A group of artists in Amsterdam set out to learn what it takes to make a simple tosti — a grilled ham and cheese sandwich — from scratch on an urban farm. One year, 20 volunteers and €35,000 later, they finally got to eat.
An article on Fast Company’s Co.Exist website reported that the group sowed wheat for bread, built a barn and purchased two cows and two pigs to make their tosti. They harvested the wheat, ground it for flour, milked the cows, made cheese, and butchered the pigs for ham. Along the way, they shared their program and progress with local schools and the community.
According to project team member Tjebbe Tjebbes, the project imparted a number of valuable lessons about agriculture.
“We had this fantastic moment on Dutch television where a lady from the neighborhood said, ‘I’m completely against it because my kids are going there now, and what am I going to tell them the next time we have a barbecue? They’re going to ask all of these difficult questions. Of course, she proved our entire point. This wasn’t just for us,” said Tjebbes.
However, project founder Sascha Landshoff said that from a business standpoint, it was “the worst project that ever existed,” noting that each sandwich cost €20, and pondered how far local food could or should go.
“I think what the project proves is that it’s completely possible, but the question is if it’s sustainable,” said Tjebbes. “We at least partly answered that with a big fat no. It’s incredibly expensive, and it takes an incredible amount of work.
“It’s not only about the most ecological, local food, you also need a certain amount of efficiency to feed everyone on the planet. That’s what our new project will be about—how do you find the balance between local food and good food, but also produce it in an efficient way.”