Local food at the heart of Terra Madre Day

SLOW Food Perth’s Lake Jualbup shared picnic in Shenton Park tomorrow – 11 December 2010 – is one of 1119 Terra Madre Day events being held in every corner of the

world, in 124 countries, as local celebrations of local food by Slow Food and its Terra Madre network.

From Australia and New Zealand to the Americas and Europe, Slow Food members, producers, food communities, cooks, academics, young people and musicians have united in a collective global celebration of local food that’s good, clean and fair. This year confirms the success of the first exciting edition in 2009, held on Slow Food’s twentieth birthday, when 1028 Terra Madre Day events were held in 118 countries.

The goal of this year’s Terra Madre Day is to collect funds to finance the creation of a thousand vegetable gardens in Africa: in schools, in villages, on the outskirts of cities. The Terra Madre gardens will be run by the communities, planted with local varieties and cultivated using sustainable techniques. The idea is not new, but comes from many agricultural and educational projects already ongoing in Kenya, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Morocco, Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania.

The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity will manage the donations and coordinate activities in Africa.

In New Zealand, the food community of Maori organic producers of Aotearoa will celebrate their gastronomic heritage by organising a week of meetings and debates to talk about Terra Madre and Slow Food, in collaboration with the Ngati Hine Health Trust. Today, in Kawakawa and Whangarei in the north of the North Island, two lunches will be held, called Ata Haere… Go Slowly, to promote a better way of living and eating. Participants will prepare their favorite dishes, using ingredients from local organic farmers, then share them with families, friends and the community. The group of Maori organic producers includes growers of peruperu (Maori potatoes), seven varieties of kumara (sweet potato), other edible roots and fruits like oranges, mandarins, kiwis and feijoas, as well as cattle farmers. Farming techniques are based on traditional Maori knowledge passed down from the tupuna (ancestors).

The Balkan countries will see the launch of a Manifesto on Food, Biodiversity and Rural Cultural Heritage, written by the Terra Madre Balkans’ network during its first regional meeting in July 2010. The manifesto draws the attention of civil society, institutions and the business world to the importance of protecting rural heritage. The document will be presented to leading authorities in every Balkan country.

In Bulgaria, the manifesto will be presented to journalists on December 11. On the same day, the first Christmas market organised by Slow Food Bulgaria will be held in the Sofia Museum of National History, with foods and other sustainable products. Students from the Georgi Benkovski School in Cherni Vit and the Petko Karavelov School in Sofia will perform a musical program dedicated to Terra Madre Day. They will also be preparing sweets and Christmas cards for visitors. The proceeds will be used for Slow Food’s next activities in the two schools.

The Sami community in the northern Arctic has been working with Slow Food since 2003, when the Reindeer Suovas presidium was established to protect traditionally dried and smoked reindeer fillet. The first inter-regional convivium, Slow Food Sápmi, was created out of this collaboration. It currently has around a hundred members in Sweden and Norway and in the future hopes to attract members in Finland and western Russia’s Kola Peninsula. In Jokkmokk (Sweden), Terra Madre Day will be celebrated with dinners based on Sami products, conferences and traditional Joik music.

To welcome the 1000 Gardens in Africa initiative, Slow Food Mukono in Uganda will organise an event called Living Locally, Eating Locally, an open day during which parents and elderly farmers will be invited to spend the morning helping children in the Buiga Sunrise Preschool garden, sharing their knowledge of traditional, local agricultural methods. This will be followed by a cooking workshop with traditional recipes, to remember forgotten typical foods. The workshop will be run by Terra Madre cooks from the Dembe Women’s Group.
The Slow Food Mukono Convivium launched a food education program in 2006 and now works with over 20 schools to improve young people’s attitudes to agriculture, developing innovative methods to maintain food sovereignty and above all focusing attention on the creation of school gardens where fruits and vegetables are grown using sustainable techniques.

In Costa Rica, over 50 people from Santa Barbara and surrounding villages will learn how to build a solar cooker, which uses the sun’s rays to cook food. The event is organised by women from the Sol de Vida association, a Terra Madre food community which promotes organic agriculture, local seed protection, traditional cultivation techniques and cooking with solar energy. The public will also take part in agroecology workshops and learn practical skills like how to make natural fertiliser. In keeping with the Terra Madre Day spirit, the event will conclude with a lunch cooked in the solar cooker. The Sol de Vida women will prepare soups, tortillas, cakes and sweets with ojoche nuts picked from forest trees, as well as other dishes based on corn, beans, manioc and turmeric. The cooking and the lunch will be accompanied by Afro-Central American music set to the beat of the marimba, a traditional musical instrument.

Every fall, members of the Bellingham community along the Washington State coast in the United States come together to share the season’s catch and preserve it for the following months. Given the importance of small-scale fishing here, for the second consecutive year Slow Food Fourth Corner is organising the event for Terra Madre Day, inviting many convivia from around the area. The whole weekend will be dedicated to the festive event, with everyone helping to cut, prepare and can the fish according to an old Breton recipe. The fish is albacore tuna, caught with a hook and line along the United States coast, certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and recommended by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.

> For Australian events and Terra Madre organisers’ contacts, visit the Terra Madre Day website

> See Slow Food president Carlo Petrini’s message for Terra Madre Day

> To support 1000 Gardens in Africa, please email the project

> Find out more about Slow Food and Terra Madre

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