EATingCRAFT: Education towards the creation of alternative food networks

 

The Education Towards the Creation of Alternative Food Networks project (EATingCRAFT) aims to design an innovative and high-quality training program focusing on up-skilling adult learners interested in building alternative food networks. The project will promote the adoption of Participatory Guarantee Systems and of Community Supported Agriculture in Czech Republic, Hungary and Greece. 

Funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, the porject i is built on a strategic partnership between seven European organisations involved in sustainable food production and consumption. The partners are  IFOAM – Organics International (Germany), Nature et Progrès (France), the Association of Conscious Consumers – ACC-TVE (Hungary) PRO-BIO Liga (Czech Republic), MIRAMAP (France), Agroecopolis (Greece) and the International CSA Network URGENCI (based in France).

Around the globe, organic farmers, consumers and facilitating organizations have been developing different innovations aiming at building local food systems based on solidarity and participation such as PGS and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives. PGS and CSA are similar in their overall objectives of improving livelihoods of organic producers and increased access to safe and nutritious food for consumers. Both PGS and CSA enhance transparent and shared decision-making processes prioritizing a solidarity approach where the responsibilities for implementing sustainable agriculture practices are shared by the community.

The 2-year project was launched in October 2017 and will produce a training program articulated in 4 modules and a trainer toolkit that will be accesible online . Each module will be tested in three European countries: Check Republic, Hungary and Greece. The ultimate objective, is that by the end of the project, these countries will have built the tools and the capacity necessary to set up pilot PGS initiatives.

Europe does not have a regulatory environment conducive to PGS and only third party certified products are allowed to be labeled ‘organic’. European PGS certified producers, unable to make organic claims on their products, can rely on their tight connections with their consumers, often integral part of the PGS itself. This is the reason why, despite the legal obstacles, PGS initiatives are spreading also in Europe as complementary tool for certification particularly suitable for those groups of producers and consumers pursuing more meaningful relationships between production and consumption. 

During this project, we will research the synergies that lay behind PGS and CSA systems. On one side we want to explore the ways PGS can contribute to the CSA approach offering a system to ensure quality and a continued improvement of practices. On the other side we will showcase examples of how CSA can inspire PGS in building robust solidarity economy and cultivate relationships between producers and consumers. Eventually, this project will also be an opportunity to create a network of European PGS and to learn and share local experiences and challenges at international level.