I am from a farming family based in Bavaria, with a Swiss name meaning ‘alpine dairy cream’ – however breaking somewhat with family tradition I have specialised on horticulture, economics and philosophy.
30 odd years ago, when a professor at university told us “organic doesn’t work” I was hooked. Today all my student friends are employed in the organic sector, so he couldn’t have been more wrong! When I became a professor for organic agriculture at Bolzano University, I told my students “never believe what your professor tells you”. I think this critical attitude is also important for practical farming: questioning what is said, doing your own research and sharing the results with others.
I believe that current farming systems are far from achieving real sustainability. The big ‘S’ of sustainability cannot be based on one single indicator, like greenhouse gases, the whole package of economic, social and environmental resilience has to be considered. Although the scientific literature tells us that ‘organic’ has the best changes to hit most of those indicators, it is not perfect. Currently the global demand for certified organic is growing fast and existing farms can’t keep up. More support is needed to enable more farms to make real progress in making sustainable agriculture a reality.