SP.20.016 – Co-creating knowledge with pioneering nature-inclusive farmers

Route: Sustainable production of safe and healthy food

Cluster question: 015 How can we make agricultural production systems more sustainable as the worldwide demand for healthy, safe food continues to grow?

To achieve the SDGs by 2030, such as reverting environmental degradation, climate change and social inequality, the highly intensive agriculture in the global North requires a major transformation towards more nature- and socially inclusive production. While the required changes are strongly debated, an increasing number of farmers are already adopting radically different approaches, from community supported mixed farming systems (CSA), through integrating tree crops on pastures or croplands, to food forests that mimic natural forests. Such pioneering farms integrate ecological processes and create multiple added value to society as part of their business model, generating knowledge that could significantly accelerate a sustainability transition in agriculture. Yet, this knowledge is not documented nor disseminated, while quantitative data on multiple value creation are missing. This hampers upscaling and acceptance of nature-inclusive farming as viable alternative. This initiative aims at learning from such pioneering farms and quantifying their ecological, economic and social impacts, as to design novel pathways towards sustainable agriculture. This requires an inter- and transdisciplinary monitoring network, using standardized and participatory methods that facilitate interactions between farmers, scientists and citizens, so that co-created data and indicators can contribute to actionable knowledge and legitimacy. We will draw on existing networks, including the 25 food forests of the Nationaal Monitoringsprogramma Voedselbossen, CSA systems (Herenboeren Nederland) and Caring Farmers (WINK), and the agroforestry networks the Louis Bolk Institute is involved in. We will also further develop monitoring of multiple value creation in line with urgent recommendations of the Masterplan Agroforestry endorsed by farmers, educational and research institutes. With the envisaged consortium, we connect pioneering farm networks to enhance learning and maximize the potential for both methodological and societal breakthroughs.


Agroforestry, civil science, food forestry, knowledge co-creation, nature-inclusive farming, participatory monitoring, SDGs

Other organisations

Akvo Foundation, Caring Farmers (incl. Herenboeren), Centrum voor Bodemecologie, Cooperatie Ondergrond, Louis Bolk Instituut, Ministerie van Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit, Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO-KNAW), Rombouts Agroecologie, Stichting Voedselbosbouw Nederland


Organisation Utrecht University (UU), Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development
Name Dr. P. A. (Pita) Verweij
E-mail p.a.verweij@uu.nl
Website https://www.uu.nl/en/research/copernicus-institute-of-sustainable-development/life-on-land, https://www.uu.nl/staff/PAVerweij