More about Sustainable Smallholders

Sustainable Smallholders EU is an adult education initiative to empower and equip smallholders (and those who educate & support them) with skills and knowledge to improve the viability of their holdings by championing the local/heritage value of their produce, transforming their supply chain management and enhancing their environmental/climate action contributions in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Smallholders hold the key to Europe’s agricultural & food heritage. Hard-working micro-businesses with a legacy product they believe in, smallholders act like a seed bank, preserving our heritage breeds & rare arable crops despite crippling challenges and disadvantages due to the small size of their operations, weak technical capacity, high vulnerability to risks and lack of capital. As a result, smallholder farming is about a third less productive than large-scale farming (UN Food and Agriculture Organization).

Sustainable Smallholders will empower and equip smallholders with skills and knowledge to:

  1. future proof their smallholdings by improving their long term viability to not just protect the heritage value of their produce and livestock but use it as their USP
  2. increase their profitability via (a) more efficient and lucrative distribution channels such as collective supply approaches/routes to market and (b) more conscious approaches/responses to consumer demand for sustainable, local and heritage products
  3. to improve their ongoing environmental, climate action and biodiversity work by focusing in on their approaches to food security, food waste; and sustainable agriculture
  4. increase and diversify the way they contribute to global food demand in a resource-scarce world
    Smallholders are characterised by large numbers of very small businesses which presents a major sourcing issue for purchasers and poor bargaining power on the smallholders’ behalf.

Sustainable Smallholders also responds to the needs of Sustainability, Farming and Community Education Bodies who offer training and supports to the farming sector but lack the knowledge/pedagogical strategies to provide niche outreach support, training and guidance to promote the economic viability and sustainability of smallholdings.

The Sustainable Smallholders project team is made up of partners from UK, Slovakia, Italy, Ireland, Spain and Denmark who will enable positive action and far-reaching impact that spreads across the EU.

We will achieve this through the follow outputs:

Smallholders Sustainable Development Guidebook is a practical guide for adult learners which breaks down and contextualises the SDG’s making them relevant and achievable at a smallholder farming level. It will share learning and experiences in key SDG themes such as: Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Health, Food Waste, Climate and Environment and Innovative Technologies

Smallholders Supply Chain Toolkit – Given their small scale, smallholders have very little bargaining power when it comes to access to markets and due to their lack of economies of scale, they present a major sourcing issue for retail purchasers. The Toolkit addresses these challenges and offers European smallholders a simple step by step collaboration approach to create a collective supply approach/route to market leading to more efficient and lucrative distribution channels.

Heritage Value of Smallholder Produce OERs – the objective of the Open Education Resources is to empower and equip smallholders (and those who educate/support them) with skills and knowledge to improve the viability of their holdings by championing the local/heritage value of their produce and improving their other basic entrepreneurial skills such as business planning, financial literacy, marketing and sales.

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