The agro-ecological Sierra West

Development of food transition initiatives

January 2019

Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso (FDNC)

Towards a Europe of territorial food systems?

This study is extracted from the analysis of twenty-two French and Spanish projects related to new food models, all highlighting different challenges.

In Spain, governance is being built, while French food systems are looking for solutions to change scale. But in both countries, accessibility remains the weak link. The creation of the agroecological association Sierra Ouest Agroécologique is helping to establish a permanent space for exchange. Awareness-raising is aimed at neighbouring municipalities and elected officials.

Sierra Ouest, Spain

The nineteen municipalities of the Sierra West canton of Madrid are predominantly rural areas. However, the agricultural sector is still in the minority. Within these municipalities, the transition towards a more sustainable diet is considered a strategic axis to stem the exodus of the population to the cities. In the territory of the Sierra

In the West, several development potentialities are identified to complete the agro-ecological transition. Firstly, the proximity of Madrid ensures a large market. Secondly, numerous initiatives are emerging in the region around market gardening, wine, local varieties and agrotourism.

Renewal of the population and dynamics of the initiatives

The arrival of a young population in the Sierra West, close to Madrid, is stimulating the launch of initiatives to transition to a model of circular and sustainable economy. At the political level, this phenomenon is reflected in the emergence of citizens’ candidacies in town councils that have integrated these food and sustainable orientations into their political agenda. For the agro-ecological Sierra West, the aim is to consolidate the projects developed by civil society and to create a favourable framework for the launch of new initiatives for a food transition. The trajectory of the project is based on several objectives: to formalise a space for meeting, exchange and joint work through the creation of an agroecological Sierra West association, to raise awareness of the resources and potential of agroecology, and to influence territorial public administrations. The project is led and driven by the alliance between the town councils of Zarzalejo and Fresnedillas de la Oliva, with the support of two entities: the Observatory for a culture of the territory (OCT) and the Germinando association. These two actors work in the region to promote sustainable rural development and social transformation. Other civil society initiatives are also taken as references, such as the association Zarzalejo in Transition, at the local level, and the Madrid Agroecological Platform, at the regional level. An alliance is also formalised with the El Águila environmental education centre.

Diagnosis and mapping to mobilise

The analysis of existing resources and initiatives is a key tool: updating information, synthesis of the territory’s needs and potentialities, identification of key stakeholders, mobilisation tool during participatory workshops, etc. The use of a diagnosis and mapping of resources makes it possible to reach a wide audience. The discourse is simplified, with terms that make it easier to understand. The objectives of the calendar are adjusted to lengthen the time devoted to exchanges and dialogue with stakeholders.