30 July 2019
Agricology Field Day: Talking diverse pastures

Diverse pastures: win-win for livestock health, wildlife and your pocket!

14 August 2019
Agricology Field Day: IPM and biological control

. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Biological Control - Norfolk

28 June 2019
The Summer Bulletin No.128 is out!

Spring issue now available for free download

18 June 2019
Vikas Agrawal

Sad news of the loss of our Treasurer

21 March 2019
In adversity, what are farmers doing to be more resilient?

Opportunities, barriers and constraints in organic techniques helping to improve the sustainability of conventional farming

Embedding crop diversity and networking for local high quality food systems

Full project title:

Embedding crop diversity and networking for local high quality food systems



Project code:


Contract period:

28 February 2015 to 28 February 2019

Project webpage:


Main funder:

Horizon 2020

Contact staff at ORC:

Dr. Bruce Pearce

Other staff involved:

Prof. Martin Wolfe; Dr. Susanne Padel; Dominic Amos, Dr Charlotte Bickler, Phil Sumption

Project aims

Diversity enhances the resilience and productivity of biological systems. This principle holds not only at the level of primary production, but also at the level of marketing and consequent human health. DIVERSIFOOD will use experienced multi-actor networks across diverse farming systems, areas and crops in Europe, to develop this by exploring how currently underutilised diverse cultivated plants could be more widely grown within a variety of agroecosystems to increase the range and quality of crops and their products.

The project will bring together farmers, scientists, processors, traders and consumers to promote the greater use of diverse plants and produce with a local and cultural identity. This will help to demonstrate how society at large can encourage sustainable agriculture, as well as simultaneously promoting this concept through production and marketing avenues.

Specifically, the project will help to:

  • Increase knowledge of the diversity of genetic resources available for practical use. Samples of cultivated diversity currently conserved in gene banks will be observed in the field by farmer/consumer networks to provide specific, locally relevant information to support agronomic needs;
  • Create new diversity using genetic resources sourced from the heritage of the agricultural past to develop innovations emerging from novel social needs;
  • Facilitate dialogue and cooperation between participatory research networks and professional breeders, processors, retailers, wholesalers, and consumers;
  • Optimise community seed management by sharing the experiences of multiple stakeholders for documentation, quality guarantees, exchange and the wide use of new crops;
  • Assess the ability of informal seed systems to maintain a high genetic diversity for crops that are locally adapted and adaptable to changing environmental conditions. Also to assist European policy makers in managing formal and informal seed systems in relation to international negotiations;
  • Demonstrate the social and economic value of on-farm seed systems and the development of local production and processing of traditional and underutilized crops (job creation at the local scale);
  • Increase food and environmental awareness at local and wider policy levels to create a multi-actor approach for development of broad “food cultures” linking urban and rural actors;
  • Increase awareness of value of genetic resources as well as products with a regional identity through appropriate dissemination activities.
A wide range of species will be considered within DIVERSIFOOD, including wheat (einkorn, rivet, emmer, durum and bread wheat), oats, barley, maize, chickpea, beans, lupin, false flax, buckwheat, broccoli, tomato, carrots, onions and chestnut.

ORC's role

ORC’s involvement in the project brings together our crops and socio-economics teams, as well as our training division. The crops team will lead a workpackage focusing on the multi-actor and farm evaluation of underutilised crops. This will include 18 international partners and the particular objectives are to develop an inventory of underutilised genetic resources for marginal/specific conditions and potential new uses, test some of these in participatory field trials and to evaluate different crop management approaches associating underutilised legumes and cereals in terms of robustness and adaptive capacity across a range of agroecological conditions. The socio-economics team will lead a task to analyse the value chain of diverse local food and newly bred lines originating from participatory research within the project. They will also contribute to developing recommendations in collaboration with policy makers which will be presented at a stakeholder forum. We will engage in training approaches to facilitate the incorporation of innovations and novel activities arising from DIVERSIFOOD into the businesses of stakeholders.

Current progress highlights

See photos from the 2016 trials of Emmer, Einkorn and Rivet wheats.

Ancient wheat trials - Diversifood

Project leader and partners

  1. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France (INRA)
  2. The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland (FiBL)
  3. The Louis Bolk Instituut, The Netherlands (LBI)
  4. Escola Superior Agraria de Coimbra, Portugal (ESAC)
  5. University of Bologna, Italy (UNIBO)
  6. Agricultural Research Institute, Cyprus (ARI)
  7. University of Pisa, Italy (UNIPI)
  8. Instituto de Tecnologia Quimica e Biologica ,Portugal (ITQB)
  9. Agrifood Research Finland, Finland (MTT)
  10. Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Spain (CSIC)
  11. Institut technique de l’Agriculture Biologique, France (ITAB)
  12. Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Hungary (ÖMKI)
  13. Réseau Semences Paysannes, France (RSP)
  14. Rete Semi Rurali, Italy (RSR)
  15. Red Andaluza de Semillas, Spain (RAS)
  16. ProSpecieRara, Switzerland (PSR)
  17. Arche Noah, Austria (ARCHE NOAH)
  18. Oikos - Organic Norway (OIKOS)
  19. Formicablu, Italy (FORMICABLU)
  20. INRA Transfert, France (IT)

Project output