AlimenTerra is an informal network of European organisations working to develop a sustainable European food system.
When the network was more formally constituted, Sustain provided secretariat services to this network for a period. This page gives a brief summary of activities, as reported to Sustain's Council, during that period.
Sustain has taken on, from AlimenTerra, the UK part of the EU-funded SoftAgri project. Funded by the Grundtvig programme, the project supports information exchange visits between European countries to promote sustainable food and agriculture. Sustain is committed to providing 12 such visits in total. Details about the project are available on the website at http://www.softagri.eu/.
At the Board meeting in Paris in September it was agreed that the AlimenTerra company should be wound up, with the European Network continuing on an informal basis. Sustain will take on the UK part of the EU-funded Soft-Agri programme. This supports visits and information exchange between European countries to promote sustainable food and agriculture.
At the Alimenterra board meeting in February it was decided that the organisation should be restructured to appoint a new director. To facilitate lobbying EU institutions, alongside promoting and developing sustainable food policy, the post should be based in London, Paris or Brussels. The Soft Agri project (part of the wider Grundtvig lifelong learning project funded by the EU) examines how to communicate food sustainability. A meeting took place in the UK in April.
Alimenterra's co-ordinating committee met in October in
The third Mensa Civica (European Alliance for sustainable public food) workshop took place in
Alimenterra has been awarded European funding under the Gruntvig funding adult learning programme. As part of the two year workplan for the project, each member organisation is to host a study visit for all the other participating organisations. The organisations involved are from
Summer 2008Sustain has agreed to provide secretariat support services to the European sustainable food network AlimenTerra. Sustain's campaigns director Richard Watts has been appointed Company Secretary and Sustain's coordinator Jeanette Longfield has been re-elected as a Board member. Multi-lingual Ida Fabrizio has been appointed as Sustain's project officer to manage the network. Sustain is also taking on the contract to provide bookkeeping services for AlimenTerra, which will be managed by Sustain's finance officer Quoc-anh Tran. AlimenTerra has a great deal of potential to become an influential European network working for sustainable food and farming policies. Sustain can help with this process to form an effective pan-European network.
At the beginning of the year, Sustain became involved with AlimenTerra's Mensa Civica project (European Alliance for Sustainable Food). Ida Fabrizio was appointed as the communication and project development officer and has been assisting in their Europe-wide activities on public procurement. Her tasks involve co-ordinating visits and events around Europe, developing the project's website, and helping to develop new projects and funding.
In May, she helped organise an international workshop in Dublin, which looked at how to make public sector food services healthier and more sustainable and involved contributors from positive and inspiring initiatives in the UK, France, Italy and Spain. Speakers included an organic farming co-operative from Andalucia, representatives from the Rome Council and the green party Mayor Jacques Boultat of the 2nd district of Paris.
A second sustainable public food event took place in Zaragoza, Spain, as part of the Expo, organised by AlimenTerra's Spanish partners CERAI along with Slow Food Spain. One of the key speakers was the Spanish celebrity chef Martín Berasategui who expressed his passion for sustainable food in catering and whose presence helped raise the event's profile. There were presentations from representatives from public administrations and key organisations from Turin, Copenhagen, Brittany and Andalucía which have begun major initiatives in this area.
At the AlimenTerra board meeting in Zaragoza, further project plans for Mensa Civica were discussed, and Ida will be organising a study visit to the Le Marche region in Italy to look at excellent examples of local food supply to schools, hospitals, care homes. There will also be another sustainable public food workshop in Paris on 27 and 28 November 2008.
Spring 2008Sustain's work with AlimenTerra to provide support to the 'Mensa Civica' project has now started. Mensa Civica aims to increase the amount of sustainable public sector food in Europe and support sustainable food producers who deal with the public sector. Ida is helping to organise a meeting – entitled Good Food on the Public Plate – in Dublin on 8 – 10 May, addressed by a range of speakers including the Irish Agriculture Minister. This will discuss further ideas for supporting sustainable food producers and a study visit to a food cooperative in Leitrim. Ida will also be helping to arrange a similar meeting in Spain in July, and updating the organisation's email lists, website and other similar tasks. Sustain has also become AlimenTerra's Treasurer. This will involve some work for Richard Watts and Quoc-Anh Tran.
Although not linked directly to AlimenTerra, Sustain is also consolidating other international links, particularly with Canada. Jeanette was invited by the Metcalf Foundation trip to a series of meetings in Toronto, which included meeting Toronto's Mayor and senior officials, as well as a range of public interest organisations. Alongside rekindling our links with Local Food Plus it is possible that a Sustain-type organisation may be created in Ontario.