“12 steps to farming” is an education and marketing organisation that promotes participation in urban farming and controlled environment agriculture.
Educational programmes are tailored to the needs of new and existing farmers, with marketing services being provided to a diverse range of stakeholders involved in urban farming, including technology suppliers and networking organisations.
The venture was originally started by Lou De Buck, Thibault Verougstraete and Zjef Van Acker - communicators and documentary film makers from Ghent in Belgium. They concluded that the best way to promote urban agricultural knowledge would be to let experienced practitioners in urban farming pass on their invaluable experience through a series of video tutorials. They believe that agriculture has enormous potential to positively impact attempts to fight climate change and protect biodiversity, as a foundation of human civilization.
To gather and document training material, Lou, Thibault and Zjef embarked upon a global quest in 2016 with the objective of video-interviewing many diverse urban and vertical farmers from around the world. The organisation initially went under the name “Kikvors”, however this was soon changed to the “12 steps to Farming”. Now, many years and documentaries later, the team has changed, yet the original concept remains: letting farmers teach farmers!
“12 Steps” aim to be part of the solution by focusing on Urban Farming and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), and through promoting knowledge exchange as a catalyst for the sustainable agricultural revolution. Key principles of the “12 Steps” include:
CEA-technology can maximize quality and quantity of crops, seriously reduce resource use like water and minerals, and can grow food wherever and whenever needed.
CEA-modules with different crops can together create ecosystems, mimicking nature. Outputs of the various modules can be used to complement one another within a circular system. As the efficiency of the high-tech ecosystem grows, fewer resources and energy inputs will produce greater quantities of food. In this respect, Aquaponics can be seen as just the beginning of High-Tech Ecosystem Farming evolution.
Via urban farming different types of waste can be revalorised and used to produce food. Urban Ecosystem Farms are therefore an important link for cities to become entities in harmony with the natural world.
The “12 steps to Farming” regard the biggest challenge facing the industry as being the success rate of new farms and organisations, citing the fact that 50% of Urban Agricultural business start-ups have no prior experience, and that 30% of the farms are still not profitable after 10 years.
They aim to change this through providing low threshold access to education via documentaries and courses, where existing farmers are put in the spotlight. In addition, the 12 steps also provide inspirational and educational marketingservices for existing industry players.
Key services provided by “12 Steps” include:
Education: Via the online platform, the 12 steps provides (aspiring) farmers with in-depth documentaries, webinars and courses - all of them are provided in a unique format.
Marketing: the “12 steps” also sells video, design and marketing-services to farmers, technology providers and other urban farming organisations.
The 12 steps aim to be part of the solution by focusing on High Tech Ecosystem Farming (HTEF) to help transform our cities to become a sustainable part of the planet’s biosphere. By building a global community and promoting knowledge exchange, the 12 steps see themselves as being at the forefront of an emerging industry and part of a new “agriculture revolution”.