The rural economies in the twelve pilots of the PoliRural project are characterized by their own challenges and dynamics. To illustrate the diversity and complexity of the rural economies in the twelve PoliRural pilots, case studies on new entrants and new activities in the twelve PoliRural pilots are gathered. Eventually the case studies on new entrants and new activities in the twelve PoliRural pilots will be available on the PoliRural project website and on the Best Practices Atlas.
In the last weeks the Flanders pilot has started to collect case studies on new entrants and new activities in the rural economy of Flanders. In Flanders, many farmers diversify their activities in order to get additional income. These activities are often not directly related to food production. For example, in 2018, 361 farms received an additional income from tourism, accommodation or leisure activities and 252 farms produced energy for sale. New or diversification activities on farms have often a strong social and environmental focus. For example, in 2018 there were 424 active care farms in Flanders. In 2020, there were nearly 8000 management agreements with farmers for nature, environment and landscape management. These agreements comprise erosion control measures, field edge management, small landscape element and botanical management and species protection. This illustrates the positive impact farmers have on the rural economy in terms of employment, activities, processing and tourism.
A nice example of how economic diversification is central on most farms in Flanders is given by the testimony from the Van het Lindeveld farm: “We have a cattle farm with Belgian Blue and Black Angus cattle. Since November 2019 we have started selling our own farm meat. Since March 2020 (COVID-19), this has grown into a concept of a drive-in Open Air Shop and together with fellow farmers we offer more products. In addition, we are also working on a project on more natural calving at our Belgian White Blue breed and we have also built a knowledge network around this with people from the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland. We will soon also be offering short-term accommodation from summer 2021 onwards in our converted cattle wagon.”