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Abstract

There is a growing scientific interest and public debate on the potential con-tributions that Local Food Systems (LFS) and Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) can make towards overcoming sustainability challenges and creating societal impact. In the case of Turkey, where local agricultural systems are particularly vulnerable, lacking of resilience and innovative capacity, understanding the governance mechanisms of SFSCs would have strong implications for policy making. To this end, our aim in this study is to explore the mechanisms through which civil society driven SFSCs are governed in the city of Izmir (Turkey), referring to the actors involved in the process, institutional frameworks that are adopted and challenges experienced, that could inform policy dis-cussions towards establishing more sustainable local food systems. In this direction, the questions we aim to answer are: (1) what are the mechanisms through which commu-nity level SFSCs are initiated and governed, (2) how collaboration takes place within these groups and through which processes, and finally (3) what the outcomes of these processes are, with respect to individual, community and local impacts experienced on the ground, and challenges associated with them. We use a descriptive case study methodology, to study seven SFSC initiatives (four food community networks, two farmers’ markets and a local shop) in the city of Izmir; and collect data through quali-tative semi-structured in-depth interviews (41 with producers, 32 with consumers, 11 with coordinators and 5 with experts). Our findings suggest that different mechanisms are at play within our cases, depending on aspects including their governing structures and their way and purpose of operation. While farmers had difficulties relying solely on their income from these initiatives for their livelihoods, organizational challenges experienced by food communities were mainly related to difficulties associated to man-aging tasks on a voluntary basis. Moreover, arriving at a shared understanding about mutual goals, in addition to finding a way to include stakeholders in the process, were among the most prevalent challenges of all initiatives.

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