Last week I attended a talk given by the facilitator of the Latvian living lab – Dalija Segliņa. The topic was the production of candied fruit and vegetable products (sukādes in Latvian). The event took place in Dobele, at the Institute of Horticulture, and gave me an opportunity to begin to understand how farmers and producers engage with new material in an informal setting.
The event took place on a Friday (24 August) and faced competition from another event organised by the institute. Nonetheless, Dalija’s talk was well-attended and the audience was obviously keen to learn what Dalija had to say.
The talk began with a tasting of different varieties of candied fruit and vegetables. Participants were, therefore, given a chance to assess the quality of the products produced at the institute. This was followed by a presentation by Dalija. Participants were also encouraged to ask questions, and a number of them did so when Dalija had finished her talk.
What struck me the most was the specificity of some of the questions. Some members of the audience obviously already had had some experience with several of the issues raised by Dalija, so they could ask for advice on the specific difficulties they had encountered.
At the end of the first part, we briefly talked about the Agrilink project and our plan to work on an online platform that would brig together all the different advisory resources available in Latvia. Participants were all asked to fill in a short questionnaire and specify (i) whether they use online or any other digital tools and (ii) any topics or issues for which the local advisory resources had not been sufficient.
Unsurprisingly, many people wrote that Google and Facebook are online tools that they use on a regular basis. Furthermore, many people had encountered problems and had not been able to find the necessary information or obtain the necessary advice locally.
On the whole, therefore, this suggests that our idea may prove to be useful, though more work obviously needs to be done to determine the exact needs that need to be met.