From Farmers to Chefs to protect biodiversity

19 Feb 2024

“With the Farmers to Chefs project we are empowering cooks and consumers with the consciousness of local food and its richness. We do not have to look abroad when our country offers us great food and rich and tasty biodiversity” – Aida Jamangulova, project coordinator

The rich biodiversity in Kyrgyzstan is mainly threatened by human activities, which have a negative impact on ecosystems and communities. Small farmers in Kyrgyzstan (about 400,000 family farms) produce about 98% of agricultural crops and the project includes activities to increase the capacity of farmers to grow clean and tasty products using agroecology, as well as training consumers and cooks on agrobiodiversity, waste reduction, climate adaptation, and increasing conscious consumption.

The main characters of this story are chefs, farmers and consumers. This project was born to strengthen the relationships among local agricultural producers, chefs, clients of the Aly de Polya Bistro and the Ala-Too Slow Food community.

The Aly de Polya farm bistro organized training sessions for its staff, focusing on crucial topics such as agroecology, food waste, climate impact, and fostering team-building. The team engaged in conversations regarding the broader implications of agroecology and its positive effects on the environment. The training session not only provided valuable insights into important topics but also strengthened the team’s bonds through shared experiences and open conversations. Moving forward, the Bistro is well-positioned to integrate these learnings into its daily operations, promoting sustainability, reducing food waste, and contributing to a more environmentally conscious hospitality industry.

A special guest from Belarus

Anton Kalenik from the Slow Food Cooks Alliance in Belarus visited the country and organized some specific training for chefs, helping in reviewing menus, including and promoting local products and recipes. Too often, with the objective of attracting more clients, cooks tend to use exotic and imported products in their menu, instead of promoting local products, often tastier and with a lower impact on the environment. Their choice not to use local varieties also has a repercussion on farmers, who are not encouraged to plant local seeds, contributing to a high loss of biodiversity. Following this first experience, chefs are already looking ahead and organizing new meetings and training for the summer.

An important moment in the project was the Brunch with Farmers, aimed at establishing direct relationships between local small farmers and the food service industry. The main purpose of the event was to discuss the possibility of creating a sustainable food supply system for local restaurants, and both chefs and farmers asserted the importance of strengthening relationships and contacts. This was a key step in creating a sustainable system of cooperation between local farmers and HoReCa people.

Thanks to the initiatives organized as part of the project, participants stressed the importance of creating a Slow Food community involving local chefs and now the first administrative steps have already been taken in this direction.

This is where the Farmers to Chefs project has a fundamental educational and environmental role in driving change.

“This project allowed us to draw attention to the importance of building a partnership between farmers and HoReCa. As a key follow-up to the project, we have found partners to develop a virtual market place for farmers and producers, who will have the opportunity to include the supply of products to HoReCa and consumers directly.”

We truly enjoyed working on this project and we express our sincere gratitude to you for the Slow Food Negroni Week Fund "

- Aida Jamangulova, project coordinator -

An opportunity from the Negroni Week Fund

“The concept of Slow Food fits so harmoniously into our culture – a time when people gather at the Kyrgyz table not only for food, but also for the opportunity to socialize and enjoy communication with loved ones,” comments Aida Jamangulova. “Now there is a growing number of people who want to know how products are grown. Slow Food membership provides support for our work with local producers, preserving the unique indigenous food culture of nomads, and building direct connections between farmer and consumer. We truly enjoyed working on this project and we express our sincere gratitude to you for the Slow Food Negroni Week Fund.

Slow Food, with its Cooks Alliance, Presidia and Ark of Taste projects, is perfectly located to spread the project’s messages and help chefs and farming communities to valorize and promote their work and the richness of the countryside.

Moreover, it helps to build partnerships among local small producers, chefs and guests to help them understand each other and work together to benefit from collaborations and community welfare. The project works with female smallholders who grow local produce using agroecological approaches, and by building trust and partnerships they will be properly recompensed for their work. The Slow Food Indigenous Peoples’ network plays a central role in protecting local traditions and promoting products and recipes that are part of the gastronomic national heritage.

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