Effects of high-tech urban agriculture on cooking and eating in Dutch nursing homes

Paulien C.H. van de Vlasakker*, Esther J. Veen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Questions have arisen about the sustainability of the industrialised food system. Alternatives like urban agriculture have emerged to reduce the negative social, environmental and health impacts of industrial agriculture. Such new food supply chains can change the way that people acquire and process food. This study looks at high-tech indoor gardening practices in nursing homes for elderly people, studying four nursing homes in the Dutch city of Velp. We used both qualitative and quantitative approaches to collect data, using site visits, a survey amongst employees, and semi-structured interviewees with residents and decision makers. Inspired by social practice theory, we aimed to understand the transformation of existing practices, investigating how the gardens affect cooking and eating practices, and how their constitutive elements of meaning, material and competences enable these transformations. Our work shows that the indoor gardens resulted in an integration of gardening and the resulting harvest into cooking practices, which in turn transformed residents' eating practices. Appreciation of the taste of fresh vegetables and appearance of the meal decorated by fresh vegetables, as well as observing the growth of plants and their use, holds value for the elderly residents. Employees welcome the possibility to serve healthier meals. The integration of indoor gardens in existing cooking practices is more successful when employees have gardening and/or cooking competences, when they enjoy cooking and when they do not already cook with fresh ingredients. The gardens are more easily integrated when they are easily accessible. The materiality of the gardens does not require fully equipped kitchens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5379
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Cooking practices
  • High-tech indoor gardens
  • Nursing homes
  • Social practice theory
  • Urban agriculture


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