Los Angeles

Terra Madre: A Slow Food Initiative

terramadrebanner.jpgCarlo Petrini sent the following message to convivium leaders regarding an event that will be held in conjunction with this year’s Salone del Gusto. Read on…

Dear Convivium Leader:

In another action aimed to reshape the world’s food and farming system, Slow Food is holding an international gathering for 5000 food producers from 120 nations, in Turin, Italy, October 21-23, 2004, concurrent with Salone del Gusto. Entitled Terra Madre, the event reflects some basic beliefs: Mother Earth is food; human and ecological health are inextricable; producers are the under appreciated link between the natural world and the human race.
Our goal is to highlight the contribution of the diverse range of producers, to celebrate their value, and to support their empowerment. Slow Food will provide a forum to those who cultivate, raise, catch, craft, distribute and promote food in ways that respect the environment, human dignity, and the health of consumers.

The conference spans three days. Activity will be structured around:

  • Debates and presentations of environmental issues linked to agriculture: desertification, salinization, effects of pesticide use, etc.
  • Debates and presentations political issues related to sustainability and agriculture: the organic movement, community supported agriculture, fair trade, etc.
  • Seminars on individual crops and products: corn, beef, coffee, etc.
  • Meetings among producers from geographic regions linked by common challenges to agriculture: Rocky Mountains, Chilean Altiplano, Mediterranean Islands, etc.

At Terra Madre, Slow Food hopes to weave a community among individuals working in sustainable agriculture from around the world — to provide a meeting place for a California apricot grower to speak with a Peruvian orchardist, for Italian and Spanish coastal fishermen to share ideas, and for Canadian and Ethiopian wheat growers to share meals, discussions, and friendships.

The conference will use six official languages: English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, and Russian. Slow Food is recruiting 2000 farmers from Western Europe; 500 from those nations formally known as the Eastern Block; 400 from Africa; 500 from Australasia; and 1300 from North and South America. The United States seeks 500 representatives of as many diverse agricultural communities as possible.
The meeting is sponsored by an alliance of Slow Food, Italian Minister of Agriculture, the Piedmont Regional Authority, and the City of Turin. This alliance will pay for lodging, registration, ground transportation, and food for all participants during Terra Madre. National Committees and Slow Food members within the developed world are asked to contribute some funds to organize participation within their own nations and to ensure transportation to and from Turin.

To organize participation of the United States, Slow Food is partnering with AG Innovations Network, a nonprofit organization founded by Slow Food USA Chairman, Michael Dimock. AG Innovations (www.aginnovations.net) will act as the contact point for communications in the United States regarding Terra Madre and will lead the effort to raise funds for three pre-events and farmer memberships in Slow Food USA. We have chosen to work with AG Innovations because its mission and expertise are perfectly aligned with our aims. For over a decade, Michael and colleagues have offered education and assistance to agricultural and environmental organizations, and implemented awareness campaigns that improve understanding of agriculture and its role as a cornerstone of sustainable civilization.

This month, you will receive a package by post about Terra Madre. It will include instructions and forms for nominating your favorite local producers; brochures describing the event; a press release; and further information about how you can assist us to make Terra Madre a great success. If you have questions or would like to enlist as a volunteer to help organize this historic event, contact Michael Dimock (info@aginnovations.net or 707.528.2222).

Warm regards and best wishes,
Carlo Petrini