The EUREGA project has created a network of regions across Europe which aims to develop and support a sustainable Agri-food Sector by improving Policies and by working with local stakeholders.

Last year three of the EUREGA project partners responded to a call for proposals by the European Commission for COSME projects to develop ‘Social Economy Missions’ which will bring together Regional and Local Authorities with similar social economy priorities and accompanied by regional and local social economy stakeholders (social enterprises, cooperatives, SMEs, etc.). Under the call, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Ireland along with project partners in Hungary Hajdú-Bihar County Government (HBCG) and Sibiu County Council, Romania were successful in securing funding for the mission ‘Local Food Chains’.

According to EU Project Officer at the NWRA - Patrick Devine ‘people who are closer to their food supply can become more engaged and informed consumers who will support an ecologically-sound food production system. It makes us all better!’

The project entitled ‘Local Food Chains’ aims to Develop sustainable and resilient short Agri-food supply chains through Interregional learning and collaboration. Through this project, the NWRA will work with social enterprises in Ireland operating in the agri-food sector such as community farms to learn from other social enterprises across Europe so they can become more integrated into local food chains and ensure their long-term viability.

Chairperson of the NWRA Cllr David Maxwell welcomed the strategic initiative. According to Maxwell the Farm to Fork Strategy as part of the EU Green Deal is going to transform food production. We need to prepare strategically for our farmers, our growers, our producers and our consumers. We are in a new world of ‘hyper-localisation’.

The Local Food Chains project is an opportunity for the three partner region to work with key stakeholders in the region by supporting Social Enterprises which have environmentally sustainable business models and empower communities across the region.

The first workshop for the Local Food Chains project is took place virtually on Tuesday, 8th June 2021 and was attended by partners and stakeholders from all three participating regions in Ireland, Romania and Hungary. The aim of the Workshop was to present Case Studies from Ireland and the speakers included:

• Joanne Butler - OURganic Gardens and Donegal Community Garden Network

• Brian Smyth - Social Farming Ireland

• Jennifer Payne – Hill Top Dairies

• Louise Lennon – Irish Rural Link