Last week, we were grateful to gather with some WFMC members in Turin (Torino), Italy. Over the course of two days, we came together to talk (A LOT!), explore, and eat – and wanted to share a few of those moments with you.
We had member representatives joining us from Norway, Georgia, Kenya, Ghana, Spain, Italy, Denmark, England, and the United States. On Monday morning, we convened in the Coldiretti Torino Offices, allowing for more formal and structured conversations around the past, present, and future of the WFMC.
Each attending member introduced themselves and shared a bit about the background of their market organization. WFMC Member Dennis Andaye (pictured above), who started RightEats & Organic Farmer Market in Kenya, expresses, “It is always great to run the market, but the behind scenes is always lonely. You do a beautiful thing, but wonder ‘for how long am I going to do this?’, but with this [WFMC] community, I feel energized. It needs to move on beyond Kenya.” Similarly, WFMC Member Yunus Adams, one of the founders of Grønt Market in Denmark (which opened in 2019) shared: “we joined WFMC because we are so young and could really benefit from support and feeling a part of the larger community.”
In the afternoon, we took our conversations outside of the typical meeting setting to Cascina del Mulino, an agri-social farm. We had the opportunity to learn about their farming practices, such as how they manage their somewhat sandy soil and their use of donkey manure for fertilizer. We learned about their social farming practices, and how that directly connects to their farm work, and the work in their shop. They also grow grains that they eventually turn into fresh pasta and sell onsite. So much learning in one visit!
Finally, in the evening of day one, we gathered around the table at Agriturismo Cascina dei Canonici and shared a wonderful (and very fulfilling – emphasis on the filling!) meal overlooking the Sacra di San Michele (picture above). A perfect place for us to debrief about the day and exchange market stories.
We kicked off day two with lots of discussion and brainstorming. Such a thoughtful and motivated bunch of direct-selling and producer-focused folks – an incredible opportunity to have all of them in the same room.
We rounded out day two at the 7th Annual International Food Journalism Festival, where a number of our members spoke.
Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio from Campagna Amica described the Italian experience. WFMC Provisional President Richard McCarthy shared his thoughts about how markets are agents of change and provide opportunities for trust – the producer and consumer physically stand on either side of the stall, building this trust and transparency. Dennis beautifully described the farmers market context in Kenya and his journey to building farmers markets because he could not find good food. “Interact with a farmer. If you know how it’s grown, it actually tastes better.” Selorm Akaba from the Ghana Farmers Markets Network explained the context in Ghana and the aim to grow their 11 farmers markets – “now there is a new level of relationship between the consumer and the farmer.”
WFMC Coordinator Carmelo Troccoli also spoke on a different panel at the festival about local food as ethical food, and how social farming plays an important role in this – as it supports the local society, economy, and environment.
These two days in Torino were a fantastic way for us to gather and share knowledge and experiences – much more to come ahead!
-by Christina Ermilio