Community Self-Organizing and the Urban Food Commons in Berlin and New York

Oona Morrow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Food sharing and food commons have both been raised as possible solutions to unsustainable and unjust urban food systems. This paper draws upon ethnographic research conducted in Berlin and New York to examine self-organizing in community food initiatives that are to varying degrees creating urban food commons by opening up urban space and its fruits to community use, sharing, and governance. In New York, the organization 596 Acres has developed an interactive map of vacant land to help community members self-organize to gain access to, steward, and protect the “lots in their life” for urban growing. In Berlin, the organization has developed an interactive web platform to decentralize and democratize the logistics of food rescue and redistribution through peer-to-peer gifting and community fridges. The paper examines the possibilities and limitations of socio-technical innovations as “tools for commoning,” for self-organizing imagination, access, care, and governance in urban food commons. The paper contributes to debates on the role of socio-technical innovation in urban food sharing and practices of self-organizing in urban food commons.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3641
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019

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