Early lessons learned, “the tunnel is long and dark, those flickers of light are just the torches that guide you along in the process”.

 

Last summer, I arrived in Barcelona with the vision of starting an urban farm, bringing unbeatable fresh produce into the city and the kicker- it would be grown on waste generated by restaurants.

An idealistic vision that turned into the reality of relentless visits to ayuntamientos, gestors and business advisors.

The ayuntamiento is a district town hall where you need to make an appointment and request specific forms to apply for various licensing. This sounds straight forward, however their awkward opening hours meant I was alone in this process.

I firstly explain the project plan in my somewhat shaky Spanish, get given the “wtf” look and get passed from one person to another. One local district says it’s not possible to grow anything in the city, the other says they are not issuing new licensing, the next says I would need to apply for special permission and the last says I would need to apply for an innocuous activity license (flicker of light). Finally I am presented with various forms to fill in, apply and accompany with a pile of paperwork. Word of warning, filing skills are a must.

This process is painstakingly slow. Wanting to get a move own. I start looking for a warehouse in the city to accommodate the project. I find a great place, its rundown but there would be flexibility to negotiate with the owner. I get rushed into making a reservation deposit as they are “booked out” with viewings over the coming days.

Lesson learned: before making a reservation, the ayuntamiento sends out a technician to inspect the premise to take some photos, fill out some (surprise) more paperwork and apply to urban planning if your activity can be done at that specific location. Shock horror, I get the news that agricultural activity cannot be done there let alone ANYWHERE in the city which completely puts me back at square one. This blew my mind, the class of agriculture is regarded the same across the board, from keeping bees on a rooftop to keeping cattle in the city. All of which is strictly forbidden.

Deposit lost but I’m not letting their unethical approach go without a challenge. Real estate agents know the process and should advise you what license already exists for that premise.

Anyway, still determined. I started getting good feedback from my target market so onto the search for a suitable premise and more homework on licensing. Everything is possible.

More to come.

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