Living Lab: Activities
Vidzeme Food Innovation Hackathon
In partnership with the Vidzeme Planning Region and the Latvian Rural Forum, a hackathon was organized in the pilot territory, the Vidzeme region.
Two of the five guiding concepts reflected in the Hackathon tasks were circular economy and healthy, sustainable food. The Hackathon was attended by four teams, and six experienced mentors in business, economics, and food technology assisted them in achieving the best outcomes possible. Several Vidzeme business owners were looking for smarter ways to handle byproducts and waste materials in food production processes. These business owners had addressed the Hackathon with their concerns. The most important questions were: how to eliminate waste and instead recycle and reuse; how to convert by-products into new products; and how to do it in the most cost-effective way. Food production today must also include changing customer demands, health, sustainability, and environmental friendliness.
The panel chose the team "Zero-Snack," which came up with the idea of inventing a new food product from banana peels, as the Hackathon's winner. The proposed model is perfectly consistent with the goals of the circular economy since it recognizes that what is left over can be used for a range of imaginative and alternative purposes while still considering economic feasibility. The other teams concentrated on product promotion and food innovation themes as well.
Elaboration of training programme and organization of one-day training sessions
- 3/03/2023, Cēsis, Cēsis Municipality
- 14/04/2023, Valmiera, Valmiera Municipality
- 12/05/2023, Gulbene, Gulbene Municipality
The aim of this activity - increasing the capacity of local municipalities and their education and social care institutions to carry successful green procurements of food and catering services. The training was intended for local government procurement specialists, representatives of local action groups and others. The organizer of the activity: Vidzeme Planning Region.
The one-day training session, Cēsis
The one-day training session, Valmiera
The one-day training session, Gulbene
Organization of individual consultations for municipal procurement specialists (in person and online)
- 03/03/2023, Cēsis, Cēsis Municipality
- 14/04/2023, Valmiera, Valmiera Municipality
12/05/2023, Gulbene, Gulbene Municipality
Workshops for children on sustainable and healthy food choices
Latvian Rural Forum has organized workshops for preschool children and primary school children with aim to learn about healthy vegetables grown localy with hands-on activities on how to grow their own vegetables, storing vegetables for the winter and exploring tasty recipes. All workshops were organized together with experts - farmers, nutrition specialists, cooks.
Experience exchange visit to Seinäjoki, Southern Ostrobothnia of Finland
The Latvian delegation to Finland was formed as a result of collaboration across several sectors and industrial actors, as well as the participation of Vidzeme Planning Region and Latvian Rural Forum. The delegation consisted of the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Latvia, Didzis Šmits, as well as representatives from Latvian state administration institutions, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, and SMEs, and invited Vidzeme region participants, including specialists from Valmiera Municipality and Cēsis Municipality.
The aim of the visit was to raise an awareness of sustainable Finnish food system principles, how the short supply chains are formed, and how the school meals are organized, as well as to assess the feasibility of taking over Finland’s acquired experience. The visit was possible thanks to CITIES2030 partners in Finland - ProAgria and Into Seinäjoki.
Visit of the Latvian delegation to Seinäjoki, Finland
Online experience sharing meetings between specialists from Latvia and Finland
After the visit to Seinäjoki, two online meetings were organized between Finnish and Latvian experts, where green procurement and sustainability criteria in food and catering service procurement, food education programs were discussed in more detail between specialists in field from both countries.
International Forum “Mission: Establishing a Bioregion in the Gauja National Park”
- 25/10/2023, Sigulda, Culture Centre “Siguldas devons”
Experts from Latvia and abroad gathered to present the bioregion concept and activities in Europe, and to share inspiring examples of forward-thinking regional development. The main accents were on practices in bioregions abroad, organic food production and its market. Participants explored the benefits of sustainable resource management – healthy food in educational institutions, the role of co-operations for the development of organic farming, slow tourism and a zero-waste approach to resource management.
As part of the Forum, the participants signed a memorandum of goodwill on the establishment of the first bioregion in the Baltics in the territory of the Gauja National Park in Cēsis, Sigulda, Valmiera and Saulkrasti municipalities. The Memorandum outlines the key principles to be followed in creating a new economy that is environmentally and climate friendly, resource-efficient, socially inclusive, and prosperous. The Memorandum also sets out the main vectors that need to be developed to bring the bioregion to life.
Vidzeme Planning Region, Cēsis Municipality, Sigulda Municipality, the Association “Greenfest”, Latvian Rural Advisory and Education Centre were the main organizers of the forum. It was organized as Food System Dialogue event. It occurred within the Vidzeme lab.
International Forum “Mission — establishment of Bioregion in Gauja national Park", Sigulda
Discussion “Organic food in school and kindergarten catering. Is organic food always expensive? Experience obtained in European countries”
- 26/11/2023, Cēsis, Cēsis Municipality
The roundtable discussion was organized as Food System Dialogue event by Vidzeme Planning Region and Latvian Rural Forum. The event’s target audience included representatives from local municipalities, local action groups, educational institutions, and others.
The primary topics of the discussion: how to get organic food on school menus; is organic food always more expensive than non-organic or conventional food; and whether there is a direct relationship between product price and quality.
The following speakers had been invited to participate in the discussion: Agnese Radžele-Šulce, Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre (Latvia), Jostein Hertwig, Global Alliance for Organic Districts (Norway), Klaudio Serafini, Organic Cities Network Europe (Italy), Jan Kohlmüller, BioStadt Bremen (Germany). Zane Siliņa, Latvian Rural Forum, moderated the discussion.
The roundtable discussion, Cēsis
Discussion "Experiences and opinions on the school meals and attitudes towards food" and a master class
- 09/01/2024, restaurant "Pavāru māja", Līgatne, Cēsis Municipality
The event brought together CITIES2030 Latvian partners, including representatives from the Vidzeme Planning Region and the Latvian Rural Forum, as well as stakeholders in the catering process of schools and kindergartens, including the Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre, the Association of Caterers of Educational Institutions, the Latvian Caterers Association, catering company representatives, parents, and representatives from non-governmental organizations.
The objective of the restaurant "Pavāru māja" has always been to discover the pure taste of Latvia and to collaborate with local farmers. The restaurant has even been awarded MICHELIN Green Star 2024 for its commitment to sustainable practices. The Chef and owner of the restaurant Ēriks Dreibants shared his thoughts about children's eating habits and meals in schools.
Participants discussed how to change school lunch menus and how to get meals cooked from locally sourced ingredients, including organic products. Local farmer support was highlighted as a crucial component of this activity, as catering to schools provides as a significant outlet for them. The event attendees agreed on the significance of bringing together all stakeholders to effect major changes in the current food system.
Discussants emphasized the strong relationship between children's and their families’ eating habits. They stressed the idea that there is a need for educational work on healthy eating at all levels – children, parents, civil servants, etc. They admitted that knowledge about healthy eating should be integrated into school programs. Opinion leaders outside the family - teachers, peers, digital content creators - can also play an important role in promoting healthy eating.
At the end of the discussion, a master class was held by the Chef Ēriks Dreibants. He shared ideas of what a lunch at school could be.
The discussion and the master class, Līgatne