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Italy – Digitalisation, Diverse Farms and Rural Resilience

Digital tools that suit the complexity of diversified farms and meet their specific needs, can bring new challenges but, once these are overcome, they can contribute to farm resilience and viability. Meet two Italian farm enterprises and see how their stories and narratives show that digitalisation means not only access to connectivity, but also capacity to use, manage and control technologies. […]

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Swiss Study Backs Water Clean-Up

As part of Switzerland’s groundwork for its Clean Drinking Water Initiative, the Swiss federal government’s food and  environmental agency Agroscope has completed a second, detailed study on the environmental impact the clean drinking water initiative can achieve. Peter Crosskey found that Agroscope’s preliminary findings suggest that while the country could indeed reduce pesticide levels in its drinking water, the gains would be eroded by the current carbon footprint of imported foods. […]

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Food Framing: Think Like An Eastern European

Must we choose between formal market and non-market economies? This is the longstanding Western narrative. But Eastern European food practices tell a different story. Co-author of a new paper that points to tried-and-tested alternatives to the West’s broken food systems, Bálint Balázs makes the case for looking East. […]

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Europe’s Agroecology Movement – Stepping up in Times of Covid19

Four innovative and committed agroecology initiatives showed how they stepped up in times of Covid19 at a webinar organised by Forum Synergies and ARC2020 last week. And dozens, from all over Europe and beyond, got involved in the conversation. Alison Brogan tells us about this event which provided a moment to reflect, some key contemporary learnings, and which sowed the seeds of further action. […]

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Letter From The Farm | Welcome to Western Macedonia

Meet Nikos Tsioumplekas, a budding farmer who is reviving the family farm in Western Macedonia in the North of Greece. So far he has restored his great-grandfather’s orchards and planted a vegetable garden. Inspired by Greek tradition and best practices from all over the world, Nikos is determined to realise his farming vision. […]

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Germany | Islanders Go Digital

If remote rural communities want to be part of the conversations that will shape their futures, the ability to connect with other projects and stakeholders is a crucial skill. For one island community, the coronavirus crisis was a crash course in online networking. Hannes Lorenzen reports on Eco-Week 2020 and the digital leap forward on his home island of Pellworm, Germany. […]

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Ammonia | Hanging Around Like A Bad Smell

An unpleasant stench stank out cities across Europe this spring as the pandemic-induced drop in emissions from transport and industry cleared the air for agricultural air pollution. As luck would have it, the Covid-19 lockdowns coincided with peak slurry-spreading time – making the stink all the more pungent. But there’s more to manure than a bad smell to worry about. Alison Brogan reports. […]

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Letter From The Farm | Thriving In The Ford

We’re back on Chiara’s mushroom farm at the foot of the Italian Alps, where forest farm life goes on regardless of the lockdown. She is determined to get her on-farm processing facility up and running for this season. During the Covid-19 crisis she’s been even more socially isolated than usual, giving her time to muse on the deeper meanings of the “ford”: the site of her farm, but also a metaphor for agroforesty and agroecology. […]

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Reforesting Portugal: Taking Communites From Extraction to Regeneration

From the ashes of Portugal’s devastating wildfires in 2017 rose Reflorestar Portugal, a national network for forest and ecosystem regeneration. In this interview for ARC2020, Susana Guimarães, coordinator of Reflorestar Portugal, speaks to Antonieta Lopes about empowering local communities to be guardians of the forest, moving from an extractive to a regenerative economy, and letting go of what has proven to be of no use to us. […]

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Letter From The Farm | A Conscientious Objector to the Meat Industry

Meet Josef, a Czech livestock farmer who is a conscientious objector to the meat industry. For ethical reasons he slaughters his animals on farm and sells the meat locally to friends and neighbours. On-farm slaughter is not legally possible for small farmers in the Czech Republic, where the only ways to kill a cow are via big processors, investing in your own on-farm facility – which is prohibitively expensive – or live exports. In order to speak freely about his activities, Josef (not his real name) chose to remain anonymous for this conversation with Louise Kelleher. […]

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Ireland | Remote Work Could Rejuvenate Rural Communities

We don’t know yet what the “new normal” will look like, but we do know that remote work can work – with the right supports. In Ireland, the pull of jobs in the city and abroad has hollowed out rural areas, and young graduates have little incentive to return home after completing their studies in Dublin. Many young graduates from rural areas would jump at the chance to stay put and pursue their careers remotely, rather than facing crippling rents in Dublin, or a crippling commute. Now is the time for a paradigm shift in working life to rejuvenate rural communities, argues Luke Kent. […]

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Letter From The Farm | The Resilience and Privilege of a Rural Homestead

We’re back on Brindusa’s farm in Romania, where the Covid-19 crisis has halted her main sales. On the flip side she’s seeing a lot more interest in local food. She’s been doing a lot of thinking about food justice and the informal economy. The lockdown has made her take stock of her privilege. And so this year she’s determined to feed more people than ever. The only question is, how will she distribute this year’s bumper crop? […]