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Exercises 2022

Excercise: an example of a persona

Download the template of the exercise here.

  • Select a person that you think contributes to a sustainable transformation in the food system. You just decide who: for instance a consumer who changes diets, a food activist, an urban gardener, a producer, a food retailer, networker.
  • Do a short interview (just phoning, meeting or otherwise) and ask about (1) activities, (2)transformative actions, (3) ambitions and (4) challenges.
  • Make a persona out of this person (see example in slide 3)
  • Fill out slide 2 of this powerpoint, font size 22.
  • Save the slide as an image (jpeg)
  • Post it before March 30 on the padlet:

During the session on March 31, 2022 we will share our observations

Excercise: May 12, 2022 Role Play

Each team will discuss an action plan/public policy, adopting roles of different stakeholders. The objective of the exercise is to realize that different interests are confronted when trying to adopt public policies in favor of Alternative Food Networks or Sustainable Food Planning. It is also aimed at providing clues about how to identify potential conflicts and to generate open spaces where collective intelligence may emerge.

Instructions: Tutors provide a statement of a basic action plan to be discussed (simple one!) Tutors define the different stakeholders that will take part in the discussion. For each one, tutors prepare a “Card” with the basic information about the role they play (attitude towards AFN, position regarding the action plan under discussion, and basic notions about the power they have, whether economic, influence, knowledge…)

Participants can choose one stakeholder. They can complete the profile explained in the Card m before the session (i.e. by interviewing a real stakeholder). 

Complementary roles for the session are a) one observer who writes down main ideas and afterwards gives feedback on how it went and b) one facilitator that makes sure that all voices are listened to.

The cards follow the "Collaborative framework for food systems transformation." (Bortoletti et al. 2019)

Excercise: collaborative goal setting and visioning

This exercise makes use of the nominal group technique where first each participant fills out the individual goals on a sticky note. When everybody is ready with this step, each copy the goals to the common board, while explaining it. Informative questions can be posed. The moderator helps to organise and groups the goals and all the participants define a set of common goals. These form the basis for the vision. The steps are as follows:

  • Step1 Challenge

Define the food planning challenge you want to address in this process. You may have different challenges on your mind, because landscapes are complex. Focus on one. Make this decision before you start defining goals.

  • Step2 Three goals

Select individually your top 3 strategic goals to address the challenge you work on (and write them on the sticky notes). Use an action-oriented verb, an object, and qualifiers (adjectives and adverbs). Place your sticky notes on the goal bord area and explain.

  • Step3 Organize the goals

Reorganize the board: match similar goals, but keep the diversity and avoid generalizing. Role for the Moderator.

  • Step4 Vote

Vote on your top goals: each one has 5 dots to spend as you wish (one, several or all of your score on a single idea).

  • Step5 Vision

Formulate a vision: bring all your goals together and frame them with an overreaching idea or sentence.

  • Step6 Actions

Select one goal and define 2-3 actions that would lead to this goal. Select on action and try to identify responsibilities, actors, resources and achievable targets in the 3 years to come.

Also after the exercise each team can use the Mural that is designed for the lab. The Mural Links can be found below:

Excercise: monitoring and evaluation - Thursday June 30, 2022

Each team will work in padlets answering the following questions, as a first step for the final phase assignment.

  1. What did you like most about the AESOP4FOOD course?
  2. What did you like least about the AESOP4FOOD course?
  3. What will you take home?
  4. How do you think this course could have been improved?
  5. Did the teaching and learning method work for you? 
  6. How did COVID-19 affect your team work? 
  7. Did the content/course phases come together coherently throughout the seminar? 
  8. Did the assignments serve the Living Lab activities well? 
  9. What have you learned as a group in terms of addressing a sustainable food planning challenge? 
  10. Mention one lesson learned for each individual team member. 
  11. What might be the most important next step or action for your Living Lab? 

Assignments 2022

Assignment 1: Exploring the field of play

The scope of the food system and the concepts and methods you use

Answer the following questions:

  1. What is your given (provided by your university) or self-selected task (a local case study or living lab relating to a community);
  2. What is the main theme you address for this task: food security, metabolism/circular economy, access to land, food justice, ....
  3. What skills and methods do you already have before the course started to address the assignment (methods of your discipline, personal skills)?
  4. Which methods and concepts that were presented in the first three sessions are suitable for addressing your task?

Reflection: What has changed in your perception by the first lectures?

April 21, 2022: Present your assignment making use of the PowerPoint format to your colleagues and tutors.

Assignment 2 Analysing your local foodscape

Mapping the foodscape, analysis and challenges

This assignment relates mainly to the spatial and organisational aspects of food systems and their communities. Your task is either given by the teacher of your home university or if you are an external learner it can relate to your local food system or the living lab you are working with.

When building upon available data of the mapping of your food system you can make use of these, on the condition that you clearly make reference to the data you use.

The guiding questions are:

  1. Which part of the food system do you study and why have you selected this?
  2. What does the food system look like, with its elements, relations and stakeholders (governors, NGOs consumers, retailers, processors, producers)?
  3. What is the role and position of the stakeholders in terms of power and impact?
  4. What are the main challenges in the food system to contribute to the common good?

We would like to see on a map the location and a geographical representation of your food system.

If you are thinking about the scope, the City Region Food System Toolkit of FAO, RUAF and Wilfrid Laurier University (FAO,2018) and Community-Based Food System Assessment and Planning - Facilitator’s Guidebook of Virginia Tech can help.

Reflection: How did your work process go? Were the methods and tools you used adequate?

Present your assignment making use of the PowerPoint format to your colleagues and tutors.

Assignment 3 Collaborative goals and vision

Describe your sustainable food planning challenge you want to tackle / Make a problem-statement based on the food systems evaluation and assessment (existing or not) There is a mural in the Slack that you can use for the collaborative goal setting, that was also used as an exercise during the previous session (see the exercise on goal setting above)

Introduce the main stakeholders who contribute to the goal-setting: 
  1. Let us know who is involved in the visioning process and why?
  2. Let us know how the visioning process took or is taking place?
  3. How this vision has been translated (will translate) into an implementation strategy?


  • What do you think needs to be considered when formulating goals?
  • What do you think are the characteristics of a ’good‘ vision?

The way you present this assignment is free, and you can also use this template.

Assignment 4 Strategy and interventions

As the assignments are being carried out in the living labs, the leap from collaborative goal setting to the exploration of possible actions (e.g. by means of prototypical propositions) is happening a bit in reverse. Many of you are already working within the context of a living lab where the engagement in ‘prototyping’ and ‘design experimentation’ is already under way.

Hence, the main aim of the exercise is to engage in the further definition of the action within the living lab in light of the analysis of both the analysis of the food system that has been conducted as well as the collaborative goal setting exercise.

Lead question

The lead question for this assignment is: ‘in which way can the actions taken within the context of the living lab be considered transformative?’ and ‘Building on what is already in place, how can this action be further expanded and defined to reinforce its transformative dimension?’.

The idea is that you define possible transformation pathways to subsequently identify existing or missing components of the action developed within the living lab that are key to maintain the connection between a ‘systems’ perspective and the definition of a concrete action or intervention.

Four questions

For the assignment we want you to address four issues in particular: The text in the bullet-list bullets in italics is intended as an illustration of the kind of issues these questions could lead to.

#1 what aspect of the food system is the action trying to address and transform?


  • the current waste levels in commodified food regimes
  • the dominance of a highly commodified food regime
  • the precarity of farmers
  • the loss of skills
  • the destruction of fertile soils
  • urban food poverty
  • the high environmental footprint of urban diets
  • the climate impact of the current food system

#2. what is driving that change? How is it shaped? (cf. Scoones)


  • Technology-driven
  • State-led
  • Market-led
  • Citizen-led
  • Combinations thereof

#3. what is already in place? How are you building on this? What is missing? What is key (and cannot be left out)?


  • Connecting an existing community kitchen with a community garden
  • Diminishing the reliance of an existing food poverty/food bank initiative on surplus food
  • Reinforcing the water harvesting capacity of an existing community garden by mobilizing neighboring properties
  • Fighting the struggle for growing rights and housing rights together
  • Sharing risk between producers and consumers

'#4. what may follow? In 1 year, in 5, in 10? When will you consider this action to be successful? What should it yield? How may it affect the food system?'


  • It puts pressure on the current system because…
  • it constitutes a niche but can be mainstreamed because…
  • it raises awareness regarding…
  • It leads to behavioral change…
  • it demonstrates a concrete possibility that may be replicated…
  • it builds new alliances…
  • it builds necessary solidarities between groups previously marginalized…
  • it empowers specific groups to take action…
  • it removes specific obstacles…

For the presentation

try to build a strong narrative regarding the transformation your proposed action is trying to produce by connecting the four questions.

Reflective question

Assignment 5: Monitoring and evaluation

The result of this assignment will be part of the final presentation of each student team in which they give an overview of the main elements of each phase and conclude with a reflection.

Now is the time to look back and reflect on what has happened over the past months. We will engage in collaborative monitoring and evaluation of the Living Lab groups, then work together and share findings. You now have a broad understanding of the seminar, the Living Lab, and Sustainable Food Planning challenges.

We invite you to continue your story-telling as you evaluate and make statements about the following:

  • the seminar,
  • your Living Lab/case study,
  • your team,
  • yourself,
  • and your future agenda.

You can make use of the reflections you presented in the assignment for each phase of the seminar. Address the following questions:

  1. Did the teaching and learning method work for you?
  2. How did COVID-19 affect your teamwork?
  3. Did the content/course phases come together coherently throughout the seminar?
  4. Did the assignments serve the Living Lab activities well?

Introduce the lessons learned

  1. What have you learned as a group in terms of addressing a sustainable food planning challenge?
  2. Mention one lesson learned for each individual team member.
  3. What might be the most important next step or action for your Living Lab?

Present your assignment making use of the PowerPoint format (also in the Slack channel) to your colleagues and tutors as part of your final presentation.