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Mixed farming – histories and futures

Mixed farming – growing crops as well as raising livestock – was much more common in the Dyfi Biosphere, and in Wales in general, in the past.  Our aim is to build on the past, but look to the future, and help make the case for more widespread sustainable mixed agriculture and more resilient local food production economies. Central to our projects vision is the recognition that small, family farms are the cornerstone of Wales’ past, current and future rural economy, culture and landscape.

 

This LEADER and Ashley Family Foundation funded pilot project (Apr 2019 to Oct 2020) aims to map some of these changes, to illustrate what is possible and to stimulate some discussion. The principal way we are doing this is by integrating a variety of related online resources into an Information Gateway – a map-based portal that illustrates how agriculture has evolved in the Dyfi Biosphere area over the last 150 years or so.  We are also exploring options for showing how modern technology can be used to indicate possibilities such as:

  • fields suitable for the reinstatement of historical farming activities

  • areas of carbon storage

  • crops that will grow in the future under different climate change scenarios

Here is a link to a working prototype (under development) of the information gateway that we use to inform discussion and help set our direction of travel. 

Changing environment

These are turbulent times for the farming community, we want to make a small local contribution to helping address the following challenges:

  • Changes to the agricultural subsidy system post Brexit

  • Protecting our family farms, culture and encouraging rural regeneration

  • Climate change and biodiversity loss.

 

Our environment is changing; average temperatures are increasing and in the future winters will be warmer and summers drier, higher frequency of storms and sea level rises are predicted.  We can anticipate global supply chains becoming more fragile and a need for greater self sufficiency.

Agroecology

This project advocates an Agroecological approach to sustainable farming.

 

Agroecology is a globally recognised term that emphasises the central importance of understanding that sustaining the productive capacity of agriculture is entirely dependent upon the continued existence of intact, functioning, healthy ecosystems.

 

Agroecology can be understood as a:

  1. Science: the study of ecological processes applied to agricultural production systems

  2. Set of practices

  3. Social movement

 

During 2019, the Welsh Government consulted on revised proposals for supporting Welsh farmers after Brexit. The ecodyfi response - based on agroecological principles and advocating small, mixed, diverse, family farms contributing to rural regeneration – can be downloaded here .

Interested in volunteering to collect oral histories?

In keeping with the emphasis on farmers knowledge; local solutions, local economies, and short supply chains to local markets, the project has been collecting oral histories from older generation farmers in the area who remember when agriculture in the area was more mixed. These oral histories will be integrated into the Information Gateway that we have under development.

 

If you are interested in volunteering to collect oral histories (equipment and training provided by the National Library of Wales) click here. (Welsh only).

Project partners

The project is a collaboration between ecodyfi, Environment Systems Ltd, Aberystwyth University  and the National Library of Wales