What Could A Farm Be? (WCAFB) ran its first workshop in Mals/Malles Venosta in the upper Vinchgau valley of Alto Adige/Süd Tirol, Italy on 25th March 2018 as part of the Hier und Da festival. The theme of the festival was Good living in rural areas (Gut leben im ländlichen Raum). Our workshop, Opening the Countryside!, was divided into two parts: Part 1 Open Source Agriculture: Open-ness, sharing and farming,
presented by Alastair Fuad-Luke and Erica Boito of WCAFB, explored a very brief history of Medieval commoning and present day open source initiatives in agriculture followed by a description of Spazi in Frutto, an association for cultural diversity in the Belluno region. Fernando Garcia Dory of INLAND, Spain, presented Part 2 The valley of forking paths, a project and film called ALMA in collaboration with the regional artists network BAU. ALMA explores past, present and future agricultural scenarios in Alto Adige/Süd Tirol.
Workshop participants included several young farmers from the locality, representatives of social, tourism and work organisations from the territory, journalists, researchers, and students of the Masters in Eco-Social Design, Unibz. It was hosted in a traditional stone and timber Tyrolean barn owned by Anna Folie of Sockerhof, an organic farm in Mals.
In the first session participants gathered to explore the following questions: Why are people sharing these things in Open Source agriculture? What benefits do they get? What is being shared in the farming communities in Alto Adige/Sudtirol? What could be shared in the farming communities in Alto Adige/Südtirol applying open source principles? What might farming communities need to share in the future?
According to the brainstorming results, sharing in Open Agriculture is mainly driven by two type of factors: economical and relational. Economical benefits concern costs, time, resources and risks sharing. Relational benefits deal with the needs of connection (humans-nature and among individuals) and transmission (of information, knowledge and capabilities). Sharing is, in any case, built on trust and apparently the perception of the need of sharing is amplified in conditions of scarcity of resources or incomes.
In the future, farming communities might have to share labour, technologies, techniques and resources such as energy and land. They might also share a common vision, a sense of belonging and positive emotions and a living landscape (“a land landscape that is lived and cultivated”).
With ALMA, the audience discussed questions that linked art practices, traditions and conflicts, in the framework of the local agriculture scenery.
There is an apparent tension between tradition and innovation as values. Most farmers are attached to tradition. This rural tradition is also attractive to urban and city dwellers. Innovation and changes require time: there is a general feeling of fear of new things and the perception of the risk involved in any change is high.
There is the need of facilitators or mediators who will help in developing urban-rural in-between projects, in supporting dialogue among the farming communities that will encourage experimentation.
The farmers’ lack of free time must be kept in consideration in the development of any intervention.
In conclusion, it is important to highlight here the necessity of introducing facilitators and mediators who pursue interactions among different stakeholders and frameworks (rural-urban) and the relevance that the rural context plays as setting for the discussion about possible agri-cultural futures.