ALTERNATIVE SMALLHOLDER FARMING AND NONINDUSTRIAL TECHNIQUES
In Germany, there is currently a growing movement of a variety of small groups of citizens who aim to organize local and regional food self sufficiency. Under the terms of Urban Gardening, Transition Town or Community-Supported Agriculture, people with and without an agricultural background gather to realize a “non-industrial and market-neutral” agriculture. In this form of alternative agriculture, the use of large scale machinery and industrial production processes is not wanted and often not financially feasible.
From this situation results a strong demand for alternative methods and techniques which are specially adapted to the needs of small structured forms of production and a corresponding high number of such technologies are developed and featured on a variety of websites and blogs and are published in social networks. However, a service is still missing, which would continuously validate, refine and evaluate the multitude of available small-scale technology innovations.
Creating awareness of alternatives
The aim of the German team is therefore the development of such a science-based and needs-focused online service for the evaluation and dissemination of technologies in the field of urban and alternative agriculture. The first activities in summer 2016 brought together a multi-disciplinary team including further experts from the fields of online pedagogics, open source collaborative product development, organic farming and community supported farming representing academic institutions, NGOs and private sector. Their motivation and interest in the topic is in general high, although it still remains to be seen, which type of projects can be realized in which constellations.
The country unit in Germany has not yet formulated a concrete idea, but has the general ambition of developing some sort of service to meet technology demands of local small scale organic farmers, as the needs assessment is still necessary for getting a clear picture of the target groups’ actual needs and preferred formats of communication. Discussed until now were potential directions ranging from an eLearning course platform for self-learning of topics related to appropriate technology and methods for small-scale organic farming to an information database, providing a structured and usage context based overview of available technologies, on to tools supporting the collaborative development and adaption of new technologies for farming.
Different formats of crowd-sourced or expert gremial based evaluation and recommendation of appropriate technologies were discussed and, in addition to the actual needs assessment among the farming communities, a thorough evaluation of descriptions of technologies currently available online will be of essence to the process of narrowing options and developing the actual project idea.
To find out more about the projects, click on the flags below.