know.

"On the one hand through efficient use of space: Permaculture principles often include vertical farming, such as climbing plants on walls or structures, multi-layered beds, or using small areas for a variety of plants. This can greatly increase productivity per square meter.

Then through Soil Health: Permaculture promotes techniques such as composting and mulching that help improve soil fertility. Healthy soil supports healthy plants that produce better yields.

In addition comes the Plant diversity: By growing a variety of crops, pests and diseases can be controlled while producing different harvests.

This results in the proverbial Sustainability of permaculture systems. Resources such as water are used efficiently. As a result, yields remain largely stable even in drought or other difficult conditions."

Are there any examples already?

"Where can you find good examples of permaculture?", Michael wants to know

"Permaculture is used everywhere on earth. Even in desert areas there are successful permaculture projects. Particularly impressive in terms of Urban agriculture I find the "Urban Homestead" in Pasadena, California, where one family produces an amazing amount of food on less than a quarter acre."

"Can you tell us more about that?" asks Siegbert, the city treasurer.

"Gladly! The Urban Homestead produces over 2700 kilograms of food annually. They have already grown over 400 varieties of fruits and vegetables. In addition, they also produce eggs and honey. 

The family uses a variety of sustainable practices, including composting, water conservation through drip irrigation, solar energy, and raising chickens and ducks for pest control."

"We do that, too," Reiner, an organic gardener, chimes in.

"Exactly! We at the gardening association also rely largely on permaculture," adds Sabrina, "in addition, some of our members work with effective microorganisms. Others are experimenting with Agnihotra and electroculture - some with amazing success."

All knowledge is available

"Together we have a lot of knowledge and know-how," Michael is pleased to say, "so we can create a research and development project: a pilot project for self-sufficient climate-friendly urban development..."

"I'm sure there are grants for that," Siegbert surmises.

Do we have enough acreage?

"Let's do some rough math!" Siegbert pulls out his calculator. "A quarter of a hectare produces 2700 kilograms of food per year. Let's assume a person eats one kilo per day, then that's 365 kilos per year. So a quarter of a hectare can feed just under 7.5 people. That's 30 per hectare, so we would need about 670 hectares for our 20,000 inhabitants. However, it's not as nice and warm here as it is in California."

"Sepp Holzer, the famous 'agricultural rebel' planted lemons in Austria at an altitude of 1600 m.," Sabrina explains. "However, you need a lot of knowledge and experience for such yields."

"The area of our city is about 20 square kilometers, of which 25% are green areas i.e. 5 square kilometers or 500 hectares. About half of it is public land. But we don't want to turn it all into vegetable gardens, do we?" adds Siegbert.

Roof Gardens and Vertical Gardening

"In some cities, people even grow vegetables on rooftops. And have you ever heard of vertical gardening? People plant vegetables on the walls of their houses. Concrete deserts become green oases. It's also good for the climate!" enthuses Jennie, the city's climate manager.

Organic and conventional - let's cooperate!

"After all, we gardeners and farmers are still around," Reiner interjects. "In the surrounding area of Lieblingsstadt, several thousand acres are farmed."

"Most farmers farm conventionally, just like we do," Franz points out, "We still deliver the higher yields."

"Yes, both methods have their advantages and disadvantages and may be appropriate in different contexts," Michael placates, "Let's cooperate - for the good of all!"

Solidarity agriculture

"Speaking of cooperating, do you know SoLaWi?" asks Jennie to the group. "Solidarity farming is a model of agriculture that focuses on close cooperation between consumers and farmers. In this model, members jointly cover the costs of running a farm and share the harvest. It's win-win for everyone: farmers have a secure income and members get fresh organic food."

"Very good! So together we have enough areas, ideas and competencies to make the city self-sufficient," Michael is pleased to say. "Self-sufficiency is a big and comprehensive undertaking. We can only do it together. We should test the different approaches for their usefulness and gladly try out several methods, which in the best case complement each other. Gradido, the tried-and-tested volunteer compensation system, should also be reintegrated. This will give us many volunteers who are enthusiastic about working toward this great common goal."

The 'Great cooperation' can also be applied to agriculture. In the 11th episode of the popular series "Gradido in favorite city" the foundation is laid for self-sufficient food production for the city. As with all of the approaches outlined above, cooperation is far better than competition. Voluntary work is largely based on cooperation. With the help of the honorary work remuneration system 'Gradido', voluntary work is remunerated with 20 Gradido per hour.

For the Gradidos, there are a variety of benefits and discounts that can be redeemed at local businesses. In addition, there is a lively exchange among the citizens. This reduces costs for all involved, and great projects become feasible. A win-win-win situation for everyone!

Feel free to forward this series to your city council, clubs and business owners!

If we do nothing now, the Downward spiral away. We are becoming more and more dependent on food from abroad, and our domestic agriculture is going bust.

With Gradido and the Great Cooperation we generate Upward spirals to positively shape the future in a sustainable way. Together, we are transforming our cities and towns into vibrant thriving oases - our favorite places!

Love greetings


Margret Baier and Bernd Hückstädt
Gradido founder and developer

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