A series of successful events engaging farmers and citizens recently took place in Austria...
On Thursday 25th May 2023 a Framework Conservation Practitioners’ Course was held with participants from the project's Mostviertel Farmer Cluster and BIO Austria. The course was lead by Dr Waltar Starz of consortium partner HBLFA.
A morning session focused on presentations about sustainable grassland management and supporting pollinators with talks from Dr Starz and visiting bee expert Dr Johann Neumayer.
In the afternoon, the group were invited to tour two meadows nearby to the meeting in Sankt Veit an der Gölsen. First the group examined the management and biodiversity of a conventionally managed meadow before moving on to the farm of Christian Knoll, a participant in Framework's Mostviertel Farmer Cluster.
There the group was able to see biodiversity sensitive management in practice. It was great to spot the project's information boards from previous blogs in place. Participants included local farmers, Farmer Cluster Facilitator Daniela Ablinger, who lead on the info board initiative, as well as representatives from BIO Austria.
Attendees enjoyed talking to Christian about his families' management practices as well as examining the biodiversity present with Dr Starz and Dr Neumayer. Observable differences in impacts were immediately clear and people jumped at the chance to get up close with rare orchids. It was a beautiful day, and at the end of the afternoon the Knoll family hosted an evening discussion with local cider where everyone compared notes over a glass.
The following day, Friday 26th May, Framework participants represented the project at Hope am "Aubauernhof". The event was a celebration of biodiversity and sustainable farming hosted by the Heiden family who are leading organic farmers in the region. It marked the family's 30th anniversary as an organic farm, alongside their longstanding membership with Bio Austria as well as more recent participation in Framework.
The day was packed with informative sessions and interactive experiences. The morning sessions revolved around agricultural themes, including insights into the "Aubauernhof" and a presentation on "Biodiversity Monitoring by Farmers" by Barbara Steuerer from the Austrian Board of Trustees for Agricultural Engineering and Rural Development (ÖKL). The sessions also delved into the benefits of biodiversity requirements in Austria's ÖPUL 2023 Eco-schemes directive and shared practical tips for enhancing biodiversity-promoting grassland management.
Dr Starz held a further series of group talks on at a meadow near the farm, demonstrating sustainable grassland management. In the afternoon, Gerid Hager, from consortium partner IIASA, held bioblitzes with attendees alongside Mostviertel Farmer Cluster Facilitator
These provided a fantastic opportunity for farmers, locals and their families to look closely at the biodiversity present on the land. Visiting project participant Marie-Luise Wohlnuth, from Framework's Burgenland Farmer Cluster, also attended to build links across the project's Cluster network.
The energetic festival showcased the region's high levels of organic farming, bringing farmers together from far and wide, while also providing an immersive experience into the world of biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.
The curiosity and enthusiasm of visitors was clear to see as was engagement with Framework's Farmer Cluster and key areas of knowledge exchange.
Overall, It was great to watch the project's network in action during a busy few days of participation in lower Austria. The region has a unique perspective and history when it comes to the agri-food systems change needed to boost farmland biodiversity and secure environmental sustainability.