ESSEDRA - Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organisations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe

Funded by: European Commission through DG Enlargement

Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

Budget: 54.249,96 Euro

Project Objectives

The ESSEDRA project, co-funded by the European Union through DG Enlargement, is coordinated by Slow Food, with the aim of facilitating the integration process of the Balkan countries and Turkey into Europe.

Slow Food plans to do this by strengthening and amplifying the voice of civil society organizations (CSOs) that are working locally on agriculture, rural development and food quality. Naturally, this will involve dealing with related issues such as the protection of the environment and the landscape, safeguarding biodiversity, the fight against climate change and, importantly, the well-being of local communities.

The project’s objectives are pursued by working on three different but interconnected levels:

  • Activities to advocate the role of small-scale farmers in biodiversity protection; to strengthen the capacity of CSOs to provide analysis, strategic advocacy and monitoring of relevant policies related to the food system and rural development; and to increase participation of CSOs in the public debate on sustainable rural development in the Balkans and Turkey, and influence the policy and decision-making process.
  • Support for small-scale food producers, the promotion of concrete models to preserve biodiversity and field research on agricultural products at risk of extinction.
  • Constant communication towards the wider public, involving the organization of workshops and educational activities; campaigns on responsible consumption; and the launch of a European Citizens Initiative to promote local food consumption, raise awareness among Balkan and Turkish citizens of the influence of public policies on their daily lives, and inform communities on how to effectively influence policy formulation and implementation processes.

Project Updates

Many traditional food products (whether breeds, varieties or processed food) are at risk of disappearing, victims not only of social change, globalization and industrial agriculture, but of inappropriate and unnecessary rules and regulations, introduced unthinkingly as part of the process of EU accession. The same process offers the prospect of support mechanisms for traditional farmers and artisan producers, but these need to be activated and effectively delivered.

The three main outputs of the ESSEDRA project were the study on relevant legislation and policy processes, the inventory of Western Balkans and Turkey’s agricultural endangered products and the training of the partners’ staff.

The activities focused on advocating the role of small-scale farmers in biodiversity protection, promoting concrete models and actions to preserve biodiversity, and at exchanging the best practices and knowledge at a multiregional level.

Civil Society Organizations in the Balkans and Turkey communities were involved in protecting the environment, especially in safeguarding biodiversity, to halt climate change and to secure the sustainable well-being of local communities. Thanks to this project the capacity of the network to influence policy formulation processes was  improved, as well as the dialogue and collaboration between the stakeholders.

The partners have been identified among the organizations, which proved to be the most reliable and pro-active and to have a clear understanding and knowledge of their countries needs and constraints.

One of the results of ESSEDRA hoped for is that citizens will become aware of their role in environmental preservation through informed every day decisions and activities, as well as their improved participation in Civil Society dialogues.

Awareness-raising activities were focused mainly on daily food choices and, in specific countries, on specific items identified during the first phase of ESSEDRA such as:

-  Peasant food for modern people in Romania - see below

Raw milk campaign in Macedonia

– GMOs campaign in Macedonia

ALE (Anadolu Lezzet Envanteri or Anatolian Taste Inventory) in Turkey

Rural tourism campaign in Albania

Support for local breeds in Serbia

Cooperation between farmers in Bosnia

– Linking consumers and producers – a step for sustainable farming in Bulgaria

– When you shop use your head in Croatia

Managing Body & Contact

Ben Mehedin

Food&Farming Communities Manager
Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Tel: 004 (0) 752 264 580

Laura Chirilă-Pașca

Marketing & Enterprise Manager
Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Tel: 004 (0) 744 650 582

Peasant Food for Modern People

A brief guide that will help you be more aware of the consequences of your daily choices.

Download the publication produced by Slow Food.

Through the national communication campaign, part of ESSEDRA project, ADEPT aimed to inform as many people about the importance and relevance of peasants (i.g. small scale farmers) in an ever changing and growing global market. It is of upmost importance for people to realise that these small scale farmers, that have a special connection with the land and thus the food they produce, hold in their traditional knowledge the key for a sustainable agriculture, capable of delivering high-quality food that is good for the plate, clean for the environment and fair for both producers and consumers.

ADEPT organised several events where local producers were invited to present and sell their products and attended workshops and meetings held by the National Rural Development Network and other local partners, focused on creating the legal framework and a network of interested people that will support and contribute to the development and economic viability of an extensive agriculture.

The biggest event, part of the campaign, was held during Rural Fest 2015, an event organised in Bucharest by the Representatives of the European Commission in Romania, a good opportunity to get in touch with various local producers from different areas of Romania as well as to initiate individual discussions with people that visited ADEPT stand. After the Rural Fest, the National Rural Development Network has asked for help in organising the next fairs and events for small scale producers and also asked for the permission to re-print and distribute the brochure (“When You Shop use your Head”, translated in Romanian), which was used as support material in most of the presentations during the campaign.

In advocating the role of small-scale farmer for biodiversity, ADEPT has also organised the Christmas Fair in Sighisoara, where local producers were invited to present and sell their products. The fair was organized also as a celebration of Terra Madre Day.

ADEPT continues to hold meetings and presentations about the importance of quality food and supporting the local farming communities of Romania, coordinated with the advocacy campaign planned for the upcoming period.

Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania