Exploring the integration of school gardens – MSc-thesis by Blair van Pelt

Dowtown Teaching farm in Idaho (photo the Downtown Teaching Farm

Downtown Teaching Farm in Boise, Idaho. Photo credit: The Downtown Teaching Farm.

School gardens are sprouting up everywhere these days, yet little is known about how they can be used as a teaching tool here in the Netherlands. School gardens are common in elementary schools, yet rare in secondary schools.

For her MSc-thesis Exploring how school gardens are integrated into secondary schools, Blair van Belt has looked at 9 examples in the United States and the Netherlands where a garden or greenhouse is successfully being used as a teaching tool in secondary education. These examples were examined along practical, structural and ideological lines of questioning. What emerged from the cases is that school gardens can be used to teach, both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Inside the greenhouse at the Sage School, Hailey (Idaho)

Inside the greenhouse, Sage School in Hailey (Idaho)

Secondary school gardens facilitate learning in a community of practice and are a microcosm of civic ecology. In addition to being a fun way to teach science and other subjects, they give students an opportunity to participate in, and contribute to their communities in a result-oriented and hands-on manner that connects both local and global social and ecological issues.

 

Agriculture school garden in Apeldoorn (NL)

Agriculture school garden in Apeldoorn (NL)

Additionally, it emerged that the needs, goals, opportunities and challenges of a secondary school garden are different and evolve depending on which stage of development the school garden is in; from which, a new theory sprouted.

The MSc-thesis provides an in-depth look into the nine examples of successful school gardens in secondary education and provides recommendations that are meant to provide guidance and serve as an inspiration for aspiring schools and policy makers.

For more information contact Blair van Pelt: blair.vanpelt@wur.nl

Appeal to Ahold to join the Fair Food Programme

In a campaign (Facebook page) with different activities such as an picket-line at the venue of the annual shareholders meeting Wednesday April 15 (12.00-14.30) an appeal is made to Ahold to join the Fair Food Program just like McDonalds, Burger King and worlds largest retailer Wallmart already did. An open letter to Ahold has been published with an online petition. The letter is signed by a.o. FNV, Fairwork and our Rural Sociology Group. If you have viewed the video above, you can visit the website of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), initiators of the Fair Food Program, learn about the Fair Food Program, what they ask and sign the petition if you agree Ahold should join the program now.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Fair Food Program is a unique partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables on participating farms. It harnesses the power of consumer demand to give farmworkers a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, and to eliminate the longstanding abuses that have plagued agriculture for generations.

Food Chains is a documentary on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Program. Next Thursday April 23, 19.00 (Forum building, room C222), Food Chains will be shown followed by a panel discussion with a member of the CIW. This event is co-organised by the Boerengroep, Otherwise, RUW and the Rural Sociology Group

Research in the Amazon: experiences of a RSO MSc student

My name is Carlo and I am currently conducting field research for my MSc-thesis in the Ecuadorian Amazon, with one of the seven indigenous ‘nationalities’: the Waorani. They inhabit a territory that has been recognised as an ethnic reserve by the government and which is partially encompassed by the famous Yasuní National Park. Because of its natural resource richness this has become a highly contested area: on one hand it is one of the global bio-diversity hotspots while on the other it lies above substantial crude oil reserves, the country’s main export. Oil exploration and extraction efforts have created the basic infrastructure, i.e. gravel roads, that allow for access in what would otherwise be remote areas of the jungle. They also have control over who has access to this area.P1120603

The Waorani inhabit their territories in small settlements (less than hundred inhabitants), which they refer to as communities. In most cases one community is not further away than a day or two walking distance from the other. However some communities are situated in very remote areas that can only be accessed via canoe or plane.

Life in the communities has its own pace as nature provides to many of the basic needs of everyday life. Lush vegetation provides abundant and constant supplies of food and copious rainfall is collected to be used for cooking, drinking and personal hygiene.

DSCN0340Visitors and foreigners are not that common but are kindly welcomed to the communities. A genuine interest is displayed by the inhabitants, especially by the children. A lot of patience is required to conduct research in this environment as the whole community tends to gather around the visitors, curious to witness whatever is being done, significantly slowing down the process as a result. The experience however is uniquely beautiful and absolutely unparalleled: a reminder of difference.

TRANSPLACE research project – connecting people to place

In 2014 the International Social Science Council launched a call for pre-proposals to apply for a ‘seed grant’ on the topic Transformations to Sustainability. Wageningen UR (Ina Horlings from RSO and Paul Hebinck from SDC), the Rhodes University and the University of Viçosa wrote a proposal together and received funding. The seed grant was used to build a knowledge network around this topic, locally in sites in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, the Minais Gerais in Brazil and in three different sites in the Netherlands. Furthermore the research partners met in South Africa in December 2014 to visit some sites and write a full proposal together. In the beginning of 2015 the organisation ILEIA, centre for learning on sustainable agriculture, joined the research consortium and in April 2015 a final proposal was submitted.

Meeting in South-Africapptx

TRANSPLACE addresses concrete problems and sustainability issues across several linked areas of global environmental change in 9 specific social-ecological settings in South-Africa, Brazil and the Netherlands. Sustainability problems emerge from complex interactions between people’s livelihoods, the persistent poverty in the southern countries, growing inequalities between people, social discontent and health.
The integrative sustainability challenge is to support sustainable place-shaping as an empowering force of transformation – encompassing people, practices and policies – contributing to new forms of connectivity and co-creation between people and place. This occurs via, and helps us to understand, re-localization, transformative agency and the re-embedding of daily lived practices in social-ecological systems and place-based assets. This is considered as an empowering perspective and an effective starting point for sustainable place-based development.The central question is: How does place-shaping – understood as processes of connectivity- lead to new seeds of change contributing to transformation to sustainability?

TRANSPLACE aims to:

  • address the temporal, historical, spatial, value-led and multi-scale aspects of sustainability in places and to connect people to place (landscape, nature, soil, people’s capacities) by identifying, supporting and replanting ‘seeds of change’ (innovative practices)
  • establish (long-term) knowledge networks on different scales, facilitate transnational research collaboration and social learning and support early career scientists.
  • co-create new knowledge, tools and policy-recommendations on processes of place-shaping as innovative transformative pathways to sustainability.

For more information, send a mail to: lummina.horlings@wur.nl

Values in place – open acces publication and thesis opportunity

Students interested in doing a thesis on this topic can contact me:  lummina.horlings@wur.nl

Societal change toward sustainability is accelerated not only by political systems or practical actions, but also by values which influence our attitudes and actions. The latter point has been termed as change ‘from the inside-out’ or the ‘interior’ subjective dimension of sustainability. However, not clear is what values exactly are and how they play a role in places. Therefore I have drafted an article on this topic now published in Regional Studies, Regional Science (open access): Values in place; A value-oriented approach toward sustainable place-shaping.

The aim of this paper is to understand how specifically processes of sustainable place-shaping are influenced by human values, rooted in culture. The argument is that practices of place-shaping can contribute to sustainable development of communities and regions using local resources, people’s capacities and the distinctiveness of places. The development and engagement of participant’s values in places can build co-creative capacity, contributing to change. The challenge of incorporating ‘values in place’ is to create a dialogue between actors, not based on personal interests, but on common agreed-upon motivational and symbolic values, directed to the common good.
The concept of value is often discussed in the context of economic value, expressed in monetary terms. However, values also reflect people’s core principles and motivations rooted in broader cultural value systems and worldviews. Furthermore they reflect how people value and appreciate their place, and subscribe symbolic meanings to places. Values hinder or foster the fulfilling of what people consider as worthwhile. In the paper different value-oriented approaches in the context of sustainable place-shaping are explored, an economic, intentional and symbolic dimension. Values are not self-standing concepts which can be mapped or analysed as atomized issues, but they are intertwined, context-determined, culturally varied and connected to how we see our self and how we perceive our environment and place. Values such as freedom, solidarity and justice only gain meaning in actual people and practices and can be considered as dynamic in space, place and time. A value-oriented approach can provide a more in-depth insight into what people appreciate, feel responsible for and are willing to commit to in the context of their place.
For more information see the abstract and full article: L.G. Horlings (2015) Values in place; A value-oriented approach toward sustainable place-shaping. Regional Studies, Regional Science, Volume 2, Issue 1, pages 256-273, open access, DOI:10.1080/21681376.2015.1016097.

WANTED: BSc Thesis Student

Feeding 9 billion by 2050?: A critical review of international policy proposals

Food security was thrust back onto the international agenda in 2008 when the FAO declared that for the first time, more than 1 billion people were going hungry. At this moment of enhanced crisis, others looked ahead and asked if we have trouble feeding the world’s 7 billion people now how will we feed the estimated 9 billion in 2050? This focus on feeding 9 billion by 2050 resonated with international policy actors who responded with multiple strategies to potentially address this problem.

This BSc thesis will undertake a systematic literature review of the problem framings and policy proposals that have been advanced to address this challenge.

The thesis student is expected to:

  • Develop a related research question
  • Undertake a systematic literature review
  • Map the framings of the policy problem
  • Map the proposed solutions
  • Select key policy documents for deeper analysis
  • Undertake a critical analysis of these documents to arrive at a conclusion about the policy implications related to the discourse of “feeding 9 billion by 2050”
  • Write up process as a BSc thesis in Rural Sociology

Interested?
Contact Jessica Duncan jessica.duncan@wur.nl

RETHINK – Farmers from Salzburg (Austria) explain diversification as a strategy to strengthen resilience

RETHINK is a transdisciplinary research project supported by the European Commission and funding bodies in 14 countries under the umbrella of FP7 and the RURAGRI ERA-NET. The Rural Sociology Group has a seat in the RETHINK Advisory Board.

Researchers from BOKU have made three short films (also with English undertitles) in which farmers explain their family farm strategie in terms of strengthening their resilience.

Resilience refers to the capacity of social, economic, and environmental systems to cope with a hazardous event or trend or disturbance, responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain their essential function(s), identity, and structure

1. Resilience needs diversity – Diversity needs balance

Five farmers form Salzburg (Austria) farmers talk about the advantages of having different income sources (both on- and off farm) to strengthen their resilience. But they also point out the challenges related to managing diversity. They talk about what it takes to successfully manage diversity, especially to ensure that the workload for the various family members is not too high and that quality of life does not suffer.

Continue reading

Family Farming Futures – PhD-thesis by Henk Oostindie

Cover FFF

March 20, 2015 at 1.30 pm Henk Oostindie will publicly defend his PhD-thesis Familiy Farming Futures. Agrarian pathways to multifunctionality: flows of resistance, redesign and resilience‘ in the Auditorium of Wageningen University. The defence ceremony will be streamed live by WURTV but can be viewed later as well. A hard copy of the thesis can be ordered by sending an email to Henk.Oostindie@wur.nl or a pdf can be downloaded from Wageningen Library (embargo untill March 20).

The PhD-thesis compiles different national and European research projects on multifunctionality and multifunctional agriculture Henk Oostindie was involved since 1999. He has thus gained both a broad and profound knowledge of multifunctionality as a concept and as practice. He is a highly esteemed colleague at our Rural Sociology group.

Bodem Anders! conferentie 19 & 20 maart 2015

Bodem Anders 2015

Gezonde bodems zijn de basis van gezond, duurzaam voedsel. Op donderdag 19 en Vrijdag 20 maart organiseren een groot aantal organisaties samen de Bodem Anders! conferentie in Den Bosch. Doel van de conferentie is een dialoog om samen te werken aan oplossingen voor duurzaam bodembeheer. Met o.a. John Liu (Green Gold) als key-note spreker. En met workshops, films, lezingen en excursies over: bodemvruchtbaarheid; jonge boeren; bodem en gezondheid; boerenkennis en wetenschap; kringlooplandbouw; besluitvorming en beleid; toegang tot grond; stadslandbouw.

Meewerkende organisaties: ZLTO, Hivos, Greenpeace, Milieudefensie, Waterschap AA en Maas, Natuur en Milieu, Wervel, Wageningen soil network, Toekomstboeren, Stichting Grondbeheer, Stuugroep landbouw innovatie Brabant, Orgapower, van Iersel, CLM, Brabantse Milieufederatie, OtherWise, Boerenverstand, ILEIA, Boerenverstand, Orgapower, NIOO, The Hunger Project, Estafette, Oxfam Novib, Nederlands Melkveehouders vakbond, Demeter, future farmers movement, bewust bodem gebruik, CSE, Stichting Ecologische Landbouw Ghana, Van Iersel, Aarde Boer Consument, NMI, Down2Earth.

Voor meer informatie en registratie: http://www.voedselanders.nl/