The time is right to empower youth and bring on an agricultural revolution
More than 40% of farmers will be retired by 2030 in Europe. That means the disappearance of 230,000 farmers in France over the next 10 years. Farming is a risky business to get into and the profession is greatly undervalued. At the same time, there are issues of prolonged drought, rising temperatures and increased food insecurity for people in France and beyond. We need a new generation of farmers ready to take on challenges and develop nature-based, resilient and regenerative farming.
Brittany: developing an agroecology region
Agriculture is a huge part of the economy in Brittany. Yet meat and dairy farmers only make a living thanks to subsidies. Combined with excessive nitrogen pollution in water sources, there is a need for resilient, long-term and sustainable agriculture. The opportunity and potential is there for positive and transformational change.
By 2030, Brittany could be an area famous for agroecology practices. Imagine a region where people support emerging collective agroecology farms that produce food and enhance a landscape of healthy soil, rich biodiversity and natural bounty. That is the goal of The Travelling Agroecology School and Eloi. To achieve this they are accelerating the transition towards regenerative farming practices.
Partnering passionate youth with experienced farmers
In 2019, streets across the world were full of young people demanding action and solutions for the current climate crisis. There is a real sense of urgency to act among the youth of today. Many students are looking for a way to channel their energy into work that makes a difference.
The Travelling Agroecology School is designed to combine this passion with the need to transition towards regenerative agricultural techniques in France. The goal is to inspire, train and catalyse a new generation of regenerative farmers by getting youth actively involved in farms.
Students learn practical skills in an agroecological farm in Brittany. Then, with new ideas and potential for regeneration filling their heads, students are paired with experienced farmers. Together, they work and learn and challenge each other on transitioning towards regenerative practices. This partnership allows students to take on projects — like regenerative grazing and syntropic agroforestry — that a farmer does not have time to explore. The process of working with different farmers and seeing different contexts leads to an abundance of ideas and gives students the confidence by learning actively outside the classroom.
Accelerate the transition by slowing down
Yes, it is important to act now and transition towards nature-inclusive, regenerative farming methods, but do so, we need to slow down. Pablo, a student participating in a prototype of the Travelling Agroecology School, found that it is not only important to work with farmers but also to have moments of informal listening, to create confidence, and allow a farmer to start trusting a student with a specific project.
That requires certain tools: listening, communication, facilitation, mediation. The Travelling Agroecology is connected to Theory U as designed by the Presencing Institute. By slowing down and listening to themselves and others, students and farmers learn and practice and co-create a new future — as it emerges through knowledge and connections.
Providing land for a new generation of farmers
Eloi is an accelerator which buys large-scale conventional farms and converts them into areas where several agroecology enterprises can flourish. From one farm, a community of nature-friendly farmers is created, combining knowledge, skills, time, machinery and buildings. Each farmer demonstrates with a 10 years business model that they can buy back the land from Eloi and this money will be reinvested into new farms. And on one of these farms in Brittany is where The Travelling Agroecology School calls home.
Framing and objectives
- Develop an industry of resilient regenerative farming
- Give people the tools to connect ideas with innovative financing
- Nurture an ecosystem of stakeholders (including the students) that will pay for the programme which funds the next generation of farmers
What has been achieved so far
- Travelling Agroecology School prototyped a program with 10 students in 2019 and 2020 (read more about this here and here)
- Network of 150 farmers, in France and abroad ready to welcome the students and experiment agroecology techniques
- Crowdfunding was launched on 2nd June 2020. The funding will optimise the programme and increase outreach
- An agroecology demonstration farm has already been purchased through Eloi and is in its first stage of development
Get ready for the regenerative transition
Human intelligence and knowledge can be used to regenerate natural systems. By pairing the right agroecology practice with the right natural system and the right farm, we can transform conventional farmland into areas of abundance where life flourishes. The transition has already begun!
Support the education program
If you’d like to help support young farmer-ambassadors of agroecology, you can contribute to the project here until July 15th.
Get in touch with Opaline
Name: Les Agron’Hommes
Originally published at https://4returns.earth.
Accelerating the transition towards regenerative agriculture in France was originally published in Field of the Future Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.