David Navarro Miró
University Extension Programme of the Universitat Jaume I (PEU-UJI)
Parc Natural de la Serra d'Espadà
Parc Natural de la Tinença de Benifassà
Centro de Desarrollo Rural Palancia Mijares www.cdrpalanciamijares.org La Pastora www.lapastora.coop CONECT-e www.conecte.es Heterotopia www.heterotopia.net/es/ Canopia www.canopiacoop.org
The economic model and the urban-centric paradigm entail difficulties for marginalized rural areas, such as Serra d’Espadà and Tinença de Benifassà, which call for meaningful action. We aim to empower rural identity by revalorizing the traditional knowledge of local actors. The symbolic appeal of traditional crop varieties and the role of rural women will be central to our participatory activities, in which young and elderly people from rural and urban areas will meet around a shared heritage.
Serra d’Espadà (SE) and Tinença de Benifassà (TB), rural mountain regions in Castellón, Spain.
SE and TB are marginalized rural areas facing difficulties caused by changes in the economic model and the urban-centric paradigm. This trend has resulted in a decline, masculinization and aging of their population, and a crisis of their identity and self-esteem. Thus, few opportunities for civic engagement are available. This process is leading to the disappearance of traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional crop varieties (TCV). TCV are a cultural heritage resulting from the local peasant labor and are important to maintain the stability of the food system and cope with climate change.
Recent studies point out an alarming loss of TK & TCV and it’s urgent to implement actions for their conservation. However, they have received little attention in public policies and development agendas
Our experience suggests that TK, with the TCV as a symbolic element, can empower the identity and encourage the civic engagement of different local actors’ perspectives, which are usually polarized. TK can:
- Empower rural women by recognizing their role in safeguarding it
- Generate a common civic space with shared objectives, boosting civic engagement and active participation, which in turn bolster local democracy
- Help to meet Sustainable Development Goals
- Reduce urban/rural polarization
TCV boost food sovereignty and the democratization of the food system by encouraging them to embark on local value-added agricultural projects, increase their power of decision on food production and consumption, and generate more opportunities to cope with unemployment and depopulation.
Inhabitants of these areas feel excluded from public policies and development agendas because of the urban-centric paradigm. We aim to revalorize the TK of the elderly and the knowledge transmission between generations. Thus, the encounter of rural elders and youth will be a key point of our project.
We will emphasize the role of rural women, usually neglected, through participatory activities. Local small peasants and medium-large farmers will be engaged through the creation of a TCV guardians network, whereas local businesses will be engaged through the organization of events. We aim to engage citizens from the near urban areas with family activities and volunteering.
The audiovisual materials disseminated through our social media will reach a wide spectrum of the general public.
TK & TCV overview: collect information about TK & TCV and initiatives by interviewing key informants and participatory workshops, and introduce information in online platforms which involve citizens in research.
TK & TCV for rural engagement: Dissemination of gathered information through participatory workshops in SE & TB’s events.
TK & TCV for future generations: Elaboration of pedagogical material and activities in local schools and high schools.
TK & TCV as an element of encounter: Organization of rural volunteering and family activities for urban citizens; exchanges between different rural experiences from SE and TB; activities to encourage TK’s transmission between generations; and promotion of a participatory preservation of TCV by creating a civic network of TCV guardians.
We expect TK to be the backbone for the creation of civic spaces and networks in rural areas and between them, in which elders and youths reencounter; the role of women is highlighted; and where urban inhabitants get to know the real rural identities.
The creation of the TCV guardians participatory network will get together different rural actors to collaborate in the preservation of their heritage; looking at their similarities, offering a space of encounter for them to reinforce boundaries, thus fortifying tolerance and democratic values. This network will contribute to increase the use of TCV, reducing their current disappearance risk. This is expected to inspire new economical projects based on a sustainable use of their cultural heritage, reducing the risk of depopulation.
The crisis in the rural world is not merely a Mediterranean or Spanish reality, but rather affects the whole of Europe. For this reason, we believe that this initiative can serve as inspiration for other communities and regions, where the experience of this project can be adapted to their local context. Promoting civic spaces and the engagement of local inhabitants utilizing TK & TCV as a symbolic element in different countries and regions can enhance the empowerment and active citizenship of marginalized rural areas which are strongholds for democracy in Europe.
Besides, this experience recognizes the power of decision of rural communities regarding the production and consumption of food, bolstering food sovereignty and the democratization of the food system.
The revalorization of TK & TCV and rural development are two of the main objectives of our association. The urgency to act in SE and TB due to the alarming situation regarding TK & TCV led us to start working without any funding. During this research, we realized that TCV have a strong symbolic value. For this reason, we believe that this project can be an opportunity to create civic spaces of encounter in which the identity and societal cohesion of local communities may be bolstered through the confluence of a diversity of voices from social groups which are usually neglected.
This project can also help to reduce the loss of TK & TCV in two of the most nature and culture-rich areas of Castellon. Their revalorization can improve the democratization and stability of the food system.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
-TK & TCV overview
Participatory workshops 4006€
-TK and TCV as a rural engagement element
Dissemination activities 2811€
Family activities 842€
Project diffusion 4480€
-TK and TCV as element of encounter
Rural experience exchange between SE-TB 10154€
Rural volunteerings 8749€
TCV guardians 7166€
-TK and TCV for future generations
Activities in high schools 1944€
Activities in schools 3060€
-Reports elaboration 3136€
-Confirmed co-funded activities 14273€
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