Newsletter No.1

CheeseCulT – the gastronomic potential, a driving force for rural tourism development

The CheeseCulT project overall objective is to preserve the local culinary tradition in cheese making, to further integrate it to local innovative development approaches and to improve the quality and competitiveness in tourism and culinary sectors in the CB areas of Albania and Greece. In a region of abundant natural resources, numerous examples of cultural & historic heritage, as well as vibrant folklore, the tourism industry has yet to become a major development driver. CheeseCulT presents a unique opportunity for sustainable tourism and new development models for the cross-border area, considering that livestock herding and the production of dairy products, most notably cheese, milk and yogurt, are an integral part of local culture and culinary tradition. CheeseCulT will create thematic networks, promote local tourism activities & gastronomic traditions and will improve the skillsets of local population & stakeholders. CheeseCulT is expected to contribute to the preservation of local dairy culinary tradition, and further, incorporate it on local sustainable tourism development by creating a new cultural tourism product based on Cheese.

The Project’s Common Methodological Guide

A Methodological Guide was developed by the Department of Agriculture – University of Ioannina, the Lead Partner of this Project as the output of Deliverable 3.1.1 “Creation of Common methodological guide for diagnosis studies”. The CheeseCulT Project Common Methodological Guide aims to provide a structured, comprehensive and user-friendly approach on the activities connected to the implementation of the Project and its outcomes; especially regarding the Deliverables that lead to Diagnosis Studies upon which the rest of the project activities will be based on. As a Deliverable of the CheeseCulT Project, its objective is to ensure that the Project Deliverables implemented are conducted in a disciplined, coherent and consistent manner, leading to the delivery of quality products, completed on time and within budget.

Work in progress

So far, the partnership has implemented 2 meetings: the kick-o meeting took place in Arta, in the LB premises on 16-17/12/2019 and the 2nd was implemented online on 25/02/2021. All partners attended the meetings: Department of Agriculture – University of Ioannina (Lead Partner) and the Hellenic Agricultural Organization – Demeter: Dairy School of Ioannina from Greece and the University “Eqrem Çabej” Gjirokastër & the organization ARGJIRO from Albania. The Project currently focuses on the diagnosis of needs between the CB Dairy Value Chains & Tourism potential, which will lead to the design/ mapping of a joint Cheese Route. Specically regarding the produced cheeses, the relevant specialized analyses made by the Department of Agriculture of the University of Ioannina in collaboration with the Dairy School of Ioannina were presented. The analyses show high quality and distinct categories of milk and cheese products of Epirus (kefalograviera and feta) from specic regions and breeds of sheep and goat, which positively contribute to human health, have special quality characteristics and at the same time, have a low environmental footprint, following the current consumer trends at European level.

The relevant research will deepen even more on the local sheep and goat products that are produced in the cross-border area, so that they form the backbone of the new Cheese Route, which is the desired result of the project for the promotion of the cross-border areas. For further developing the Cheese Route, a useful tool is the mapping through GIS, using regional data for the production of various thematic routes, which is currently in progress. The partnership is going to implement Training Seminars on Agritourism, Cheese Themes, Marketing and Culinary Innovation, with the aim of building capacity in the Cross-Border region on the prospects of the designed Cheese Route. The seminars will be addressed to local stakeholders (producers, SMEs in the tourism sector).

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