The cross-visits of the regional teams is one of the key activities within the HNV-Link Network. The project learning area teams will be visiting each other during spring-summer of 2018. The objective is to support peer-learning about promising HNV farming innovations for their further adaptation and implementation in teams’ home areas. As HNV-Link has discovered so far, there is no shortage of innovative solutions to challenges to the viability of HNV farming in HNV farmland regions, but knowledge about what works and how does not travel well. As a result, individual innovations may stall if the whole institutional, legislative and cultural context is not supportive of novel approaches. Encouragement for daring to innovate is also crucial!
Many cross-visits are still ongoing or upcoming, and so we will be updating the accounts below as the information becomes available.
Fabrice Gouriveau, the coordinator of HNV-Link project, describes the importance of cross-visits in the project
Bulgaria, Western Stara Plana
13 – 15 June 2018 to Greece: A team of various farmland actors from Bulgaria's Western Stara Planina visited Thessaly region in Greece. The team got acquainted with a unique participatory approach and with high-tech innovations in the area, and visited several farms. The visit was completed with a meeting with the mayor and deputy mayors of the municipality of Mouzaki. During this, the participants discussed potential cooperation between two regions (Mouzaki and Western Stara Planina) in exchange of know-how and joint participation in European projects.
25 – 27 June 2018 to Romania: The cross-visit of the Bulgarian team to Romania brought together 24 farmers, veterinarians, researchers, advisors, representatives from NGOs, Local Action Group, food industry, local authorities and cultural organisations - all key players in rural development. The University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Cluj-Napoca - the HNV-Link partner, organised the activity while the host was Adept Foundation (https://fundatia-adept.org). The Foundation has been implementing a great variety of innovations for the revival of HNV farming systems in the region. The HNV-Link multi-actor teams from Cluj Learning Area and from Bulgaria, as well as the project coordinators, were clealry impressed with how many possibilities good collaboration and a skillful facilitator (here, Adept) can create.
Some first reflections from both sides are on HNV-Link’s YouTube channel. A reciprocal cross-visit will further facilitate cross-border cooperation.
Reflection on a cross visit from Cristian Gherghiceanu (Executive President of Adept Foundation, Romania) from the host team
Reflection on a cross visit to Romania from Vyara Stefanova and Mariya Yunakova (STEP)
6 – 10 June 2018 to Sweden: a farmer from Bulgaria, Pavlin Antonov (Linbul farm), joined a British team on the cross-visit to Sweden. Though working in a very different zone, he managed to provide Swedish managers with several practical tips on nature-friendly pasturing and sustainable pasture management.
He is, in turn, most impressed by collaboration in Sweden:
Croatia, Dalmatian Islands
1-4 October 2018 to Romania: The participants, including representatives of Croatian Agricultural Advisory Services, National beekeepers association, farmers and local action groups LAG Brač, LAG Škoji and LAG 5, explored many innovations in the region.
- Cross-visit report of visiting team
- Cross-visit report of host team
France, Causses and Cevennes
25-28 October 2018 to The Burren, Ireland: Causses and Cévennes Learning Area representatives joined colleagues from Dalsland (Sweden) and Cluj (Romania) Learning Areas for a cross-visit timed with The Burren’s well-known Winterage School weekend event. In addition to the Winterage Weekend events, such as the farming innovation fair on farming and high tech farming machinery and the Farming for Nature award ceremony, groups working to develop High Nature Value projects in Sweden, France, Romania and Wales shared their stories and the challenges farmers are facing in their landscapes.
Thierry Romejon on his cross-visit to Ireland, HNV-Link
Julien Buchert from France on his cross-visit to Ireland, HNV-Link
3-5 October, 2018 to France. A team of 3 visited Causses and Cévennes to learn about the innovative schemes for pastoralism adopted in protected areas of Causses and Cévennes and, especially, about the Intercommunal Pastoral Pact and the actions taken for biodiversity conservation and pastoralism. The Greek team also met with the Spanish team, who were also visiting. Visits included to an abattoir cooperatively run by farmers, National Park visits for learning about the farming systems and hearing from local farmers involved in the Intercommunal Pastoring Pact, and visiting 2 local farms. The visitors also heard about the Agrilocal innovation for local foods. Visitors were particularly enthusiastic about the two farm visits, where they were able to engage about farming and pastoral issues with the farmer, as well as issues of direct sales, hygiene and production standards, agri-tourism and on-farm cheese production.
- Cross-visit report of visiting team
- Cross-visit report of host team
- Cross-visit report of host team (French)
14 – 17 May 2018 to Sweden: a small team of two – a researcher from the University of Thessaly, key in forwarding innovation in the Learning Area, and a goat breeder from Thessaly, who has an extensive livestock farm with vital activities in a HNV area - visited Dalsland, Sweden. They met agricultural advisors and environmental and GIS specialists fro the County Administrative Board and visited several farms. The choice of a cross-visit destination was primarily because of the innovative mapping tools for participatory processes that have been developed and implemented by the Swedish team. A similar approach, but with other unique methods, has been applied in the learning area Thessaly. The exchange of learning on the approaches was highly valuable for both sides.
The livestock farmer who took part had a chance to discuss with his Swedish counterparts problems and new trends on management and operational issues of the holdings. The innovative mobile slaughterhouse in Sweden was especially interesting, and the Greek team intends to investigate the legislative framework back home for use of this for free range herds. The Greek expedition gained knowledge on many other new techniques and approaches for improving the performance and profitability of extensive livestock holdings in HNV areas.
Ireland, The Burren
22-24 November 2018 to UK: The team from Ireland learned about innovations in the Dartmoor for educational and outreach efforts for raising awareness of farmers’ role in food production and environmental services. Participants visited various sites and saw how HNV farming environment is incorporated into the marketing of lamb and beef and learned more about the tuberculosis control approach that helps facilitate safe grazing of the commons. Meetings included Cornish, Welsh, Irish and English participants.
In 25 - 28 October 2018, The Burren team hosted a large group of actors from Causses and Cévennes (France), Dalsland (Sweden) and Cluj (Romania) Learning Areas on their cross-visit timed with The Burren’s well-known Winterage School weekend event.
Reflections from the horst team:
Vice-president of the European Parliament Ms M. McGuinness speaks to HNV-Link delegates, Ireland 2018
James Moran sharing his ideas as a host at the cross-visit, HNV-Link
Brendan Dunford sharing his ideas as a host at the cross-visit, HNV-Link
Portugal, Sítio de Monfurado
18 – 19 April 2018 to Spain: the Portuguese Team – farmers from the Sítio de Monfurado and researchers from the University of Evora – visited the learning area of La Vera in Spain. They were introduced to a social innovation of a collaboration format among many rural actors and attended the Territorios Pastoreados 3 Innovation and Participation event, which is a major networking event on pastoralism and HNV livestock farming in Spain. Both teams from the Iberian peninsula reported becoming close collaborators as a result.
- Cross-visit report of a visiting team
- Cross-visit report of the hosting team
- Programme of the event Territorios Pastoreados 3: Innovación Y Participación
On importance of networking in HNV-Link: Anna Gomar, veterinarian, Spain
4 – 7 June 2018 to Ireland: A Portuguese team of 20 – farmers, researchers and public administration people – visited The Burren in Ireland. The visit was co-organised with the National Rural Network of Portugal. The visitors became acquainted with experiences of co-construction and implementation of a famous result-based agri-environment scheme. The trip included visits to farms participating in the scheme, hands-on experience in assessing and monitoring ecological results and a workshop focused on the needs of the Portuguese Montado system for a similar payment approach. The team was impressed with many ways of promoting international tourism benefiting from rich blending of nature and culture.
Romania, Eastern Hills of Cluj
25 - 28 October 2018 to The Burren, Ireland: Cluj Learning Area representatives joined colleagues from Dalsland (Sweden) and Causses and Cévennes (France) Learning Areas for a cross-visit timed with The Burren’s well-known Winterage School weekend event. In addition to the Winterage Weekend events, such as the farming innovation fair on farming and high tech farming machinery and the Farming for Nature award ceremony, groups working to develop High Nature Value projects in Sweden, France, Romania and Wales shared their stories and the challenges farmers are facing in their landscapes.
Irina Muresan and Laura Inze from Romania on their cross-visit to Ireland
Mugur Jitea from Romania on his cross-visit to Ireland
4 – 7 July 2018: Cross-visit to Western Stara Planina region, Bulgaria….
Reflection on a cross visit to Bulgaria from Tibor Kiss, Romania
Reflection on a cross visit to Bulgaria from Mugur Jitea, Romania
Reflection on a cross visit to Bulgaria from Andrei Crisan, Romania
25 – 27 June 2018 Together with its colleagues from Bulgaria, the project area team made a visit to another area in Romania - Tarnava Mare area. The main host was Adept Foundation. Some first reflections from both sides are available on HNV-Link’s YouTube channel.
Reflection on a cross visit from one area in Romania (here, learning area) to another from Laura Incze, advisor, LAG Somes Aries, Romania
The take-home message from a cross-visit to another area in Romania: Diana Dimitras, researcher in University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Cluj-Napoca, Romania
4 – 7 June 2018: Cross-visit to Western Stara Planina region, Bulgaria. A group of stakeholders from Dealurile Clujului Est (farmers, NGOs, researchers, advisory etc) was discovering HNV innovations for the future development of their region. Among these were HNV pasture management, food processing units, marketing of HNV products, and cooperation and association arrangements.
Spain, La Vera
3-5 Oct 2018: A team of seven from Spain visited the French Learning Area Causses and Cévennes at the same time as their Greek colleagues. The team spent three days meeting pastoralists and people from the many different organisations involved in supporting pastoral activity in the area. Specific activities included visits to 5 different HNV farms, an abattoir run by farmers, small-scale on-farm cheese producers, agritourism, and a food processing and training centre for farmers. The visitors learnt about a huge range of initiatives, projects and funding, and were particularly impressed with how these mechanisms are linked and share a common goal of maintaining semi-natural mosaic landscapes through pastoral farming. The team is especially interested in the lessons of seeing how the French HNV farmers seem to be doing well within the regulatory and other operating framework.
25-28 October to The Burren, Ireland: Representatives from the Dalsland Learning Area joined colleagues from Causses and Cévennes (France) and Cluj (Romania) Learning Areas for a cross-visit timed with The Burren’s well-known Winterage School weekend event. In addition to the Winterage Weekend events, such as the farming innovation fair on farming and high tech farming machinery and the Farming for Nature award ceremony, groups working to develop High Nature Value projects in Sweden, France, Romania and Wales shared their stories and the challenges farmers are facing in their landscapes.
The UK, The Dartmoor
6 - 10 June 2018 to Sweden: The UK and Bulgaria cross-visited Sweden and the feedback on both sides was overwhelmingly positive. The innovations shared range from a self-closing gate to community supported agriculture (CSA) to an impressive multi-actor facilitation approach. See HNV-Link’s YouTube channel for video from the participants!
Reflection on a cross visit to Sweden from a guest team's organiser Gwyn Jones, European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Reflection on a cross visit to Sweden from Russel Ashford, a farmer in Dartmoor, the UK
The host team immediate reflection from Katrin MCCann
Dartmoor National Park Authority's Alison Kohler on what true partnership working means, recorded during the HNV-Link cross visit to Dalsland.
A lesson learnt from a cross visit to Sweden from Irina Herzon, a communication officer of the project, University of Helsinki, Finland
One of the visited sites, an example of collaboration of local residents in restoring the lake coastal area