The Staff Exchange was organised by the Municipality of Beja, Municipality of Mertola and CIMBAL and welcomed CityZen partners and stakeholders from RDFCM, ARC Fund and IfLS. The agenda featured meetings and visits from 23 to 25 June.
On June23, the visits to urban agriculture projects in Mértola and the Mertola Food Network opened up the staff exchange tour: Horta-Floresta of the Primary School of Mina de S. Domingos; Horta do Combral - A Cozinha da Avó; Centro de Agroecologia de Mértola; Espaço Vila Velha. The Mertola Food Network aims to connect local stakeholders and promote food models, innovations and agroecological techniques that can help local communities to cope with challenges such as desertification, climate change, demographic issues. Mertola Food Network is supported by the Municipality of Mertola staff and resources.
On June 24, CityZen partners and stakeholders arrived at the Urban Gardens in Beja where plots of land are made available to individuals and families with economic and financial problems, so that they can do subsistence urban farming. The Municipality of Beja has the key role to ensure facilities and access to resources such as water and electricity that is of great support to sustain the garden.
In the afternoon all partners joined a regional stakeholder meeting where the latest events and news surrounding the project were presented and discussed. The growing influence of urban agriculture and its direct or indirect relationship with a number of other spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life, were discussed. Representatives from the public authorities, private sector and NGOs were present at the meeting, including directorates in charge of the management of regional water and cultural resources. Emphasis was placed on the need for long-term cross-sectoral collaboration and planning for achieving a sustainable political impact, which is among the general objectives of the project related to urban agriculture. The updated regional action plans and follow-ups considering recent partners achievements such as the CityZen pilot action for DIY vertical gardens and the COVID-19 Survey results measuring it impact on the food and urban farming, were also part of the discussion.
In the last day of the staff exchange on 25 June, partners and stakeholders visited the Santo Amaro's Market where local food producers including urban gardeners can sell their fresh products. By the help of the Municipality of Beja, those farmers do not face any administrative or bureaucratic hurdles to join the market place.