Organic living labs and lighthouse farms in Europe is a brand new study by TP Organics, the European technology platform for organic food and farming. It puts the spotlight on seven living labs and five lighthouse farms in the organic sector in Europe, putting farmers at the centre of research, innovation and knowledge exchange.
The new Organic Action Plan for the EU recognises the importance of research and innovation for organic, knowledge exchange on organic farming, and building organic agricultural knowledge and innovation systems (AKIS). TP Organics’ study, based on mapping and screening existing cases in Europe, presents seven organic living labs and five organic lighthouse farms.
The study was subcontracted to Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. ÖMKi and launched at the Organic Innovation Days 2022 on 11 October, at agri- and horticultural research and knowledge centre and TP Organics Member Inagro (Flanders, Belgium).
The initiatives showcase technological, social, economic, organisational and governance innovation. They apply various approaches and methodologies to find local solutions and improve knowledge and innovation sharing in organic. By involving multiple actors, the case studies demonstrate how innovative the organic sector is in improving practices, building capacity and inspiring the transformation of the agri-food system at large.
The results of the study indicate actions to ensure organic living labs and lighthouse farms reach their full potential:
- Support peer-to-peer learning events;
- Invest in online platforms and social media;
- Bring organic and conventional farmers together;
- Raise awareness about the living lab and lighthouse farm concepts in the organic sector;
- Invest in courses and trainings for farmers;
- Set up a sub-network for organics in the Soil Mission network of living labs and lighthouse farms;
- Better connect and integrate organics in national AKIS;
- Set up an EU network of organic advisory services.
The study also points out that the needs of organic farmers and other actors are currently not sufficiently met through existing Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS). The national advisory services rarely include and communicate about organic solutions, let alone the latest innovation.
To organise a better flow and exchange of information, a European organic advisory network should be developed to solve the problem of disconnect from and underrepresentation of organics in national AKIS. It would also have the potential to function as a platform that supports participatory, farmer-led research and innovation.
Source: IFOAM Organics EU