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Letter From The Farm | Half The Price Of Your Food Is Paid By The EU

We hear again from Czech livestock farmer Josef who is disillusioned with the sector’s refusal to move with the times. He’s found he can do more ecological farming without the red tape of organic certification and senseless inspections. And although income supports were a huge help to him as a new entrant, he would be happy to see direct payments cut for established farmers. […]

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France | Lessons from Agricultural Archeology

Since he first set foot in Vachères-en-Quint in La Drôme, France, almost half a century ago, Sjoerd Wartena has followed in the footsteps of the older generation, who taught him how to farm and raise animals in these austere uplands. Still fascinated by the ways of our predecessors, he has taken to tracing the remnants of farming practices indigenous to the area. Here he reflects on what we can learn from past generations and their ability to adapt to harsh conditions. […]

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France | Letter To The Next Generation

Sjoerd Wartena first went “back to nature” almost half a century ago. In this letter to the younger generation he reflects on our relationship with nature and the land, the importance of modelling change, and the role of humility and compassion in giving humanity a second chance. […]

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Czech Republic | Wrangling with the Next Generation

Meet Czech farmer Terezie Daňková, who raises cattle and sheep on a 450 ha. ranch on mostly rented land in Southern Bohemia, with the help of her cowgirl daughter Barbora (20), her son Vojtěch (13), and a stable of horses. Louise Kelleher speaks to two generations of women farmers about the realities of rural life, the pull of the city, and what brings them back to the farm. […]

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Catcher in the Rye: Breeding Diversity for Unpredictable Conditions

The new EU organic regulation, to be implemented in 2022, promises new opportunities especially for young farmers to regain control and knowledge of local conservation, breeding, sustainable use and marketing of seeds fit for organic production. As part of the team that negotiated the new EU organic regulation, ARC2020 President Hannes Lorenzen is curious about how the new less restrictive conditions for organic seed production and marketing will impact breeders and farmers. He spoke to an organic plant breeder and a young farmer about their ideas on the future of seeds. […]

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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. […]

Main stories

Letter From the Farm – of Seeds and not Reseeding

Madeline McKeever has been farming in west Cork, on the edge of the Atlantic, since 1999. First in dairy and cheese making, then beef, and now mostly selling organic vegetable seeds. Madeline has seen a lot – like the return of mushrooms, white clover, and dozens of plants in her unploughed sward. […]

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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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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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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. […]