Developing Czech Sitopia

How to get good quality food from your own region? Where to buy fresh and organic food which is in season in the Czech region of Dvur Kralove and in cities such as Trutnov and Broumov? How to get a network going of (potential) producers and (potential) consumers? These were among the questions discussed during a seminar about quality food and permaculture which was held at MIZ in Zdoňov, near the Polish border around 3 hours northeast from Prague on the 14th of May.

During the seminar different aspects of permaculture were presented in both Czech and English to the 10 participants mainly from around Zdoňov. We discussed how to enhance biodiversity, how to build fertile soil, how to start ecological farming and how to set up a regional food network. The seminar concluded with a joint initiative of three presenters to get themselves and their aims known in the region so that other people with similar interest, both consumers and producers can respond.

In a way, this was a tiny start in making Sitopia, I realized today listening to the guest lecture of Carolyn Steel for the Bsc course ‘Agrarische en rurale ontwikkeling; sociologische perspectieven’. Sitopia, she explained is derived from the words “Sitos” and “topos” meaning “food” and “place”. Making place through food, through meals, through sharing, through caring about the origins of your daily meal and thus, searching for a kind of human connection to food which can hardly be expressed in the anonymous context of the supermarket. In this Czech region, there is not much infrastructure yet beyond the faceless produce from globally operating supermarket chains. But just like in many other countries, mentality is shifting and new networks are born each day.