SWEDA Face to Face event in Latvia, from 18 to 24 June 2022

The second international workshop for higher education students enrolled in the blended course offered within the framework of the Erasmus+ project SWEDA, took place in Riga (Latvia) from the 18th to the 25th of June 2022 (including the travelling days).
Participating students were involved in practical activities and technical visits related to the competencies developed during the first two units of the Module 2 of SWEDA blended course. A relevant part of the workshop is focused on the co-creation event “Bioeconomy challenges – case in apple garden”, which will obtain added value from the tasks and assignments during the site visits.
The hosting partner was the Riga Technical University (RTU), Institute of Energy Systems and Environment.
The event accounted for the participation of 20 students, two members of SWEDA teaching staff from Italy, and four members of the teaching staff from Latvia.

Fig. 1. SWEDA’s students and teaching staff

The activities were organized towards five main days. On the last day, students joined Riga’s midsummer fest, with the aim to collect information and experience for the student’s local projects in module 4SWEDA blended course.
On the 18th June students and teaching staff arrived at the Riga airport and a picking-up service was organized to transfer them to the accommodation.
The 19th June was dedicated to site visits. The first visit planned was to the ostrich farm of Norņieki (http://www.straussunkaza.lv/ ). SWEDA’s students could collect important information about how the business was managed, identifying criticalities and even proposing interesting solutions. The farm also organized a degustation based on their biological strauss meat. The second part of the day SWEDA delegation visited Kuldīga town. Probably one of the most charming year-round places in Latvia where Latvian culture and tradition make the town one of Latvians’ favourite local destinations for an old-style getaway.

Fig. 2a. SWEDA’s students at the ostrich farm of Norņieki. Fig. 2a. SWEDA’s students visiting Kuldiga

Fig. 2a. SWEDA’s students at the ostrich farm of Norņieki

The 20th June was dedicated to the RTU Institute of Energy Systems and Environment activity. During this day was presented the co-creation event for students’ groups. During this day, groups started working actively under the supervisor of a mentor nominated for each group.
The idea of the co-creation event, named as “Bioeconomy challenges – case in apple garden”, was to provide students with a new experience and learn how cooperation between the main players towards development, public engagement, and commercialization of bioeconomy projects could bring to inclusive solutions.

Fig. 3. Co-creation event at the RTU Institute of Energy Systems and Environment. On the left: Prof. Jelena Pubule and SWEDA students; on the right students at work


Fig. 4. Co-creation event at the RTU Institute of Energy Systems and Environment. On the left: Prof. Francesco Romagnoli and SWEDA students

The 21st June was dedicated to three interesting site visits and degustation to the Sea buckthorn berries cultivation company “ĒDAMDĀRZS”, the Sparkling birch sap farm “Birzi” and the “Valmiermuižas” beer brewery. From the visit at “ĒDAMDĀRZS”, students could see the commercial stage for a family-owned to start a new agriculture-based system. The visit was interesting in understanding aspects of bioeconomy, financial viability, and planning. The visit to birch sap farm “Birzi” was an enlightening experience on how an excellent niche Latvian product could reach worldwide destinations guaranteeing sustainability and promoting a lower environmental footprint.

Fig. 4. Visit to “ĒDAMDĀRZS”. On the left with the owner Arnis Dzalbs; on the right: students experience with Sea buckthorn


Fig. 5. Visit to “Birzi”. On the left with the owner Ervins Labanovskis; on the right: visit to the distillation stand


Fig. 6. Visit to “Valmiermuižas” brewery. On the left: visit to the factory; on the right: toasts

The 22nd June was dedicated to the presentation of the tasks within the group works for the final presentations related to the co-creation event at the guest house “Namdara Darbnīca” (https://www.namdaradarbnica.com/ ). The aim was to evaluate and select the best and most innovative proposal for each technology group for advancing a sustainable bioeconomy in a hypothetical apple garden case.
Students could participate in the mid-summer fest in Latvia on the 23rd and 24th of June. Besides having the possibility to have a nice walking tour in the Riga’s old town, during these days, students could be in touch with one of the most important holidays in Latvia. This event has been observed and celebrated by many cultures and Nations like Latvia, surviving many centuries and challenging times. A real inspiring opportunity to gather and share experiences with local farmers during the fest.
The FtF concluded the implementation of the first part of module 2 of the SWEDA blended course providing important insights and experiences for the continuation of the teaching module.