Contribution to the Gardening-Conference 2000: "Perspectives of Small-Scale Farming in urban and rural areas
- about the social and ecological necessity of gardens and informal agriculture" from 21. - 25. July 2000 in Berlin
Infos: Work group "Small-scale farming and Gardens in urban and rural Areas", C/O Free University of Berlin, Institute of Sociology, Elisabeth Meyer-Renschhausen, Bülowstr. 74, D-10783 Berlin, Tel.:+49 (0)30 - 261 22 87,


Dr. Nigel Swain
Centre for Central and Eastern European Studies
University of Liverpool

"Here everyone stands on two feet" - small-scale farming in the post socialist rural transition: some examples from East Central Europe and the Balkans

The paper addresses the 'silent majority' of rural dwellers in the countries of Central Europe and the Balkans for whom self-supply agriculture is an essential component of their life strategies without which they would not survive. The first section of the paper considers the importance of small-scale supplementary agriculture to rural dwellers during the socialist years. The second section considers the global context of the collapse of socialism and the economic environment in which post socialist supplementary agriculture emerged. It argues that if increasing income was the motivation behind most supplementary agricultural activity in the socialist years, under post socialism it has been more a question of replacing lost income.

The final two sections of the paper illustrate these processes. Section three reviews briefly some of the statistical evidence on the predominance of small-scale farming, while the final section presents some qualitative materials identifying six combinations of small-scale agriculture and other income sources based on interviews conducted in rural communities in Central Europe and the Balkans.

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Stand: 20.9.2002