The topic of food is highly relevant to the UN sustainable development agenda. The agenda particularly challenges cities to take on more responsibilities and to initiate processes that change unsustainable food practices. The recent emergence of urban food initiatives, such as community-supported agriculture, urban gardening, food sharing or community kitchens, promises great potential in leveraging sustainability. Although a great deal of research is already available on the societal impacts of food initiatives, little is known about organizational aspects surrounding them. The following study aims to address this gap by systematically analyzing how joint practices of gardening as well as cooking and eating are organized in different urban food initiatives, taking five initiatives in two smaller cities in southern Germany as case studies. Data were acquired through qualitative research methods including interviewing, participatory observations and document analysis. The analysis covers five key dimensions: institutional integration, recruiting mechanisms, goal-setting, time management and types of knowledge. Based on these dimensions, the results portray two distinctive organizational profiles of urban food initiatives. The article concludes with a reflection on how local governments can support food initiatives and thus contribute to sustainable urban food systems.
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