Portugal: Caldas da Rainha
Small projects also have a place in rooting change in our territories. In Caldas da Rainha, a portuguese rural city known for its art and ceramics schools and tradition, Roots for Change has been collaborating with a cultural cooperative – CoopCASA and the local urban garden community.
Being in a rural artistic context, this local cooperative tries not only to promote artistic creation and a possibility for artists to work through a collective organization, but also to promote a wider vision on culture and cooperative practices, linking other areas of life to it. In this sense CoopCASA has been addressing food sovereignty, democracy and participation in some of its projects, for example supporting the local traditional food market and organising school sensibilization actions on these subjects. Early this year the cooperative had the opportunity to start participating in the local urban garden project aiming to help on promoting knowledge sharing, more solidary and democratic practices in its community. Together with the support of the Roots for Change organisation, this small cooperative is planning to cheer up this local food production initiative.
Caldas’ urban gardens came up as a participatory budget project, 6 years ago, to have access to land and financing from the municipality in order to start developing it. This project has a 6.000 m² area, divided in nearly 80 small plots to which individuals or collectives can apply to, and organized through a management commission (annually elected). This garden includes common areas, such as a small kitchen and barbecue place, plant nursery and tool plot. This initiative has been working now for about 3 years, with most plots being organically cultivated with a wide variety of vegetables and fruits.
For now the cooperative’s plot is flourishing, since being part of this initiative with our own production is a way to learn about food autonomy in the coop and also connect with the people already working there. From this starting point, CoopCASA with the support of Roots for Change, will organise several events, such as knowledge sharing, technical workshops, thematic film screening sessions and other events to bring people together and to promote collective learning on democratic and agroecological practices. In this process, Roots for Change will help to connect this local initiative to projects from other territories, to share experiences.
As we see it, food production goes way beyond growing vegetables. It is about autonomy, local culture, support networks and communal practices. We strongly believe that this other dimensions and bonds are crucial to recover food sovereignty and communitary ways of living: these are the changes we hope to root in this local project!