General Structural cooperation between ILVO and Pomona, a cooperative woodland farm
Honest, local and seasonal food directly from the field to the consumer? Citizens who are involved in their own food production and who can co-invest in sustainable agriculture? That is the aim of Pomona, a cooperative agroforestry farm in Flanders where farmers and citizens work together.
In order to become "ecologically restorative" and thus produce food while benefiting the environment, Pomona uses various agricultural strategies such as the application of agroforestry, food forests and non-inversion tillage. Pomona collaborates regularly with ILVO, which has been researching these cultivation systems for years and is currently studying the impact on biodiversity and various ecosystem services.
Central to these systems is closing loops through adapted soil and nutrient management. Pomona does not want to use artificial fertilizers and wanst to become completely circular.
This requires biomass, and animals can help us to achieve this. We are also experimenting with other forms of fertilization, such as fermented compost (bokashi). We are following up these experiments with ILVO in the SoildiverAgro* project.
In addition to the goal of being ecologically restorative, Pomona also aims for economic sustainability by cooperating between citizens and farmers. Both parties invest in the business and make decisions together. It is an economically closed system, meaning that the farm produces for its partners in order to keep the chains as short as possible. The consumers participate in the management of the company. This ensures that the financial risk of starting a farm does not lie solely with the farmer.
Want to know more? Read more in Bio Actief (p20-23; in Dutch). For more explanation, you can watch this video (in Dutch) with the co-founder and farmer at Pomona, Lieven Bauwens and Stéphanie De Caluwé.
*SoildiverAgro is a European H2020 project that focuses on adapting soil management to improve biodiversity and thus benefit from a range of ecosystem services. Attention is also given to economic and social aspects. ILVO acts as regional project coordinator and monitors 4 trial fields, among others, together with the Flemish partners (Inagro, Pomona and PSKW).
** Pomona aims to become a group of individual farms, where each farm serves a local community. The first Pomona farm is called Pomona Puur Natuur cvba and is located in Melsele. Pomona vzw coordinates and supports all the farms, but also provides education and communication services.