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Val Robus - May 2023

The ACORN project aims to engage, empower, and inspire young people in rural areas to become active citizens, co-creators, and implementers of rural development initiatives. The ACORN – Activating Young Rural Development project partners went to Malta for a learning exchange meeting recently. Laurence and Aoife went on behalf of Momentum and Aoife has written more about the event:

We had an incredible few days in Malta and we’d like to say a big thank you to Antoine and Christian from VisMedNet for being incredible hosts and for showing the partners of the ACORN Project your beautiful Country.

The first morning started off with a stunning ferry ride across the port from Sliema to Valletta, what a way to arrive at our office for the day in the Valletta Design Cluster.  Momentum and Roscommon Leadership Partnership kicked off the meeting with a project management workshop and the partners spoke in detail about the ACORN Work Packages (stay tuned for these as we release them). The primary focus of the meeting was learning and exchange, so we swapped information surrounding the strengths and weaknesses for each country’s youth.

VisMetNet had then organised a wine and Hyperlocal olive oil tasting at Tan Nixxiegha Olive Grove in Bingemma with Christian from Merill Rural Network. The wine was made with grapes produced from vines that grow on the local farm, which are pressed and bottled on site. It was a fascinating look into a rural business. Tan Nixxiegha Olive Grove was founded in 2000, when brothers Charlie and Raymond, acquired a patch of land for the cultivation of olive trees in Binġemma.

We enjoyed sampling locally made bread with gorgeous toppings, including capers, olives, hummus, and sheep’s cheese. The sheep’s cheese was made three days before the tasting. Charlie gave us a guided tour of the grove and told us more about the variety of fruit and flower that they grow there. We also learned about the native Maltese Black Hen, they are a rustic breed that are raised both for eggs and meat on local farms.

On our second day of the Meeting, we were taken to the Centre for Agriculture, Aquatics and Animal Sciences also known as MCAST in Qormi, where we learned all about agriculture in Malta. Some of the many facts that were learned were that the Maltese government have financial support in the form of grants for the youth of Malta to help them to start farming, though the cost of land far outweighs the benefits of grants available to the Maltese youth. Interestingly, all animals have to be housed inside all year round due to the ground levels being very high in nitrates.

VisMedNet had organised a Pastizzi Hands-On Workshop for lunch. We watched a demonstration and then we all got to make our own Pastizzi, which is a traditional savoury pastry. After our lunch they had organised for a local Francesco who is a musician and Traditional Instrument maker to play some of the traditional instruments for us.

We loved our visit to Malta and we are very grateful to VisMedNet for this wonderful experience, we came away inspired for our work on the ACORN Project. 

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