ESDU is an inter-disciplinary research and development center specialized in community development and sustainable agriculture hosted at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) of the American University of Beirut (AUB). ESDU was the incubator of the Food Heritage Foundation and is currently its mentor institution and one of its main partners.
The Food Heritage Foundation in partnership with ESDU and IOCC are working on establishing community kitchens in lebanese villages hosting syrian refugees, such as Miniara – Akkar and Khiara – West Bekaa, with the aim of alleviating food insecurity of vulnerable populations.
Le Passeport Culinaire’s mission is to pursue and enjoy unique and memorable gourmet journeys, both near and far, through unveiling the secrets of the land, its people and cuisine. FHF, through Darb el Karam, is one of Le Passeport Culinaire’s local food ambassadors promoting food trails in the West Bekaa.
FHF contributed to the establishment of Al-Hiraki Community Kitchen in Malaak’s educational center in Miniara – Akkar through building the capacity of the women cooks on food safety standards and kitchen organization. FHF is also establishing a kitchen garden at the center for the production of healthy vegetables and herbs for the kitchen.
In line with FHF’s vision, Majid Al Futtaim Group is supporting the central community kitchen of the foundation “Akleh” with the ultimate aim to empower women and small local producers from various Lebanese areas. This partnership was initiated in December 2014 in an effort to sustain and develop Akleh’s activities revolving around the production, marketing and catering of traditional food prepared by women from different Lebanese areas while using raw ingredients from small local producers.
SlowMed project aims at promoting intercultural dialogue around the Mediterranean and strengthening the identity of the countries in this region based on their food heritage. FHF took part in several activities that were organized by SlowMed such as documenting traditional Lebanese recipes, cooking and filming them, as well as promoting food tourism and more specifically darb el karam in conferences and seminars.
The Food Heritage Foundation partnered with CCIAZ in the framework of the Lactimed project to revive the production of the traditional Ambarees cheese in the Bekaa Valley. darb el karam – Food Heritage Trail dairy producers were featured in the “Route of Mediterranean Dairy Products” guide that was published by Lactimed.
In 2014, the Food Heritage Foundation was one of the winners of NABAD, the first social entrepreneurship incubator in the Middle East, for its central community kitchen Akleh. The fund enabled FHF to rehabilitate and equip the kitchen which is located in Zico House – Spears and initiate catering services for traditional foods. In addition, within the framework of the rural tourism value chain of the Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development Project (LIVCD), the USAID has supported the establishment of Darb el Karam – food trail in Higher Shouf and West Bekaa. The project aims at diversifying livelihoods of small farmers and food producers through the introduction of food tourism in rural areas.
Through the CSR program “Waterfront City Cares”, FHF’s first project, Souk aal Souk farmers’ market, came to life. In collaboration with ESDU, the project aims to empower small farmers and producers, train them on good agricultural practices and create a market for them in urban settings.
Zaher – Grow to Learn (Zaher) is a Danish non-governmental not-for-profit association assisting local actors in Lebanon in using learning gardens as educational and recreational support for vulnerable children and youth. Zaher puts a strong focus on including displaced kids and youth from Lebanon’s neighboring countries as well other vulnerable kids and youth in the Lebanese society. Special attention is also given to promote girls in the projects. Zaher works as a platform that establishes partnerships between organisations and actors in Lebanon, bridges knowledge and experience on learning garden activities between Lebanon and Denmark, assists in project development and works with outreach and evaluations on ongoing projects. FHF and Zaher have previously collaborated in Yalla! Summer Camp in Aley and are currently preparing other learning gardens projects.