Multifunctional Agriculture in Europe - Social and Ecological Impacts on Organic Farms

Place: bulgaria, Europe
Sustainable development of small rural communities Sustainable development of small rural communities
Total Budget: € 53.335.830,00 | Period: From January 2011 To January 2014


The project partners farms have established a stable basis for the European network activities. Though the Tansntional Competence Center we aim to create a opportunity to establish contacts throughout Europe and to learn from each other in order to advance the movement for social farming at a national as well as a international level. Another outcome for the MAiE project is the option for teachers to dowload a curriculum of further education materials for training farmers in social farming. Further training information, a variety of materials and a literature pool is available. Our vision is to develop a variety of ways of spreading knowledge about social farming by:

-Promoting the social farming movement

-Supporting rural areas to work in well-organized networks

-Developing fields of social work in combination with agricultire, and

-Establishing links between movements and activities in Europe


Thüringer Ökoherz e.V. - Germany

Lead applicant

The environmental organisation Thüringer Ökoherz e.V. (TÖH) is engaged in the environmental education and in the support of sustainable living styles in the federal state Thuringia. Since the foundation of the Thüringer Ökoherz in 1991, we have been involved in different projects on environment and healthy nutrition as well as in the field of public relations in order to support the marketing of organic products. Another activity focus of TÖH is the organisation and implementation of (international) congresses for organic farmers and stakeholders in rural areas. In this field, we support especially organic farms working with handicapped people. As an umbrella organization for organic agriculture, we are uniting farmers and organic farmer associations in Thuringia. TÖH relevant stakeholders in the social, justice, health and education sector. Further info about TÖH in the webpage: http://www.oekoherz.de/index.php?id=6

MTT Agrifood Research in Finland - Finland

Initiative partner

MTT Agrifood Research Finland ist the country's leading research institute in the fields of agricultural and food research and agricultural and environmental research. Our products include innovations and solutions relating to renewable natural resources. We carry out research across eight research programmes, which run through the entire organisation. This programm-based approach enables genuine multidisciplinary research , which is a requirement for efficient problem-solving. Operating under the auspices of the Ministery of Agriculture and Forestry, MTT employs around 850 people at 14 locations across Finland.

LEI Institute - Netherlands

Initiative partner

LEI is part of UR (Wageningen University & Research Center). Creating knowledge today for a better tomorrow. LEI develops economic expertise for government bodies and industry in the field of food, agriculture and the natural environment. By means of independent research, LEI offers its customers a solid basis for socially and strategically justifiable policy choices. LEI carries out its research in close consultation with clients and other concerned parties within society. LEI bases its expertise on thorough knowledge of the sector and the focused use of economic and other social scientific disciplines in this regard. The field of work encompasses the agricultural sector, fisheries, nature managment and the use of the natural environment. All the links in the chain, from consumer to producer, are involved.

Italian Association for Organic Farming. - Italy

Initiative partner

The Italian Association for Organic Farming (AIAB) is an non-profit association that was officially established in 1988. It brings together farmers, practitioners, experts, researchers and consumers and is organized in regional chapters (18) coordinated by a federal office located in Rome. AIAB promotes organic farmers to producers and consumers as a model of rural development and, together with local administrations, supports the development of services to producers and consumers of organic products. The association promotes information on correct nutritional education; AIAB represents and protects its associates at local, national and international level. The staff of AIAB participate in ministerial committees on organic farming and in IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) regional groups.

Portuguese Association for Organic Farming - Portugal

Initiative partner

AGROBIO-The Portuguese Association for Organic Agriculture founded in 1985, is a pioneer institution, playing a determinant role in the dissemination of Organic Agriculture in Portugal. It gathers people of all ages and professional backgrounds, who share concerns about food quality, health environment and the defense of healthier agricultural practice. AGROBIO is a member of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) and a memeber of IFOAM-EU Regional Group. It has a recognized public utility status, and plays a treefold role as an association for agriculture, environment and consumer protection. It currently develops activities in the following areas: Technical and commercial support to organic farmers Training on organic agriculture and environmental education Research and development on organic agriculture Social Farming and Reintegration Organic urban kitchen gardens Agrobio's street markets, in partnership with municipalities

The project "Multifunctional Agriculture in Europe-social and ecological impact on organic farms" is funded by the LEONARDO DA VINCI programme for vocational education and training in Europe. A number of players from education, agriculture, consumer advice and public relations from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Finnland and Germany are working jointly to achieve the following goals: -Raising the awareness of players from different institutions, organisations and businesses about the importance and potencial of Social Farming -Supporting networks and cooperatives in rural areas Developing training material for farmers in accordance with the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training, ECVET -Improving rural structures through alternative employment models and sources of income from multifunctional agriculture

The aim is to develop multlingual vocational training material for farmers to intergrate social programmes into their enterprise. This training covers: Topics in social agriculture-current state of progress at national and European level and Organisation of a social farm Managment.
The training material developed in accordance with the criteria laid down by the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training enabling accumulation, transfer and recognition of credits in vocational training and further education throughout Europe.
It is planned to create information and networking centers for Social Farming in every country taking part in the project plus a virtual information and networking platform at an international level. The project team combines a wide range of experience and knowledge from the fields of education, consumer advice, networking, agricultural research and practice and social work. This creates an optimum basis implementation of the project goals.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf The MAIE Project http://www.maie-project.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/de/press_relations/public_relations_material/Flyer_neu/MAIE-Englisch-13-1.pdf

Multifunctional agriculture and Social Farming provides opportunities for individual personal development and promotes quality of life. It fosters a sustainable approach to managing nature and the revitalisation of rural areas. Social Farming involves many individuals working together according to common ideals and social values to develop small-scale alternatives to highly rationalised farming and fierce competition on prices. In the long term, multifunctional agriculture opens up the prospect of a potential paradigm shift.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf MAiE - Multifunctional Agriculture in Europe http://www.maie-project.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/de/press_relations/public_relations_material/MAIE_O2013.pdf

The main results of the project can be summarized in the following:
-Social Farming teaching material
-Impovement of Social Farming networks in each partner country
-Planned implementation of the Social Farming curriculum in educational institutions in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal and Germany.
-Establishing of National Competence Centers for farming in Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Germany.
-Establishing a Virtual Transnational Competence Center
-A web_based resource provides up to date and comprehensive background materials for social farming teachers and other stakeholders

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf MAiE - Multifunctional Agriculture in Europe http://www.maie-project.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/de/press_relations/public_relations_material/MAIE_O2013.pdf

The targeted group consists of:
-Professionals and trainers from farmers' associations (advisors etc.)
-Trainers and teachers from vocational schools, universities of applied sciences, and universities of cooperative education, all active in the agriculture, social, justice, health, education and regional development sectors
-Professionals active in SF and multifunctional networks, linking ongoing activities
-Users/learners: professionals and students from the agricultural, social, justice, health and education sectors, social workers in welfare organisations, workers in social institutions and public social institutions, social workers in prisons, farmers, nursing staff in hospitals and nursing homes, students at universities and vocational schools, entrepreneurs, regional manager

Pilot-Course of introduction of social farming trainees report http://www.maie-project.eu/index.php?id=50&no_cache=1&L=3 title: Pilot-Course of introduction of social farming trainees report

Taking into account that this initiative involved high number of participants, therefore we indicated the Human ressources as groups. The team involved in this initiative is caracterized by a diverse group of representatives:
-From 7 different nationalities: namely Portugal, German, Italy, Netherland, Finland, Czeck Republic and Bulgaria
-From 7 very different types of instituions: namely NGO's, associations, advisory centers, education, research, university
-Different professional backgrounds: namely farmer, educator, social worker, researcher, developer, advisor etc

About the MAiE-Team http://www.maie-project.eu/index.php?id=7

The diversity of nationalities created difficulties for understanding each other's and expressing opinions. The diversity of professionals created some misunderstanding, miscommunications (different ways of working). The cultural differences brought out differences in understanding and perceptions of social farming.
To overcome these obstacles, partners worked on endless discussions during the meetings and then democratic decisions were taken. Sparing to smaler working groups (meetings with smaller groups, Skype of face to face) between the big meetings. Secretary contacting each partner regulary, using different kind of WG/participatory techniques during the big meetings.
The latter efforts lead to be: honest feedback about the problems, common understanding about the goals, good working relationships among the working groups, good personal relationship between the partners, nice network-easy to contact when ever. Finely build curriculum for the use of all partner nations.   

Social farming means a combination between agriculture and social work. Especially in this project Social Farming means the combination of organic farming and social work. All kind of people are working together on organic farms, what means a special partnership between a healthy nature and human beeings. We are trying to work hand in hand with nature as a therapeutic space-where it is a basic need to protect this environment. Only a healthy environment can be healthy for people-for this reason this project brings organic farming/environmental protection as a therapeutic background in a special focus and consideres a healthy environment as a basic requirement for a healthy development of each human being.

The initiative through its working methodology ensure a long lasting results in time and space through linking actors from Social Farming relevant institutions using a platform to keep in contact, cooperate and infrom each other, National Competence Centers are linking Social Farming interested and active people, associations and institutions are a networking platform.
Aditionally, a Transnational Virtual Competence Center offers a platform for networking and linking actors of the Social Farming Society on an international level.

Competence Centre for Social Farming in Europe http://www.maie-project.eu/index.php?id=81&L=2%20%22%3F%3F%3F%3F%3F%3F%3F%3F%3F%3F%22%20~the
Transnational Competence Center – International Network Platform and Compet ttp://www.maie-project.eu/index.php?id=89&L=0 title: Transnational Competence Center – International Network Platform and Competence Center for Social Farming

The involvement of represantatives from seven countries will ensure the dissemination of the curriculum across Europe. One Transnational Virtual Competence center and seven National Competence Centers will provide information on European activities concerning multifunctional agriculture and Social Farming.
Besides articles in journals, interviews, newsletters, project posters and flyers, dissemination material and links made available on the project website, participations in conferences such as biofach 2013 and in Forums such as the National Forum of Social Farming in Italy, were all valuable tools to promote and disseminate results outcomes and findings of the initiative.

Public Relations http://www.maie-project.eu/index.php?id=8 title: Public Relations