My name is Jenny Gkiougki and I am one of those Greeks that went back home during the crisis. (For an account of how I came about this decision and my take on the crisis please follow this link here on Edgeryders) During my residence abroad I was working as a business consultant and marketer. After ten years, I decided to return to my Greece to contribute to the local community and help with the bringing about of change. I am currently (amongst others) working on a project called “Real Food Utopia” as a co-facilitator with a foreign research partner, dealing with the mapping of alternative food systems in the region of Thessaloniki. (For a full list of all the projects I’m working on currently and the great and exciting things we are creating in Greece and in EU and links to many of them please look here at another of my posts).
The workshops of the project are related to alternative economies, peri-urban gardening, refugees and food through a participatory procedure between people who belong to informal initiatives all around the city. This procedure also includes training in participatory video making and working on all its processes (ie. storyboards, editing) in order to create audiovisual material and share the technique with everyone who is interested in it.
I am a member of the URGENCI International Network of Community Supported Agriculture, the European Research Group on CSA, and the European Movement for Food Sovereignty. I have been working as an activist on matters related to Food Sovereignty for 5 years and I am currently cooperating with a team of another three more advocates to create a legal entity to represent grassroots initiatives. In the near future, we would like to expand our network through an open call all over Greece and reclaim our existing collaborations and good synergies abroad.
I am interested in self-sustainability and viable solutions with regards to how we live and thrive and hence I beleive that the future lies in the creation of new types of communities, ecovillages etc, and the promotion of practices like permaculture and the blue economy model of zero emissions that can create self-sufficient farmers and viable, circular economies that not only do not pollute, but actually create more resources instead of depleting them. I am trying to encourage Greek people to be more involved in Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes, to share risks with their farmers during the cultivating season and create a new concept of human relationship within the community they interact with. Additionally, the enhancement of CSA would support small-scale farmers who lack access to the local market and cannot (should not) get involved in complex food chains.
We would like to address the needs of small-scale farmers who wish to obtain access to European food markets at fair prices, but also consumers of all ages who become more conscious about food production and consumption. I would like to engage in interactive campaigns and seminars that target informal collectivities who are interested in food sovereignty, but lack financial resources and technical support. Our community project will form a new hub that will host them and their projects.
We are interested in creating a new agricultural production model in Greece, focusing on agroecology and self-sufficiency in the context of land and food management, considering limiting factors such as economic hardship. All in all, we pursue the transition to a new way of thinking and living through an “umbrella” project which consists of several innovative schemes.
The main scope of the project is to empower rural farmers and inspire rural lifestyle, by combining traditions and technology, based on the principles of permaculture. We wish to enhance small-scale agriculture, in order to revive Greece’s rural areas and promote an economy that is based on social solidarity and alternative currencies.
What we have in mind is summarized in the following fields of action:
- Exporting network of agricultural products in Northern Europe (especially citrus, olive oil and “ugly” fruits) that are produced by small-scale farmers to solidarity collectivities at fair prices.
- Promotion of food security and food sovereignty in Greece.
- Respond to the mainstream challenges by using our ingenuity and creativity for social –nonpersonal- benefits.
- Reduce food waste promoting “ugly” fruits and vegetables focusing on good quality.
- Boost local economies and offer technical support to Community Supported Agriculture schemes.
- Creation of an official Greek hub for non formal groups working on food sovereignty that lack financial support.
- Saving of Greek agricultural land from the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund and ensuring its utilization through concession or purchase by our group in the context of communal ownership.
- Increase awareness and educate farmers and consumers in order to become more conscious through seminars, campaigns and training sessions about sustainable farming methods and consumption patterns. Also, we are very interested in local pupils and students who are a significant target group.