RETHINK – Farmers from Salzburg (Austria) explain diversification as a strategy to strengthen resilience

RETHINK is a transdisciplinary research project supported by the European Commission and funding bodies in 14 countries under the umbrella of FP7 and the RURAGRI ERA-NET. The Rural Sociology Group has a seat in the RETHINK Advisory Board.

Researchers from BOKU have made three short films (also with English undertitles) in which farmers explain their family farm strategie in terms of strengthening their resilience.

Resilience refers to the capacity of social, economic, and environmental systems to cope with a hazardous event or trend or disturbance, responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain their essential function(s), identity, and structure

1. Resilience needs diversity – Diversity needs balance

Five farmers form Salzburg (Austria) farmers talk about the advantages of having different income sources (both on- and off farm) to strengthen their resilience. But they also point out the challenges related to managing diversity. They talk about what it takes to successfully manage diversity, especially to ensure that the workload for the various family members is not too high and that quality of life does not suffer.

2. Resilience means learning – Networks, exchanges, openness

Five farmers from Salzburg (Austria) describe the different forms of learning that have proven useful to them. While a good technical expertise is important, learning is not something that just takes place in schools and courses. Experiments and a ‘trial and error’ approach are rich sources of knowledge. Associations, networks and common initiatives are enriching and strengthen the solidarity.

3. Resilience as a process – Living with change

To be resilient means to prosper, even under changing – and sometimes adverse – circumstances. Resilience is important because the context and the internal structure of family farms are changing continuously. Five farmers in Salzburg (Austria) reflect on the changes on their farms. They explain what they do to remain adaptive.