An outdoor exhibition at Għar id-Dud, in Sliema is introducing the public to some of the faces behind Maltese produce, while presenting their daily realities and the passion that drives them in the face of several struggles.
Titled Uċuħ tar-Raba’ (Faces of the Field), the photography exhibition forms part of a year-long project which Friends of the Earth Malta has been implementing in partnership with Friends of the Earth Europe. Its aim is to get more young people interested in food, farming and the role of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and other policies, including the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the Farm to Fork Strategy, in shaping the food system.
“We want to raise greater awareness and interest for food systems, (local) farming as well as the role of CAP. As a long-term objective, we hope that people will get furtherly engaged in these topics and assume an active role in supporting local and sustainable agriculture/farmers,” Martin Galea de Giovanni, director of Friends of the Earth Malta, says.
“We also want to provide some deeper information about these topics and, at the same time, find out about people’s current knowledge of these themes.”
He adds that the NGO, together with other Friends of the Earth groups from Europe, wants to raise awareness about the revised CAP.
Following over 50 years of operation since CAP’s implementation in 1962, in June 2021, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the EU (comprised of national agricultural ministers) agreed on a set of reforms designed to both modernise and strengthen the effectiveness of CAP in the modern day. The reformed policy comes into effect in 2023 and benefits from a €270 billion budget, part of €387 billion allocated for 2021-2027.
“We want to create dialogue spaces with stakeholders in different European countries to help understand the new CAP and allow citizens to possibly shape the national implementation of this policy in their country,” Galea de Giovanni says.
“We will prepare some easy understandable materials and engaging events to bring farming closer to urban people and the questions of citizens discussed with producers.”
Uċuħ tar-Raba’, which was first set up at Valletta’s City Gate earlier this month, is one such initiative. Through photography by Darrin Zammit Lupi and words by Maria Eileen Fsadni, the exhibition presents a wide spectrum of farmers in terms of locations and also in relation to their work.
“We wanted to highlight the diversity and scale of farmers in Malta,” Galea de Giovanni notes.
The 10 featured farmers were also chosen for their environmentally-friendly practices.
Among these is Cane Vella, a young farmer and an environmentalist at heart, who passionately works on his farm to apply sustainable and ethical farming practices. Together with his partner, Cassandra, he works on the Biome Munch project in Burmarrad, which looks at food in a holistic way. Their vision is to promote a Mediterranean diet and make eating local and nutritious food simple, affordable and accessible to everyone in Malta.
Another protagonist is Emanuela de Giorgio of the VegBox in Manikata, who, apart from growing her own pesticide-free produce, promotes other farmers and helps sell their produce, besides organising workshops and other educational activities.
There is also Louis Cini, one of the first organic farmers in Malta.
“Friends of the Earth Malta believes in supporting sustainable agriculture and eating seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables that have been produced by local, small-scale farmers,” Galea de Giovanni points out.
“We also strongly believe in shorter supply chains, as these have a positive impact on local farmers, strengthen local economies and small business and bring the public closer to their food sources.”
Designed by Tom van Malderen and curated by Samira Damato, the exhibition features a build-up by Keit Bonnici and graphic design by Nadine Rotem-Stibbe. It is accompanied by a limited-edition publication, designed by Rotem-Stibbe, featuring the photography of Zammit Lupi and interviews with the farmers and words by Fsadni.
“This beautiful pop-up show strives not only to spark joy, enthusiasm and intrigue from passers-by around existing organic and sustainable agricultural practices in Malta. But, in many ways, its aim is to reconnect you with the earth around you, a reminder that we depend on the natural world,” Damato says.
“The exhibition engages with light, natural and rustic materials, counterbalanced with a contemporary and minimal graphic panel design as a form of invitation to the viewer to contextualise sustainable agriculture as a relevant part of our modern lives.”
Galea de Giovanni reiterates that eating sustainably-produced food is not only good for ourselves but also for the environment.
“Sustainable farming supports nature and biodiversity and safeguards our rural land. If we are to be true sovereigns of our food systems, we must work with farmers and demand more from policymakers. Let’s say ‘yes’ to good food and good farming!”
Uċuħ tar-raba’ is on display at Għar id-Dud, Sliema, until Sunday. One can join a tour of the exhibition tomorrow by registering on https:// foemalta.org/event/cap-exhibition-2/. To get a copy of the booklet, visit https:// foemalta.org/ product/ucuh-tar-raba/. For more information, visit on https:// ucuhtarraba.org/.
To find out more about Friends of the Earth Malta’s food, agriculture and biodiversity campaign, visit https://foemalta.org/food-and-agriculture/. The NGO will soon launch a revamped edition of its Malta Farm Map: https://foemalta.org/maltafarmmap/. Originally launched before the pandemic, this free service aims to connect farmers and customers directly.
Bring the Dialogue – Green European DEAL and the CAP (Bridge DEAL &CAP) is funded by the IMCAP Programme of the European Union. The content of this article represents the views of the author only and is their sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.
The project is co-funded through the NGO Co-Financing Fund (NCF) managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector.