Terra Madre Day 2010 marks the launch of a very practical challenge to the network: to support the creation of a thousand gardens in Africa.
Thanks to a massive international effort, school, community and city gardens will be set up in every African country, starting with those where the Terra Madre network is already well-established (Kenya, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania). The gardens will be cultivated using sustainable methods (composting, natural substances for disease and pest control, proper management of water), and will include fruit trees, vegetables and medicinal herbs, with priority given to local varieties. They will be managed by Terra Madre communities and African students returning to their communities after graduating from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo.
Setting up a kitchen garden in Africa means producing healthy fresh food for the community, transferring knowledge from elderly people to the young, promoting awareness of local products, respect for the environment, the sustainable use of water and land, and the protection of traditional recipes. It also means restoring prestige to small farmers, an occupation now often shunned by young people in Africa as in many other parts of the world.
In 1970 there were 80 million malnourished people in Africa. Ten years later this number had doubled and it increased further to reach 250 million in 2009. In 1960-when decolonization was proceeding-African countries produced enough food to feed themselves and even have a surplus for export. Now they are forced to import most of their food requirements.
This is one of the results of abandoning traditional agriculture-based on diversity, local varieties and the exchange of seeds between communities-and a transition to agribusiness, which means cultivating monocultures for export (ranging from cotton to crops for biofuels) and resorting to chemicals on a large scale (fertilizers and pesticides which are expensive and impoverish the land).
To change direction it is important to preserve biodiversity, focusing on communities and giving them the freedom and responsibility to decide what to grow, eat and sell. It is only possible to do this through many small local initiatives. A garden is one of them.
Let's make a joint effort to create a thousand of them: not only for the future of African communities but also for the future of our planet.
The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity-Slow Food's technical instrument for implementing projects to support Terra Madre food communities-will manage the funds and will coordinate activities in Africa.
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To adopt a garden in Africa or receive further information, contact Elisabetta Cane, tel. +39 0172 419756 - firstname.lastname@example.org