Farm Experience Internship 2015

By Lucie Sovová and Elske Hageraats (FEI coordinators ‘Stichting Boerengroep’).

Farm Experience Internship 2015

Farm Experience Internship 2015

The Farm Experience Internship (FEI) is a 3ECTS summer course on agroecology that offers the students to get hands on experience from organic and bio-dynamic farms in the Netherlands. This year it took place from 20th of July till 14th of August. The main organizer of the course was Stichting Boerengroep with the academic support of the Rural Sociology Group. Continue reading

Future perspectives for farmers in Amstelland – Michelle Steggerda

By Michelle Steggerda, MSc Organic Agriculture Wageningen University

Amstelland - SteggerdaFrom March till July 2015 I’ve done my internship at the research institute Alterra. Alterra is part of Wageningen University and Research Centre and specializes in the ecology, the spatiality and the governance of green spaces. My assignment was to conduct a research about the future perspectives for farmers in Amstelland, a peri-urban but still predominant agricultural area located south of Amsterdam. This was part of a larger project for the Wageningen UR Science Shop on behalf of the civil society organisation Stichting Beschermers Amstelland. Continue reading

Best practices in nutrition-sensitive landscapes, Zambia – MSc-thesis Minke Stadler

By Minke Stadler, MSc Organic Agriculture

Below a summary of my MSc-thesis Productivity in Nutrition-Sensitive Landscapes; 
Evaluating agricultural best practices, mindset and social values systems in Barotse floodplain, Zambia.

Best agricultural practices in Kapanda, Zambia

Best agricultural practices in Kapanda, Zambia

Nutrition-sensitive landscapes address the relationship between agriculture, nutrition and environment. Increasing farm productivity and diversification of nutritious food crops are key issues in agricultural development, as improved productivity and diversification provide opportunities to reduce poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. Adoption of new practices is one, out of many, key issues to help improving food and nutrition security. Farmers’ mindsets and social values systems are therefore important, as people interact with their environment and decide what and how to farm.

Can development be taught?…  No. It can only be learnt. (Clapham, 1996)

The study was part of the CGIAR Research Programs on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). The aim was to develop a better understanding of the mindset and socio-cultural aspects that influence the relations between nutritious food production and landscape, while studying successes. The underlying hypothesis is that: “Geographical location and position in the landscape results in different mindsets and values systems, which in turn influence agricultural practices and adoption strategies.” Continue reading

‘Gij zult participeren’: Een discoursanalyse van moestuin-projecten voor minima in Nederland (MSc-thesis)

Door Monique Jongenburger (Boerefijn) – MSc-student International Development Studies

Vijf jaar Internationale Ontwikkelingsstudies in Wageningen hebben me kritisch gemaakt op ontwikkelingshulp en interventie. Worden de deelnemers van projecten serieus genomen? Ik was dan ook geboeid door de uitzending van EenVandaag over moestuin-projecten voor minima in Nederland: “Geef geen geld maar groenten”. Kunnen Nederlandse ‘armen’ niet met geld omgaan? Ik besloot dat ik dit onderwerp verder wilde onderzoeken. Dit leidde tot de onderzoeksvraag van mijn thesis: Welk discours leeft er bij de initiatiefnemers van moestuin-projecten voor minima in Nederland over minima?

Om mijn vraag te beantwoorden heb ik een discoursanalyse toegepast. Ik heb me hierbij gebaseerd op de theorie en methoden van Foucault en de politicologen Bacchi en Yanow. Voor de analyse heb ik documenten verzameld over de projecten en bij zeventien initiatiefnemers een semi-gestructureerd interview afgenomen.

In heel Nederland bleken soort gelijke projecten te zijn opgekomen: voedseltuinen, minimatuinen en volkstuintjes voor minima. Al snel bleek dat de projecten in de eerste instantie op elkaar lijken maar verschillende doelen hebben. Dit leidde tot een typologie van vier soorten projecten: de voedselbank-tuin, de duurzaamheid-tuin, de dagbesteding-tuin en voedselzekerheid-tuin. De initiatiefnemers presenteren elk een eigen probleem waar hun tuinproject een oplossing voor is; een tekort aan groenten bij de voedselbank, afstand tussen mensen en voedsel, inactiviteit van minima en te dure groenten. Continue reading

Agro-ecology in practice: Farm Experience Internship 2015 – get enrolled!

By Elske Hageraats, Msc. Biology and Msc. Development and Rural Innovation, WUR.

There is a battle for ‘truth’ (Foucault, 1976) and this fight for independent research and education is still going strong: be inspired by the story of the FEI

FEI 2014 LuizaFor my internship I have organised the Farm Experience Internship (FEI) 2014. The FEI is a international summer course at the Wageningen University for students and non-students, intended to bring theoretical knowledge from the University with practical skills and knowledge from farmers. Wageningen University students can get 3 ects credits for their participation in the FEI. Above you can see one of the FEI 2014 participants, Luiza from Brazil, harvesting ‘rainbow carrots’ in the Netherlands. Are you also interested in growing your own food, discovering local knowledge and practices on organic farms in the Netherlands? Do you want to learn about permaculture, agro-ecology and sustainable food systems? Would you like to interact and discuss with farmers to find creative, innovative ways of farming? Then this course is what you’re looking for! Join as participant, as farmer or organise the course at your own university as your internship. Check our website, or send us a mail:

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Quality characteristic of TSG Farmhouse Gouda cheese is farm specific – Msc-thesis tested micro and meso terroir models

By Marcell Kustos, Master Food Technology Wageningen University (

MSC-thesis: The authority of novel terroir models: Case study on quality characteristics of Traditional Speciality Guaranteed Gouda Farmhouse cheese

Boerenkaas-met-kievitIn my MSc-thesis research I tested novel terroir models on Farmhouse cheese (Boerenkaas) originating from the Green Heart area in the Netherlands, also known as the traditional farmhouse cheese area surrounding cities like Gouda and Leiden historically linked to the traditional Gouda type and Leiden type of Famhouse cheese. The latter or Boeren Leidsekaas has been certified a product with a protected designation of origin or PDO by the EU-Quality regulations in geographical indications and traditional specialities in 1997. It has a strict demarcation of the production area or terroir and a strict code of practice. In 2007 the Boeren Goudsekaas was certified as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed or TSG, that is less strict then a PDO: it guarantees only some traditional product methods. Basically that is made of raw milk and that while processing it should not be heated above 40°C or pasteurized. Unlike PDO the TSG has no regulations with regard to cattle breed, cattle feed or cheese manufacturing, as e.g. the Comte has to some extend. And a TSG  has no geographical demarcation and can thus be produced at any farm. Continue reading

Voedselvisie “Ede, de proeftuin voor Food”

Door Lara Sibbing, MSc-student Organic Agriculture (contact:

Voedselvisie EdeTijdens mijn stage bij de gemeente Ede heb ik bijgedragen aan het opstellen van een beleidsvisie rond voedsel. Dit heeft geresulteerd de notitie ‘Ede, de Proeftuin voor Food’ die in het voorjaar aan het college van B&W is aangeboden.De voedselvisie van Ede is te downloaden van de webpagina Ede kiest voor Food waar ook een korte toelichting wordt gegeven.

Met deze visie, die voortborduurt op de toekomstvisie Ede 2025, laat de gemeente Ede zien waar zij op in wil zetten op foodgebied: proeftuin voor Food worden door Ede en Edenaren, bedrijven en organisaties te stimuleren en te inspireren op drie hoofdthema’s: (1) Innovatieve bedrijvigheid in de regio, (2) Sociaal & Gezond en (3) Onderwijs & werkgelegenheid. De nieuwe gemeenteraad zal zich binnenkort over de voedselvisie buigen. Op dit moment wordt er hard gewerkt om samen met Edenaren een strategie op te stellen om de doelstellingen uit de visie te bereiken.

Les Indomptables : An ethnography of niche novelty production in Walloon Agriculture (MSc-thesis)

By Vincent Delobel, MSc Regional Development & Innovation Wageningen University

My ancestors from both sides have been farming for ages. Peasants have continuously held this as ancestral as salutary art of nourishing “débrouillardise” (lit. problem-solving creativity) for ages; they have fed others in the plain as in the mountain, under dictatorship as under “democracy”. However, farmer newspapers today say we may disappear soon; ‘eternal’ peasant population rushes to the bottom.

Are we really going to disappear? How and why did we get to this situation? What is going on in farms today? What are farmers’ plans and projects? What futures do these projects lead to? This is in short the structure of my MSc-thesis ‘Les Indomptables : An ethnography of niche novelty production in Walloon Agriculture’. This alarming observation motivated me to go and see on farms in order to better see, understand phenomena going on in the reality of farms, and to reflect deeper on underlying issues. Thus, I phoned a few cousins and other colleagues and told them I was interested in their “inventivité” (inventiveness), their own way of doing things; I asked them to go and work with them in their own farm, in their daily activities -whatever it would be- to understand why and how they are looking to change their routines, i.e. for novelties.

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Tatra National Park – second post RUW-RSO studytrip to Poland

RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. The is second blog on the Tatra National Park posted by:

Emanuel Sandrini, Kyra Weerts, Ileen Wilke, Meret Windler, Meia van der Zee

Museum Tatra national parkToday our trip took us to Tatra National Park, in the south of Poland. It is one of the 23 national parks in Poland.

First we arrived in Zakopane, a village close to the park. Zakopane is the so called wintersport capital of Poland and in summer many tourists come to hike and do other outdoor activities in the area. Each year in fact more than 2 million visitors come to Zakopane. Here we went to the local museum where we got a tour about the history and natural environment of the area from a very enthusiastic guide.

We learned about the Gorale people, the original inhabitants of the Tatra mountains. Traditionally they lived under harsh conditions with cold and long winters in the mountains and survived mostly from hunting. The Gorale are nowadays still famous for their wood crafts and making music. Continue reading

Going global and remaining local: challenges of Poland in implementing climate change policies

RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. This is first is posted by:

Caroline Lumosi, MSc-student Forest and Nature Conservation.

The first day saw us spend time learning about nature conservation in Poland. We focussed on climate change policies and agriculture. Poland faces challenges in implementing regional EU climate change policies in relation to implementing its national regulations on energy and economic development. Poland relies on the use of coal to support 90% its electricity. As the EU moves to cut down on its carbon emission, this in turn means focus is put on use of renewable energy sources. For Poland, and in particular the city of Warsaw, this presents a huge challenge as the city heavily relies on the use of coal for electricity, in transport and in household heating. Continue reading