Zala Valley Open Farms
Zala Valley Open Farms
On the basis of supporting local producers and toursim services (through LEADER), combined with SFSC knowledge and resources brought in by consultants in 2 transdisciplinary reserach projects, the Zala-Termálvölgye LAG has created the Zala Valley Open Farms SFSC. This is a network of producers of high value added food products opening their farm and food processing plant for customers to visit on a regular, transparent basis. The SFSC provides:
a common marketing image (logo, rollups, signs, image films, etc.);
a well designed internet platform + smart phone app. including push notifications + social media platforms where producers can market their products, give information about their opening times, special events, offers,;
special, larger scale events for wider marketing of the system;
a quality assurance system (with internal governance and decision making) for creating adequate environment at the farm to be able to accept visitors (toilets, hygiene, aesthetics, etc.;
possibility for social learning, networking, building local/regional identity for producers.
Visitors can come to visit and buy products not only by appointment, but also during the regular opening times and at special organised events. Thus, customers can actually see how and where the local products are produced.
The LAG is, at the moment, the main engine/organiser of the programme and turned it into the backbone of local development strategy. (Only network members can apply for business support from the EU/state funded local development programme). Nevertheless, on the long run, entrepreneurs/producers should take charge and the programme should be sustainable even without the professional and financial input of the LAG.
Main results/outcomes of the activity (expected or final): The programme so far:
- created a coherent, long term framework for the efforts to develop local economy, economic and social networks, consumer and production culture, in a sustainable rural development context channelling efforts and giving strategic direction to the local development programme;
- created a reflexive and adaptive internet platform (and smart phone app) that can be dynamically updated by the producers themselves;
- reinforced social and economic networks amongst producers, giving space for social learning, personal and community development;
- provide consumers with regular possibility to buy good quality local products on the farm, in an ‘experience economy’ framework;
- enhance direct sales and direct marketing in the local food system;
- ensure economic and social sustainability of the system in the long run
- The main practical recommendation(s): what would be the main added value/benefit or opportunities to the end-user if the generated knowledge were implemented? How can the practitioner make use of the results?
It is important to:
- use real existing results (social networks, trust, existing enterprises) to base your new SFSC on.
- involve strong local players, gate keepers, opinion leaders, to create empowerment and ownership.
- have strong management with (at least at the beginning) external/additional funding and make sure that this management is continuously available and financed for a longer period of time (some years at least)
- close the communication gap between local actors and IT experts and ensure real understanding when designing internet platforms, apps. etc.