Discussion on sustainable agriculture attracted 20 participants in the rural municipality of Hämeenkyrö, Finland
16 October 2023
Agriculture and a built-in will for sustainability have long roots in Hämeenkyrö as unsustainable farming is not seen profitable anymore. The discussion highlighted that currently agriculture is struggling with challenges related to profitability, carbon emissions and biodiversity. Based on calculations, after road traffic, agriculture is the second largest source of carbon footprint in Hämeenkyrö. However, CO2 comparisons between rural and urban areas in the reports do not always do justice as they do not show, for example, the significant carbon emissions from infrastructure construction in urbanized areas. Social sustainability is also challenged by farmers' coping with the stress of financial profitability, security of supply, EU-related demands, hard work and therefore also mental challenges.
The participants brought up that current societal values do not support sustainable consumption. It was emphasised that the introduction of sustainable lifestyles should permeate the entire school chain, starting from early childhood education, without forgetting the role of the home. This was also seen as bringing understanding towards food production and paying closer attention to the countryside, its actors and opportunities.
A key theme of the discussion was the promotion of collaboration between local farms and stakeholders. The agricultural college "Osara" in Hämeenkyrö is particularly significant as a node of sustainable agriculture education and newest research, information dissemination and connections. Moreover, many local companies, such as "Frantsila herb farm", have deeply connected ecological principles in their operations and seek collaboration with other organic production companies to create new opportunities. Furthermore, the discussion highlighted the importance of engaging young people and increasing their awareness of the value and employment opportunities of agriculture. In parallel, young people can introduce fresh perspectives, creativity, and innovative ideas to agricultural sector.
"Hämeenkyrö Agriculture Arena" will be organised in early spring 2024 with the focus on sustainable agriculture/food production. The plan is to invite more local farms, farmers, students and other actors to co-create solutions to enable better collaboration, engage different actors and promote the value of sustainable agriculture in Hämeenkyrö.