Better ways to cook up food policy

Recently the article on FoodLinks that you can read below was published on the EU websites Horizon2020 and Research & Innovation. FoodLinks is one of the EU-projects the Rural Sociology Group worked on between 2011 and 2013. If you want to know more about the initial project read here.

Foodlinks_Logo_200pixCan too many cooks spoil the broth? Not if they find the right way to work together. An EU-funded project explored new methods for researchers, policy-makers and civil society groups to collaborate to make food sustainable – for both people and the planet.’  Continue reading

Virtual Issue Sociologia Ruralis – a tribute to the Year of the Family Farm

Being editor of Sociologia Ruralis I’m pleased to announce the publication of a Virtual Issue on Family Farming (= free accessible at Wiley Online Library) to celebrate the UN International Year on Family Farming, which reflects the development of thinking on family farming during the years. The virtual issue gathers a selection of publications on family farming in Sociologia Ruralis between 1969 and 2013. Taken together they reflect the development of thought through continuously returning questions (survival, succession, gender) as well as shifting points of attention.

Articles included:

  1. Social implications of farm mechanization, a final report on cross national research by Anton J. Jansen
  2. Patriarchy and Property by Harriet Friedman
  3. Family Goals and Survival Strategies by David Symes and John Appleton
  4. The Persistence of Family Farms in United States Agriculture by  Nola Reinhardt and Peggy Bartlett
  5. Farm Families Between Tradition and Modernity by Karl Friedrich Bohler and Bruno Hildenbrand
  6. Ageing and Succession of Family Fams: The Impact on Decision-making and Land Use by  Clive Potter and Matt Lobley
  7. Power Analysis and Farm Wives by Sally Shortall
  8. Defining and Operationalizing Family Farming from a Sociological Perspective by Göran Djurfeldt
  9. Family Farming and Capitalist Development in Greek Agriculture: A Critical Review of the Literature by Charalambos Kasimis and Apostolos G. Papadopoulos
  10. Pluriactivity as a Livelihood Strategy in Irish Farm Households and its Role in Rural Development by Jim Kinsella, Susan Wilson, Floor De Jong and Henk Renting
  11. Gender Identity in European Family Farming: A Literature Review by Berit Brandth
  12. ‘Good Farmers’ as Reflexive Producers: an Examination of Family Organic Farmers in the US Midwest by Paul Stock
  13. Subsistence and Sustainability in Post-industrial Europe: The Politics of Small-scale Farming in Europeanising Lithuania by Diana Mincyte
  14. Peasantry and Entrepreneurship As Frames for Farming: Reflections on Farmers’ Values and Agricultural Policy Discourses by Miira Niska, Hannu T. Vesala and Kari Mikko Vesala
  15. Resourcing Children in a Changing Rural Context: Fathering and Farm Succession in Two Generations of Farmers by Berit Brandth and Grete Overrein

The last issue of Sociologia Ruralis later this year will also include a section with several articles on family farming, followed by a discussion between some of the authors about the advancements made early 2015.

FOODLINKS final conference – Sustainable food communities of practice

On 16 October 2013 the FOODLINKS team organised the  conference Sustainable food communities of practice – meet and eat to present the results of its  three-year project. The conference focused on “Good cooperation between science, society and policy promotes sustainable food consumption and production” looking more particularly into:

  • How short food supply chains can effectively work as policy tools;
  • How to maximise the benefits of sustainable public procurement of food;
  • How to implement sustainable food strategies in European cities.

The conference made a special effort to actively engage the participants’ experience and knowledge in the field, and to verify the findings from the project. The conference experiences are summarised in the video below:

More about Foodlinks and the three action plans published:

Foodlinks is a collaborative project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission with the purpose of evaluating knowledge brokerage activities to promote sustainable food consumption and production: linking scientists, policymakers and civil society organizations. See the for more information.

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Rural women in Europe: invest in the vitality of rural areas to improve their position

The report ‘Personal and social development of women in rural areas of Europe’, prepared for the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, provides an overview of the social situation of women in the rural areas of Europe. It looks into rural women’s work, political participation and their experience of the quality of life in rural areas. It points at the great diversity between and within Member States but also states that there is no evidence of a general rural disadvantage. Women experience specific problems only in the peripheral rural regions of Europe and in particular the Central-Eastern Member States. These areas are maladapted to women’s needs in terms of employment and services, as well as cultural norms and values. It is also in those areas that young rural women (and men) decide to leave and to search for a better life elsewhere.

Analysis of rural development policies reveals that women seldom participate in the formation of rural development plans or the decision making on the distribution of funds. There are some projects designed for women often focusing on self-employment. There are also some projects aimed at improving the supply of social services. Most projects are fragmented attempts to solve some problems for some women. A coherent plan on how to address gender equality is lacking. 

To improve the situation of rural women it is recommended to focus on the situation in the peripheral rural areas where the low quality of life and lack of work, income and services constraints women’s development and perpetuates unequal gender relations. It is important to invest in the vitality and quality of life of those areas and to improve their accessibility. Upgrading the local quality of life may convince rural women (and men) to stay. It may also help to mobilize individual and collective action for local development.

The Economics of Green care in Agriculture. Edited by Joost Dessein and Bettina Bock

Recently published and available on line The Economics of Green care in Agriculture, edited by Joost Dessein and Bettina Bock.


The publication is part of our participation in COST Action 866 ‘Green care in Agriculture’. This COST action brought scientists and practitioners together who are working in the broad domain of ‘green care in agriculture’ with the purpose of increasing the scientific knowledge on green care, its potential for improving human mental and physical health and on the best way to implement green care in agriculture throughout Europe. The COST action consisted of different working groups that looked into health effects of green care, the economics of green care and policies related to green care ( This publication reflects on the Economics of Green Care and the possibility to measure and evaluate its costs and benefits, taking into account the wide variation in Green Care arrangements throughout Europe. A limited number of free copies is also available at the Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Research Merelbeke, Belgium (, where Joost Dessein works (email: