How the German network of demonstration farms in organic farming works

The network of demonstration farms for Organic
Agriculture has existed since 2002, and currently consists of 242 organic farms. The farms are
spread all over Germany. The aim of this network is to enable conventional colleagues to see how organic farming works. What do organic farmers do differently? They can pick up ideas and tips there. We always have more applicants than we can
accommodate. We are very happy about that. The selection of demo operations is based
on transparent criteria. First of all, we would like to be represented nationwide, but
also need farmers who are strongly convinced of their cause. They should love to talk to
other people about organic farming. It is stipulated in the contract that each demo-farm
must work at least 64 hours for the network. Currently, organic farms are experimenting
a lot with agricultural technology, such as weeding robots. So, innovation is always a big issue. What we show on these farm visits is, for
example, mobile hay-bale drying, mother-bonded calf rearing, or cattle fattening. These are
all topics that interest people. I would say that farmers make up about 20-30%
of our visitors. The share of students, teachers and parents is estimated at 40-50%. And then
there are also foreign visitors or politicians who want to look at organic farming. One of the success factors of our network
is certainly the passion of farmers. They just love to do it. Success for such a network is clearly dependent
on people having fun. It’s useless if it is done for money’s sake. The amount is ultimately too small for that. The network is financially supported by the
Ministry of Agriculture. And this is certainly also a success factor, that we have been supporting
it financially since 2002.

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