Sustainable economic development – CS 1

Supporting sustainable local development in the Basque Coast

a case study provided by Basque Coast UNESCO Global Geopark

Supporting and promoting sustainable local development is of major importance for the Basque Coast Geopark. This theme has been included as a priority in the Strategic Plan for 2016-2020. One of the action lines of the theme is to boost the primary food production sector within the Geopark territory.

To take forward the Strategic Plan, objectives for this theme have been developed to:

  • Strengthen the sale of local produce and products;
  • Promote the consumption of local produce and products;
  • Facilitate the incorporation of good ecological practices in agricultural activity

To meet these objectives, the Basque Coast Geopark has developed a number of specific actions. The following examples are highlighted as these have had a big impact on local producers and consumers.

Geofair – agricultural produce fair

The fair has promoted the sale of agricultural produce, together with children’s workshops, a shearing demonstration, tasting sessions of local produce and a popular prize draw of a basket of agricultural produce.

At the heart of the GeoFair were stalls for baserritarras (Basque farmers), with vegetables, cheese, txakoli (local white wine), cider, jams all being available. In total the fair hosted a total of 16 farmers’ stalls. In addition, the fair had an information booth on the direct sale of meat lots offered by the Beliosoro farmhouse in Endoia (Deba), as well as an information point on organic farming.

The fair was enlivened by a group of traditional Basque musicians that passed through the main streets of the municipality and at the fair itself.

For children, a space was prepared at the GeoAzoka, where children’s workshops were held under the motto “Let´s go to the market!”.

A dietician offered advice to all those who come to the fair, both children and adults, about the importance of breakfast and snacks, the value of locally produced food and answered any questions that were raised.

Throughout the morning there were shearing demonstrations and various tasting opportunities, including:

  • Eusko Label hamburger,
  • Txakoli (local white wine)
  • Sagarmiña and Flysch with Getaria Qualified Designation of Origin. and
  • Ecological cider from Txindurri Iturri.

At the end of the fair, there was a prize draw for a basket of farm products among all the people who purchased a product at the fair.

GeoGourmet Pack

Another successful initiative for sustainable local development has been the “GeoGourmet” Pack.

The GeoGourmet Pack has the double objective of adding value to the local produce of the territory and having a product that visitors can purchase in Geopark outlets as a promotional element for both the Geopark and the local producers.

Baskets of non-perishable products have been produced under the brand name of “GeoGourmet”. These baskets consist of a piece of cheese, txakolí (local wine) and canned tuna. All of them are prepared within the Basque Coast Geopark with all the quality guarantees for the commercialisation of the product.

In addition, an attractive box-shaped packaging was designed which included a short tasting guide where suggestions are given on how to consume the products, best serving temperature, pairing with other foods, etc.

To promote the GeoGourmet Pack, a mailing was made to all Geopark partners, tourist and other commercial companies so that they could offer this pack to their clients or, for example, companies could use it as a present for their clients or even to distribute it among their workers as a Christmas basket.

In addition, there have been numerous hospitality enterprises that have requested the GeoGourmet Pack to sell it in their hotels or similar establishments, as well as many commercial companies that regularly acquire it for their business commitments. The tourist offices offer it along with other merchandising elements and many travellers buy it to take it home to their places of origin. It is a gift that leaves a very good taste in your mouth!

The collaborative work with local people and especially with farmers has been crucial for the Geopark and the Development of this Pack. This highlights the sustainability of the project, provides opportunities for promotions and crucially is another outlet for agricultural producers. It also contributes to alleviating the tensions that may arise from the potential for incompatibility between tourist and agricultural use of the main geosites in the Geopark, as the Geopark is shown to support its local farmers.

Cooks and producers to promote local product

To promote and highlight the value of local agricultural produce and promote its use in the kitchens of our restaurants, around 40 chefs and producers gathered at a meeting under the title “Our culture, heritage and landscape on the plate“. The meeting was held within the inter-territorial cooperation project “GUSTUM”, which has the objective to promote rural development through the promotion of quality agri-food products produced in the territory and develop its synergy with restoration, tourism and commerce.

During the meeting, several chefs cooked dishes made with local, fresh and seasonal produce. In addition, the meeting was attended by the producers themselves who contributed their produce for the preparation of these dishes.

A journalist was in charge of leading the meeting by conducting interviews with cooks and producers. All attendees had the opportunity to taste and comment on the dishes.

Both the organisers and the chefs acclaimed the local seasonal produce and praised the work of our baserritarras (farmers) encouraging attendees to consume these quality products.

Undoubtedly, the meeting has served to enhance relations between producers and consumers and promote local produce and products linked to the territory.