EPAMAC no.1(!)

High above the magnificent city of Porto hidden in the mountains EPAMAC Green VET School – ranked no.1 (!) among the agricultural training centres in Portugal – is original, unique, nothing like you’d expect. It has a character and an irresistible charm just like the country, Portugal itself.

Take the intricate network of highways from Porto and then “leave the civilisation”, get off the beaten track and onto the cobblestone country road that will lead you upwards to a Portuguese rural wonderland. Pass the meadows, vineyards and lovely manor houses and you’d arrive to the school of our EUROPEA friends, Joao and Pedro.

It is not just a school but an impressive estate with several separate buildings, houses, stables, riding facilities, coops and pens surrounded by endless fields, colourful meadows, rich orchards, neat and tidy greenhouses and well-kept vineyards. All of them the property of EPAMAC.

As for farm animals, they are plenty. Not only do they own and take care of their 60 (!) horses, but they also have a number of dairy cows, pigs (local breed), sheep and a lot of poultry: chicken, hens, roosters, geese, ducks, guinea fowl – even partridges! There are also pools for trout production and hives for bee keeping. And when you think you have seen it all you’d just notice a small herd of deer resting in the shadow in a spacious enclosure! Oh, “deer” 😊!

The whole environment is special. Peaceful, calming. Traditional is merged with modern creating a very individual atmosphere. Look around and you’d see manor houses, now office buildings and classrooms equipped with 21st century IT tools; old-fashioned structures and edifices made of wood and stone, the treasures of the mountain. A cobblestone road would lead you towards the big gates. If you do nothing but stroll around you have already learnt a lot about local tradition, history and culture. Nevertheless, anywhere you go you’d have a perfect speedy Wi-Fi connection! Even in and around the stables!

The school has around 300 students, a lot of them with learning difficulties or with challenging social backgrounds. Some would be from foreign countries leaving their homes in order to stay here during the whole of the three-year training. Together with approximately 50 teachers this is an open and embracing community with an enthusiastic staff and smiling, curious students. A safe place to stay, learn and develop.

Add the magnificent view, the glorious Portuguese sunshine and the wonderful hospitality, and you’ll understand that EPAMAC is a place of its own.

Come to this delightful kingdom of Green VET and see it for yourself – definitely worth visiting 😊

 

 

For more info on EPAMAC click HERE. For more pictures visit our EUROPEA Facebook page.

Pics: Judit (HU) 🙂

 

By Judit Čović (HU), leader of EUROPEA Editorial Group – currently staying in Portugal (and enjoying every minute !!) with her students on an ERASMUS mobility

Back to Normandy!

FLASHBACK – 2018 EUROPEA Seminar FR/UK

This time we will take you to two great sights that the EUROPEAns visited TOGETHER (!!) in April as part of our regular spring seminar 2018.

The Mont Saint Michel Dam

During the FR/UK Seminar this spring we had a chance to enjoy a guided tour to the dam of Mont Saint Michel, a unique hydraulic operation, which was built in 2009. The dam is a construction with eight valves weighing 20 tons each and two fishways, which shall regulate the water levels and so give the river enough strength to push the sediment out to the sea and away from the Mont.

It runs automatically and is reversible: it opens to let sea water flow up to the river and it allows water from the river to flow out as the tide goes out. The aim is to give the Mont once more a landscape of strands bathed regularly by the tides and to push back the vegetation that is threatening to encircle the rock.

By Gerd Alscher (DE), member of the EUROPEA Editorial Group

Shepherds of salty marshlands

Matilde, a shepherdess of the watery meadows surrounding the great Mont Saint Michel, is just one of the several farmers dealing with sheep production in the area. The environment is unique with a special ecosystem based on the amount of water and salt in the ground. The herds here have a great significance as far as ecology is concerned keeping a one-of-a-kind equilibrium, pushing back some plant species and encouraging others to grow. And thus, they are not just a customary sight and a traditional part of the landscape at Mont Saint Michel but also an important factor of scheming the area.

Dealing with sheep is a 24-hour job and therefore Matilde has a partner – interestingly, yet another lady shepherd – with whom she shares the duties related to the animals and the administrative obligations that go with it. They rent the land from the state and also receive founds to help their business develop.

The sheep would produce a unique quality of meat because of the salty marshlands where they are kept and fed. The demand for it is still quite high so Matilde accommodates 30 restaurants in the neighbouring towns and villages and also sells to big cooperatives.

The first shepherds in the region were the monks of Mont Saint Michel and event today, with Matilde and her colleagues’ hard work, history is still kept alive in Normandy as they follow the footsteps of their herding predecessors.

 

By Judit Čović (HU), leader of EUROPEA Editorial Group

Pics: Kalle Toom (EE) and Judit (HU) 🙂

30 × CARREFOUR!

5-12 May 2018, Ettelbruck (LU)

CARREFOUR – started in 1988 – is still going strong! 

Pic: Team Luxembourg!

Partners are currently in Luxembourg, staying at Camping Fuussekaul near Ettelbruck – the town of EUROPEA school LTA, one of our founding institutions and the only Green VET Centre in the Grand Duchy.

With the ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnership Project STEP (Share, Test, Exchange, Practise), there are some 85 students and 15 teachers attending the meeting and they are from Luxembourg, France, Netherlands, Poland and Germany.

The professional programme includes sessions on creating tutorials (as the main aim of the project) and also, several technical visits. However, in the following days students and teachers will have the chance to enjoy cultural and sporting events, as well as a tour of the magnificent Luxembourg City. The meeting ends with a Final Party at Fuussekaul on Friday evening.

EUROPEA wishes you, dear CARREFOUR Friends, a pleasant stay and a fruitful meeting!

 

Read more on the relations between CARREFOUR and EUROPEA: here.

Acknowledgements: many thanks to Georges, who eventually participated at all 30 CARREFOUR meetings 🙂

 

By Judit Čović (HU), leader of EUROPEA Editorial Group

Guernsey Wonderland

FLASHBACK – 2018 EUROPEA Seminar FR/UK

During our April meeting in Normandy, we had the opportunity to hop on a boat and sail to Guernsey! A marvellous place and a wonderland of its own. “Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel near the French coast, and is a self-governing British Crown dependency. “ – Google informs. We spent a very short time there, visited two enterprises but we were all very much affected by this little island and its great residents.

 

Rocquette Cider Farm: Home grown cider from Guernsey

After a very delicious seafood lunch we visited the Rocquette Cider Farm of the Meller family located in the Fauxquets Valley in the heart of Guernsey countryside.

Heartily welcomed by the senior boss James Meller (by the way a Scotsman), we got a nice impression of the farm.  During a short walk on the farm James explained the whole process from harvesting the apples up to having the cider filled up in bottles ready for selling. They produce cider in many varieties and flavours: traditional, exceptional and craft ciders and still ciders with funny names like Merry Berry, Castle Gunners, Scallywag or Salty Dog.

The annual apple swap brings apple growers from all over the island to the farm which generates up to 15 tonnes of, locally grown hand picked apples to supplement our own harvest. They have also started importing apples from our sister island, Jersey, to give the cider a truly Channel Island branding which appeared to be a good marketing idea and make it more appealing to a larger market. A big highlight at the end of our visit was a tasting ceremony of local products, the different ciders, home-made cheese and chutneys: yummy, yummy….

By Gerd Alscher (DE), member of the EUROPEA Editorial Group

 

Meadow Court Farm

One of the 14 farms on this enchanting channel island is Meadow Court, a third generation enterprise run by very special and very jolly people. Day in and day out Julien, Katrin and Rachel would deal with the 70 milking cows, the surrounding lands and the ice-cream shop situated in one of the charismatic buildings of the court. First thing we learn is that there are only Guernsey cows on Guernsey! This gentle and pretty brownish-yellow breed is characteristic for the island and there is even a Guernsey Conference every 3 years here gathering breeders from Australia, Africa and New Zealand!

Katrin shows us though the stables and the spacious pink (!!) milking parlour. She is responsible for this task, and she claims that she recognises all her “ladies” and knows all of them by their names. And just before the EUROPEAns would try to express some of their doubts, she points to them and starts listing: “That is Charlotte, Eugene, Renate, Lindsey, Luisa … “ And we instantly realise that what she has said is actually true! Amazing!

“The bull … we rent” – explains Katrin. “He is such a nice one. He moos all the time – when he is happy, sad or wants to tell us something. He would moo every time someone enters the yard. He is just like a dog!”

Julien being out in the fields taking advantage of the nice sunny weather and spreading the fertilizer, Katrin hands us over to her sister Rachel, who deals with the ice-cream machine. She shows us the different flavours that she uses. “Sometimes we add dad’s fruit to it too.” – she says referring to the several fruit trees that grow in the shadow of the stables and also in the tiny greenhouse. “Dad” is Katrin and Rachel’s father, a 82-year-old gentleman, now retired, but still helping her daughters managing the farm. “We would run to him each time we need advice” – the girls admit.

Rachel serves us with delicious vanilla ice-cream and – as time is flying – we say goodbye to this charming family and the wonderful “Guernsey-ladies”. Many thanks for the great visit.

By Judit Čović (HU), leader of EUROPEA Editorial Group

Pics: Judit (HU) and Pedro (PT) 🙂

 

Pioneers of Green VET

7-10 May 1992, Erstein, France. Reunion of 2000 young European Green VET students (Rassemblement de 2000 Jeunes Europeens de l’Enseignement Agricole)

 

History of EUROPEA started in 1988, the year that saw the first reunion of the Green VET actors in Vire (FR), and the establishment of the Carrefour network. 1989-1991 was a crucial period as well for it brought us the creation of EUROPEA and its committee of organisation (COE – Comité d’Organisation) with the task to set the “May 1992 in Strasbourg” event.

Pic no1: Packed Main Square in Erstein!

The idea of such a meeting was launched after the success of the Grande Moisson in Paris, and the decision of the French Ministry of Agriculture to organise a spectacular gathering for students in Green VET and put together an agenda that would encourage cooperation in the fields of sport, culture and professional training.

 

The project got on its way in Luxembourg on 16 October 1991 with the departure of the “European Relay”, a small object that was to be carried all around the continent symbolizing unity and belonging together. It travelled from country to country, from school to school by many different means of transport: bus, train, plane and sometimes it was even carried individually by runners just like in a real relay race.

It finally arrived in Erstein, near Strasbourg (FR), on the very day of 7 May 1992 when already the first delegations from the participating Green VET colleges started to turn up for the big event. And during the next four days, from 7 to 10 May 1992, some 2000 (!) youngsters spent a quality time together completing a packed programme including professional workshops, round table discussions, exhibitions, concerts, parties and sporting events.

Pic no2: Fons and the flag!

Fons Logtenberg, our colleague from LTA (Lycée Technique Agricole, LU), was a student then and lucky enough to be one of the participants. “Those were big times.” – he explains. “Boarders fell down, we opened up towards Europe and Europe opened up for us. It was great to realize that even vocational students can travel and take part in those milestone events.”

“Names of my peers I can recall are Christiane, Carlo, Ginette, Dan, Gusti, Paul … We were the Pioneers of Green Knowledge (“Pionniers du Savoir Vert”), we took part in the preparations and we were together in Erstein. However, we owe a lot to our teachers who made it possible for us to get there: Norbert Feltgen (principal), Fernand Leesch (vice principal), Georges Krack (president of COE), Henri Kohnen, Jemp Steichen and Martine Hansen.

“It was awesome. Students from different countries mingled, made friends and had great fun together. We returned home with the overwhelming feeling that Europe is really becoming united, and I was thrilled to have had a first-hand experience of that.”

“This journey definitely had a decisive effect on my life. Soon after the Strasbourg meeting I was invited to work for LTA with projects on crop research, a job that I accepted and have had ever since. I am pleased to have been part of EUROPEA from the very beginnings. My special thanks to Georges Krack, who urged me to get to Erstein, Martine Hansen, who arranged the project and Norbert Feltgen, who offered me the job. “

During the 2015 EUROPEA Autumn Seminar in Luxembourg Georges and Fons were honoured by Mr. Fernand Etgen, Minister of Agriculture in Luxembourg for the long time they spent in European cooperation.

And we are happy to join in and repeat the slogan of our campaign:

Salute the founders and long live EUROPEA!

 

Acknowledgements: many thanks to Fons (LU) for the interview he gave us during the FR/UK meeting in April 2018; and Georges (LU) for the valuable details.

Photos: Fons (LU)

For more pictures visit our Facebook site.

 

By Judit Čović (HU), leader of EUROPEA Editorial Group for the History of EUROPEA Campaign, 2018

Based on the documents entitled “Europäische Projekte” and “EUROPEA-Historique” by Georges Krack available in German and French here: Recollections