Sustainability training for advisers

Mark Measures, Director of IOTA, and Susanne Padel have participated in the STOAS sustainability training events held recently in Germany and Switzerland.

The STOAS project works with three existing tools to assess the sustainability of farms (Bioland, RISE, ORC’s tool) and develops and runs training courses for organic advisers to use them. The first two courses, one for advisory service managers reflecting on the concepts and different tools available and the other for advisers working with the tools in the field, have now been held.

The three tools are very complementary, ranging from a paper based audit developed by Bioland to the RISE tool, an internet based assessment tool used all over the world. ORC’s own spread sheet based tool takes the middle ground. We are planning to carry out comparison of the three tools and the indicators behind them during the next year so that more advisors in the UK will have access to robust tools that can be used to support farms in becoming more sustainable in all meanings of the term.

The training courses (PDF 474KB) on farm sustainability assessment concepts and practices will be continuing in 2013. If you are interested in participating, please contact Mark Measures.

Course aims and content:

The courses will help participants to:

  1. develop their understanding of sustainability and the multiple objectives that organic farming needs to deliver
  2. learn about the principles and use of different tools and techniques that are available to assess farm sustainability
  3. understand the farming systems and practises that can be used to improve sustainability
  4. consider how to advise commercial farmers on the delivery of sustainability objectives as well as being profitable
  5. communicate the issues to the wider public, consumers, food companies and politicians.

Course 1. 29/30 Nov. 2012 (in Germany) and 27/28 May 2013 (in Denmark). For executive staff and experienced advisers responsible for organisation management and overall development and implementation of the organisation’s sustainability policy and strategy.

The aim of Course 1. is to enable organisation managers/leaders to be better informed generally about sustainable farming principles and practices and the assessment tools available and to be able to develop policy and/or advisory or other services based on practicable and measurable outputs from farming.

Course 2. 11/12 Dec 2012 (in Switzerlan) and 3/4 June 2013 (in UK at ORC). For practising advisers or inspectors working with farmers.

The aim of Course 2. is to support advisers and inspectors in their work, making sustainability the guiding principle of their services. Participants will learn how to use the sustainability assessment tools and discuss practical measures which they can use to advise farmers in becoming more effective in delivery of multiple sustainability objectives.

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