Renewal and alternatives to the primary sector in times of crisis.
The School of Shepherds of Catalonia, one of the pioneering experiences in the recovery and revitalization of the livestock sector, will arrive in in March 2014 to its sixth edition. Ignoring the pessimistic voices that consider livestock death touched, the school will give again the opportunity to train young people, from predominantly urban environments, who want to learn the office of pastor.
One of the main objectives of the initiative is to provide a generational renewal in the Catalan livestock sector. It was already more than necessary: most of the Spanish rural areas have a high degree of depopulation. Emigration of the young and the consequent increase of the aging of the population are almost chronic problems there.
Aspirants to shepherd arrive from all over Catalonia, but also from other areas, such as Valencia, Aragon or Canary Islands. Most of them are young, around thirty, and attend the school by vocation. Students go through a month of theoretical training and four months of real farming practices.
The experience of the past five years show that, after this training experience, over 60% of students keep working on the livestock labor. The Shepherd’s School offers real alternatives in the sector, and it’s doing it by using innovative social coordinates as food sovereignty, ecological production, incorporation of women to grazing, direct sales, access to the own land, rural repopulation... A renewed breath of fresh air in the Pyrenees, in times of socio-economic crisis.
And the School is not an isolated experience at all. Spanish market has been increasing in both supply and demand for this type of training livestock. For many, the return to the fields is an unexpected alternative to unemployment in times of crisis. For others, it’s a way of life according to their convictions. In any case, the regeneration of Spanish rural landscape is already becoming a reality.