… from around the world that have found radical solutions to address the sustainability challenges we currently face. These lighthouse farms are existing, commercially viable farms in the real world; they are positive deviants and are “already in 2050” in terms of providing sustainably produced food and ecosystem services.
They demonstrate what can be achieved within the bio-physical and socio-economic solution spaces. Lighthouse farms are exemplars of specific aspects of sustainable production and can serve as real-life experimental farms to advance our scientific understanding of the principles and practices of sustainable production in contrasting environments. Together, they create a global outdoor classroom and laboratory for tomorrow’s farms and foodscapes. .
This transformation requires the design of radically new future farming systems that meet the sustainability objectives for a range of soils, climates, cultures and local conditions. The optimum design will vary between locations, resulting in a mosaic of optimized systems. We focus on harvesting the mosaic of solutions and innovations that already exist on the ground. We aim to use the Global Network of Lighthouse Farms to gain insights on the multiple pathways of transition towards a more sustainable state.
‘Designing solutions’ does not equate to ‘solving the challenge’. Decision makers (e.g. farmers, policy makers) encounter numerous obstacles to implementation, known as the ‘think-do gap’. Examples include land fragmentation, taxation structures, gender inequality or poor local infrastructure.
Therefore, if we want our lighthouse farm systems to have an impact on global agriculture, there is little point in simply ‘trying to convince the neighbours to follow suit’. Instead, through co-innovation and in a transdisciplinary approach we involve researchers and students in engaging with the local communities, to identify and understand barriers to transformation, and either chart a path to removing these, or iteratively ‘redesign the lighthouses’ to be compatible with local decision making.