Slow Food Communities around the world work every day with kids, adults, students, cooks or students to change the way they make choices about their food.
One of the core, strategic goals of Slow Food from the very beginning have been the education. In order to change the food systems we need people to change their behavior regarding the way they make choices about their food. The Slow Food Communities represent a new dynamic way to join the Slow Food network around specific local goals and projects. It does not surprise if many of them focus their actions on foster the knowledge about food at 360 degrees.
The activities are extremely various. From history and culture of a product, to biodiversity and processing, and from the taste to production methods. Targets depend of the goal the Slow Food Community identify for their local area. Some focus on kids, some on adults, some on educating professionals such as students, cooks or producers.
All the activities have in common the approach of learning by doing and are characterized by the direct experience. This approach is not just an effective technique for conveying knowledge; more importantly, it is an approach through which learning becomes relational, and in which each of us is simultaneously student and teacher.
Given a common approach, the diverse contexts bring to very diverse activities.
In many urban areas of the world the priority is to work on reconnect people with their food and its production.
It is the case of the Slow Food Community for Food education and awareness raising, Târgu Mureş, Marosvásárhely.
In the urban area of Târgu Mureş, in Romania, this group is working to re-create this link by educating urban consumers (especially kids and their family and young people) and by helping the local producers to reach the city’s inhabitants.
In order to do so, the Slow Food Community is very active and vital in organizing meeting occasions such as: “Know your farmer, Know your food” a monthly based gathering where urban consumers can meet the local producers.
Many initiatives take place in the city, such as meals and tasting with the producers as well as the annual seed and seedling swaps, and local community tomato festival, but also “Food is Free” – the sharing surplus food system with the community. Others on the other hand take place in the countryside such as the visit to local producers and farms and the “Help your farmer” initiatives: days of volunteering spend at the local farms, planting, growing and harvesting together.
The Community is also active with school gardens in kindergartens and primary schools.
From urban to rural areas we find the example of the Slow Food Community of Agrobiodiversity and traditional rice SRI of Kedah in Malaysia.
The goal of the Community is to guarantee a sustainable future sharing agricultural knowledge, empowering farmers, sustaining communities, encouraging students and raising awareness starting by protecting and share local indigenous knowledge.
The main focus of their work is to train small scale farmers to the principles and practices of good clean and fair and agro-biodiversity and promote traditional rice varieties.
It happen by providing on-site training and by facilitating and encouraging farmer-consumer direct relations and farm visit. The main training topics are food safety issues and sustainable food production and processing, including the minimization of plastic packaging and the encouragement in the use of the narrative labelling.
In order to spread knowledge the Community organize workshops and internships for students to work on the farm to learn the principles and practices of agro-ecology in collaboration with University Sains Malaysia and University Utara Malaysia.
When it comes to education one of the main challenge is represented by educate the next generations.
An example of this challenge comes from Mexico with the Slow Food Community Ñam ñam, culture and education of taset Monterrey. The Community aims to promote taste education focused in their local areas starting from children, which is the main target, but reaching the families through sensory laboratories, content creation, events for the dissemination of food culture.
The activities are mainly education workshop in the schools and they include the organization of the sessions (for both public and private schools) from the training of the educators to the development of the didactic materials and also the dissemination of the initiatives through proper communication (mostly social media).
Moreover the group is very active in creating alliances with other possible stakeholders creating alliances with local events and festivals, but also institutions and foundations. Another strategic collaboration has been with academies, universities that proved to be able to support in many way from sharing knowledge to host many initiatives
Education and training also represent a key element to empower local communities. In Burkina Faso in the area of Ouagadougou the Slow Food Community of Delwendé – women for the future represent a group of women active to promote local food. In their activities they are committed in training workshop for the women of the area.
The activists teach about transformation of typical products such as the Slow Food presidium of the Arbollé Yam.
With the local women they also share inputs and exchange experience about the use of those products and their valorization.
A strategic action is also related to raise awareness among consumers that consuming local sustainable products and in order to strength the channels of market for the products they are also active in various initiates of promotion involving the cooks of the local restaurants.