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Madison’s Sustainability Efforts through a Swedish Pair of Eyes’

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Posted: 11:28AM September 2nd, 2014 | Comments

Submitted by Madelene Casselbrant 

A week has past since my delayed flight finally arrived in Madison. To be a REACT-candidate has so far been an inspiring and educating experience. With an academic background in agricultural economics, my focus for the three weeks I am here is to study Madison’s food system from a sustainability perspective. Here follows a list of things I am excited to experience during my stay in the city:

 

1. American NGOs
While I am here Sustain Dane is my host organization. Through being here I get an insight of the American NGO world. What has impressed me so far is the different NGOs ability to network. As an example, Tuesday I attended one of Sustain Dane’s Sustainability Sessions, which are regular seminars, part of their business program MPower. What I appreciated the most with the seminar was the table discussion. At my table there were people representing the manufacturing industry, the public sector, and research institutes; all sitting at the same table, discussing sustainability. A great connecting forum.

2. Madison’s local food system
I think Sweden can learn from Madison in creating a more sustainable, local, food system. To start, close to daily there is a Farmers’ market somewhere in the City.

A highlight this week was the inspiring conversation I had with the Executive Director of Fairshare CSA Coalition. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a new concept to me. In short, it means that households buy shares in a farm’s annual operation costs, before the farming season begins. When the harvest starts, each shareholder receives a weekly food box with goods from the farm. Fairshare works with 50 farms, all of which are organic. Among the advantages with their model are that farmers are paid upfront and receive the actual retail price. Apart from getting fresh, organic, locally produced food, the consumers help to support the local economy, community and environment,

Another great initiative I have come across is the FEED Kitchen, a fully equipped kitchen. One of its purposes is that newly started food business can rent the kitchen to prepare their products there, sparing some of the initial investment costs. 100 Mile Sauce is an example of a business that uses the kitchen. They produce different bottled sauces, made on ingredients sourced within 100 miles of Madison.

3. Madison
Finally, I am simply excited to be in Madison, which feels like a mix between my two hometowns: Uppsala and Stockholm. Like Stockholm, it is beautifully situated, surrounded by water. As Uppsala, it is a student town, invaded at the moment with new students. And similar to the inhabitants in Uppsala and Stockholm, Madison’s locals are keeping bike lanes and running tracks busy.
I am having a great time, which most likely will not change in the next two weeks.

 

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