Keywords: sustainable development, regional development, organic agriculture, East Germany, social embeddedness, governance, sustainablility, rural areas, agrarian policy, organic farming, rural development, regional networks, regional value chains, landscape variety, knowledge transfer, healthy nutrition
Organic agriculture as a new player in sustainable regional development? Case studies of rural areas in Eastern Germany
The paper analyses the possible effects of organic agriculture on sustainable regional development in peripheral Eastern German regions, drawing on results from two recent research projects taking two different but complementary perspectives on the organic sector. One project, 'Regional wealth reconsidered', analysed a broad variety of economic, ecological, social and cultural activities in the organic sector in Brandenburg and Berlin. Meanwhile, 'The turn-around in German agrarian policy: new forms of food consumption?', conducted in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, looked in detail at the characteristics of the actors of the organic sector, identifying five different types of organic farmers. The results of the projects reveal that the enterprises of this sector can play an important role for rural development by supporting regional networks, establishing regional value chains, preserving a varied landscape, and contributing to the transfer of knowledge and experience related to both organic agriculture and healthy nutrition. The paper combines the results of these two projects, suggesting ways in which specific activities and actors can be linked with each other in order to strengthen the role organic agriculture can play for rural development in peripheral areas.