Article online: Urban food sharing and the emerging Boston food solidarity economy

An article that I and Julian Agyeman wrote has just been published online in Geoforum journal. This piece will be part of a forthcoming special issue on Food Sharing. We continue to follow the emerging food solidarity economy in Boston and look at the potentials and challenges to its growth.

Check it out at:



A food solidarity economy has been sprouting in Boston’s lower income neighborhoods and communities of color, rooted in struggles for control over the food system itself. Though not centrally coordinated, this movement encompasses a varied network of nonprofits, social enterprises, and cooperatives, operating in all parts of the food system, from stewarding land and growing to processing, consumption, and composting. They span a range of urban food sharing practices: sharing stuff, spaces, and skills via collecting, gifting, and selling. They have taken collective ownership of land, created shared growing spaces, developed shared facilities for food businesses, opened a community cafe, and launched a worker-owned food recycling cooperative. They are driven by desires for transformation and are decommodifying the food system and increasing the urban food commons.

This paper offers a critical, but hopeful, examination of the transformational potential of this growing food solidarity economy by viewing it as a local social movement. We draw on the theory and practice of solidarity economy and diverse community economies to highlight the possibilities for encouraging economies that go beyond the constraints of capitalism. But we also use an urban political ecology lens to foreground the challenges of neoliberalism to a food solidarity economy. We assess the trajectories of transformation in three dimensions: ideological, political, and economic. We conclude that transformation will likely require reforming neoliberalized policies and institutions, while at the same time building noncapitalist practices. A network approach to building scale seems promising, including building the movement’s own solidarity financing vehicles.


Solidarity economy
Food sharing
Food justice
Community land trust

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Distinguished Senior Lecturer and Director of Master of Public Policy and Community Practice, Tufts University Department of Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning

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