Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia (part of SEASN network and SEASN third party in the project) organized the very first cross visit within i2connect project. The event took place between 14 and 16 March 2022, starting at the Chambers’ premises, and continued in Slap pri Vipavi, at the Vina Urban Petrič wine farm.

The purpose of cross-visits in the i2connect project is to offer agricultural advisers, who attended i2connect training course, the opportunity to deepen their knowledge on interactive innovation processes by exploring example of practical case of interactive innovation. To study these processes, special “tools for network analysis” are used. These tools have names like Spiral of initiative, Triangle of Co-creation, Circle of Coherence,… and they are in fact a red line that guides participants through the entire program of the event. With the help of these tools and through conversations with key actors of the selected practical case participants get to know and better understand the story behind the innovation (roles of individual actors, their relationships, ways of cooperating, dealing with potential problems, conflicts, etc.).

On cross visit in Slovenia participants from five European countries – Greece, Cyprus, France, Germany and Slovenia, analysed an EIP project entitled “Introduction of new mechanical and autonomous automated technologies for sustainable grape production in vineyards”. EIP projects are usually very good examples of interactive innovation processes, since they involve different actors (farmers, advisors, researchers,…) who combine their knowledge (practical, entrepreneurial, scientific,…) and together develope solutions to specific challenge in agriculture. This process often leads to the development of innovation.

Key actors of the selected EIP project prepared presentation of the practical case (project) and also demonstration of the innovation on the field. After presentation the main focus was on the understanding of interactive innovation process in this project, which was analyzed throught interviews with key actors of the case and several workshops. The result of the workshops were visual presentations (posters) of the practical case in the form of the tools for network analysis and at the end participants also made SWOT analysis of the case.

The event was faciltated by two i2connect trainers – Jana Žiberna from the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia and Natalija Pelko from the Agricultural Institute Novo Mesto. I2connect trainers are familiar with the content and purpose of tools for network analysis, as well as with methods to carry out different workshops, which are the main part of the cross visit. Eelke Wielinga, author of the tools for network analysis, was also actively involved in this first cross visit and his knowledge further strengthened the understanding and importance of the above-mentioned tools.

At the end of the event, the participants gave very positive responses. Most valuable for them were the lessons learned from the practical case and the cross visit itself. From evaluation of the cross visit we can conclude that participants have brought a lot of new knowledge, new ideas and motivation for further work to their home work environment. The first event of its kind within the i2connect project thus brought the desired results and served as an inspiration for new approaches in agricultural advisory.

For a better insight into what was happening at this interesting event, you are kindly invited to watch a short video prepared by Thomas Alfoeldi.