Actors’ contribution: multiple way to contribute, discuss ideas and co-design

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Re-appropriation of the workshop outputs and final design

Regarding the final prototype made by Gotheron, after setting dates for a succession of meetings, the objective of the first meetings was clearly to appropriate themselves the outputs from the workshops. Therefore, a compilation of the rapporteurs’ report as well as using the SketchUp© pictures helped them to understand the details of each prototypes and the main explanations of the components of the prototypes. Their process to express their decisions was to listen to the opinion of every members around the table and often followed by a counting of voices for or against a proposal.
The process to take decisions was long at the beginning but surprisingly more effective once the global design was decided. It required seven three-hour meetings to hand out a prototype that satisfied all members. The steps to define the prototype were: (i) the global design, (ii) the number of ‘rows’ and the functions of the external and the center rows, (iii) the number of pathways and the management of the different species/cultivars, (iv) the number of cultivars of apple trees, (v) fruit trees associations and finally (vi) apple tree cultivars.
There was a clear a shift after they chose to start from the circular prototypes of the workshops, in the manner in which they proceeded to design and state components. They needed to disconnect global design of the prototypes with the levers implemented in order to do the design exercise themselves. Indeed, each member needed to define and express what they wanted. There was a session especially where each member had to think personally and propose a drawing about how they would compose and manage the apple trees and the fruit trees in the circular system. The meeting after this session was especially efficient because components to integrate were less debated allowing us to arrive at a consensus quickly to express decisions. One element that helped is that one member had worked in between the two meetings to propose a layout based on the main ideas that seemed satisfying. My internship stopped one session after this last one and even if the prototype is not finished yet, we already had a good overview of the system. What remains to be decided especially is the management of the inter-rows as well as other common orchard operations, and several cultivar and species names matching the functions desired, e,g, in the fruit hedge, or the rusticity proprieties of the genetic resources.
Figure 10 is a picture of the prototype of Gotheron as it was when I left. The circles were divided by three pathways, joining a pond at the center. An external circle (i.e. R9) made of biodiversity elements would surround the system and create an initial barrier. A second circle (R8) is composed of trap trees against rosy apple aphid thanks to the cultivar Florina which is resistant to this aphid. It is mixed with Akane cultivar on the row. R7 is composed of another circle of ‘birscher-müesli hedge1‘ with fig, almond, hazelnut and grape trees. From the circle R6 to R1, the circles were managed the same way: each circle was divided in thirds by the three pathways, then each third was again divided in two to alternate non-apple fruit trees and apple trees on the row. Each portion of a given fruit tree alternates two cultivars mixed on the ‘row’. Each couple of apple cultivars or species is organized in spiral stairs: each time the fruit trees shift on the row, workers should move to the internal circle. This way, management is easy to remember and to follow, and there are similar numbers of trees (and therefore a similar volume in fruit production) regarding apple cultivars (instead of having one cultivar per circle). Moreover, pests should be unsettled by fruit tree shifts on the circles and cultivar mix. Each couple of apple cultivars is chosen regarding a similar period of harvest. There are therefore 8 apple cultivars in the system if we count Florina and Akane, and three fruit tree species conducted in spiral: peach, apricot and plum trees with two cultivars each. To finish nearby the pond, there will be a circle (R0) with some table grapes and/or other low trees in order to allow pathways for bats, birds and pollinators.
After presenting the results on the overall process of prototyping, we can focus more specifically on what happened during the workshop. Our area of research concerns participants’ contributions regarding specific elements of their profile and their perceptions about it, and the construction of ideas.

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Workshop contributions

In this part, we firstly compared the fields of expertise with the perceived contributions, then the perceived contribution with the real contributions and finally we compared the different types and nature of contributions regarding professional activities and tables.

Fields of expertise, perceived contributions and real contributions

Eight topics were suggested to the participants in the multiple-choice questionnaire before and after the work session (before on their field of expertise, after on their perceived contributions) with a category ‘others’ that has been selected by some participants to add new fields of expertise in commercialization and in co-design methodology.
Figure 11 shows differences between people’s skills (approximation from fields of expertise) and in what they thought they had contributed after the workshop, on the same topics. First, we can see that the topics biodiversity, plant associations and orchard management were the most answered ones, meaning that we had gathered people to the workshop having those main fields of expertise and perhaps knowledge in these topics.
Three patterns stand out: biodiversity and on smaller- scale orchard management were the categories was the most in adequation with people’s skills and perceived contributions. In contrast, the categories ‘plant protection’, ‘soil fertility’, ‘animal integration’ and ‘other’ (i.e. mostly commercialization and co-design methodology) were considered as underused by the participants, which is not surprising regarding the fact that we asked them to create a system without pesticides, without animals and that commercialization was not a lever considered at this point. This means as well that people who considered themselves as having those skills, could not elicit their knowledge. Results are surprising when looking at soil fertility which was one of the ecosystem services aimed by the project and which seemed to be underused during the work session, maybe due to our approach and directives focused on pest suppression. Finally, the categories ‘plant associations’, ‘spatial organization’ and more surprisingly ‘genetic resources’ had a high proportion of contributions outside the fields of expertise; this could mean that it is not the main skill or field of expertise of participants and/or that a general knowledge about those topics can lead to proposals during the workshop.

Real vs perceived contributions

Figure 12 shows the gaps between topics on which propositions have been recorded and topics participants thought they contributed to.
Except for biodiversity, participants generally underestimated their contribution, since proposals existed but participants thought they had not contributed within the topic. It is interesting to see that participants underestimated their real contributions in soil fertility whereas at the same time they considered they poorly used this field of expertise (see Fig. 11). This may be related to our categorization which included grass competition and soil detoxification (e.g. Sorghum of Soudan) in soil fertility.
Scarce overestimation of contributions could also send back to categorization. The broad proposed categorization (e.g. plant protection was included in orchard management) could also contribute to the observed results.

Table of contents :

1. Introduction
2. Material and Methods
2.1. Case study description and workshop organization
2.2. Gathered materials
2.3. Analysis
3. Results
3.1. Prototyping process
3.2. Workshop contributions
3.3. Ideas construction, statement and ‘evaporated’ ideas process understanding.
4. Discussion
4.1. A long and complex overall design process
4.2. Actors’ contribution: multiple way to contribute, discuss ideas and co-design
4.3. A fruitful but perfectible framework
4.4. Learnings for future agroecological design activities
4.5. Knowledge building process


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