In the heart of Portugal and after a cold and wet week, Castelo Branco greeted the delegates of the 12 cities with delightful sunlight and agreeable temperatures on November 13th. The partners, pre-informed of the pleasant weather that awaited them throughout the meeting, were welcomed by the host and organizers at Castelo Branco’s Municipal Market on the Monday morning.

During the three-day meeting,one year prior to the project’s conclusion, we aimed to gain insight into the challenges, difficulties, barriers, and strengths that each FUSILLI city faces. Additionally, we had the chance to show the local food system and our rare combination of urban and rural scenery, which promotes the development of a significant Agri-Food Industry with various stakeholders: including farmers, food-processing businesses, Agrofood Research and Innovation Centres, and the College of Agriculture. The agenda included the most popular local food campaign, “Product of the Month” as well as workshops, talks, and site visits to partner facilities and places that exemplify our food system Castelo Branco.

Day 1 – Local and Seasonal Foods

Welcome to the partners in the Municipality - Mr. Mayor and Mrs. CouncilWoman

Welcome to the partners in the Municipality - Mr. Mayor and Mrs. CouncilWoman

On the first day, we shared plans about successful activities. Throughout the project, our team had reported our “Product of the Month” campaign as one of our most successful activity.  Therefore, we opened the meeting with that activity to showcase the interactions made with local citizens. School kids put on a show, performing activities and songs in English to welcome the partners. In this final phase of the project, it’s crucial to share knowledge and learn from other cities’ experiences in tackling challenges towards a sustainable local food system. We all have different realities, but exchanging ideas can help. The day was insightful and enriching. We took a tour of the city’s top spots, had lunch at the local market, attended a workshop with Differdange partners (which was an excellent opportunity for learning and knowledge sharing), participated in an urban food planning discussion, and concluded the day with a review of our favourite KPIs.

Urban Food Plan – WP Progress in the Municipal Library

Urban Food Plan – WP Progress in the Municipal Library

Product of the month at the municipal market.

Product of the month at the municipal market

Day 2 – Agrifood Production

Lunch and visit to the Vale da Alfaia – Local Producer

Lunch and visit to the Vale da Alfaia – Local Producer

With the weather on our side, the second day was packed with knowledge (from both internal and external learnings) and gave us the chance to learn more about what defines us. We started the day by exchanging information about the project’s future, what lies ahead until the end of the project, and the progress we’ve made. Lunch was provided by a local vendor, and we ended the day with a delightful visit to another producer. We finished our day’s visits with a stop at Central Meleira Meltagus, where we gained some knowledge on honey extraction, local producers, and had a chance to taste different types of honey and their respective characteristics.

Visit to local producer Fio da Beira

Visit to local producer Fio da Beira

Last visit of the 2nd day – Central Meleira Meltagus

Last visit of the 2nd day – Central Meleira Meltagus

Watch cheese making in a local producer

Watch cheese making in a local producer

Watch cheese making in a local producer

Lunch in Vale de Alfaia

Day 3 – Food Innovation

Visit of Mary Kenny to Social Gardens Quinta do Chinco

Visit of Mary Kenny to Social Gardens Quinta do Chinco

On our last meeting day, we went to the important places related to the FUSILLI Project in our city, namely CATAA and Quinta do Chinco social gardens. CATAA holds a significant position in our team’s food innovation discussions. At the CATAA and InovCluster facilities we tasted our first “Product of the Month”, Amarguiços, our crispy dehydrated orange snack. It was the beginning of our adventure and our first food innovation that brought visibility to our team more visible, which later won some awards. We attended workshops on fascinating topics like urban community gardens (which showed us diverse views and approaches of structuring the same idea) and the food policy council. The latter helped us discuss the issue with more advanced cities, understand their challenges, and how they tackled them. We learned about their successes and current situation.

After a busy morning, we had lunch in our communal gardens under clear skies. Later, there was a lively session about Amsterdam’s real situations followed by a traditional Portuguese celebration, including chestnuts and jerupiga liqueur. Towards the end of the day, we reviewed a new method of entering KPIs which inspired the partners. We were happy to see Mary Kenny (Food Safety and Consumer Protection Officer at FAO’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia). We finished the day feeling like we were saying goodbye, but reassured by certain actions, having gained more knowledge, had fun and are already looking forward to the next meeting – the 8th periodic meeting, which will take place on May 28 to 30 2024 in Tampere, Finland. We are excited about the wonderful days that await us. The Castelo Branco team and some of our partners did not bid farewell yet since we commenced the Farm to Fork congress the following day. We express gratitude to all our partners for the remarkable days we spent.

Stay tuned for our future updates!

Visit to CATAA and tasting Amarguiços.

Visit to CATAA and tasting Amarguiços.

Last visit of the 2nd day – Central Meleira Meltagus

Last visit of the 2nd day – Central Meleira Meltagus

Lunch time at Quinta do Chinco.

Lunch time at Quinta do Chinco.

Workshop – The ideal Food Policy Council Roadmap

Workshop – The ideal Food Policy Council Roadmap

 

Author: Alexandra Lucas, Municipality of Castelo Branco
Pictures: Castelo Branco Municipality