Basque Country: Food Sovereignty, Cooperative Production and the Solidarity Economy

Basque Goat Farm_brimmFrom the Cantabrian Sea to lush mountainous farms, explore alternative food production, community self-sufficiency and the struggle for food sovereignty grounded in a broader movement for Basque cultural sovereignty. The Basque people are one of the oldest ethnic groups in Europe, with a strong sense of autonomy and a cooperative community structure. This tour offers a unique opportunity to get to know this part of the world through the eyes of farmers and activists at the forefront of local and global food sovereignty movements. This delegation is hosted by the Basque Farmers’ Union, EHNE-Bizkaia, founding member of the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina. EHNE-Bizkaia farmers and staff will be your guides—sharing their experiences, food traditions and political culture, all while taking in the striking landscape of the Basque Country, known in the Basque language as Euskal Herria.

Though small, Euskal Herria is geographically diverse, from dramatic mountain ranges and the breathtaking northern coast, to the arid stretches of the La Rioja wine growing valleys in the south. This corner of the Cantabrian coast is largely characterized by small-scale peasant production. The  Basque peasantry has historically depended on livestock raising as well as the collective use of the forest commons for survival. Many farmers also specialize in cheese, wine, cider and other traditional products. However, after waves of privatization and rural-urban migration, many traditional farmhouses (“caserios”) now stand empty. At the same time, young and aspiring farmers are finding themselves priced out of expensive land markets.

In the face of these challenges, intrepid Basque farmers are asserting control over their agriculture and food systems as a way of preserving threatened traditions and building a new, food sovereign future.

On this delegation, you will stay in farmer-owned guesthouses and learn first-hand about the challenges Basque farmers face, the alternatives they are creating, and their deep commitment to food sovereignty. Along the way, you will share delicious meals prepared with locally grown food—from farmhouse produce and organic wines to cooperatively produced meats and cheeses.

This place touched me deeply. I return home asking myself: what does it take, what do we need to do, to create a culture of cooperation and community that leads to true independence and freedom? -Hank Herrera, Basque Tour participant 2014

Meet with a wide range of community leaders and visit various projects that comprise the Basque solidarity economy including the world-renowned Mondragón Cooperative, collectively organized Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, traditional farmers’ markets and community gardens. In addition, this year we will have the honor of traveling with four young food and farm leaders from La Vía Campesina North America, who will join our delegation on special scholarship. Alongside these North American activists, Food First researchers, and the Basque Farmers’ Union, you’ll spend ten days exploring the beautiful Basque countryside and experiencing the projects, politics and people that make up today’s movement for food sovereignty in Euskal Herria.

Download the Basque Tour Info Sheet

Tour highlights include:

  • IMG_2389_zps862b1e8dDiscuss Basque culture and food sovereignty with members of EHNE (Euskal Herriko Nekazarien Elkartasuna), the Basque Farmers’ Union
  • Stay in farmer-owned bed & breakfasts in the beautiful basque countryside
  • Visit the fish market in Bermeo (Bizkaia)
  • Visit the farmers’ market and town of Guernica, site of Franco’s devastating bombing in 1937
  • Tour the world-famous Mondragón Cooperative and meet with members to discuss the Mondragón cooperative model
  • Eat traditional Basque cuisine at farmhouse restaurants and Basque cider houses
  • Enjoy a Basque wine tasting in La Rioja
  • Visit agricultural cooperatives, CSAs and artisan food producers (cheese, meat, fruits and vegetables)
  • Visit the ecological reserve at Urkiola National Park
  • Spend a day visiting farms in the French Basque Country
  • Enjoy dinner in a “txoko” (a private gastronomical club that meets to cook and experiment in the kitchen and socialize with friends)

 Tour Cost: $2,500 (subject to exchange rates)

*We are committed to fairly compensating everyone who contributes their labor, time, and passion to enriching our delegations and making them run smoothly. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for eligible applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

Price includes:

  • TIMG_0340_zpsc76f6935hree star hotel accommodations
  • 2 – 3 meals per day
  • Translation of all program activities into English
  • All in-country transportation, including airport transfers to and from Bilbao
  • Food First policy analyst on entire trip, all activities, local guides and honoraria for guest speakers
  • Price is based on double room accommodations; add $300 for single room
  • Food First membership

Price does NOT include: International airfare to Bilbao; beverages and gratuities; travel insurance; or personal expenditures

Please note that the aim of Food Sovereignty Tours on this tour is to highlight the realities and challenges faced by the Basque Country’s farmers and consumers. While you will enjoy a wealth of delicious, cooperatively and organically grown food and wine on this tour, it is not intended to be a “culinary” tour.

We stay in farmer-owned guesthouses in order to grant them economic support, and also to provide our participants with greater insight into the realities of Basque rural life. Please note that these are not luxury accommodations; they are rustic, yet comfortable, and filled with the charm that farming families offer. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about tour accommodations, activities, or the mission of Food Sovereignty Tours.

Heather Duplaisir
2175 La Mirada Drive
El Sobrante, California, USA 94803

Tel.  415. 735.5407
Cell. 415. 637.0215





© Al Jazeera

© Al Jazeera