Newsletter December 2022
Exchanges of experience plus conference
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… and with Christmas comes all the delicious festive food! We want to wish you all a really good, nourishing Christmas, with plenty of treats from our talented food producers across Sweden. It is thanks to the hardy farmers, growers, wholesalers, retailers and so on that we are finally able to enjoy a wonderful plate of Christmas delights. And it is for these very providers along the food chain that we want to create the Food Experience Centre, as a place where they can showcase the route that food takes from farm to fork.
What has happened since last time?
Quite a lot has happened since our last newsletter. The project team has had the honour of presenting the Food Experience Centre to a number of different actors, including enterprise body Växtkraft i Mjölby, the Federation of Swedish Farmers’ local groups and the rural network Landsbygdsnätverket. These meetings are more than just an opportunity to explain the project. They are also valuable occasions for mutual exchange and inspiration from others who see opportunities or critical elements within our project.
Andreas Andersen, CEO of Liseberg, gave the project team his take on the current experience industry and also gave some predictions about future trends on a knowledge exchange trip to Gothenburg. The Botanical Garden in Gothenburg, a major visitor magnet, also shared its experiences and strategies. A group of civil servants from Mjölby Municipality travelled to Ede in the Netherlands, which is also planning a World Food Center, but only as an indoor attraction. The purpose of the trip was to increase internal engagement with and understanding of the project.
In 2022, Mjölby Municipality has adopted a new vision of how they want the municipality to look by 2045, and the Food Experience Centre is naturally included in the vision. This is an important move by the municipality, because it means that whatever the politics of the leadership, all the parties will be working to make the experience centre happen. This provides stability and security for the project moving forward.
Conference and inspirational meeting
The conference held on 23-24 November for all our partners proved to be a popular event. The conference began with lunch at Mjölby Stadshotell on Wednesday and concluded the next day with lunch at Väderstad Centralkrog. The theme was “How to create an attractive visitor destination”. Speakers from Visit Sweden, Business Region Skåne and Leisure Development Partners shared their experiences and knowledge. Birgitta Gunnarsson, Deputy Chair of Mjölby’s Municipal Executive Board, opened the conference by recounting how the idea of an experience centre was first sparked in Skänninge fire station. And now here we are, around 10 years later, with a project organisation, 80 hectares of allocated land and 40 collaborative partners. What an incredible journey!
The talks gave rise to interesting discussions, led by moderator Peter Borring. These discussions continued into day two, which began with a workshop to debate issues such as: “How will the experience centre benefit my organisation?”, “How can we attract funding and visitors?” and “What are the key focal points for the project team’s upcoming work?”. These are some of the reflections that cropped up:
- A focus on learning, and learning that is fun, attractive and entertaining.
- Essential to include the public health perspective and preventive healthcare by giving information on the importance of activity and what counts as good food.
- Expand the target group by welcoming school classes and designing what is on offer so that it fits into the school curriculum.
- Semi-physical place that can be experienced both physically and digitally/virtually, so schools across the country can be reached.
- Skills provision: Important for the agricultural college’s perspective to generate interest in the green industries, for example.
- The public showroom should embody sustainability from three perspectives – social, environmental and economic.
- Handle Väderstad By sympathetically, so that the businesses in the village gain from the centre, rather than suffering because of it.
- Use the features of the site to create opportunities for activity and outdoor experiences such as walking trails, a path to Åsabackarna nature reserve, an obstacle course and play areas.
- Address the energy issue: Highlight the available technologies, how agriculture/forestry can help, display the technologies of today and also tomorrow.
The conference concluded with a much-appreciated visit to the intended site in Väderstad where Bo Stark, land owner, Väderstad resident and owner of Väderstad AB, came to talk about the location and the potential of the site. After a walk around the area in the grey weather, it was lovely to get to Väderstads Centralkrog and eat pea soup and pancakes.
We hope you have an amazing Christmas and New Year! Season’s greetings from the project team.
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas