Raise awareness

Lively markets, typical landscapes, specific food artisanship… The “identity” of an area is often connected, in part, to its agriculture. Raising awareness to defend the local natural and social richness is a legitimate and important area of action for local authorities. To promote access to land, they can in particular target private landowners. They can further encourage agroecology by raising local support from citizens.

Raising awareness of landowners

Whether or not local governments own and act on public land (see section Acting as an owner...), working with private landowners is a complementary dimension to making more hectares available for agroecology and new farmers.

Whether or not they still have a direct link with agricultural activity, landowners may be sensitive to questions of long-term land stewardship, local food production, and sustainability, particularly if public actors themselves send clear messages and make strong decisions to protect agricultural spaces.

In some countries, churches, hospitals, universities and other institutions hold large tracts of land. These private owners can be targeted to lease out land for specific uses and users, which may yield a large impact for minimum engagement. Charitable institutions in particular can be sensitive to using land to provide public goods.

Raising awareness of citizens

Local authorities can create a support base for agroecological farming and increase local food demand through educational campaigns for citizens. They can also generate heightened interest and scrutiny on land use and public support for bold land policies.

The municipality of Mouans-Sartoux’s “House for education and sustainable Food”

The town of Mouans-Sartoux developed a multifold land and food policy based on five pillars: grow food, process food, educate, research and transfer experience. The municipality invested in a public 6-hectare farm to supply vegetables for the local school. This farm has also become a vessel for the education programme of the town which includes actions such as:

  • School teachers receive training organised by the municipality and each elementary school class spends a week per year on the municipal estate to learn about food, agriculture, and the environment.

  • Visits of the municipal farm estate are organised for schools but also local authorities interested to learn from the Mouans-Sartoux model (between 2016 and 2019, about 200 French and 50 European authorities have benefited, to various degrees, from knowledge transfer organised by the municipality).

  • Education programmes for sustainable eating are offered to a variety of publics (children, families, social beneficiaries), including cooking and nutrition workshops, the discovery of applied agronomy, educational gardens, and building awareness on food waste...

The educational work of Mouans-Sartoux is associated with strong messages for landowners. The town revised its zoning plan to earmark more land for agriculture. It also carries out facilitation actions to convince private landowners to lease out land to create more new local farms.

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