Considering the social and ecological obsolescence of the conventional agricultural model and the crisis faced by rural areas, innovative models based on collective initiatives and agroecological practices are emerging. Here, we present the use of a participatory farming lab as a space to reactivate the agrarian sector in rural and periurban areas of Madrid. The specific objectives of this study are: (1) to describe the project; (2) to identify participants’ profiles and motivations and (3) to identify the most socially valued ecosystem services and the actions collectively taken to enhance them. To do so, we have used the living lab conceptual approach and the ecosystem service lens. Data gathering included a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques, including participant observation, informal and formal meetings, interviews, workshops and surveys. We found a diversity of motivations for enrolling in the program and 20 ecosystem services were selected as socially important. We also describe how the project has contributed to adopting agroecological practices to sustain those ecosystem services. Finally, we discuss the contribution of the project towards new and integrated rural development strategies, including its potential to promote cooperative solutions that enhance farming activity by also providing ecosystem services.
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