To quote the COCOREADO’s project proposal: COCOREADO aims to rebalance the position of the farmer in food supply chains. In other words – COCOREADO is working to change food supply chains. Probably everybody working with food systems will agree that it is an enormous task to facilitate change. And it does not matter which part of the system you are trying to change because any aspect you might want to work with is structurally linked with other ones. Hence it is called a system. To introduce a permanent change in the way how food reaches our tables and how farmers are positioned in the food supply chain one has to engage simultaneously with social structures, values, practices and other elements these systems consist of.
Recognising this, COCOREADO project has chosen to enlist help to achieve its goals – to engage food ambassadors. In short – the recruited ambassadors will form a group of 40 people across Europe who share the passion for food and are motivated to induce changes in food chains by spreading the spirit and practices of co-creation and interactive innovations. COCOREADO team recognises that the local food activists have a key role to play in generating and fostering social innovations. Ambassadors ensure local embeddedness of innovations and take responsibility for raising awareness, attracting interest, educating and providing advice to local food stakeholders, and building collaborative relationships. The ambassadors represent different parts of food supply chains, yet they share the idea that food systems need to change. It is expected that by joining forces and combining the transformative potential of COCOREADO partner organisations and the network of local food activists we can strengthen our joint capacity.
So how does this work? Well, it works as a symbiosis. Theoretically, we aim to develop relations where both sides – COCOREADO consortium and the ambassadors – enable each other. COCOREADO consortium aims at providing ambassadors with the most up to date information on best and the most promising food system practices, supports ambassadors search for new skills and creates opportunities to expand their networks. These goals are captured in what we call COCOREADO Training Programme. On the other hand, ambassadors will support researchers by sharing their knowledge about the food system to increase the applicability and relevance of the project’s results. Furthermore, the project has a budget to support some of the food-related ideas ambassadors might have.
Practically, we are currently in the process of identifying people who could act as ambassadors. This implies thinking about how to ensure that the “right” people are reached and have the possibility to benefit from what COCOREADO has to offer. This task is by no means simple – we need to ensure that our call for ambassadors is heard by a very diverse spectrum of people – farmers, cooks, passionate consumers, etc. We have to make sure that our invitation is heard in all regions of Europe. Although we are close to having a clear strategy on how to effectively engage with the ambassadors, it is quite clear that new challenges will come up, as this is often the case in open collaborative relations. At this moment there are still quite a few questions related to how to structure relations with ambassadors, what knowledge to offer them and many others. However, despite these questions, it is clear already, that the approach we have taken in the project has a great potential and there is a willingness to make it work.
Mikelis Grivins – BSC