By Irini Lyratzaki, Terra Lemnia – Restoration of the Traditional Agro-pastoral Mandra System of Lemnos Island

The intangible heritage of our communities and societies contributes a great deal to our culture and identity. Under the auspices of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports develops the national inventory of Greece’s intangible heritage in an attempt to register its elements and provide an accurate picture of its current state. Inscription of an element in the national inventory requires a special form to be filled out, accompanied by the necessary documentation. It is imperative that the bearers of ICH—community groups and even individuals—are involved in the preparation of the application file and later on, in the necessary updates. 

MedINA, in cooperation with Terra Lemnia local partner Anemoessa, an Association for Environmental Protection and Architectural Heritage Conservation of Lemnos, carried out desk research and fieldwork, including a number of on-site interviews, to record the information needed to submit the file for melipasto/melichloro cheese. The team, which included Theophilos Massouras, Professor of Dairy Science at the Agricultural University of Athens, met with a number of small and large cheese producers, who explained in detail the entire procedure of cheese making, its origins, as well as its significance for the Lemnians in the past and the present.

Photo credit: P.Pravlis

The melipasto/melichloro cheese has been an important element of the economy of the island, its gastronomic heritage and the cultural identity of the locals. It is also a source of pride for its large number of producers who make cheese in mandras, the traditional agro-pastoral premises of local farmers, in small or larger cheese factories following traditional recipes, and also in their home kitchens, carrying on a very old tradition: to ensure that their family will have enough cheese—a product necessary for their survival in the past—for the coming year.

Following the submission of the file for melipasto/melichloro, Anemoessa and MedINA will host an open event in Lemnos in springtime to discuss with the local community on the potential for further action regarding valorisation of significant elements of the local intangible heritage. Officials from the Ministry of Culture will join the event, sharing their views and experience with the people of the island.

Photo credit: P.Pravlis

MedINA is a leading partner of the Terra Lemnia – Restoration of the Traditional Agro-pastoral Mandra System of Lemnos Island pilot site project that aims to restore landscapes rich with local crop varieties, rangelands sown with seeds to create rich pastures and support sustainable grazing.

Eating an Organic Mediterranean Diet Helps Fight Disease

For years nutritionists have extolled the virtues of a Mediterranean diet, now environmental NGOs like WWF are calling for us to improve our health and the environment by following the Med. The #MedFoodHeroes campaign from 15-27 June coordinated by @RootedEveryday celebrates the rich cuisine the Mediterranean has to offer and the benefits to people and planet when we buy from small sustainable producers.

Meet #MedFoodHero Ambassador: Renato Álvarez

Renato Álvarez was born into a “neo-rural” family who were trailblazers of organic farming in Andalusia. They were also members of the first social movements and associations dedicated to the production and organic food. Since he was little he was involved in agriculture until he decided to study Environmental Sciences at the Pablo de Olavide University (Seville).

Meet #MedFoodHero Ambassador: Fábio Bernadino

Fábio Bernardino is a Chef, the CEO of Travel & Flavours, a teacher, gastronomic consultant, trainer and event organizer; a young Chef whose excellence opened the doors to major Portuguese hotels and restaurants, like the Pestana Hotéis & Resorts group or the Heritage Lisboa Hotels, where he left his mark of professionalism and rigour. With a great passion for cooking, and especially for pastry, he started his career at the age of 14, when he attended the Professional Cooking and Pastry Course of the Lisbon Hotel and Tourism School.

Meet #MedFoodHero Ambassador: Alfredo Sendim

Alfredo Cunhal Sendim was born in Porto and spent his childhood between Lisbon (the city), Montemor-o-Novo (the countryside) and Ferragudo (the sea). Studied veterinary and zoo technical. In 1990 he moved to the Monte of Herdade do Freixo do Meio, a territory where, step by step, he has been developing a structural project in the agricultural and social field.

Meet #MedFoodHeroes Ambassador: Sahar Elhallak

Nine years ago, Sahar left her home in California and landed in Morocco in a quest to find herself. While she started a new life in Marrakech, she found some challenges to find restaurants that catered to vegetarians like herself. Since she always enjoyed hosting dinner parties and food-related fundraising events, she started cooking for friends which grew into welcoming people into her beautifully restored hundred-year-old house, for unique culinary experiences.

Meet #MedFoodHeroes Ambassador: Najat Kaanache

Born to Moroccan parents in a small town near San Sebastian in Spain, Najat Kaanache has been cooking at home since childhood. Now based between the US, Mexico and Morocco. She now creates magic in the kitchen as the owner and chef of the beautiful restaurant Nur in the ancient medina of Fez, named World’s Best Moroccan Restaurant in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She also opened CÚS (a Moroccan bistro in the heart of Mexico City) and Nacho Mama (a funky Mexican cantina in the medina of Fez).

Meet #MedFoodHeroes Ambassador: Driss Mellal

Driss Mellal was born in a small town in the south of Morocco, near the beautiful Dades valley. His love for cooking started at the age of 20, when he was in art school in southern France. He missed Moroccan food and flavours and so started cooking and experimenting himself. After graduating from art school, he didn’t work in the arts as planned, but instead went to culinary school. “I finally got to combine my art background with new cooking skills, and it became the start of a new life for me,” Driss says.

Sheep to Combat Climate Change

Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza collaborated with the city council of Madrid to organise the annual Fiesta de la Trashumancia Madrid 2019 (Transhumance Festival)—which saw 1800 sheep and 200 goats pass through the centre of Spain’s capital city. The event, now in its 26th year, was successful in creating awareness on the importance of maintaining this ancestral practice of which Spain is a global example and that is a very valuable tool in the fight against climate change and rural depopulation, among other benefits.