Old but Not Old Fashioned: Agricultural Landscapes as European Heritage and Basis for Sustainable Multifunctional Farming to Earn a Living
1.1. Awareness of Landscape Quality and the Importance of Vocational Education Training for Small and Family Farmers
1.2. Multifunctional Agriculture, Fusing Natural, Cultural, and Historical Heritage and Sustainable Land Use
1.3. The Aim and Parallels in Research of Multifunctional Farms
- A space where an entrepreneurship model is established;
- A target group for a farm’s production;
- Different services provided to the community.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. A Questionnaire with Experts on the VET Need of Multifunctional Agriculture for Small and Family Farmers
2.2. A Questionnaire Survey with Farmers, Collecting Experiences in Mutlifuntional Farming
- Nature- and landscape-protected areas;
- Nature- and landscape-unprotected areas.
2.3. A Decision-Making Schema to Select the Criteria for a Model of a Multifunctional Farm and Implementation of a Successful Business Strategy
- “Landscape”, mirroring the strong linkage of a farm and its territory;
- “Environment”, constituting a potential for land-use resources;
- “Production”, targeting public goods provision and quality guarantees;
- “Society”, reflecting public demand for services, tourism, and cultural events.
- Quality strategy mirrors a farmer’s effort to improve business quality in parallel to the growing quality of EALs, providing maintenance in a sustainable manner. An attractive landscape with valuable features constitutes an asset of high-quality attributes that are necessary for further development and refinement of multifunctional entrepreneurship. Farmers may learn from E-Atlas  and case studies  representing multifunctional farms in a broader international context.
- Marketing strategy is an entrepreneurial concept that solves interactions and, sometimes, contradictions between professional agriculture based on optimal land use and soil management and the shaping of landscapes through nonagricultural activities rooted in in-depth knowledge on natural resources and the cultural heritage of the landscape. Competence in all kinds of outdoor facilities and services can be provided by well-structured planning and the use of marketing solutions for ecotourism-friendly clients and tour operators.
- Communication strategy describes the effective communication and cooperation of the farm. Win–win situations arise from effective forms of collaboration, depending on good communication strategies. Farmers might use traditional and modern channels (internet) for communication. Establishing and keeping communication alive among farmers and stakeholders is very important. Effective communication involves good verbal and nonverbal communication, interpersonal skills, active listening and receiving feedback, and conflict solutions.
- Business operation strategy and a well-designed business plan rely on the ability to handle the complexity of the farm’s model and to think clearly and deeply, strengthening the farm’s position towards negotiations with financial partners, fostering a systematic approach to the implementation of the farm’s projects, and giving an overview on the progress, stagnation, or regress of the farm’s model. The business strategy of small and family entrepreneurs relies on the original services and products provided by the farms. Therefore, three essential questions might be recalled and adopted in their business plans: Where do I do my business? How do I do my business? How do I reach a target group?
- Monitoring strategy denotes monitoring dependences of the individual strategies applied by the farm because the failure of one strategy usually affects others. The understanding of wasted effort, the solving of less problematic issues, and the fast identification of lost opportunities will help to avoid future failures or their repetition. Therefore, a farmer needs to know the right time to perform an assumed activity and the right activity that will bring the best economic profit.
3.1. Evaluation of the Questionnaire with Experts on the Need and Sufficiency of VET for Small and Family Farmers
3.2. Results from the Farmers’ Questionnaire Survey
3.2.1. Evaluation of Multifunctional Farm Attributes and Farmer Data
3.2.2. Evaluation of Key Words on Farming Activities, Multifunctionality, and Sustainability, Adopted for a Farm’s Model
3.3. A Model of a Multifunctional Farm, Linking Sustainable Business Strategy and the Quality of European Agricultural Landscapes
- Land use optimization: traditionally cultivated land based on ancestral knowledge systems that are implemented in land-use planning incentives;
- Permacultural farm: diversifies its income to different sectors and takes care of socioenvironmental aspects;
- Ecodesing: joins the knowledge on nature, culture and environment, and agriecological practices that are applied for education purposes directly at the farm;
- Landscape character and visual quality: both attributes are important to evoke associations to “landscape images”; some landscapes remain outstanding in tourists’ memories, and they feel the need to come back, which constitutes a basis for destination tourism;
- Ecological functions run smoothly and effectively in nonintensively managed agroecosystems that are rich in natural habitats;
- Ecosystem services performed by farmers are no longer considered volunteer side products but services that are supported economically and indirectly recognized by the national agri-environmental schemes of rural development plans;
- Natural hazard prevention is rooted in applying optimal land use, eco-friendly farming, and diversification of cultivation practices or respecting traditional ancestral agricultural practices;
- Direct renewable energy production by a farm is usually linked with farms preferring intensive animal production (biogas stations) but also common are small wind power plants and solar or hydroelectric power plants.
- Farmhouse restaurant and coffee shop, expressed in the English acronym HoReCa, consisting of the words “hotel”, “restaurant”, and “café”, which execute a particular sales strategy to offer the farms’ products, without intermediaries, directly to hotels, restaurants, and bars;
- Direct sale promotes the idea of “taste the countryside”, social farming projects, and organic farms in the hinterland of bigger cities, often in combination with farm shops or cultural events;
- Solidary farming is based on the tied and strong cooperation of farmers and persons paying a fixed monthly sum, guaranteeing the farmer an income and the subscribers locally produced food according to the seasons;
- Box schemas are distribution models for seasonal products that are delivered directly to consumer households; they usually work in complex web platforms, allowing the farmers to directly contact their target consumers;
- “Pick-your-own” is an activity that allows consumers to collect products directly from the farms’ fields;
- Protected designation and gastrotourism rely on selling high-quality farm products under three schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialties, known as protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI), and traditional specialties guaranteed (TSG).
- Festivals, tastings, and farmers’ markets present a direct marketing solution and maintain important social ties between producers and rural and urban populations and build an atmosphere of distinctiveness and a unique sense of place;
- Agritourism is strongly linked with tourism service provisioning, such as accommodation on farms, involving a variety of touristic activities (for instance, equestrian tourism, fishery, craft training courses, or ecoenvironmental excursions);
- Social agriculture is day-care services that employ several forms of acceptance for elderly people or persons with difficulties;
- Education: agrikindergartens contribute to the creation of a stable link between people and territory in a way that a farm becomes an environmental and food education center where people can directly experience nature, food, and traditions.
4.1. The Importance of the Concept of Multifunctional and Sustainable Agriculture
- “Overall, multifunctional agriculture is well developed in your country.” While experts from Italy, Slovenia, and, partly, Slovakia strongly agreed or agreed, there was disagreement in the rest of Slovakia, Germany, and Spain.
- “Understanding of multifunctional/sustainable farming.” and “Understanding of the relationship between multifunctional/sustainable farming and EALs” was evaluated as very important or important by the prevailing number of interviewed experts. Only in Germany and Slovakia was it evaluated as less important.
- “Exchange of successful experiences in multifunctional/sustainable farming creating win–win situations with maintenance and protection of EALs” was considered very important by a large majority of the interviewees.
4.2. The Project Outcomes for the Situation in VET for Farmers in Europe
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Countries/Farming Activities||The Mean of the Farm Area [ha]|
|Cattle, Fruit, Grassland/Pasture, Livestock, Permanent Crops||60.00|
|Cattle, Grassland/Pasture, Livestock, Pigs, Poultry, Processing||110.00|
|Dairy Farm, Goats, Grassland/Pasture, Livestock, Processing||41.00|
|Field Crops, Livestock, Pigs||180.00|
|Field Crops, Livestock, Potato, Poultry||150.00|
|Livestock, Cattle, Horses, Grassland/Pasture Processing||50.00|
|Almond, Cherry, Olive Trees, Permanent Crops||25.00|
|Almond, Permanent Crops, Processing, Vineyard||3.00|
|Avocado, Fruit, Mango, Permanent Crops||4.50|
|Dairy Farm, Goats, Livestock, Processing||2.00|
|Fighting Bull, Grassland/Pasture, Livestock||350.00|
|Greenhouses, Horticulture, Melon, Pepper||1.00|
|Alpaca, Livestock, Processing||28.00|
|Cattle, Livestock, Medical Plants, Pigs, Processing||1500.00|
|Field Crops, Horticulture, Legumes, Processing||160.00|
|Grassland/Pasture, Horses, Horticulture, Legumes||36.00|
|Olive Trees, Permanent Crops, Processing||150.00|
|Cattle, Forestry, Grassland/Pasture, Livestock||50.00|
|Dairy Farm, Forestry, Grassland/Pasture, Processing||176.00|
|Forestry, Fruit, Horticulture, Livestock Processing, Sheep||15.00|
|Forestry, Grassland/Pasture, Horticulture, Livestock||16.00|
|Permanent Crops, Processing||8.00|
|Cattle, Dairy Farm, Goats, Livestock, Pigs, Processing||22.00|
|Cattle, Grassland/Pasture, Horses, Livestock||25.00|
|Dairy Farm, Livestock, Processing||10.00|
|Livestock, Medical Plant Processing||30.00|
|Mean of the total farm area||114.41|
|Category of the Farm’s Area/Arithmetic Average [ha] within the Category||0/1||0.1–5/2.3||5–10/8||10–20/13.67||20–30/25||30–50/35.67||50–75/53.33||75–100/0||100–150/110||150–200/163.2||˃200/925|
|Number of farms (totally 28)||1||5||1||3||4||3||3||0||1||5||2|
|Number of farms (12) inside nature- and landscape-protected areas||1||1||0||1||2||1||2||0||1||2||1|
|Number of farms (16) outside nature- and landscape-protected areas||0||4||1||2||2||2||1||0||0||3||1|
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Slámová, M.; Kruse, A.; Belčáková, I.; Dreer, J. Old but Not Old Fashioned: Agricultural Landscapes as European Heritage and Basis for Sustainable Multifunctional Farming to Earn a Living. Sustainability 2021, 13, 4650. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094650
Slámová M, Kruse A, Belčáková I, Dreer J. Old but Not Old Fashioned: Agricultural Landscapes as European Heritage and Basis for Sustainable Multifunctional Farming to Earn a Living. Sustainability. 2021; 13(9):4650. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094650Chicago/Turabian Style
Slámová, Martina, Alexandra Kruse, Ingrid Belčáková, and Johannes Dreer. 2021. "Old but Not Old Fashioned: Agricultural Landscapes as European Heritage and Basis for Sustainable Multifunctional Farming to Earn a Living" Sustainability 13, no. 9: 4650. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094650