European policy increasingly supports territorially based rural development in which local actors play a decisive role in realising economically, socially and ecologically responsible development. This paper makes use of four case-studies, from a largely depopulated mountainous area in Galicia, Spain, where local people strive to combine the creation of new businesses with the revitalisation of the natural resource base. The paper, in analysing local knowledge infrastructure and its interface with policy, reveals the dominant role of grassroots development initiatives in effecting regional learning and capacity building. Further it is acknowledged that in Galicia progress is brokered in practice by individual stakeholders who manage structural constraints, cross boundaries and construct new cross-cutting, bridging networks. It is also apparent that these niche-actors constitute a largely untapped reservoir of knowledge brokers that could be used much more effectively if more direct cooperation with policymakers and the existing knowledge infrastructure could be achieved.