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Not just another market!

At Terra Madre Salone del Gusto the Earth Markets meet up to tell us about their political plans…

Market networks, which bring together local farmers and ranchers, consumers, institutions and volunteers from Slow Food, was but a pipe dream just 10 years ago. Today the network has grown into a concrete reality with strong political goals, and here to talk about it at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto are 50 representatives from around the world. They’ve come from every continent, each driven by a passion that unites them, bringing their own personal experiences to share, as well as the challenges they face. The Earth Market Get Together forum is coordinated by Slow Food Italia and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, a non-profit organization.


The journey begins in Şile, Turkey, a city near the Black Sea about 70 kilometers from Istanbul, where unfettered construction and ambitious infrastructural projects are threatening the area’s biodiversity. Fatma Denizci, the Market’s representative, explains that without the original 43 producers, who are assisted by the local Slow Food chapter and the town’s administrators, the Market project would never have taken off. “We have to protect our legacy of local seed stocks,” says Fatma. “But above all, we must intervene to stem the exodus of young people towards urban areas and support women who are preserving the local traditions. The Market is a physical place, where people meet and socialize, and where food is at the center of everything.”

Also in Europe, but a bit further west, Agnes Zander Villaciara is proud to announce the arrival of the latest member of the Market family network, Stiges (Catalonia, Spain). Their history is a litany of resistance and effort, which is at last being rewarded. Twelve producers, assisted by the Slow Food chapter of El Garraf y Penedés, began meeting on the first Saturday of each month. Now, a year later, they have managed to win over the local authorities and obtain the funding they need to achieve their project.


Producers are the front and center of these Markets. They all must follow the rules of the Markets, which require the observance of precise production criteria, including the use of raw milk, no GMO animal feed, and a cultivation distance of no more than 40 kilometers from the marketplace itself. However, as Mary Elizabeth Kunkle from Greenville, USA (midway between Atlanta and Charlotte) points out, in some situations the distances are necessarily much greater and some logistical support is fundamental. “At first the Market was housed in an art gallery. Then we moved to the center of town, where we had many more customers, but producers had to wheel in their goods by hand, since it was in a pedestrian mall. Today, we’re inside a shop with a restaurant, just outside of town, the perfect location!”.


From Latvia – Straupe, to be exact – comes Astride Rosite. She proudly told us that her country passed a national law on markets as a result of the work done by the local chapter and the Market group. Mauricio Krippel, representative of the Earth Markets network in Chile says: “The network was formed three years ago, based on different experiences, in direct contact with the producers and in collaboration with the local Slow Food chapters. Our work began with the protocols of the Markets, which were only partly suitable to our situation, and so we started talking with the producers themselves. We intend to bring about some changes in public policy, and we want collective work to become an established fact.”

In addition to representatives from Uganda and Mexico, Italy also shared its experiences. Mauro Avino, representative of the Earth Market on the coast of Sorrento, in Campania, said, “In our area, there are a great number of older producers, and we are running an increasing risk of losing important specialty products. The Market has made it possible to involve young people and, above all, to get to know the producers. The Market brings Slow Food into the public eye, and it is making strides towards involving the greatest possible number of people through innovative initiatives like purchasing groups and alliances with local chefs, who shop at the Market and use our products in their dishes.”

The meeting was concluded by Sandra Masi, President of the producers’ association of Montevarchi (Tuscany), the first Market in the network. “In a market, you’re never alone: you get to know other people, you work together. We cannot do without farmers, just as we cannot survive without food, and if only all the good, clean and fair producers could work together, they would be the most powerful force in the world. The strength to accomplish all this has to come from each one of us, but it also comes from alliances with larger bodies, public administrations and consumers, because this is the right road for all of us to follow.”


This true feeling of a network emerged in a way never felt before during the awarding of the Gigi Frassanito Prize, in memory of a colleague who was one of the first to get the ball rolling and who left us all too soon. The prize, awarded by Gigi’s friends and by the Slow Food Emilia Romagna chapter, was assigned to the itinerant Mercato della Terra of Coquimbo and La Serena, in recognition of the active role played by the producers of the Slow Food network, especially the women, whose incessant efforts were fundamental to the project’s realization.

Terra Madre Markets are not just any market then, but are networks of communities and producers that offer the fruits of their labor to the cities, just as Terra Madre Salone del Gusto does for Turin, with its more than 7,000 delegates.

We look forward to seeing you in 2017, in Montevarchi, for the fourth edition of the Gigi Frassantio Prize, as announced today by the town’s Mayor, Silvia Chiassai, and the town councilor for productive enterprise, promotion of the territory and culture, Maura Isetto.

An Event by
 Città di Torino
 Slow Food
 Regione Piemonte
In collaboration with
With the contribution of
Official Partners
Supporters of the Terra Madre Foundation and Slow Food
With the support of

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto
Slow Food Promozione P.Iva 02220020040
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