Travelling on the Mediterranean Caravan
Join us as we continue to celebrate #CSAWeek, and welcome back to the Mediterranean Caravan Podcast! Our sixth podcast in the series is now live on both Anchor and Spotify. Please join us on our journey through the Med!
Last Spring, the Mediterannean Caravan was lucky to travel through a training in Belgrade, Serbia for Agroecology knowledge collectors. During the trip, URGENCI teamed up with Denis Carel, a shepherd from the southern France, and François Guiton, a long-time member of the French AMAP movement (MIRAMAP). On the way, the team breathed life into the Mediterranean Caravan of Agroecology by identifying groundbreaking agroecological initiatives.
The Mediterranean Caravan Visits the Farm
The Mediterranean Caravan stopped at Mirko and Sara’s cheesemaking farm in southwest Serbia. Located by a mountain road near the Bosnian border, Mirko’s family farm, established generations ago, is situated on the snowy outskirts of the village.
Mirko is a self-trained, young cheesemaker who made many changes to his parents’ dairy farm. The farm also has a wide variety of other animals — pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, and sheep. While small, the farm is robust and sustainable.
The Product and Consumers
Mirko and Sara together produce a type of cheese unlike the mass-produced industrial cheese common to the region. It is stored and aged (anywhere from four to eight months) in their basement.
While they were unsure whether their community would appreciate the unique, hard cheese, they have had no trouble selling!
Their main consumers are nearby restaurants and eaters in the city. They have also discovered that local winemakers are eager to purchase and collaborate!
Despite success with their cheesemaking, Mirko and Sara experience some challenges. First is the terrain. The are located in a mountainous region, well over 1000 meters, and cultivating and raising animals is a challenge.
They are also using aged machinery and the youth in the region are leaving the area to settle in the nearby cities. Most important, they are eager to learn, exchange, and collaborate with other agroecological farmers, but have found difficulty connecting with like-minded producers.
Agroecology is not only a part of Mirko and Sara’s value system — it is also the only option in their circumstance! The terrain, the altitude, and the small scale nature of the farm contribute to an environment where agroecological practices must be used.
The cows are all grass-fed in the summer, hay-fed in winter, and closed cycles are used to self-contain their production. However, their agroecological practices — in combination with the clean spring water and the crisp, clear mountain air — make conditions ideal for fantastic cheese.
Eager for Exchange
Mirko and Sara are very interested in speaking with, learning from, and exchanging with other producers — cheesemakers or agroecological producers generally! If you are interested in connecting, holding workshops, or collaborating in training with Mirko and Sara, please do reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect to them via their instagram!