About us


The Global Network of Lighthouse Farms brings together exemplary farms and foodscapes...

… 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.

Reaching Impact

‘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.


Rogier Schulte


Chair Professor, Farming Systems Ecology. Explores the world for inspirational exemplars of sustainable foodscapes. Compulsive optimist.

Mariana Debernardini

Network Coordinator

Mariana Debernardini is the coordinator of the Global Network of Lighthouse Farms, and manages internal and external communication.

Lenora Ditzler

Research Coordinator

Dr. Lenora Ditzler is a Research Associate at the Farming Systems Ecology Group, leads the scientific oversight of the Global Network of Lighthouse Farms.

Blair van Pelt

Education Coordinator

Blair van Pelt, education coordinator of the Farming Systems Ecology Group, facilitates links between the farms and MSc students for their thesis or internship.

Arni Janssen

Education Coordinator

Arni Janssen, teacher and Internship Coordinator at the Farm Technology Group, links the lighthouse farms to research and student work in the domain of Biosystems Engineering.

Vivian Valencia

Research Partner

Dr. Vivian Valencia, Research Chair in Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Action group at Bishop's University in Canada.

Jonas Steinfeld

Affiliate researcher

Dr. Jonas Steinfeld is an affiliate researcher at the University of São Paulo and next to researching and consulting on agroforestry systems also coordinates the Brazilian Lighthouse Farm Academy lab.

Carl Timler

Affiliate researcher

Carl Timler supervises MSc students’ Theses & Internships at Lighthouse Farms. Carl’s research interests are in farming system modelling of mixed farming systems.

Lizzy Freed

Lighthouse Farm Academy Manager

Lizzy Freed is the Project Manager of the Lighthouse Farm Academy.

Andrea Bottarel

Education developer

Andrea is the education developer for the LIghthouse Farm Academy.