Main research question/goal
We are examining which are the determining factors for sustainability on fruit farms, how to assess these factors and how to present starting points for improvement. In this way we meet both the fruit industry’s demand for a more scientific basis for the “sustainability” concept, and the Flemish government’s Division for Agricultural Policy Analysis demand to develop sustainability assessment tools based on the Farm Accountancy Data Network. The government wants to acquire appropriate means to communicate with fruit growers, not only about their technical and economic results, but also about the overall sustainability of their farms.
To ensure broad support, we are using a participatory approach to draw up a framework for fruit farm sustainability. We are organizing meetings with researchers, extension agents, cooperation representatives, fruit growers and representatives from various social groups. The goal is to brainstorm about the question “Which factors determine sustainability on fruit farms?”. Subsequently we are looking in literature and through consulting experts for suitable indicators for each theme in the sustainability framework. When necessary we adapt general indicators for specific use on fruit farms. Also, as far as possible, we are making the indicators computable from FADN data.Relevance/Valorisation
The framework was established, the determining factors for sustainability on Flemish fruit farms have been identified and the related indicators have been selected. With this toolbox of indicators the sustainability assessment of fruit farms can start. The outcome can provide a useful base for discussions between farmers in a social learning setting. Experience (from other projects) taught us that in such discussions not only knowledge can be acquired, but also changes in attitudes, norms, perceptions and behaviour can be initiated. We expect that in this way our toolbox of indicators can contribute to the transition to increased sustainability of the participating fruit farms.