Agroecology Strengthening Livelihoods
Agroecology: Strengthening Livelihoods
Providing alternatives for current mainstream agricultural practices in the UK is a key piece of the puzzle to address the climate and biodiversity emergencies, as well as health and food production challenges. But to scale agroecology uptake, we need to make sure knowledge around it is available as widely as possible.*
New knowledge-exchange programme
More than 70 farmers and crofters across Scotland are working together to share nature-friendly farming approaches to restore biodiversity and address climate change while also strengthening their livelihoods.
This is part of a new farmer-led knowledge exchange programme, Agroecology: strengthening livelihoods, building on our previous programmes Agroecology: enabling the transition and Agroecology: facilitating mindset change, developed by a coalition which, in addition to Soil Association Scotland, brought together Nourish Scotland, Landworkers’ Alliance, Pasture for Life, the Nature Friendly Farming Network and Propagate.
The programme, running until March 2024, is making knowledge accessible to the growing number of farmers and crofters looking for support to try out different ways of farming. The project has two strands: peer-to-peer learning groups and a series of webinars on a variety of themes related to agroecological practices. Coming events will be posted on the Nourish Scotland website. Farmers and crofters are welcome to join one or both – to do so, they only need to contact the group facilitator (see below).
Farmers, crofters and foresters from Aberdeenshire to Galloway are meeting up in small local groups to explore sustainable farming practices.
They’re learning about the value of improving soils for climate resilience, the benefits of strategically incorporating trees on farms to support profitability, operations and the ecosystem, and how crop diversity can increase biodiversity and lead to healthier human diets. Crucially, they’re exploring how nature-friendly farming and profitability can go hand in hand.
Agroforestry and regenerative forestry network
As part of this, Soil Association Scotland will be facilitating a non-regional group focusing on agroforestry, coordinating an agroforestry and regenerative forestry network amongst farmers and crofters across Scotland.
The goal is to explore topics and visit projects that respond to the team members’ interests and create spaces where participants can share and explore knowledge and practices together.
We are thrilled to continue the work we have been developing on a policy level in Scotland by taking our team’s know-how to the field; and sharing what we have learnt about agroforestry here in Scotland but also across the UK (through our agroforestry networks in different regions, and in bigger events such as the recent first ever Agroforestry Show).
Bringing farmers and crofters together
Farmer Denise Walton, farmer and facilitator for the Scottish Borders Group, said: “Challenges are best met and tackled on a level playing field. Bringing farmers together in small groups enables the complex changes and expectations facing our industry to be openly discussed and solutions shared. Farmers who
have made a change to sustainable practices will be sharing tips with others on how they’ve managed their businesses, helping others reduce the risks of trying something new.”
Phil Knott, crofter and facilitator of the group in Islay, Jura & Colonsay, said: “Many crofters and farmers out there want to learn more about farming with nature – having a group to do it makes it ten times easier. They can share tips with each other, visit each other’s farms and get an idea of what the next best step is for their own situation. All farmers can join, from those who have never heard about agroecology to those who are already implementing it – it’s this diversity that allows us to learn from each other.”
The project is funded by The Scottish Government through the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund. The Scottish Government set out its vision for Scotland becoming a leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. “The Cabinet Secretary said clearly: we are on a journey of significant transformation. It’s important it’s a just transition – one that supports farmers and crofters along the way,” said Nikki Yoxall from Grampian Graziers and Pasture for Life.
Agroecology: Strengthening Livelihoods peer to peer learning groups
To join one of these groups, please contact the group facilitator:
- Market Gardening Group. Non-region specific, more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Agroforestry Group. Non-region specific, more info:email@example.com
- Supporting Biodiversity within Island-Based Farming & Crofting Group. Islay, Jura, Gigha and Colonsay, more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Crofting Townships Group. Caithness and Sutherland, more info: email@example.com
- Soil Health Group. South West Scotland, more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Biodiversity & Profitability Group. Scottish Borders, more info: email@example.com
- Grazing Group. Non-region specific, more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Multi-topic farm visits. Non-region specific, more info: email@example.com
Read our final blog on the previous project - Agroecology: enabling the transition and keep an eye on the project’s official website to keep up to date with project news and resources!
Do you have any comments or questions? Please feel free to contact Ana.