Topic: Social farming - new challenge for extension services in rural areas
Keywords: social farming, innovative knowledge, extension services
The example of social innovation for Polish agriculture is social farming which might be a new objective for rural development policy related to the social sphere. Therefore the public extension system in Poland, as an policy implementer, may play a huge role as a driver of social changes in rural areas.
Therefore the public extension system needs to be reoriented to new technical skills as well as to a knowledge exchange attitude. The different aspects of social innovation such as social farming, causes the need for supporting advisors’ ability to change and close the gap between science and practice.
As the complexity of challenges in extension increases, advisors need to be aware of the evolution of systems and prepare for changes. Therefore, the specific research questions are: how the role of agricultural advisors has been changing and what skills and capabilities regarding social farming are needed for agricultural advisors? Social farming should be developed, especially in rural areas because of the negative effects of the ageing of the population, searching for new sources of farm income as well as a serious problem with migration (it causes the interruption of traditional, local and family, social ties and support networks).
The paper uses an expert interview methodology. The interviews show the dilemma for agricultural advisors regarding the extension process in the social farming theme. The data is collected by interviewing agricultural advisors in 4 different regions in Poland. The interviews are made by using the scenario for individual in-depth interview (IDI).
Social farming as a new theme is a challenge for public extension in Poland. Therefore, it should be prepared in the methodology of advising and working with various actors involved in the social farms creation process. It is necessary to develop and implement new training methods and materials (detailed issues), including education in the working environment and the use of open educational resources.