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Image by Hitoshi Namura


As more attention is given to the Sustainable Development Goals, the ACORN consortium feels that there is a strategic importance to take a serious look towards the development of new concepts, models, methods, and practices that will lead society towards becoming more ecologically sustainable and socially responsible, besides being economically efficient. 


Many smallholder farmers struggle to make their products visible, and in some cases find it incredibly challenging to compete with the big players on the market. Their competitors’ products are often mass produced and accessible, and they have the financial power to get the best placements, playing right into the hands of the consumers. 


But what these bigger competitors often are not, is based on an authentic, long-term sustainability plan! 


The project idea became a reality, when the consortium found themselves asking; Why can consumers in super markets in Guadeloupe only purchase chicken that has been imported from i.e. mainland Europe? How does a microbusiness in agriculture let consumers know that they sustainably produce ecological products of very high quality? And how can these small producers be part of the solution for the Sustainable Development Goals? 


In part, we believe we have been able to begin to answer some of these questions.. We believe that innovation through sustainable agripreneurship can play an important role in achieving this. 


We say this, because it is proven that innovation can “radically change the ways individuals, organisations and societies do things, and their relationship are a fundamental issue for our societies facing globalisation, complex interdependencies, worldwide risks, natural resource depletions, biodiversity collapses, climate change, world population ageing, or urban inhabitant evolutions” (Motesharrei et al. 2014; Pueyo 2014; Barnosky et al. 2012; Dearing et al. 2014). 


Socio-cultural and economic challenges are central to the design and to the construction of a society in which all individuals feel integrated and responsible. And based on this, we feel that there is a great opportunity for smallholder farmers in rural and outermost regions of Europe, to play into a market that is demanding more sustainable produce, and for larger companies such as the retail sector, to take real action towards the SDGs. These opportunities mean that smallholder farmers have a market of buyers, but they need help to get there. 


On top of this, the COVID-19 crisis inflicted a disproportionate toll on microbusinesses, especially in rural communities. This is particularly concerning, as they are often the lifeblood of their local economies. While much attention has been paid to small business closures in urban communities across Europe,we saw the same dynamic unfold in underserved rural areas, with desperate consequences. As rural communities all over Europe have grappled with challenges such as these, they will undoubtedly require coordinated relief to get back on their feet after this crisis. Rural areas can benefit from a vibrant small business and entrepreneurship ecosystem, as they have been found to generate wealth that stays in the community, and even contribute to population health and cultivate vibrant communities that contribute to a sense of neighbourhood identity that retains residents and attracts new ones. 

Whether you’re looking for growth, perseverance or stability, the ACORN symbolises it all. All the wonder in a mighty oak grows from a single ACORN and is a reminder that the difficulties we incur help us to grow strong. The ACORN is a constant reminder to continue; to persevere; and to keep working hard, because as we feel is the spirit of the project ideology; “Everything that made that giant tree is already contained inside this tiny little seed”, and so, the ACORN project contains what we need to foster sustainable ecosystems in rural communities.

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