Farm The Gap

Michala Lipkova

October 7, 2020


TEAM PARTICIPANTS: Dan Pikalo, Gábor Suhajda, Iwona Kastunowicz, Merle Niester, Sara Galan, Shumin Lu

The Challenge / Research

We worked on preserving rural lifestyle and transforming the farming traditions into more sustainable way by benefiting from the local skills and resources in order to create opportunity for sustainable growth for the local community and to re-frame it into more visible and recognisable construct by urban societies.

Odemira is the municipality with the largest territory in Portugal, however its interior has one of the lowest population densities in Europe and visitors (#tourism and housing objective). Over the last two generations it has lost more than 70% of its inhabitants due to major shifts in agriculture and lack of alternative opportunities, especially for youth. This results in an ageing population and dispersed over a vast area. Its shrinking population leads to neglect of the land, the decay of infrastructure (#ecosystem regeneration objective). Additionally it leads also to the loss of traditions, knowledge, and culture (#food and culture objective).

We focused on our partner and host CLARA that established a center for the rural future recently. CLARA's mission includes five main objectives. After deep research we choose two of them as our main points of interest. We focused on the tourism and housing, ecosystem regeneration & food and culture objectives benefiting directly from the wide range of region assets (existing skills and resources). These key goals refer CLARA's sustainable development strategy based on three crucial components:

Through our research into the community and culture we have discovered 4 key problems:

  1. The lack job opportunity
  2. Need to promote more sustainable farming practices
  3. CLARA and local community need regular income
  4. Disconnection between urban and rural societies

The above crucial problems follows the three principles CLARA components of strategy development:

  1. The integration of the local community of the interior of Odemira, embracing their skills, perspectives, and tradition
  2. The valorisation of indigenous resources; as a way to improve the local economy
  3. The attraction of new visitors and of the creative community and with their support, stimulate and activate new opportunities and spaces of dialogue and thought

These lead us to question:

»How might we use existing skills and resources to create sustainable income and promote a rural lifestyle?«

The Why

We discovered the strong community connection and cooperation and the wide range of local assets what create opportunity for sustainable growth for all stakeholders (CLARA, the farmers who use sustainable farming practices and those who want to transform from intensive agriculture into natural agriculture practices & the dwellers) and the interior of Odemira eventually.

Therefore we decide to ask »How might we use existing skills and resources to create sustainable income and promote a rural lifestyle?«

The idea

Farm the Gap is a B2B farming membership service that connects urban and rural societies where companies can support sustainable farming practices and offer their employees a natural life experience.

The employees would be able to develop problem solving skills and thinking out-of the-box by 'learning by doing'. Capability of wide discussion with people who decide to pursue rural life opens opportunity to change perspective and boost a creativity skill in result. A working together in an uncommon environment creates opportunity for team building and evolving communication skills. An active attending workshops close to nature and contributing in the local community life enable employees to develop soft skills highly required in an urban labour market. From the business leaders perspective - contributing in the Odemira community and their sustainable development creates a shared value model (#being holistic) and a communication channel with internal and external stakeholders about the company's mission and values accordingly.

The how

CLARA team will attract urban companie's (CRS & HR) attention & engage to the project and delight.

See the presentation of the project here.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.