Internship: diversification strategies of farmers in peri-urban Amstelland

Amstelland is a traditional meadow landscape, dominated by dairy farming, and framed on three sides by the cities of Amsterdam and Amstelveen. The vicinity of the city offers threats and opportunities for farmers in Amstelland. The area is intensively used for recreation.

Citizen organisation Stichting Beschermers Amstelland (SBA) is concerned with the future of the area. SBA presumes that preservation of the landscape is connected to economic sustainability of the farms. For that reason SBA is interested in the strategies of farmers towards diversification and pluri-activity. A number of farmers already have added multifunctional activities to their conventional farm. Most farmers are member in the environmental cooperative De Amstel and take agri-environmental measures. Some farmers have started a B&B or sell products on farm. The peri-urban situation leads to high land prices, slowing down opportunities for farm enlargement. As a result, more farmers are likely to consider diversification and pluri-activity as an alternative strategy.

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International Master Sciences of Rural Development (IMRD) – Application open till March 15 2015

IMRD Programme

IMRD Programme

Wageningen University is partner is the International Master of Science in Rural Development (IMRD) and providing an advanced module in Sociology of Rural Development in the 3rd semester.  Students can subsequently do their MSc-thesis in Wageningen. Till March 15 2015 students can apply for a scholarship. See the IMRD website for more information.

Origin Food: a market for identity – course starts March 16 2015

Monday March 16 2015 we will again start with the course RSO-21806 Origin Food: a market for identity.

Montbeliarde cheese made by the Meester Affineurs nearby Wageningen

Montbeliarde cheese made by the Meester Affineurs nearby Wageningen

The main aim of the course is to provide for a broad and scientific understanding of the growing importance of food products with an indication of origin within the globalising agro-food system. The course is obligatory in the specialisation Gastronomy of the Master Food Technology. No specific prerequisite knowledge is asked. The course is open to students from other Masters. Different educational backgrounds is stimulating for an interdisciplinary study of Origin Food Products in groups.

Food products with a geographical indication are becoming more important worldwide, both in economic and cultural terms. In the course a distinction is made between Origing Food Products with a protected Geographical Indication (PDO, PGI or TSG) based on EU-regulations such as Parma ham, Boerenleidse kaas, Café de Colombia and not officially acknowledged Origin Food Products locally sourced by e.g. restaurants, shops or online box schemes.

The course deals with a range of questions on OFPs organised in five themes: 1) Linking people, place and product: the construction of distinctiveness; 2) Regulation and legislation; 3) Marketing and branding; 4) Sustainability impact; 5) Consumers’ appreciation, regional gastronomy and food tourism.

The course consists of a combination of lectures, group assignments to study some Origin Food Products more in detail and a gastronomic excursion, often seen the higlight of the course.

For more information you can contact Dirk Roep (

Re-localising Food Projects in Zurich

Originally posted on Matt Reed's blog:

I’ve spent the last few days in Zurich for a meeting of the SupurbFood project. Amongst the range of privileges this brings is that we get to visit different projects that are in some way shortening food chains, closing the cycles of nutrients and using land innovative ways.

Ortoloco, Zurich - peri-urban CSA with a view of an Ikea Ortoloco, Zurich – peri-urban CSA with a view of an Ikea

We visited a range of projects in Zurich but I thought at this point I would highlight three that are relevant to discussions the CCRI is involved with at the moment.

As I left the UK there was much discussion of the plummeting price of milk and the future of the dairy industry. One answer to this is to change the distrubition of milk so the farmer captures more of the value and consumers get a fresher offer. At the Markthalle Vidautk (Markethall Viaduct) Conradin Flurin (@FlurinConradin) had set up a…

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Resource Revolution – Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Originally posted on

141215 - ResourceRevolution v1What: lecture and debate
When: 21 January, 19.15
Where: Public Library // Stationsstraat 2
Entrance: Free

A new wind is blowing in entrepreneurial land and it is called sustainable entrepreneurship. Erik van Slobbe (WUR) will lead the evening and look into the question what sustainable entrepreneurship is and whether it is more than nowadays’ catchphrase. Who better to answer this question than those who are entrepreneurs?

An introduction of the speakers:

Dr. ir. Erik van Slobbe - WURFoto Erik van Slobbe

Erik van Slobbe completed his PhD at Wageningen University and is currently a senior researcher for the chair group Earth System Science as well as teaching integrated water management and adaptive water management. Before returning to Wageningen University he worked for Arcadis as a senior consultant and has thus acquired experience in moderating meetings with different stakeholders. He was the coordinator of the Climate KIC funded ‘Working with Nature’…

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Urban Fish Farming in Lagos

By Marc Wegerif. PhD Candidate, Rural Sociology Group Wageningen University, contact:

The Gate CompThe grey concrete buildings and high rusty brown gate we were outside in a suburb of Lagos were not encouraging. Especially as we were looking for a farm, a fish farm, this did not look like any kind of farm. The yard beyond the gate with half finished buildings and concrete with rusty steel reinforcing sticking out was also not inspiring.

BlueTanksCompI was with a group of 12 amazing women farmers from all geographic zones in Nigeria, finalists in the Female Food Hero awards in Nigeria. This was an exposure visit for them as part of their training and build up to the announcement of the female food hero of the year (

FishGoCrazyCompWhen we looked a bit closer, behind an apparently collapsing shed, we saw three blue plastic water tanks. We gravitated to wards them as they were the newest and most functional looking things in the yard. Looking inside the first blue tank we did at least see some fish and a young man appeared from one of the buildings and admitted that he worked there. He was not the most talkative person, but did start to show us around. When he threw some fish food into the murky water it suddenly came to life, hundreds of fish rushing to get to the food, water splashing even outside the tanks.

FeedingFishCompCatFishInHandCompWhen he threw feed into the slimy green water, of what I had thought were empty concrete tanks, these also exploded into catfish filled life. I was at last convinced we were not wasting our time. With a net he pulled some fish out, including a catfish that was probably weighed about 5kgs. There were close to 9,000 fish in the outside tanks. Most of them catfish in the concrete tanks, but one of the plastic tanks had about 1,000 pangasius fish as well.

In an incomplete building in a corner of the yard we were shown breeding tanks and the thousands of juveniles/fingerlings in them. The breeding tanks on the upper floor of the building contained exotic fish for aquariums. These days this fish farm sells only on Saturdays and focuses on selling parent stock as they get a better return, thousands of dollars a week. We did also see a few fish in a smoker, for the fish farmers own consumption.

This urban fish farm is part of a rapid expansion of fish farming and related industries in Nigeria. It was good to see that the fish feed came from a Nigerian company. The government has got ambitious programmes to promote fish farming with an aim to replace the 1.9 million tons of fish imported each year, at a cost of over $700million, with local production ( ). The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development gave each of the 12 female food hero finalists start-up kits including fish for them to go into or expand their own fish farming.

The yard remained a mess, but the fish production did impress, and fish farming at quite large scale in small urban spaces clearly has potential that I had never realised before. We got back on our bus and into the Lagos traffic. Along the way we saw women selling smoked fish from buckets on their heads and we also had cat fish as part of our dinner.

Take Back the Economy 3: Who profits? Taking back business

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Dirk Roep:

Inspired by the presentation of Katharine Gibson on Wednesday September 4 and her latest book book ‘Take Back the Economy: an ethical guide for transforming our communities’ ( Michelle Steggerda started her weblog on which she will post her reading of the book and her effort to take back the economy.

Originally posted on Take back the economy:

Have you heard of Airbnb already? Which started as a small initiative in San Francisco in 2008 developed into one of the biggest shared economy platforms, now compromising 800,000 listings in 34,000 cities. Airbnb is a worldwide network in which people (hosts) rent out (part of) their house to tourists on an irregular basis. Tourist pay less than for the average hotel in the same city and can enjoy a much more personal environment. Hosts who rent out part of their house earn money in return. Trust is gained through a reviewing and verification system. The organization Airbnb gets a commission on every transaction and it so able to get a business model out of it. Everybody is happy, except for the hotel industry. Hotels increasingly experience the Airbnb business as unfair competition as hosts don’t pay taxes and don’t have to comply with the strict legislations. By now the…

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