Operational Group: Agroforestry in Zielawa Valley. Project title: Innovative model of herbs production, processing and distribution in Zielawa Valley.
Practical problem: The intentional combination of agriculture and forestry has varied benefits, including increased biodiversity and reduced erosion. Introduction to the cultivation of several wildly growing species such as, for example, cloudberry, cabbage thistle, pulmonaria, heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis), and nettle will be possible thanks to a specific growing technics developed during our project. Increasing soil degradation and environmental pollution due to extensive use of fertilizers, as well as a declining farmers’ income may be mitigated by the introduction of a coordinate dual use of agricultural land known as agroforestry. This method allows different species of tall shrubs or trees to be cultivated together with low – growing plants e.g. herbal plants are being cultivated in the same plot. An obstacle to a large – scale implementation of outcomes of our project in Poland is the lack of proper legislation facilitating the introduction of agroforestry practices (dual use of the plots without eliminating their agricultural character), particularly in terms of additional EU funding for farmers which is available in other EU countries. Our project, presenting Poland’s first agroforestry cultivation model, will hopefully bring a logical and favourable change in Polish legislation resulting in recognition of agroforestry systems and additional financial support for farmers introducing these practices. Also, we found a gap in the market wherein there is a lack of food products with a health-enhancing effect produced from quality herbal plants grown in the sustainable environment and made of components based on innovative recipes including wide crops never cultivated before. Our project will conclude with the launch of innovative health-enhancing products to the market: herbal teas and spices.
Research institutes: Szkoła Główna Gospodarstwa Wiejskiego w Warszawie (Warsaw University of Life Sciences) and IUNG Instytut Uprawy Nawożenia i Gleboznawstwa w Puławach (The Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation in Puławy)
NGO: Fundacja Rozwoju Lubelszczyzny (The Foundation for Lubelskie Development) – Leader
Enterprise: ECO – FARM Sosnówka Ltd.
Farmer: Gospodarstwo Rolne Barbara Baj Wójtowicz (Agricultural Farm Barbara Baj Wójtowicz)
Project: Innovative model of herbs production, processing and distribution in Zielawa Valley.
Objectives: The aim of the project is to develop and implement a new comprehensive model for the cultivation and harvesting of herbal plants, farm and production management as well as a new herbal processing model resulting in two new final products with a health-enhancing effect being developed and being marketed through an improved marketing method.
Expected results: A new agricultural practice in herbs cultivation involving the introduction of polyculture/ agroforestry management system in which fruit trees or shrubs are grown around or among herbal crops. In our project we will combine the cultivation of the following plants: a) elderberry with pulmonaria and heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis); b) rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa) and dog rose (Rosa canina) with cloudberry.
Developing and implementing a new agricultural monoculture practice that introduces wild plants for cultivation e.g. nettle, cabbage thistle and common agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria).
Developing and implementing a new method of organisation and management of farm production due to the creation of a GIS system for the farm – a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present spatial or geographic data related to the farm and crop cultivation.
Developing and implementing a new method of organisation and production management based in the micro – enterprise participating in the project, including emissions testing, profitability, herb’s drying methods, and drying equipment parameters.
Developing and rolling out a new product with a health-enhancing effect developed and implemented in the form of dried fruit tea (made from species not yet used in such processing).
Developing and rolling out a new product with a health-enhancing effect developed and implemented in the form of spices (using herbal species never used before in such processing).
Developing and implementing an improved method of marketing of newly developed herbal products with a health-enhancing effect (tea and spices) based on new agricultural technics, and a new method of organisation and management.
Results so far/ first lessons: A new field methodology to assess soil quality, required fertilization and preparation of the field prior to the establishment of plantations has been developed. Laboratory soil tests have been conducted. A meteorological station has been set up on the participating agricultural farm. The station will allow precipitation sums, air temperature and relative humidity at the level of 2 metres above ground level to be recorded. Weather station data will be continuously monitored and published on the Internet in real time. Data collected during the growing season will enable an assessment of agrometeorological conditions for herbs cultivated on the farm. New agricultural practices for elderberry with pulmonaria and heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis) as well as for rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa) and dog rose (Rosa canina) with cloudberry are being developed with the intention of implementing the first results in autumn 2019. Crop management strategies are being optimized. The fields are being prepared for planting the crops in autumn 2018 and spring 2019. Agricultural machinery required for the operation have been purchased.
Who will benefit: Farmers will be able to optimize income and management of their farms and herb plantations through the application of new agroforestry practices and a more comprehensive model of herb production, processing and distribution. Micro-, small- and medium-size enterprises will also benefit from the model of herb production, processing and distribution. By learning from Poland’s first agroforestry cultivation model, Polish public administration and policy makers will hopefully make a logical and favourable change in Polish legislation resulting in additional financial support for farmers introducing agroforestry practices in Poland. Newly developed and implemented products in the form of herbal tea and spices (using herbal species never used before in such processing) with a health-enhancing effect will bring benefits for consumers. The planet and the environment will benefit from the intentional combination of agriculture and forestry that has varied benefits, including increased biodiversity and reduced erosion.