DIE AGRONAUTEN (The Agronauts) are a nonprofit research association for sustainable food systems and regional economics. Our base is the region of Freiburg in southwestern Germany. The motivation for our work is to strengthen the integration of social and ecological aspects into agriculture, the advancement of alternatives to outdated economic paradigms, the valuation of farmers as providers of food and protectors of landscapes, the potential of regional added value chains and a new public debate about nutrition and agriculture. A further inspiration for the foundation of Die Agronauten was an obvious lack of research which is carried out in close relationships with agricultural practicionners, and which studies and communicates innovative land use practices in an integrated and accessible way. Die Agronauten come from a range of backgrounds, from agronomists to sociologists, trained farmer, communication scientist and project developer.
Our understanding is that the significance of agricultura goes beyond the production of food which means that not only economic asprects but also ecological and ecomic implications must be considered into the research perspective. Die Agronauten aim at making an active contribution to the realisation of the sustainability paradigm. Many concepts of sustainability are very wide and lack substance. For us, splitting the term sustainability into economic, ecological and social aspects is an error in reasoning and just an attempt to spare the current dominant notion of economics. At a closer look, the economic, ecological and social spheres are synchronous and merge (Hiss, 2012=