Can small farms and small food businesses in Northern Europe contribute to sustainable food security?
There is widespread acknowledgement and appreciation in Northern Europe of the important role that small farms play in supporting rural livelihoods, conserving biodiversity, and maintaining traditional landscapes, rural traditions and cultural heritage. The EU-funded SALSA project set out to examine another potentially important role of small farms – their contribution to food security.
In the regions of Hedmark (NO), Ile-et-Vilaine (FR), East and West Scotland (UK) that were studied by SALSA, small farms only contribute to a limited extent to regional food availability since they produce only a small portion of the total food produced in the region. Nevertheless, they do still play an important role in these regional food systems regarding those products (e.g. from horticulture) of which a large proportion grown in the region is also consumed in the region. In the case of these specific products, small farms tend to connect directly with consumers and provide a range of “alternative pathways” for local consumers to buy more locally-produced food.
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