September gave us plenty of wonderful weather, though the leaves started to tell us that autumn is really here. Now all the leaves go in yellow and red colours and in the northern parts of Sweden the first snow has come. But it is still a wonderful time to pick mushrooms in the forests and enjoy clear and fresh air. Soon it will also be time to buy candles and start heating the houses.
Together with many colleagues from all over Europe, and even from other countries, there were three representatives from Sweden participating in the meeting in Milan the 24-25 of September. What we really appreciated was the strong emphasis from the Commission on support and simplifications to initiate and implement transnational cooperation during this program period. A hope for or expectation to reach one transnational cooperation project per LAG is really a high target. We will do our best. But we are right now discussing how we best can support the initial phase of such projects, since we will not be allowed to use the TA funds of the NRN for the kind of first study visits like we were doing in the last programme period. Suggestions and ideas for such NSU-support to LAGs are welcome.
The Swedish Rural Network is based on membership. Organisations and authorities who work or are at a national level with issues regarding rural areas can be members. Before the start of the program period 2014-2020 we asked all the existing network members to renew their membership and also express at what activity level they wanted to participate. At the moment 78 organisations and authorities have joined the “new” network and 58 of them are active as members in at least one thematic working group.
As a measure of the level of information dissemination we have many followers and subscribers to our different information channels.
In the beginning of October the national leader meeting will be organised in Haparanda, far north in Sweden at the border to Finland. The number of participants will be about 140. Some participants will stay at hotels in Tornio, Finland and some in Haparanda Sweden. From Finland 15 LAG representatives and NSU-representatives will also participate. The overall theme is the startup of Leader with four funds and of course will the issue of transnational cooperation be lifted. Many Swedish and Finnish LAGs have since long been working together in cooperation projects.
The national association for the Leader Groups, LUS, was formed this spring and during autumn it has gained speed.
LUS welcomes all organisations working with the Leader Method in Sweden, regardless of funding. Today LUS has 24 paying members, aiming that all 48 areas will join when they have started operating locally. LUS will have an extra annual meeting in Haparanda on the 6th of October with more than 50 participants and more than 20 LAGs represented. There will be a new board elected and a new chairman. In 2016 the organisation needs to set an official office, aims to become a dialogue partner for the Board of Agriculture (MA) and work on issues arising from the members.
The thematic working group, within the Rural Network, has initiated a questionnaire in order to get an overview of the local activities going on aiming at supporting asylum seekers in rural areas. E.g. how volunteers in associations and among village inhabitants give support and help. The aim of the survey is to get knowledge and good practice as a base for exchange of experience and support to the people who are active. A better overview is also a starting point for the rural network and its member organisations to arrange more targeted activities aiming at using the RDP to give support to asylum seekers in rural areas. The questionnaire will be carried out during autumn 2015 and can be found here (only in Swedish though):
The thematic working group Youth in Rural Development has been helping the Network Support Unit to make the website more accessible and attractive for youth. In a one day workshop some of the members of the working group gave input, arguments and examples for what to think of when you want to reach young people with information through the web. Another sub group is preparing training courses on how to recruit young people and how to organise meetings and projects so they are more accessible and attractive to youth. The training courses will be offered to LAGs and other member organisations in the network. During the national Leader/CLLD meeting three members of the working group will organise workshops on inclusion of youth.
We had a ”kick-off” for EIP-Agri on the 22nd of September at Julita, Sweden's Museum of Agriculture. Around 50 people from the innovation and knowledge chain got an innovative lunch and could listen to presentations about old important innovations regarding both machinery and hops. The theme for the event was “Success factors for innovations – myths and reality” which Per Frankelius from Linköping University gave us important knowledge about in an entertaining way. We can highly recommend him as a lecturer for EIP meetings. After this, information was given about the new innovation support and the routines for application. The Minister for Rural Affairs presented how EIP-Agri is a part of the national strategy for innovations in Sweden and how the government works with questions related to agricultural productivity and sustainability. A cannon shot ended the day as a symbolic signal for EIP-Agri now being open for applications and that everyone can help to inform about it.
The Innovation Support Group has had more than 100 discussions via email, phone or personal meetings with different actors about innovation ideas. Many of them could become innovation projects with funding from EIP-Agri, while others don't fit in.