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First step of CoP in LUCCA RR11

“The food community and agro-biodiversity of Garfagnana”, in Tuscany, is a project managed by the Union of Municipalities, financed under the Rural Development Program of the Tuscany Region (measure 10.2), involving University of Pisa as well.

It aims to improve the food system from the enhancement of local productions, with particular attention to the conservation of agro-food biodiversity and ecosystems. The aim is to stimulate and guarantee at the local level a harmonious, economic, cultural, social and environmental development that is respectful of natural equilibrium. The Community of Food aims to achieve this by trying to fortify and put into practice some of the already-initiated, short-selling, direct sales, purchasing and identity-consuming pathways, according to a strategic vision that can locally be able to bring the various actors together on a common view that inevitably regards the issues of food security, food ethics (understood as tradition, respect for people, and connection with nature) and food sovereignty. The Community is open to all those who, in varying degrees, feel close to these issues, from producers to trade associations, from economic operators to free citizens, with the aim of building a local partnership network that leads to the development of concrete actions .

The meeting that we took part in was conducted in Sillico (Garfagnana) in July 2017 and it was focussed  on  the role of small farmers within the food system and the environment of Garfagnana. The event was organized as a focus group  aimed at improving and creating paths for the realization of a local food system as community and economic development in the territory. For this reason, important institutions of the area and actors operating in agriculture and related activities in the province of Lucca were involved: small farmers, small food businesses, processors, retailers, agricultural organizations, school representatives, consumers’ cooperatives, producers’ cooperatives, solidarity purchasing groups.

It was an important opportunity for comparison and reciprocal exchange of information, useful to participants and institutions, for us as well, that confirmed the importance of making networks: a restaurateur, for example, wishful to offer dishes of local red beans, did not know about the production conducted by custodian farmers in Garfagnana. The meeting allowed us to confirm the potential of this territory, conveying the thought that if the community is able to collaborate and share its own point of strengths, especially their rich culture, wonderful landscapes, local products and food peculiarities, will successfully overcome challenges and constraints. This points out the importance of communicating and sharing information as fundamental basis for the growth and the development of a given context.

The Community of Food of Garfagnana offers a concrete case of experimentation and elaboration for the creation of a model that can be replicated in other economies and realities; this project is also the starting point for the realization of a community of practice in the province of Lucca.