American Farm School is an boundary organization training people of all ages, from kindergarten to post-grads and adult training applying circular economy
AFS is an independent, nonprofit educational institution located in Thessaloniki, Greece founded in 1904. The current major educational divisions include the Secondary School, Perrotis College, the Primary School Program, the department of Adult Education & Research and the Greek Summer program. The School's mission is to educate men and women to become professionally accomplished in the latest aspects of agriculture, bio-based circular economy and life sciences. Educational and research programs are supported by the large-scale Educational Farm that includes the Holstein Friesian dairy herd that is ranked among the top 10% in the world; greenhouses; vegetable gardens; vineyards; fruit and olive trees; and extensive field crops at its satellite farm to the west of Thessaloniki.
The problem addressed is the handling the waste produced by the production activities taking under consideration that the premises are close to the urban area. The objective is to low environmental impact to the minimum possible levels. Therefore, AFS implements waste treatment of manure, biogas production, fertiliser production by composting of plant material and recycling of plastic, glass, aluminum and paper. AFS employs a holistic model to treat and recycle its solid and liquid waste since the farm includes 120 cows and 100 calves, 22,000 turkeys and 15,000 chickens. Main stakeholders are the AFS both as producer of waste and as user of the recycled materials and a biogas production company.
AFS act as an educational center and a living laboratory. Its staff is involved in circular economy practices. It deploys a large number of people and a quite big budget to run and function. Overall, about 180 employees with 16M€ revenues are utilised in productive and educational departments.
Evidence of success
Farm waste is annoying especially to peri-urban areas mainly due to the unpleasant odour. However AFS has managed to implement handling practices that practically have eliminated the problem. In addition AFS has accomplished to spend very little on manure management since biogas company is taking it under mutually beneficial arrangements. Finally the plant origin compost is returned to the cultivated fields for the enrichment of soil in nutrients and organic matter.
Obstacles-problems: The different legislation and institutional background poses obstacles to effective management.
Lesson learnt: The utilization of several projects and initiates can effectively contribute to the development of green services and number of green jobs.
Potential for learning or transfer
This model that includes farming facilities as well as educational activities is unique in the EU. Also, since the staff of AFS is trying to keep on track with the new trends in smart tech farming and circular economy, it represents a good example for knowledge transfer and expertise to similar regions. Moreover, the innovative processes followed at the AFS can assist to reduce carbon footprint of agricultural and bio-stream activities.
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