Stockholm Royal Seaport

Sustainability Report

Increased food production in cities

The way food is produced is a crucial part of the transition we need to make. But what are the conditions like in the City of Stockholm? The self-sufficiency rate in Sweden as a whole is currently about 50 per cent, whereas at the beginning of the 1990s, it was around 75 per cent. The question is how cities can contribute to self-sufficiency in the future – access to areas for food production is crucial.

We aim to enhance our understanding of food production in an urban environment and how it can contribute to the city's capacity to produce food. We are using planning tools like the Green Space Index to ensure that there is vegetation that serves multiple functions as we develop urban development sites. In the future, we might use a "Food Space Index" following the same model as the Green Space Index.

"In the transition to more resource-efficient cities, the ability to utilise what is locally available is required. The challenge is to achieve sufficient volumes and smartly resolve local cycles in terms of water, energy, and plant nutrients. Land in Stockholm is expensive, so we need to think innovatively to increase the city’s local supply rate. Vegetables and berries and perhaps even tropical fruits can be grown locally, while potatoes and grains need other areas," explains Maria Lennartsson, R&D Coordinator in Stockholm Royal Seaport.

The city's flow between water, energy, and nutrients visualised in four stages: the house, sewage system, nutrient factory, and cultivation.
Water, energy, and nutrients in a eco-cycle
The flows between energy, water, and nutrients described in more detail.
More detailed eco-cycle

A 2019 study concluded that about 10 per cent of the vegetable needs could be grown in Stockholm, on industrial rooftops and similar places. However, the city has more spaces than just roofs. There are also walls and dark spaces, where a whole new industry has begun to emerge. From 2022 to 2025, the City of Stockholm will participate in an EU project aimed at studying how to better exploit the synergies between food, water, and energy. In Stockholm, a study will be conducted to explore the potential for both commercial and recreational cultivation in the city.

Planting boxes cared for by a couple, with a brick building in the background

"I believe in planting edible plants in parks and green areas to a greater extent than today. These could be beautiful cultivations, instead of just ornamental flower beds. There is a great interest in cultivation in the city that harks back to our historical cultural heritage with allotment gardens. They were established as a way for people in the city to be able to produce some of their own food. This included both a security and a social aspect. Even today, allotment gardens are very popular, although today they may not primarily grow potatoes and beans," further explains Maria Lennartsson.

Various development projects are underway to explore the potential for food production. In one of the projects, Urban Harvest 2052, conditions for local and urban food production were examined through a speculative design process.

eople in a square listening to a future speculation about what we will eat and harvest in the year 2052
Workshop on the food of the future at Bobergstorget square
Related links:

Final Report for Urban Harvest 2052

Article Published: 21/05/2023 Updated: 31/05/2024