The last two days have been amazing, ending in a rousing presentation of a declaration made up of all the work we have done over the last 4 days, which has incredibly been condensed into a 2 page declaration (available below) and a page of action points (well done that summarising team! - including the UK's very own Patrick Mulveny). The declaration will go public on Monday.
So, I have had more meetings today than I thought possible. The morning plenary was followed by a thematic group meeting to respond to the draft document. A group of us from existing Alternative Food Distribution Systems (CSA's, AMAPs, regional networks of those, producer co-ops, consumer groups/co-ops and me as Manchester Veg People (a producer and buyer co-op) had a very practical lunch meeting to come up with a concrete list of the essential building blocks for an AFDS.
The idea of this is to share any solutions, models/formulas that we (from Belgium, Spain, Germany, France, Macedonia, Croatia and England), already have that work, and make them available for anyone wanting to set up an AFDS. We will then look at what gaps there are (the models/formulas/solutions that we don't have between us), and think about how to go about finding those (maybe doing some kind of European bid together if it is needed....). It felt great to also have a really practical tool/resource coming out of all these discussions.
Next was a meeting with two brilliant women who work with a co-op of producers across two regions (one in Holland and one Germany, I think), supplying two hospitals and residential homes. So, that was interesting, to compare notes and get ideas from that work, and to share information with them from our experience (they are really interested in the Sustainable Fayre report). The final plenary of the day then presented the final draft of the declaration receiving a standing ovation and I've just finished a little UK delegation meeting about where we go next as a group. So, all very exciting stuff - though I am ready for a beer, it has to be said!
Oh and yesterday I went on a really useful field trip to a local farmer who is part of a producers co-op 'Bersta', supplying bread - he grows the rye (and other grain), mills it and bakes the bread in a wood fired stove (see photo) - fuelled with wood from his five acres of woodland. By doing the whole cycle he can afford to have 2 thirds of his land under cover crops (for fertility), which he rotates every two years. The co-founder of the co-op, Dr Anton Rohrmoser was also there and gave us an inspiring history of the co-op. Inspired by Paulo Freire and based on his theory of political consciousness and the importance of working with people to make them aware of their power and supporting them to be the agents of change, Bersta started 1980's in a very disadvantaged rural area, when small producers were going out of business rapidly. Anyway, I asked lots and chatted to them about Manchester Veg People (which he's really interested in) but I'll write it all up at another time.
After that there was a food sovereignty market of ideas in the center of Krems - which a load of us made our way to with music and banners (see above photo), via a couple of supermarkets where we handed out leaflets the impact of supermarkets on small producers etc. And then a meeting with loads of people working in AFDS (which lead to the smaller one today) - and then a good old dance - yaye! Right off to get a beer and learn my part for a little thing tomorrow morning. See you soon, Helen x