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Op-Ed | Europe Eats the World

“Europe feeds the world” is a line often heard in EU policy debates and the media. A line often used to sideline calls to lower the impacts of European agriculture and to place “providing food” as the highest political priority. But is this line really true? In this op-ed lead author, Jabier Ruiz, of the WWF European Policy Office, summarises the main pieces of evidence gathered, which show that, far from feeding the world, Europe consumes more than its fair share. […]

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Denmark | Re-Scaling the Rural

ARC2020’s Louise Kelleher and Matteo Metta were among the speakers at “AlterRurality 6: Re-Scaling the Rural”, a conference held last month in a small Danish coastal village. The interdisciplinary conference aimed to initiate a critical investigation of past, current, and what may become future concepts and interpretations of rural life. Report. […]

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Letter From The Farm | Cresting the Peaks of Constant Change

We’re back at the foot of the Italian Alps, where Chiara Garini is growing like the shiitake mushrooms on her forest farm. Given our precarious, hyperconnected and crisis-stricken planet, Chiara is sticking with the realism of making and maintaining –food and employment, forest and qualify of life– over the idealism of saving the world. The farm is growing too, and the long-awaited renovation of an old building is helping the now-expanded team to diversify activities.  […]

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Rural Europe Takes Action | Much More Than Our Daily Bread

To celebrate the forthcoming launch of the new ARC2020 and Forum Synergies book “Rural Europe Takes Action – No more business as usual” we’re sharing extracts of the policy actions it calls for and the stories that underscore the importance of such action. Today we have the story of the Free Bakers Association (Die Freien BĂ€cker), an independent professional organisation of artisan bakers and confectioners founded in Hanover, Germany in 2011. […]

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France | Growing Vegetables, Seeding Values – Part 2

Why is it so important to open the farm gates to the community? Vegetable grower Vincent explains how he and his colleagues want their market garden, to be a site of coming together as well as a site of production. Vincent also opens up about the challenges of labour – for him as an unlikely ‘boss’, and for the workers who must be incredibly motivated to overcome the tough working conditions. Part 2 of a conversation with ValĂ©rie Geslin. […]

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Graduation then Desertion – French Ag Students Opting for a Different Path

Last week, French students at Agro Paris Tech  – France’s most prestigious agro-engineering school – staged a “call to desert” during their graduation speech. To desert? Yes, to desert the environmentally destructive engineering positions the university sets them up for after graduation. But these inspiring words and actions of these young people don’t match up to the government’s actions, nor the school’s response. A recap and analysis by Ashley Parsons. […]

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Diversification in Rural Ireland – event report

With many farms specialising, mixed farming in Ireland is now at only 3%. This compares to an EU average of 21%. Such specialisation has made Ireland vulnerable to global events as it relies heavily on feed and fertilizer imports for an export driven agri-food sector. Meanwhile, there has been a deterioration of ecosystems and a failure to reach climate targets. So what level of agri-food diversification is possible – and desirable – in Ireland? […]

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The Influence of EU Policies in National Rural Digitalisation

Digitalisation is progressing in rural areas around Europe in different ways. There are a number of reasons for variability in style and substance, as MarĂ­a Alonso-RoldĂĄn and Mar Delgado-Serrano of the DESIRA project show. The pair have engaged with experts in 15 countries. Here’s what they’ve found.  […]

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Letter From The Farm | Bridging Worlds Old and New

Meet Claire Jeannerat, who runs a sheep and goat farm with her family in the Swiss Alps. The title of shepherdess is is a true and often humbling apprenticeship with mother nature and all the uncertainties. Claire and her husband endeavour to live this vocation in a manner that respects and upholds ancient traditions that are being lost in modern society, bridging a path between the old and new. […]

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France| Keeping The Wolf From The Door

French farmers aren’t against wolves. Large predators have their role to play in the ecosystem. But with wolf poulations on the rise in many regions, livestock farmers are demanding more supports from the state to keep the wolf from the door. ValĂ©rie Geslin reports from Salon Ă  la Ferme in the French Alps. […]

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France | Why Did Le Pen Reap Record Numbers of Rural Votes?

Europe let out a sigh of relief on Sunday night with the announcement of Emmanuel Macron’s victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen for the French Presidency. But since her previous bid in 2017, Le Pen’s popularity has increased steadily, especially in rural France. Does her growing appeal point to a rejection of Macron’s techno-solutionism and the failures of his first term? What does it tell us about rural attitudes to Europe? Analysis by Ashley Parsons. […]

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France | Growing Vegetables, Seeding Values – Part 1

Vincent, Julie and their three employees run a small market garden in North-West France. Producing 45 vegetables, the team at La Ferme de PitouĂ© has learnt over the years the limits of diversification. In their garden, over coffee in the sunshine and a chorus of birdsong, Vincent tells us how they manage to stay true to their values on the farm. Part 1 of a conversation with ValĂ©rie Geslin. […]

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Rural Ireland on the Move – new report on Just Transition and Diversification launched.

This week ARC2020 and partner organisations release a report, and hold two events, on the topics of Just Transition and Diversification in Ireland. Targets to reduce emissions come alongside pressure for agriculture to improve its impact on biodiversity, water and air quality. Meanwhile rising feed, fertilizer and other input costs, and a sequence of recent crises – brexit, covid, and now the tragic war in Ukraine – compound the pressure. So what next for rural Ireland? […]