Local food and reneweable energy as emerging new alternatives of rural sustainability in Finland

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Local food and reneweable energy as emerging new alternatives of rural sustainability in Finland

The rurality of small Northern countries such as Finland has traditionally been based on family farm practices. However, rural sustainability is polarizing between the large-scale industrial agriculture and the more regional and multifunctional small-scale specialisations. This paper addresses small-scale entrepreneurship which aims at enhancing sustainable livelihood and sustainable development on farms. We identify two main lines of pioneering rural entrepreneurship in Finland, local food and renewable energy. Firstly, it is asked what kind of barriers and development targets these new productions are expected to have. Secondly, to what extent do they reflect real transformation as described particularly by the multifunctionality and ecological modernisation thinking? The two empirical case studies were carried out in Central Finland. We find that individual farms begin to identify the importance of mutual networking while establishing new businesses meeting the sustainability criteria. This certainly indicates social transformation. However, we also conclude that farmers in Central Finland seldom go for radical alternative productions imitating strong ecological modernisation.

Pohjoismaissa maaseutu on perinteisesti rakentunut perheviljelmäkäytännöille. Nykyisin maaseudun kehityskulku on kuitenkin polarisoitumassa teollisen maatalouden sekä pienimuotoisen ja erikoistuneen tuotannon välillä. Tämä artikkeli käsittelee maaseudun pienyrittäjyyttä, joka pyrkii edistämään kestävää toimeentuloa ja maatilojen kestävää kehitystä. Lähiruoka ja uusiutuva energia edustavat tutkimuksessamme edellä käyviä tuotantosuuntia. Selvitämme niiden näköpiirissä olevia esteitä ja kehityspolkuja. Tutkimme myös, missä määrin nämä uudet tuotantosuunnat heijastavat muutoksia, joista puhutaan esimerkiksi ekologisen modernisaation ja monivaikutteisen maatalouden yhteydessä. Empiirisesti artikkeli perustuu kahteen tapaustutkimukseen, jotka on tehty Keski-Suomessa. Päätuloksemme on, että käynnissä oleva maaseudun muutos näkyy erityisesti siten, että viljelijät ovat alkaneet tunnistaa keskinäisen yhteistyön tärkeyden kestävän toimeentulon tavoittelussa. Toisaalta päättelemme, että viljelijöiden ratkaisut tuotantosuuntien valinnoissa eivät muistuta vahvan ekologisen modernisaation dynamiikkaa.

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