The Presidia are projects established to save artisanal food products, native animal breeds, plant varieties, traditional farming and fishing techniques, ecosystems and rural landscapes at risk of extinction. They involve communities of small-scale producers who are willing to collaborate and jointly establish production rules and ways of promoting their product. They preserve ancient knowledge, encourage sustainable practices and promote local areas. The Presidia are concrete and virtuous examples of sustainable agriculture, based on quality, animal welfare, sustainability, a connection to a local area and consumer health and pleasure.
Slow Food assists the producers by organizing training and exchanges of experiences, and by promoting products; communicating their stories (the stories of producers, knowledge, local areas and production methods), using the association’s network to link producers with consumers through events, involving chefs or supporting forms of direct sales, for example farmers’ markets and purchasing groups.
The Presidia project started in 1999. After cataloguing hundreds of products at risk of extinction through the Ark of Taste, Slow Food decided to go a step further and concretely engage with the world of production; getting to know places, meeting the producers and promoting their products, work and wisdom. Over the years, the Presidia project has become one of the most effective tools for putting into practice and exemplifying Slow Food’s policies on agriculture and biodiversity.
A Presidium protects:
- a traditional product at risk of extinction (an Ark of Taste product)
- a traditional farming, fishing or processing technique at risk of extinction
- a rural landscape or an ecosystem at risk of extinction
The objectives of the Presidia are numerous, complex and multifaceted, but can be grouped into four areas:
- Environmental: defending biodiversity, improving the sustainability of food production
- Economic: increasing the number of producers, developing locally driven activities, increasing employment
- Social: improving the social role of producers, strengthening their organizational capacity and self-esteem
- Cultural: strengthening the producers’ cultural identity and promoting production areas