This is just a quick up date as it's been a pretty long and full day (I can't quite believe it's only the 2nd full day). Yesterday afternoon we split into thematic groups - I was in 'markets and organisation of food chains/webs'. People were there from across Europe and from a range of different initiatives - community supported agriculture, community gardens, small producers, academics, food co-ops (sounds a bit like a feedingmanchester - but a lot harder to facilitate!). We divided into 3 areas of discussion - supermarkets, norms and regulations, and alternative food distribution systems (AFDS), I was in the third.
Yesterday we focused on the questions - where we are at (the situation in our country for AFDS) and what we are doing, where we want to be (the vision for the future), and what the limits are. Today we spent the morning looking at how we are going to get there trying to come up with concrete proposals. Loads of great stuff came up - I won't go into all of it now as my brains a bit fried. But in our one we looked at logistics of distribution and shared infrastructure and agreed we need a place where models, formulas, and info can be shared to stop everyone who wants to set up a AFDS having to re-create the wheel (e.g. formulas for working our pricing, distribution), and we came up with a big list of 'building blocks' for what an AFDS need to think about and have in place - which the rest of the group loved - yipeee! The idea is to use 'Urgenci' (http://www.urgenci.net/index.php?lang=en), as an existing european-wide info sharing website for AFDS.
Education also came up as a big issue throughout the discussions in our group - how to reach a wider range of people to encourage them to buy from AFDS, to raise wider awareness about the negative impact of and issues surrounding supermarkets - including a European wide day of supermarket action on the 17th of April, how to change attitudes towards food and valuing of food. Tensions between fair pricing for producers and making food affordable were highlighted - with local solutions such as flexible pricing structures, CSA, to the need for food pricing to include externalities (apparently there's a co-op in Wales 'Nest' who do that themselves).
The situation being different in different countries is also an issue that came up in terms of how to find common solutions - and the enormity of it all (e.g. externalities in pricing needing to go into the Common Agricultural Policy - not something we can change at a local level (though there is group just discussing CAP so we'll see what they come up with on Saturday).
Anyway loads of great people - having a meeting with and about different kinds of co-ops tomorrow, including French, Spanish, Turkish (who know about a doctor who is looking at how to value the nutritional content of organic food), and Greek examples. And that's after a field trip to visit a producers co-op here (17 producers). Ok enough - will try and write a bit more tomorrow.