Slow Food Youth Network Uganda recently concluded its fourth edition of the Good Food Camp, a hands-on 3 days event aimed at educating future food leaders. Held at Bethany Land Institute (BLI) in Luweero, this year’s camp focused on the theme of “Nurturing Future Food Leaders for an Equitable Food System.”

The event brought together over 100 youth from East Africa, including Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda to discover the treasures of local food and understand the vital role it plays in preserving biodiversity and sustaining local communities. The event was packed with engaging activities, including practical cooking sessions, biodiversity tour and interactive discussions. Participants had the opportunity to learn from experts in sustainable agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and food sovereignty. These sessions not only provided knowledge but also encouraged the youth to critically think about the future of food and how they can contribute to positive change.

The camp’s holistic program encompassed various sessions on ecology, multicultural culinary practices, good governance and leadership, and gastronomy. During his keynote speech, Jorrit Kiewik, the Executive Director of the Slow Food Youth Network on the international level, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “It’s great to see young people coming together to discuss the future of food. Such actions demonstrate that the future food leaders are creating change for the sustainability of the food system.”

The young participants were eagerly engaged in cooking sessions that showcased the rich diversity of local ingredients. From leafy vegetables to flavorful spices, they learned how the use of locally sourced produce not only enhances the culinary experience but also supports local agroecological farmers and promotes sustainable food systems. These cooking sessions were not just about creating delicious meals; they symbolized a deeper connection to one’s cultural heritage and a commitment to preserving the local ingredients.

John Kiwagalo, Head of Programs at Slow Food Uganda, delivered an inspiring opening speech, highlighting the importance of collective action and the power of youth in driving the movement towards sustainable and equitable food systems. He emphasized that the knowledge and connections made during the camp would empower participants to become effective advocates for good, clean and fair food practices in their respective regions. “The Good Food Camp is more than just an event; it is a movement that signifies our commitment to preserving biodiversity, promoting local food traditions, and advocating for food that is better, cleaner and fairer. This camp serves as a platform for learning, sharing, and innovating, where farmers, chefs, food activists, students and consumers can come together to exchange knowledge and experiences.” John Kiwagalo noted

During the camp, learning components and food celebrations included storytelling, cultural food presentations, food talks, leadership talks, cooking sessions, keynote speeches, campfire, a Biodiversity walk, and team-building activities. These practical experiences were designed to deepen the participant’s understanding of sustainable food production and its impact on health, environment, and culture.

Additionally, the Good Food Camp provided a platform for participants to understand the importance of eating local food by preparing and showcasing culinary dishes from their regions. This hands-on experience highlighted the value of local ingredients and traditional cooking methods, fostering a deeper appreciation for sustainable and healthy eating practices. It also provided a platform for networking, allowing young people from different backgrounds to share their experiences and build lasting connections, fostering a collaborative spirit among the future leaders of Uganda’s food systems.

During the session, “From Rural Roots to Global Heights: A Journey of Inspiration”, Edward Mukiibi, the President of Slow Food International and Executive Director of Slow Food Uganda, shared a story of transformation. He emphasized the need to transform farming from a form of punishment into an engaging and interesting pursuit, which was his entry point to improve the agricultural sector more so in Schools. He advised participants not to be constrained by their backgrounds, stating that our origins do not determine our future potential or accomplishments. Instead, we should focus on the future. Additionally, he urged participants to always show compassion and care for one another.