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Written by: Forum Synergie & Terre de Liens (coordinators)
Writing date: May 2012
This case study series is part of a broader project on Access to land for Community-Connected Agriculture in Europe, conducted
in 2010-2011 by a group of European civil society organisations. The objectives of the project were:
To document experiences of community-connected farming, through case studies and a mapping exercise describing community-connected farms and related projects throughout Europe
To disseminate information about and analyses of these experiences and the difficulties that they have faced, to feed into the broader public debate about the future of European agriculture and rural areas.
The project was coordinated by Sjoerd Wartena and Véronique Rioufol - Terre de liens (France) and Titus Bahner - Forum Synergies
(Europe). Neil Ravenscroft - University of Brighton and Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms (UK), Jan Douwe van der Ploeg - Wageningen University (Netherlands), Audrius Jokubauskas - Viva sol (Lithuania), Peter Volz - Regionalwert AG/ Die Agronauten (Germany), and Marta Fraticelli - aGter (International) were all active partners of the project.
The case studies have been brought together and edited by Véronique Rioufol (Terre de liens) and Neil Ravenscroft (University of Brighton and Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms).
In Europe, the past decade has witnessed the expansion of civic initiatives which have sought to provide alternative approaches to food production and consumption. These have been geared towards locally-oriented and small scale production, organic or other environmentally responsible production techniques, shortening of food chains, the development of closer producer-consumer ties (box schemes, farmers’ markets, etc.) and more especially a combination of these characteristics - as part of what has been termed civic agriculture.
Our organisations have sought to document European experiences which are developing new forms of socially and environmentally responsible farming, and stronger connections with their local or broader community. We view these experiences as instances of community-connected agriculture, which we define as:
sustainable, i.e. with no chemical inputs and minimal use of external and non-renewable resources, such as organic farming or extensive grazing;
civic, i.e. concerned with the broader social, economic, environmental and cultural implications of caring for the land and producing food and/or engaging directly with their community;
local, i.e. open on to their local environment and nurturing the local social and economic fabric through direct marketing, on-farm transformation, job creation, social activities, consumers’ participation, etc.
Our organisations have conducted seven case studies, documenting local or national experiences from various European countries: the UK, Germany, Romania, France, Lithuania, and Italy. Through these case studies, we seek to explore both the functioning and the benefits of community connected agriculture. Such farms indeed often have many benefits: they provide local and quality food to consumers; they contribute to the protection of the environment and the reduction of farming’s carbon foot print; they often create more jobs, per hectare, than more conventional farms; they contribute to the maintenance of green belts around cities; and they are often multifunctional and pluriactive farms, which reinforces their economic sustainability and the vitality and viability of rural areas.
At the same time, the case studies seek to highlight difficulties and solutions in terms of access to land. Indeed, one key obstacle to the preservation and development of local, civic agriculture is that many such farms are unable to compete successfully for access to sufficient land that is in good condition. Community connected farmers often struggle to find agricultural land that is available to them at affordable price and on secure terms. A number of experiences presented in the case studies are developing responses and innovative solutions to gain and maintain access to land for local, civic agriculture.
tdl_fs_2012_case-study-series_pt.pdf (28 MiB)