Farmer Colaboration in informal networks: CRIE Montado

Multifunctionality in farms is a concept that has been increasingly used in Europe in farming sector but also in the rural world. It proposes new ways of producing and consuming in the farm by recognizing and exploring the farms at various dimensions (food production but also, entertainment, personal rebalancing, nature conservation, environmental education, etc), thereby changing the concept of farm and city-countryside relationships.

Acknowledging that the implementation of multifunctionality in farms is particularly difficult in the sectorial character of existing administration and markets, informal models of organization have been developed in Europe that enable mutual support of multifunctional farmers regarding the sharing of information and experience, thereby enforcing multifunctional farms. In Portugal, farmers collaboration in formal organizations is generally weak in relation to most European countries. Informal collaboration happens, but with a weak structure and depending much on family or personal relationships. New networks are nevertheless emerging, mostly driven by farmers with a higher education and awareness of the new challenges the sector is facing, particularly focusing on new/alternative farming styles and paradigms.  The successes and difficulties faced by one such informal network existing in Portugal are the focus of the Portuguese case-study, while trying to grasp what is being learnt along with this kind of collaboration.

Image: Montado landscape (area of study), Portugal (courtesy of the Portuguese team)