Nijmegen has been elected European Green Capital 2018. A beautiful award that resulted from many years of hard work on greening the city and making the city more sustainable. However, still many challenges need to be addressed to ensure a continuity towards a more sustainable future. It is within this context that the municipality of Nijmegen sees opportunities for improvement by focussing on issues related to food provisioning. For example, the municipality aims to become more sustainable by: supporting local/regional food provisioning practices, hence, reducing food miles and CO2-emissions; by facilitating a multiplicity of food production activities within the city such as vertical farming, community supported agriculture, food forests and urban foraging; by enclosing metabolic cycles to retain raw materials, minimalize waste production and save on water and energy use, and; by stimulating ‘food citizenship’ which implies an involvement of consumers within the food provisioning networks who are willing to make food choices more consciously.
In her aim to support existing and stimulate the set-up of new social and ecological sustainable food provisioning activities, the municipality offers 3 MSc students the opportunity to do an internship/carry out research for a period of 4 – 6 months. There are three projects to which you can apply (see below) by sending your CV and letter of motivation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The municipality of Nijmegen offers you the opportunity to see and learn what it implies to work for a governmental organization. At the municipality you will have your own workspace and access to all the facilities the municipality offers its employees. In addition, you will be offered a monthly fee of €400 (depending on amount of months and hours/week).
- You are willing to work for a period of 4 – 6 months at the municipality of Nijmegen
- You need to be available for at least 32 hours a week
- You are able to conduct qualitative research in Dutch.
- You are able to engage diverse stakeholders in participatory and collaborative research
- You have an interest in diverse economies and social innovation
- You are registered for one of the following MSc programmes: MID, MCS, MFT, or MOA
- You have completed at least 2 RSO courses (or relevant social science courses)
Start date: May or June 2019
Questions? Please get in touch!
Supervisors: Martin Ruivenkamp (RSO) email@example.com and Joost Jongerden (RSO)
Daily supervisor: Ton Verhoeven (Nijmegen)
Msc Thesis Subject 1 – Mapping food provisioning activities
A diversity of food provisioning practices is emerging within the urban area of Nijmegen. While the municipality recognizes the urgent need to define propitious pathways to feed the city in a multiplicity of more sustainable, safe, culturally appropriate and nutritious ways the societal embedding of these diverse food provisioning activities is still in its infancy. Firstly, because there is no clear view on these activities. This makes it hard for the municipality to offer support or to facilitate their further embeddedness in any way. Secondly, the many different kinds of food provisioning practices, varying from kitchen gardens to food forests, from Community Supported Agriculture to edible gardens contribute each to the development of a regional food provisioning network. However, these food practices mainly operate on individual basis. What seems to be lacking are linkages between these various food provisioning practices as well as clear collaborations between ‘food citizens’ and social and ecological sustainable food provisioning practitioners. This project seeks to inventory and categorize food provisioning practices in the Nijmegen region. You will construct a database and map of food initiatives and develop a typology for categorizing these initiatives in terms of their organizational model, viability, multiplicity of values they produce, services they offers, etc. You will identify the potentials for these initiatives to build linkages or create collaborations. And, you will strengthen existing relations by bringing practitioners together. Hence, your research will offer the municipality of Nijmegen insights how to further develop a regional food provisioning network and participation of food citizens. You will do independent research, but support is provided by a team of policy advisors at the municipality of Nijmegen.
Msc Thesis Subject 2 – Edible green in residential areas.
Nijmegen aims to make the city more green, literally, by replacing 200.000 stones with plants and flowers. However, in some residential areas, such as ‘Neerbosch Oost’ and ‘Heseveld’, the municipality experienced some resistance. These neighbourhoods are characterised by high unemployment rates, high criminality rates and low socioeconomic status. Public green is in these areas not used much. Inhabitants of these neighbourhoods, especially people with a migrant background, associate public parks with dog poo. In their view, planting more green would lead to more poo in their borough. For this reason they were hesitant to participate to the ‘greening the city’ initiatives as organised by the municipality. However, while being hesitant towards public green, many inhabitants of these residential areas grow food in their front garden (like potatoes, zucchini, eggplant). This research project aims to gain insights in the motivations to grow edible products in (easily accessible) private gardens and ways to transfer these motivations in an appreciation of ‘public edible green’. In practice this implies that next to your research activities you will be able to encourage inhabitants of Neerbosch Oost and Heseveld to participate in greening their neighbourhood in the way with which they would feel most comfortable. You will collaborate with the community centre, residents’ association and the municipality, but will conduct independent research.
Internship project – Kitchen gardens and orchards on public schoolyards
Within the context of greening the city Nijmegen the challenge has been issued to plant a kitchen garden or (small) orchard on the playground of every public elementary school in Nijmegen. This would enable schools to offer youngsters the possibilities to ‘learn by playing’ for example where food – from somewhere, rather than nowhere – comes from, how plants grow, how to pick greenery and fruits and how these produce taste, and what lives in the soil. These lessons all contribute to the development of a conscious view on nature, (healthy) food and (ecological) sustainability. In Nijmegen, there are 42 elementary schools that offer ‘regular’ education and more or less 12 schools that offer specified education. However, while funding as well as assistance is available, just a few of these schools have applied for support to start food provisioning activities on their yards. And, even if there is kitchen garden present, it does not necessarily imply that it is actively being used by growing food or offering (biology) lessons to the pupils. This project aims, on the one hand, to encourage primary schools to actually start laying out the foundations for either a kitchen garden or orchard on the schoolyard. On the other hand, it aims to gain insights in what approaches most efficiently stimulate primary school employees to work in the kitchen garden/orchard and to develop educative programs addressing issues related to (valuing) food and sustainability. You will conduct independent research, but will collaborate with policy advisors from the municipality of Nijmegen.
Also a consultancy (Beleef en Weet) is conducting an investigation together with health organizations and the Nature&Environment Education Centre ‘De Bastei’ to find out what the problems are with maintaining kitchen gardens. You will also have to connect to that investigation too.
MSc thesis subject – How can the world feed itself?
– Revaluing food, strengthening local economies
Wageningen University is often questioning how to feed the growing world population. Possible ways are technological innovations, increasing the food production, decreasing the food waste and gene technologies focussed on drought or disease resistance. Although these are important topics, the question ‘how can we feed the world’ is an old-fashioned, colonial way of thinking. (Who is ‘we’? The west? Why should ‘we’ tell the world how to be fed?) More interesting is the question: “How can the world feed itself?”
In order to answer this question, we need to look at the concerns and ideas of the food producers themselves. Many (peasant) farmers address that in order to continue feeding their communities in a sustainable way, it is of crucial importance to obtain a fair income. Farmers can only keep on producing food if they can make a living from it. This thesis or ACT project will be all about this main challenge addressed by (peasant) farmers.
While we are talking about ‘feeding the world’, more and more rural workers are leaving the land – often by force (be it actual violence or strong economic pressure). The Netherlands –the example of a ‘developed country’, full of ‘modern agriculture’ – certainly does not escape this trend: in 2016, this country alone has lost 22 farms every single day (CBS, 2017). They don’t go bankrupt because of a lack of modern technologies – we are one of the leading countries in terms of agricultural technology. Neither do they go bankrupt, because they don’t have access to proper schooling, infrastructure, or good soils – the Netherlands has it all. There are other factors playing a role: the prices farmers obtain for their produce are decreasing (sometimes even below the cost of production), while the costs are increasing more and more.
Securing the local economy via CSA
It is unjust that everyone in the Netherlands has the right to a minimum wage, but farmers don’t, because they are entrepreneurs and should set their own price. But this is very misleading, because the price of food is so low, that they cannot ask the actual price. Supermarkets will go to another farmer, in the Netherlands or abroad.
One way to secure a fair income is via Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where there is a direct link between producer and consumer. The producer can set a price, and the money goes directly to the producer. Yet, setting a ‘fair’ price within a CSA is not as easy as it seems, since consumers have linked the cheap supermarket price to the food. So, in order to strengthen the local economy and give farmers the right to a minimum wage (including insurance, retirement money etc), another way of relating to food is needed.
Delinking food from money
Peasant farmer Elske (Ommuurde Tuin, Renkum; also connected to La Via Campesina), therefore has the idea to ‘delink’ food from money, as to break down the idea that food should be cheap. Instead she wants to link food to value, in this case to labour. “Uurtje voor pakketje” (“one hour for a veggy bag”) is the project to tell consumers it costs one hour to prepare a veggy bag (administration, putting compost, sowing, planting, lots of weeding, harvesting, cleaning, making the veggy bag). Then she wants to ask the consumer which wage they want to give the farmer, preferably related to their own wage, so that everyone pays according to their capacity. In this way, she hopes to reconnect people to the real value of food and thereby strengthen local economy and food sovereignty.
There are several ways of revaluing food. “Uurtje voor pakketje” is one idea. Elske would like to know if there are other ideas regarding valuing food in order to strengthen the local economy. For this project (ACT or thesis), we are looking for a student who can look for these kind of ideas of revaluing food. The second part of the project is to conduct interviews with consumers and/or shareholders of CSA farms (e.g. Ommuurde Tuin) in order to see preferences / concerns / ideas for implementation.
This project will be very supportive to the peasant movement, strengthening local economies and thereby food sovereignty!
Thesis of stage project Versterken Vernieuwende Landbouw Beweging
Er is een forse toename in het aantal netwerken en pioniers op gebied van innovatieve agri-food systemen. Ze ontstaan vanuit de agrarische productiekant alsook vanuit de consumentenkant en bieden een alternatief voor de dominante voedsel- en landbouwpraktijk. Ze richten zich vaak op de lokale context, werken integraal met aandacht voor biodiversiteit, koolstof vastlegging, betrekken van burgers en een gezonde leefomgeving. Voorbeelden zijn Heerenboeren, Community Supported Agriculture, Food Forests, Agro-ecological agriculture, bodemboeren en toekomstboeren. Bij veel van dit soort innovatieve agri-food systemen wordt uitgegaan van agro-ecologische principes.
De verschillende initiatieven ontwikkelen zich tot grotere netwerken die de ambitie hebben om te komen tot een gezamenlijke beweging. Wellicht met een gezamenlijk loket en/of steunpunt om zo aanspreekpunt te kunnen zijn voor beleid, onderzoek en andere partijen.
Om een goede strategie en aanpak te ontwikkelen voor het creëren van een sterke beweging met impact is het van belang de verschillende initiatieven en hun onderliggende waarden en principes goed in beeld te brengen.
Onderwerpen van een thesis of stage project kunnen zijn:
- In beeld brengen van de initiatieven en netwerken
- In beeld brengen van de onderliggende visie/principes van de verschillende initiatieven en initiatiefnemers
- In beeld brengen aan welke maatschappelijke uitdagingen initiatiefnemers een bijdrage willen leveren.
- Strategie en aanpak ontwikkelen om de impact van deze vernieuwende initiatieven meer bekend te maken en breder ingang te laten vinden en bruggen te slaan met meer reguliere vormen van landbouw productie.