Bibanesi & Slow Food

To cultivate a dream

10,000 orchards in Africa

Africa is an endless continent, with 55 states and some 960 million inhabitants speaking more than 2000 languages. The variety of peoples and cultures is matched by an extraordinary wealth of biodiversity. Along the 6000 kilometres of the Rift Valley fault, some of the world’s most interesting ecosystems can be found: such as Lake Victoria, or the Kilimanjaro mountain range.

In Africa, very few have worked to enhance this biodiversity. Slow Food starts from there, from that unknown universe, proposing a model of endogenous development that originates from the history and characteristics of the continent itself.

At the centre are the people, actors and protagonists of the actions, of the projects. The path of this development is much longer, more laborious, but it is facilitated and regenerated continuously by the network: communities, gardens, Presidia, convivia, members, other associations that share the same philosophy.

Slow Food’s national coordinators have met on several occasions in recent years to decide what and how to cultivate. And they have proposed solutions attentive to each context: from the Moroccan oases to the arid lands of Mali.

The communities produce their own seeds, cultivate traditional products (vegetables, legumes, fruit, aromatic and medicinal herbs), use natural remedies to fertilise the soil and fight pests and weeds.
With the Presidia, Earth Markets and the 10,000 Gardens in Africa project, Slow Food promotes the right of local communities to cultivate their own land.

The Slow Food numbers

One thousand... ten thousand orchards in Africa

When compared to the gravity and complexity of the perennial crisis afflicting the African continent, the act of cultivating a vegetable orchard seems a rather insignificant gesture. But if the number of vegetable orchards grows to 10,000, and if networks of farmers, agronomists, students and cooks are created around them in over twenty countries, then these small projects can lead the way towards a sustainable future, attentive to the needs of local communities.

A few years ago, at Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2010, together with the delegates of the African network, we launched the first seeds of the project. With an ambitious goal: to create 1,000 orchards to concretely represent the Slow Food philosophy on the African continent.

Orchards that would involve young people, and based on the knowledge of the elderly, to get to know and value local food; to share experiences and knowledge and promote good, clean, and fair food. A goal largely achieved, on the one hand thanks to the work of thousands of communities, schools, and people; and on the other thanks to the support of thousands of people, Slow Food convivia, companies, schools and institutions around the world. Roba, Edie, John, Ben, Sara, Aurelia, Abdon are just some of the names thanks to whom we believe we are ready for an even bigger challenge: to achieve 10,000 orchards in Africa.

A Slow Food orchard is a different orchard

The Slow Food orchard wants to create, together with local communities, concrete models of sustainable agriculture, sensitive to different realities (environmental, social, cultural) and easily replicable.
In Africa we have created

  • school orchards: cultivated by pupils together with teachers
  • community orchards: managed by a community that shares the work and the harvest
  • family orchards: groups of orchards managed by families, who are part of a community

The Slow Food orchard is developed according to the philosophy of good, clean, and fair.

The approach is inspired by the principles of agroecology which, unlike the conventional agroeconomic approach, emphasises the importance of biodiversity, proper soil and water management, and the interaction between plant, animal and soil production.
Each Slow Food orchard is not a stand-alone project but fits into the community as a sharing experience. It offers the possibility for different generations to meet, to exchange knowledge, to strengthen the spirit of solidarity and friendship.

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