New Grants: Food Systems Transformation through an Arts and Culture Lens

Published on:

May 22, 2024

Community of Practice:

Andes, West Africa

Food systems transformation is a movement that goes well beyond farmers, regional organizations, and researchers. Culture-bearers and artists can bring knowledge and insight grounded in regional and Indigenous legacies.

Recently, the McKnight Foundation’s Arts and Culture program worked with CRFS to make grants to three projects in the Andes and in Niger exploring the connection of arts and culture to food systems transformation.

Instituto APOYO

Instituto APOYO is an organization dedicated to promoting educational innovation by implementing teacher training programs based on the STEAM+H educational approach. “La Migración de los Árboles” (The Migration of Trees) will be an art installation of dead trees recovered from different forests in Peru, aiming to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity and forest conservation. Tree migration is explored as a metaphor for understanding adaptation and diversity in nature and society, and reflects on life, death, and resilience, inspiring action against climate change. Forestry engineers at the Agrarian University will guide sculptor Ana Orejuela to areas from which to collect the trees and bring them to Lima. The cabinetmaker Dario Llovera, who has worked with Ana for more than ten years, will set up the wood workshop where the pieces will be sculpted. Throughout the process, Ana will meet with two sculptors to enrich the project: Verónica Crousse, dean of the Faculty of Art and Design of the PUCP, who has a particular interest in conservation, especially in forests and sculptural work in wood, and Alejandra Ortiz de Zevallos, who has dedicated herself in recent years to develop artistic projects through textiles with an educational emphasis.

Centro Regional para la Salvaguardia del Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial de América Latina (CRESPIAL)

The Centro Regional para la Salvaguardia del Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial de América Latina (CRESPIAL) promotes regional integration and cooperation across 16 Latin American countries to safeguard Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) for sustainable development and intercultural dialogue. To this end, it promotes the conditions for developing public policies and initiatives, cultural governance, and the participation of communities and stakeholders in Latin American countries, contributing to their populations’ well-being, dignity, and creativity. Soledad Mujica is one of Latin America’s top experts on ICH. She worked at Peru’s Ministry of Culture for 15 years, where she established Peru’s leading registry and annual fair of traditional art. This project aims to collaborate with culture bearers of native and Afro-Peruvian peoples in the territory that today is Peru, whose creative trajectory is linked to reflection, knowledge, and awareness about the validity and importance of ancestral knowledge, know-how, practices, and rituals to face the challenges of climate change and food security.

Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN)

The goal of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN) is to contribute to food security and nutrition through research and training in agriculture. A team of farmers and women-led food processor groups, supported by INRAN and an ICRISAT millet breeding team, encourages the local production of seeds and the cultivation of African traditional food crops, such as pearl millet, sorghum, cowpea, and moringa. They transform these crops into innovative, easy-to-cook versions of traditional, nutritious food products such as Tousme, a couscous-like dish made of pearl millet flour and moringa. Promoting such dishes maintains cultural values and food traditions while reducing malnutrition and contributing to healthier diets for rural populations, especially children and a growing number of refugees in the region. The involvement of dynamic women groups in grain processing facilitates innovation, popularization, promotion, and market expansion of traditional food recipes while considering local cultural values and integrating gender balance and participation.