David Nedelkovski What training isn’t made better with wine?!
HAEMUS Farm cheese produced by one of the course participants, served with honey and walnuts
HAEMUS Voting around the table for the best idea in a ‘Meaning in a nutshell’ exercise

Training and workshop about the potential of gastronomic heritage as a test for the upcoming IE Gastronomic Heritage training module.

 The project, ‘Interpretation of gastronomy as local identity’, supported by the EU-funded program i-Portunus was held in Macedonia between 13-18 May 2022. The host of the project in Macedonia was HAEMUS, but the project content was created by three team members: Vasilka Dimitrovska (N. Macedonia, local host), Dubravko Fijacko (Croatia, physical mobility) and Janja Sivec (Slovenia, virtual mobility), all of whom are active members of Interpret Europe.

Within the project we organised two separate events. A three-day training course, held in Skopje with around 20 participants, was focused on heritage interpretation toward sustainable development of cultural and natural tourism. Learning through the heritage interpretation, participants had the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills for creative visualisation and communication in order to create cultural and tourist products that will provoke the experience of the guests giving deeper meaning to the heritage and contributing to the sustainable development of the local communities.

The second element was a one-day workshop in the small town of Demir Kapija, the heart of the Tikvesh wine region. This was organised in partnership with the municipality itself, including more than 15 small family wineries as participants. The main aim was to discover new opportunities through interactive and creative exercises and to implement ideas for application of new tourism products, as well as to improve existing services and to present their products in a new light.

The biggest benefits were the great inclusion of the participants, the selfless sharing of their knowledge and skills, as well as the involvement of the local community in an attempt to find a common module for cooperation that can change the image of an entire region without small businesses being a direct competition to each other. Both the training and the workshop were intended for those who want to expand their circle of visitors with a new, creative and efficient approach, thus increasing their sales channels, as well as for those who are professionally engaged in a certain business which touches the natural or cultural heritage to a great extent, but is primarily focused on local gastronomy. We were very lucky that members of the initiative ‘Slow food Macedonia’ recognised the potential of the project. They spread the news about it throughout their own network, so many of their members took part in both events.

In general, we introduced people in N. Macedonia to the concept of heritage interpretation, especially engaging the local gastronomic community in Skopje and in the Tikvesh wine region. We carefully managed the communication and press release with the Macedonian media and the coverage was excellent. The second event was followed by a reporter from the national Macedonian Informative Agency (www.mia.mk) producing an extensive article as an overview of the workshop in which the journalist herself participated.

Keep your eyes open for the new IE training module if you are interested in interpreting gastronomic heritage.

Vasilka Dimitrovska is IE’s Tourism Coordinator. She is a professional archaeologist, heritage consultant and a director of HAEMUS – Center for scientific research and promotion of culture, based in Skopje, North Macedonia. She can be contacted at: dimitrovska@haemus.org.mk.