The Regionalpark Farm Stations are about 20 farms along the Regionalpark circular route which cover and showcase a wide range of local farming methods.
Farmers in (peri-)urban areas at times experience conflicts with recreational users of pathways and agricultural areas. On the other hand, citizens living in urban areas want to re-connect to nature and learn how their food is produced. The farm stations help to create mutual understanding among recreational users and farmers.
The circular route of the Regionalpark passes a total of 20 farm stations in the RhineMain region cooperating with the Regionalpark. They represent local food production practices that can be experienced by tourists, school classes and more during opening hours or by appointment. All farms have diversified their business activities and offer mainly four types of additional services: education, farm shops, cafés, engaging in farming activities.
To become a farm station, farms have to be connected to the route and willing to offer activities. To establish the network, the Regionalpark, in close cooperation with the Department for Rural Areas (ALR), approached farmers along the circular route. Participating farms are provided with a wooden signpost and presented in a brochure. Additionally, the farms provide information about the Regionalpark, like leisure maps.
The farm stations are an important, easily accessible way for RhineMain citizens to learn about regional agricultural activities and food production, and connect to farmers. The farms and the Regionalpark benefit from mutual marketing and bringing experiences together.
- human: set up network, communication with involved actors, update information material
- financial: setting-up (information material like brochures and signposts)
- ideally: exisiting or planned coherent network of recreational paths; otherwise additional ressources are needed to set up a route
Evidence of success
The farm stations help to create new tourism and local recreation opportunities, while contributing to a greater awareness and visibility of regional food production.
The feedback of the farmers is in general good. While some left the practice (given up farming,..), there have always been new farms joining, making it an established, successful practice. The brochure is re-edited in spring 2021 with 20 participating farms. In average, up to 7.000 exemplares of this booklet are demanded per year.
At the beginning, the biggest challenge was to convince farmers of becoming part of the network and to find existing farms willing to participate. Once established, the maintenance of the farm stations (e.g. the wooden signposts) and the supply of actual informations have to be guaranteed.
Potential for learning or transfer
The farm stations are an inspiring example of cooperation, marketing and learning. Instead of seeing each other as rivals, farmers can join forces and profit from each other. Through joint marketing, they attract more tourists (mainly from the RhineMain metropolitan area) and spark interest in their own practices, products and the whole region.
The cooperation is not necessarily intended for profit. Barriers for farms to join are low, costs of managing the network (by public authorities or volunteer organisations) are limited. Thereforthe practice is easily transferable.
For the urban population, the farm stations are an accessible way to re-connect to farming and get in contact with ‘their’ farmers directly. In contrast to urban garden projects, they can experience farming methods and see where their food is coming from without doing the work. It also speaks to the increased wish for short supply chains and consuming products from the region.