Slow Food-CE project draws to a close



The lessons learned over three years of work in five Central European cities (Venice, Krakow, Dubrovnik, Brno and Kecskemét) have been condensed into a transnational strategy able to guide institutions and local entities in the promotion of gastronomic heritage.

Slow Food-Central Europe, the transnational cooperation project aimed at improving the capacity of local actors, both public and private, to safeguard and promote Central European gastronomic cultural heritage, has reached its conclusion. Launched in June 2017 with the involvement of ten partners, Slow Food-CE has succeeded in creating a replicable model for giving local, traditional food the value it deserves. This model is proving more necessary than ever before thanks to the on-going Covid-19 emergency. The current global pandemic has in fact clearly revealed many of the problems caused by an inability to value the environment and its food agrobiodiversity, to fight the abandonment of rural areas and the erosion of the land and to protect those who produce food with care and respect for nature and its rhythms.

Five cities were involved in the project: Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Brno (Czech Republic), Kecskemét (Hungary) and Krakow (Poland). After constructing a shared methodology for the identification and promotion of the cultural resources linked to food heritage, a specific pilot project was set up in each city in order to try out innovative solutions for the promotion of local gastronomy to citizens and tourists in different urban spaces.

Identify, protect, valorize: The project's three key words. The experiences of the project's partner cities have been collected together on the Food Paths Network site. Each city gathered the stories of local food champions and translated their hard work into initiatives capable of demonstrating local gastronomic potential. The objective now is to expand this network beyond the end of the project, involving other cities that can test out the Slow Food-CE methodology and adapt it to their own contexts. Cities represent a perfect laboratory for experimentation and can do much to support those who generate economy and well-being for the local community.

In Italy, the gastronomic festival "Saór - Saperi e sapori veneziani in festa" was organized in Venice. With guided tours, cooking classes, practical workshops, tastings, exhibitions and producers' markets, Saór took over the city's historic center, lagoon islands and nearby mainland from September 27 to 29, 2019.

Krakow, named the European Capital of Gastronomic Culture in 2019, selected six gastronomic specialties, including bagel-like obwarzanek, Ojcowski trout, piaszczańska sausage and głąbik krakowski (stem lettuce). The project led to the creation of four "Slow Food areas" with the objective of revitalizing some of the Polish city's lesser-known neighborhoods and promoting them to tourists.

In Croatia, Dubrovnik chose to organize a multimedia, edible exhibition, entitled "City Breadwinners," in the city's Museum of Natural History, raising awareness and actively involving the public in the conservation of its local gastronomic heritage. For years, this city on the Adriatic coast has been one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, meaning there has been no lack of visitors. But what is needed is more support for the local producers and restaurateurs who are keeping Dubrovnik's culinary heritage alive.  

The Green Market in Kecskemét has long played an important role in the Hungarian city, with around 300 producers using the market to sell the fruits of their labors. Now, on the last Friday of every month, an area is set up outdoors where shoppers can meet producers selected according to Slow Food guidelines, talk to them and find out more about how they make their food. Tastings and presentations were also organized in Kecskemét, involving children as well as adults and teaching them about environmental sustainability.

Education was meanwhile the focus of activities in Brno in the Czech Republic, brought to schools, where sensory education courses were launched to teach pupils how to distinguish flavors and recognize quality products, and to the streets, where workshops and tastings were organized. During the eight-week-long Children's Farmers' Market project, young people had a chance to get to know more about agriculture, from production to the organization of the local distribution chain.

Towards the end of the Slow Food-CE project's three-year term, a common strategy was drawn up, a document which represents a road map for institutions who want to follow the path of protecting their gastronomic heritage in order to set in motion a virtuous cycle that unites economy, environmental sustainability and social inclusion. The strategy document has been published on the Slow Food-CE website.

Slow Food-CE is a project coordinated by Slow Food and funded by the Interreg Central Europe Programme A total of over €780,000 has been invested in the pilot actions.
The ten partners are Slow Food, the City of Venice, the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the City of Dubrovnik Development Agency (DURA); the Kinookus Association; the Tourist Authority South Moravia, Slow Food Brno, the Municipality of Krakow, the Local Government of Kecskemét City and the Kiskunsag Tradition-bound, Artisans’ and Tourism Association - Convivium Kiskunsag.

The seven associated partners are the Ston Tourist Board, the City of Dubrovnik, the City of Brno, the Malopolska Tourism Organisation, the Academy of Physical Education and Tourism in Krakow, the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food and Europa Nostra.