What's Growing on? An Exploratory Case-study about the Integration of Urban Farms into Restaurants in the Context of the New Nordic Cuisine

Malene Karen Buhl-Madsen & Jula Hoffmann

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis examines why restaurants integrate urban farms and whether this signifies a natural extension of the New Nordic Cuisine towards embracing a sustainability agenda.
Urban farming is a phenomenon that has regained its interest in cities. In Copenhagen especially, it is embracing a sustainability agenda. The three studied organizations noma, relæ and AMASS have all chosen to integrate an urban farm into their respective restaurants.
The analysis demonstrates, that the three studied organizations are all motivated to integrate an urban farm in order to emphasize locality, seasonality and quality. In the case of noma, quality produce is of utmost importance, which initially was expected as the reason for noma 2.0 to integrate an urban farm. However, noma 2.0 will continue to make use of their supplier network to the same extent as with noma 1.0. In the case of relæ, the urban farm aims at being a tool for developing a new food system, which centers around a more sustainable relationship between farmer and chef and is advocating for organic practices. A significant amount of produce for the restaurants is produced at the farm, in contrast to the other studied organizations. AMASS takes a sustainable approach towards integrating an urban garden, by incorporating sustainable practices throughout the organization, with a special focus on recycling and minimizing food waste, as the goal
Furthermore, it is argued that in the initial phase of opening relæ and AMASS, respectively, they were affected by mimetic and normative isomorphisms in order to obtain legitimacy. Whereas noma, it is discussed that noma 2.0 has been a ‘slow-mover’ in terms of integrating an urban farm into the organization compared to the other studied organizations. Therefore, it is argued that noma 2.0 has been pressured by isomorphisms in the culinary organizational field, being the reason for the integration of an urban farm.
All of the studied organizations make use of narratives and storytelling on social media. However, a discussion of The Uniqueness Paradox (Martin et al., 1983) showed that the studied organizations end up having the same unique stories, that are in fact not unique. Hence, the organizations obtain an optimal form of distinctiveness, which implies that they are different and similar at the same time.
The thesis further argues that the integration of urban farms into restaurants indicates a natural extension of the NNC. In conclusion, the urban farms are used as a tool for innovation and differentiation from other actors of the culinary organizational field.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final ThesisMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages126
SupervisorsJesper Strandgaard