P2P Food Lab

The P2P Food Lab project develops a open platform for peer-to-peer urban food systems that supports urban gardening, collective decision making, citizen science, and knowledge creation for all aspects of urban food.

A P2P Food Lab integrates DIY open greenhouses, sensors and telecommunication networks, Web and phone apps, and analysis tools, among other.

The platform uses social media to aggregate knowledge, to support local economic exchanges, and to allow the cooperative activities to self-organize.

#1Value: Inclusion

P2P Food Lab includes many people: anyone who grows and transforms food - almost everyone - with no regard to age or cultural background, and with low initial investment.

P2P Food Lab also covers many societal challenges: socio-economic (novel food exchange systems, social cohesion, reduction of food waste), technological (making food production sustainable, environmental monitoring), and health challenges (nutritional aspects, physical activity).

Within P2P Food Lab, the users are the designers: P2P Food Lab is a platform that provides the basic tools for users to design their own solutions, instead of tying them to a product.

#2Value: Action

P2P Food Lab bootstraps new local food communities by making citizens producers/consumers/recyclers of their food chain.

We run two experimental communities, one in Brussels and one in La Plaine St Denis, and plan two more in Barcelona and Venice.

We believe that the only way to answer the questions about the appropriate technology and governance structures for P2P Food systems is through field studies, with Real People in Real Life.

How does your project manage to align self-interest with collective interest?

In our project the self-interest is clear: having access to good food (organic, nutritious, …), which is vital. The collective interest overlaps with this self-interest. How we manage the collective interest in a P2P fashion consists of two parts.

First, P2P Food Lab is about sharing know-how and data about producing and composting food. This part is immaterial. It’s about collaborative knowledge. The alignment of self-interest with collective interest in this case has already been shown in projects like Wikipedia and Free Software.

Second, P2P Food Lab is about collectively planning and exchanging food. Here we deal with physical things (food). The development of a P2P system will be much more challenging because the alignment of interests is more fragile. The model to manage the food exchange is still open but the work on the Commons (Elinor Ostrom, or “The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market & State”) will be our guiding light. It’ll be a very exciting experiment, with possibly far-reaching impacts.