Edona Arnesen

By Janne Karin Brodin

Edona Arnesen
Edona ArnesenPhoto: Edona Arnesen

Head of Produce & Producer Relations at Dagens Norge AS

Education: Master in Agroecology 

Can you tell us about your current job?

I work with facilitating direct trade between food producers and professional kitchens, in a technology company based in Oslo (main office) and Copenhagen. We build technology to make direct trade easier and more efficient, so that producers and their customers can trade on their own terms and on nature's premisses, not on the premisses of big companies or middle men. Our vision is to create a resilient and transparent food system, where producers are rightly paid for their important work and where culture is put back into agriculture.

In terms of career opportunities I feel like there are many; it's obvious that agroecological knowledge and food system expertise is highly needed in the world today. This is clear from the focus presented by the UN, EU and the global society. I am sure I would find another relevant and interesting job quickly if I had to. At my current job the opportunities are good, as we are growing and expanding, and all the time building our business.

My tasks include:
- Finding, contacting and training new producer partners
- Making sure all our producer partners stay up to date on the information they need
- Get insights through communication and experience with producers and bring it further to our design and development team, so we can continuosly make Dagens better
- Make and leverage our producer framework, which seeks to support biodiversity, soil health, ocean health and animal welfare. This means ensuring that all producers we work with fit this framework, and that they know that these are important values to us.
- Customer communication and matching producers with customers, so the right people find each other and start trading.
- Researching and creating a framework for gathering data on resilience; meaning parameters and data on food production and the implications of the different methods. We want to use data to truly show how trading directly has a real impact, to incentivize customers to make the right choices.
- Communicating our efforts through writing and talks, network meetings and research projects.

What was the path like from high school to the job you have today?

I started engineering studies right out of high school, as I've always loved maths and wanted to get a good education where I could use my strengths. In my last (third) year, I felt that this was however not for me, as it felt too static and not in line with my dreams and values. I started looking at MSc opportunities, in something "green", and stumbled upon the Agroecology program at NMBU by chance. The headlines of the program - do you want to be an active change agent in our food systems? - hit me straight in the heart and I immediately wanted to explore further. Engineering was not the obvious prerequisite to get into the program, but I made it through by writing a persuasive letter of motivation. I am so happy I was admitted, even though I didn't have a background in natural science, because I have never looked back. It was like a whole new world opened to me with all the real-life projects, discussions, reflections and international classmates, after having a more strict start in engineering.

I have worked in the restaurant industry since I was 16/17, and fortunately always in places where the focus has been on local and seasonal produce, and home made food. This has fueled my interest for food and where it comes from, and have given me firsthand experience along the way. I truly believe that is a big reason for my passion and my will to have a positive impact on the world.

What is your opinion about the student community at NMBU?

I had a great time in my class and with my program, but it was a very busy semester and I lived 2 km away from the campus, so I didn't involve myself in too much regarding student activities. I really liked the new gym that opened while I was there and I went to some great concerts and other happenings. Everyone I know have loved to study in Ås, and the campus is absolutely beautiful.

 Do you have any advice to future students?

NMBU is a renowned university with highly skilled and diverse professors, and I am sad that I myself moved to Oslo after 9 months of my study and therefore did not get to be as much a part of the academic sphere and culture at NMBU. There is so many different programs and courses to take, and fantastic academic networks to become part of. I would recommend NMBU to anyone, both if they want to live on the countryside or in the big city with not too long of a commute.

How do you / your job / your workplace contribute to the work of achieving the UN's sustainability goals?
We are working right at the core of many of the UN SDG's, especially concerning life on land, sustainable cities, and cooperation. Our vision and mission is to build and enable a resilient food system where biodiversity, soil health, ocean health, animal welfare, ecosystems and humans are supported, and where local economies can thrive.

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