Exploring the role of community self-organisation in the creation and creative dissolution of a community food initiative

Mustafa Hasanov*, Christian Zuidema, Lummina G. Horlings

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Community food initiatives are gaining momentum. Across various geographical contexts, community food initiatives are self-organising, providing communities with inspiration, knowledge and the opportunity to work towards responsible and socially acceptable transformations in food systems. In this article, we explore how self-organisation manifests itself in the daily activities and developments of community food initiatives. Through the conceptual lens of community self-organisation, we aim to provide a more detailed understanding of how community food initiatives contribute to broader and transformational shifts in food systems. Drawing on a multi-method approach, including community-based participatory research, interviews and observations, this article follows the creation and creative dissolution of the Free Café-a surplus food sharing initiative in Groningen, the Netherlands, which in the eye of the public remains unified, but from the volunteers' perspectives split up into three different initiatives. The results suggest that community self-organisation accommodates differing motivations and experiences embedded in the everyday collective performances of community rationalities and aspirations. This article also points to the changing individual and collective perspectives, vulnerabilities and everyday politics within community food initiatives. This paper contributes to emerging debates on community self-organising within food systems and the potential of community initiatives to promote broader social realignments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3170
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Citizen collectives
  • Collective action
  • Collective practices
  • Community food initiatives
  • Community self-organisation
  • Food activism
  • Food sharing
  • Food surplus
  • Food waste


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