The two-day workshops, titled "Climate for farmers - agriculture and climate change", took place in Warsaw (7-8 December 2013), Krakow (27-28 February 2014) and Wroclaw (11-12 March 2014). Among the participants were farmers, fruit growers, individuals engaged in organic and sustainable agriculture and food processing, representatives of farmer organizations and institutions, teachers and agricultural students, members of the consumer initiatives. They all came from four different Polish regions: Mazovia, Lesser Poland and Upper Silesia, Lower Silesia. Altogether more than 90 people participated in three workshops. One of the selection criteria of the workshop participants was their readiness to disseminate gained knowledge in their surroundings, utilize it in practice and continue the cooperation in their regions.
The workshops were organized in cooperation with various partners including Transformacja Foundation, AgriNatura Foundation, Polish Ecological Club and Foundation for Sustainable Development - FER.
Searching for solutions to local problems
One of the main goals of the workshops was creating an opportunity for discussion and learning about the interdependencies between agriculture and climate change as well as ways to reduce the negative influence of agriculture on environment.
In Poland the impact of climate change on agriculture is visible mainly in such phenomena as: changes in the rain patterns, prolonged draughts-like conditions, soil erosion, spreading of pests and diseases of crops, longer vegetation period in some regions and more extreme weather events. At the same time agricultural activities contribute significantly to greenhouse gases emissions in Poland and the dominating food production system does not foster the protection of natural resources and biodiversity.
The workshops initiated a process of developing recommendations and good practices which could be solutions to local problems connected with the impact of climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the depletion of natural resources. A number of propositions was suggested by the participating experts as well as farmers themselves. Among the topics of the discussions were various agricultural, gardening and fruit-growing techniques, which are based on the local renewable resources and contribute to the protection of climate and biodiversity in the countryside, the maintaining of soil fertility and high yields in a sustainable manner and the protection of water resources and countryside landscape. The participants learnt about the principles of the permaculture as well as the possibilities to utilize renewable energy sources on farms.
Alternative food systems
During the workshops we talked also about various forms of distribution and marketing of local agricultural products, such as local producers cooperatives, direct distribution of local organic products from farmers to consumers and community-supported agriculture (CSA). The first CSA initiatives in Poland were started in the recent years and their representatives were present at the workshops. The main principles of CSA are reducing the distance between farmers and consumers as well as their cooperation and risk sharing. Another alternative food system discussed during the workshop were food cooperatives, which are becoming increasingly popular in numerous Polish cities. The participants discussed also about the need for changes in the legal framework in Poland that would enable small-scale family farmers easier marketing of their products directly to consumers.
The workshops served also an opportunity to exchange initial ideas regarding the local public events promoting the sustainable and climate-friendly agriculture in the regions, which would be organized within the frame of the ClimATE Change project.
The participants of all the workshops were very satisfied with their content and expressed their willingness and commitment to further and deepen the cooperation for development of sustainable agriculture and responsible consumption in their regions.
Click here to view photos from one of our workshops.