By Blanca Casares, Dehesas and Montados in the Iberian Peninsula project

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. Madrid sits on an ancient migration route (drover road) where shepherds would move their livestock south for the winter. 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. The herd crossing in Madrid, which took place on 20 October 2019, was complemented with a weekend of workshops, debates, food tastings, music performances for children and adults, and a market showcasing over 30 producers. More than 4600 people visited the gallery where these activities were held.

Photo credit: Pedro Alvera @pedroalvera

The market

32 exhibitors offered “products with value” related to grazing, transhumance and the rural ecosystems and economies that it supports. Items from dehesas and other natural pastures included 100% Iberian Torbiscal pork from Paraje de la Morra farm in Los Pedroches (Córdoba), meat products and sausages from Mundos Nuevos dehesa in Extremadura, De Yerba grass meat  and products from the herd of the Casa de Campo de Apisquillos. Other products on display include natural cosmetics by Vivencia Dehesa, artisan and unique cheeses (with products from 10 cheese makers and more than 30 varieties of selected cheese), wool products made from our national Merino wool sheep (black and white merino blankets, 100% wool fleece, felt figures, wool socks, skeins and more), and other organic and locally produced items, such as olive oil from grazed olive trees, eggs, honey, bread, natural wines and pottery.

Additionally, exhibition stands were also set up, among others by Spanish Pasture Society to feature publications related to pastures and the society’s work, and by the Spanish coalition PorOtraPAC, in line with the Good Food Good Farming Campaign, led by WWF Spain and SEO Birdlife.

Photo credit: Blanca Casares

What did we discuss?

Over the weekend, interactive and exciting sessions were held to bring to the public the importance of pastoralism, transhumance for society as a whole, the rural environment, ecosystems and the landscape. Eco La Osa delivered a presentation on their cooperative supermarket project, the first ecological cooperative market in Madrid, and the Observatory for a Culture of the Territory moderated a debate on other consumption models. In another debate, a panel of 8 women presented experiences in the rural world and inspired us to find solutions together for the challenges that women in rural areas face: depopulation, lack of services, generational change, pollution, climate and environmental crisis, etc.

Photo credit: Susana Cabañero @scabanero

Photo credit: Susana Cabañero @scabanero

The workshops

As follows is the list of workshops and demonstrations held over the weekend:

  • Wool workshops with Almudena Sánchez (of Laneras de Extremadura) on how to work the felt, create circular looms and design mini sheep figures;
  • Ceramic workshop by Carmen Novez;
  • Workshop on the construction of traditional pastoral musical instruments by Luis Paíno;
  • Traditional music workshop with Entresierras;
  • Workshop of traditional dances and jotas from La Mancha with Paula Rodriguez;
  • Childrens workshop on “Birds and transhumance”;
  • Storytelling with Elia Tralará;

Weaving by the association of weavers, IAIA.

In addition, tastings and other activities related to quality food offered visitors a chance to learn about the large variety of local products: 

  • Workshop on pastoral dishes was run by chef Eva López, who delighted visitors with migas, and demonstrated how to make traditional pastoral gazpacho. In addition, pastoral recipes were shared for attendees to try their hands at making the dishes at home;
  • Natural wine tasting with Rural Essence;
  • Workshop on artisan bread by Amasa;
  • Learn and taste workshop on artisan cheeses by QueRed (Spanish Network for Field Cheese and Crafts).

Additionally, visitors were entertained at a music concert by Entresierras, showcasing renowned singer and songwriter Clara Montes, and Jose Luís Montón on guitar. The weekend ended with the symbolic payment of the Maravedis, as inscribed in an institutional act, to the mayor by herders for going through Madrid.

Photo credit: Susana Cabañero @scabanero

ATyN is a leading partner of the Dehesas & Montados in the Iberian Peninsula pilot site project that aims to to consolidate examples of integrated sustainable management in dehesas and montados as cultural landscapes, based on their capacity to provide ecosystem services and enhance biodiversity.

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.

Travelling with Birds

In September last year, we set out to observe and learn about migratory birds and their flight paths. Joined by local and international bird experts, we worked alongside the Hima Hammana community to observe the birds that flew overhead, while learning from the experts about bird monitoring processes.