The farmer field school (FFS) is a concept for farmers' learning, knowledge exchange, and empowerment that has been developed and used in developing countries. In Denmark, a research project focusing on explicit non-antibiotic strategies involves farmers who have actively expressed an interest in phasing out antibiotics from their herds through promotion of animal health. One way of reaching this goal was to form participatory focused farmer groups in an FFS approach, which was adapted to Danish conditions and named "stable schools." Four stable schools were established and went through a 1-yr cycle with 2 visits at each of the 5 or 6 farms connected to each group. A facilitator was connected to each group whose role was to write the meeting agenda together with the host farmer, direct the meeting, and write the minutes to send to the group members after the meeting. Through group focus interviews and individual semistructured qualitative interviews of all participants, the approach of the farmers' goal-directed work toward a common goal was judged to be very valuable and fruitful and based on a common learning process. Complex farming situations were the focus of all groups and in this context, problems were identified and solutions proposed based on each farmer's individual goals. In this article, we describe the experiences of 4 stable school groups (each comprising farmers and a facilitator), and the common process of building a concept that is suitable for Danish organic dairy farming.
Journal of Dairy Science, 2007, Vol 90, Issue 5, p. 2543-2554
organic dairy farming; common experiential learning; farmer empowerment; animal health planning; LIFE