Rural Entrepreneurship

In cooperation with the Warmonderhof Opleidingen" ULMUS is coordinating and managing a European Partnership Project with the same title as above.

Aim of the project is to develop and implement a curriculum for a professional training course in “Rural Entrepreneurship”. 

Experience from Warmonderhof Opleidingen in the Netherlands has shown that level 4 programmes  often deal with content that is either taught too superficially due to time constraints or they cover content that includes  knowledge and competences that relate more to a level 5 programme (Foundation Degree). In addition in interviews graduates of the level-4 programmes “Biodynamic Farming” and “Rural  Entrepreneur – Care Farm” (Warmonderhof Opleidingen) indicated that they experienced certain challenges in the area of entrepreneurship. 

Some of the common challenges that have been identified relate to:

interpersonal and social issues on the farm and in the farm community

interdisciplinary communication within the wider network of the farm

the lack of entrepreneurial skills regarding capacity building, strategic planning and implementation. 

farm diversification opportunities

farm identity and its use in marketing and communication

Out of the aforementioned challenges arose the question whether an extension course could be developed to address these particular entrepreneurial needs of agricultural professionals. 

This extension course would focus on teaching practical tools to strengthen the abilities and broaden the range of skills of the individual farmer. Certain tools could be used to prevent particular issues from arising in the first place, especially when implemented in the planning phase of a new farm enterprise.

Furthermore, the personal development of the individual could be strengthened by applying the ethical, moral and idealistic foundations of biodynamic agriculture in a more practical way during their training – the identity of the farm and the farmer are inextricably intertwined.

As a result of these considerations we have decided to develop and implement a curriculum for a training course in “Rural Entrepreneurship”. The idea for this new curriculum has been shared with several partners, colleagues, organisations and professionals in the field, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive – there is a clear need for further development in this area.

The term RE (working term) is a term of wide comprehension. It evolves from different yet cohesive areas of expertise that all play an important role in the daily struggles of a bio-dynamic entrepreneur in his/hers personal and professional environment. To be able to withstand the challenges he is facing, all areas offer certain tools and methods, he can combine to a strong set of skills, which will qualify him to fulfill his goals and vision.

This is the main goal of this project: to develop and implementate a curriculum that highlights the tools of each area and makes it accessible/available to the professional.

Here we can see, how certain basic skills and knowledge are to be combined with the bio-dynamical aspects of, not only farming, but life in its whole. This opens for a new perspective: the farm as multifunctional platform seen in combination of regional and rural identity and development. Here social needs, related to the direct environment of the farm-organism are seen as part of the identity of the farm, just as personal development-issues of the farmer/entrepreneur have impact on the form and function of the enterprise. Another important skill is to be able to translate this just identified social need into a business-concept that covers financial, social and environmental revenue. To be able to create, communicate and manage all this, combined in one farm-organism we see as the challenge of the next generation of bio-dynamical entrepreneurs - and by developing and offering the planned curriculum we see our contribution to this development.

technical questions? © Ulmus Projectrealisatie 2012