Name of organisation
AMPI Centrum Konipas
AMPI Centrum Konipas
Liberec Region, Czech Republic
Type of organisation
Community Supported Agriculture Network
short food supply chains; civic food networks; social justice; agroecology; education
Consumer Information and Education
Who is Centrum Konipas?
The Konipas Centre is an innovative project combining an organic production farm, the modern use of horses in agriculture and a centre for aspiring (new entrant) organic farmers, open to the local community and the general public. The project is based on three pillars: organic farming, education and social action.
The Centre is a way to prepare Czech agriculture for the era of sustainability, and to create conditions for the development of modern organic farming on small farms.
The Konipas mission includes the following objectives:
- To provide opportunities for ‘learning by doing’ on a modern organic farm, for up to 4 trainees per year.
- To educate interested farmers and existing farmers in modern approaches to organic farming,
- To organise awareness-raising events in innovative areas: agroecological farming, modern use of horses in agriculture, community supported agriculture, sustainable development and support of local economy, agro-tourism,
- To provide conditions for the employment of people with special needs or social disadvantages, as well as providing meaningful rural livelihoods,
- To care for the landscape and to protect the local environment with the involvement of the local community.
Centrum Konipas is organised as a formally registered social enterprise. It has a director who acts independently, while at the same time having permanent advisory support from the Board of Directors (3 members, each representing one of the founding pillars).
The controlling body is the auditor. This role is currently undertaken by a consultant who specialises in social-environmental enterprise start-ups.
Who does the Centrum Konipas work with and how does it do it?
Centrum Konipas works collaboratively with the Czech network of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), (AMPI), the the Czech Foundation for Soil (Nadace Pro půdu) and the Lukava Farm (Farma Lukava).
Farmers, representatives of the small-scale family farm Lukava, are one of the founders of the initiative, through sharing examples of good practice. Practical demonstration days show the possibilities of independent operation in the local territorial food system.
In Spring, Autumn and Winter, at least 4 weekends per year are dedicated to volunteer work to develop the landscape, planting orchards, etc. There are also public open days, which provide visitors with the opportunity to tour the centre.
In the frame of the creation of a network of cooperating social enterprises in the region, the initiative developed together with the regional representatives (e.g. debate on the creation of a shop co-financed by the county, where only local products would be on offer, support for farmers by short supply chains). Cooperation within the CSA groups – a dispensing point in a lavender social farm – Jizerska levandulovna – that supports single mothers. They have the opportunity to access a source of quality vegetables that otherwise requires more financial input in the family budget. Cooperation with the regional food bank – growing surplus vegetables provided free of charge.
What are Centrum Biokonipas’ main challenges?
With the current set-up of the centre, staff capacity is limited. Capacity is further stretched as the number of contacts and collaborative partnerships is increasing and each of these relationships need to be maintained.
Another challenge is for the general public to take an interest in the situation in the agricultural sector.
What are the priorities for Centrum Biokonipas?
A key priority is to establish a local partnership with a public high school focussing on agricultural education and practice. There is already one entity identified, so a possible collaboration is emerging.
A similar situation applies to linking with the largest association of private farmers in the country – the Association of Private Agriculture. They bring together over 50 sub-agricultural organisations and are in direct contact with policy makers. The goal is to introduce the concept to them and make them more aware of agroecology and the current situation in the territorial food system.
Centrum Biokonipas participants would like to identify additional funding sources to support the implementation of the project on a larger scale.
In the Czech Republic, more support for new organic farmers and changes to the education system are needed.
More motivation for municipalities and regions – which often own suitable land because mainly small-scale farmers are facing a lack of access to land.