Democracy and participation, Environment, Food and Farming

ECO-MED Food Empowerment Centres


Who is behind this?

Lanka Horstink

GAIA - Grupo de Acção e Intervenção Ambiental


Who is joining forces?



GAIA has been a hub for food and seed freedom initiatives for > ten years, whereas Aegilops has for 15 years promoted heritage varieties and organic agriculture, training people all over Greece.



Idea pitch

Many Southern Europeans have suffered with economic crises and austerity measures, losing access to healthy food. Nevertheless, there is tremendous potential for creating or restoring both sustainable and affordable local food systems within the Mediterranean tradition. The ECO-MED project will help urban communities reconnect with the land, good food and the means and knowledge to produce it sustainably, by setting up Food Empowerment Centres around vegetable gardens in 8 medium-sized cities.

Where does your idea take place?

Our project will go to 4 locations (medium-sized cities) in Portugal and 4 locations in Greece.

Why does Europe need your idea?

Creating a network of Food Empowerment Centres where municipalities & local groups collaborate with trainers to enable families with unstable or low incomes to learn improve their diet and save money, while also including them as actors in a common vision of local, fair, agroecological food systems.

What is your impact?

Success would be when we have established 8 Food Empowerment Centres in Portugal and Greece, have trained at least 160 people and most importantly new trainers to continue the project while already having new locations in mind for the next Centres.

How do you get there?

We will create partnerships with municipalities and local groups in 8 locations (2 countries). In each a Food Empowerment Centre, around a vegetable garden and with all necessary instruction materials and tools will be set up. During the year 20-30 people in each Centre will be trained in 6 courses (gardening, traditional seed saving, bread making, composting, preserves & Eco-Mediterranean cooking). Some of the trainees become the next trainers, thus guaranteeing the continuity of the centres.

What is your story?

I (Lanka) have been active through the organisation GAIA for the last 10 years defending healthy, sustainable, democratic food systems and the preservation and free use of local and peasant seeds. For my PhD in Sociology I researched the democratic and ecological quality of the modern food system.

Who are you doing it for?

We will focus in particular on medium-sized cities and unemployed, precariously employed and low-income families, addressing several needs in the same project. To reach our audiences and create new food communities we will contact local groups and municipalities and establish partnerships with them.

What do you need from the Advocate Europe community?

Are there Southern Europeans to whom the idea of Food Empowerment based on the Mediterranean Diet is inspiring? Love to know if you support it and any suggestion you can offer, as well as potential partners to grow this across the South and replicate it in the North, which has its own local diets!




Mara Sé

Christina Vakali

Idea created on Jan. 13, 2018
Last edit on Jan. 15, 2018

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