Farm incubators are programmes enabling prospective farmers to set up and try out their project at scale before full committing to a long-term agreement. It is a strategy to support entry into farming, by limiting risk and providing:
• access to land and equipment
• technical support and mentoring
• legal and administrative coverage
Additionally, farm incubator programmes usually facilitate and strengthen the relationship between the prospective farmer and the community (including experienced farmers, food supply chains, consumers, etc.).
In France, this strategy has developed rapidly and there are now about 50 operating farm incubators, and 25 in project phase. This is thanks to the involvement of farmers’ associations, rural development associations, vocational training centres, community-supported agriculture groups, local authorities, and others.
Similar initiatives have also been carried out in Belgium and United Kingdom, although to a lesser extent, and you can find more case studies and analyses in the Access to Land Network’s publication on new entrants.
During the last year, some Spanish organisations have been shaping RETA, the network that is expected to foster generational renewal by adapting farm incubators’ strategy in Spain. To that end, and in the context of an Operational Group, they are elaborating a guide for the implementation of farm incubators and are disseminating this strategy to key stakeholders, such as NGOs, farming schools and local authorities. Simultaneously, two pilot farm incubators are being developed by the group members. One of them is located in Casar de Cáceres (Extremadura) and oriented to dairy ewes, while the other is in Terra Alta (Catalonia) and tackles goat rearing for milk in a silvopasture system. Both of them are enabling the identification of country-specific challenges linked to the implementation process, and the knowledge gathered will be very valuable for future farm incubators in Spain.
In the coming months, the group will be working hard to boost the two pilot farm incubators and to release the final guide. Moreover, a workshop will be taking place on the 3rd-5th of June in Lleida: it will be a great chance to share experience of farm incubators throughout Europe and to reflect upon the role these can play towards farm succession, agroecological transition and local food systems.
The program and registration will be available at the RETA website soon so do check this site if you are interested or contact Neus Monllor (neus[@]arrelsataula.cat) for more information.