Tara Dourian, M.A. Food Studies

Rete Semi Rurali, Italy

After completing my spring term at AUR, my understanding of food studies expanded to reflect the multiple disciplines covered throughout the courses. Nonetheless, I felt particularly drawn to certain topics, such as agricultural biodiversity, farmers’ autonomy and their corresponding socio-cultural environment. I sought an experience that, in addition to a research, would incorporate a hands-on, field component. The chance to intern with Rete Semi Rurali—the Italian Farmers’ Seeds Network—was a well-matched, engaging opportunity.

Rete Semi Rurali (RSR) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization concerned with the support and restoration of farmers’ seed autonomy in the food system, through the protection of agricultural biodiversity. Gathering a network of over 40 national associations, RSR adopts a multi-actor and multi-disciplinary approach to conduct wide array of activities, among which include: providing political and legal support for the reformation of current national and international seed policy frameworks, raise awareness through the organization of regional and community events connecting farmers with other actors in the food supply chain, as well as coordinating various research projects across Italy and in collaboration with other European organizations. It was exciting to be immersed in field visits, to network with a multi-actor community and to contribute to research projects—experiences that I believe will help in building my career path and cultivating possibilities for future collaboration. Thank you, RSR!