Philippe Vandenbroeck

A more foundational vision for local food systems


The starting point of the process was a concern that local food systems were not currently fulfilling their ambitions and potential. Other areas of this research project pointed to a deep disconnect between the dominant image of local food systems as an exclusionary sphere of consumption for the health- and environment-conscious middle class, and the much richer and more complex reality of local food system
actors. In light of the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic with respect to the importance of the local food sector, a research team from two UK universities aimed to explore how the objectives and shape of local food systems and the notion of ‘localness’ had changed in the last years. What future might be envisioned for local food systems? What strategic pathways may help to turn this vision into reality? And how might LFS actors be supported in gaining stronger political and cultural capital?


shiftN designed the online stakeholder engagement process, and documented the visioning and backcasting methodology that was used (based on soft systems methodology) and the outcomes of the process. We also developed an illustration that translated the vision into an intuitive, but richly textured image of possible future. 


Deepened understanding of the local food systems’ ambition and transition path will support local food actors in addressing a disconnect between
public perception and the transformative potential of local food systems.

Image on the left: section of the illustration designed by Witold Vandenbroeck (shiftN)