In 2010, when Spain started to suffer the consequences of the economic crisis, the Terrae Agroecological Municipalities Network decided to address growing unemployment and depopulation by identifying and activating disused land through the setting up of an online government land bank and training locally elected officials, unemployed people and those with a technical or social background, postgraduates and students to promote agroecology.

The initiative was started by a group of rural development professionals who put different municipalities in touch with each other, leading them to set up an ‘association of municipalities’ in 2012. The work began with the setting up of an online land bank and a course to train staff in the member municipalities. In 2013, agroecological entrepreneur schools were set up to provide basic training for unemployed people and people at risk of exclusion to grow vegetables, as well as workshops on how to make preserves and other foods. The objective was to begin to reactivate local agroecological food markets.

The TERRAE Network now brings together and coordinates nearly 50 municipalities throughout Spain that use their municipal skills to work on an agroecological transition, especially through training and design, participating in food policies, recovering agricultural memory, designing circular management systems of organic waste, and by offering a “0 km” brand to local shops and restaurants that buy local products.

In partnership with regional authorities, the network has been able to design and implement various agroecological measures such as small circuits of commercial agro-ecology, agrocomposting of urban residues, as well as land banks and native seed banks and new methodologies for agroecological training. Some municipalities now have set up agroecological schools. And all of these pilot experiences and measures could be included in Spain’s Rural Development Programmes for 2020-2025.

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