From 1,000 to 10,000 gardens: this is the challenge with which Slow Food began 2014. An ambitious goal that Slow Food and its Foundation for Biodiversity are undertaking with the help of the network of Terra Madre communities in Africa, and with a major fundraising campaign across the rest of the world. The Slow Food network in Africa is helping to set up new gardens while at the same time promoting local consumption and the education of future generations. The network is also working to raise the profile of African biodiversity and food culture, and to raise both citizens’ and politicians’ awareness of important political campaigns (like that against the introduction of GMOs, land grabbing and the devastating impact of monocultures).
The results of the work that took place in 2014 are very promising: 445 new gardens have been started (which brings the total to 1,445). 33 countries are now involved in the project and more than ten new training centers have been organized throughout Africa (in Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Rwanda and Tanzania), as well as in Italy (in Pollenzo, with 23 regional project managers). New instruments have also been developed, such as a handbook for the communities, a technical manual for the trainers and a video that has been translated into numerous African languages. New channels of communication have also been activated (Facebook, radio stations, etc.). The project has also gained many new supporters throughout the year, including celebrities such as Steve McCurry. The world famous photographer took shots of some of the African Slow Food producers/leaders for Lavazza’s 2015 calendar, whose theme this year is “Earth Defenders”.
Still, it must not be forgotten that 2014 was also one of the most difficult years in recent memory for the African continent, due to political crises that have plagued various countries (such as Mali, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Burkina Faso, etc.) and to the devastating Ebola epidemic that has hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (all countries in which the emergency unfortunately still hasn’t ended) and touched Nigeria, Senegal and Mali. The Slow Food network is present in all of these countries and, naturally, it has not come out of these profound crises unscathed; however it has still been able to deal with complex situations, slowing down their activities at times, but never stopping.
There is still a lot of work to do and everyone’s collaboration is fundamental. That is why this meeting will take place in London at Borough Market today. Slow Food International President Carlo Petrini will be present to explain the project to a British audience, along with John Kariuki Mwangi, activities coordinator for Kenya, and two students of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo: Themba Chauke, from South Africa, and Eunice Njoroge, from Kenya. Moderating the event will be renowned journalist Bill Emmott, alongside Shane Holland, trustee of London’s Slow Food Convivium, who will be acting as host for the event. Slow Food representatives from all around the UK (England, Wales, Scotland) will also be there. Due to limited places the event is invite only.
Check out the Slow Food International Facebook page to find photos of the gardens and the event
And… get involved in the project yourself! Even a small donation can bring great results.