Developing a food strategy: insights from Ede

by Lara Sibbing

20140103_184529Today, food is no longer just a rural issue. With more than half of the world population living in cities, food is a relatively new topic for cities and especially for municipalities to deal with. This is also the case for the municipality of Ede, which is close to Wageningen. This municipality expressed its ambitions for 2025 in a vision document entitled ‘Ede chooses food’. Frankly, the ambition of the municipality of Ede was to ‘go for food’. But what does that actually mean?

The municipality of Ede is one of the largest in size in the Netherlands – funnily enough though, Ede is officially not even a city, as it never got city rights, as opposed to Wageningen – and besides the actual city (or, village) of Ede, the municipality also encompasses a large rural area with several small villages. It is therefore an interesting place: it includes a city with a rural background that is still vivid, and is colored by a splash of knowledge of agricultural research coming in from Wageningen’s agricultural university; and all of that in one municipality. Continue reading

Ex-change offers challenging internships & theses

ex-changeLooking for a challenging and adventurous internship or thesis for your Master studies in Africa? Take a look at the website of the organisation Ex-change and if inspired, contact Henk Haring (info@ex-change.nl) for more information. Currently, there are various concrete vacancies for students, available at the Rural Sociology Group. Contact our education coordinator Els Hegger (els.hegger@wur.nl) for more info.

Internship possibility

STA73745Earlier this year Clara Celestino Siurana completed her internship at the PeeRGroup in Donderen. She developed a design and building of a vegetable garden (see here for original description of the intership). Their terrain, a former ammunition depot has now the status of an ‘estate’ and ecologically rare species have been discovered because nature on that terrain has not been fertilized by convential agriculture for the past 50 years. They have a long way to go in making the terrain a multifunctional space open for public and connected to the care farm with which they collaborate. The small kitchen garden by Clara is only one of the things they want to develop.

Therefore, the PeeRGroup Donderen is still looking for students that want to play a role in further developing this unique project. Contact Marin de Boer (marin@peergroup.nl) or Sjoerd Wagenaar (sjoerd@peergroup.nl) if you are interested. Look at their website (http://www.peergroup.nl/donderboerkamp/) for more information.

International Workshop in Urban Food Strategies

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Next Week in Porto Alegre, Practioners, researchers and public agents interested in sustainable food prosumption will explore the Opportunities and challenges for feeding the cities and the countryside in the Brazilian contexts.

As one of the results of the PUREFOOD intercontinental cooperation the Rural Development Program of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, the Brazilian PUREFOOD Partner or the Rural Development Department of  Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul organizes the first Workshop in Urban Food Strategies. Professor  Sergio Schneider and the food group (http://www.ufrgs.br/weaa/comissao-organizadora/) have set  a very interesting agenda for the coming third and four of December. Harriet Friedman, Carolyn Steele, Maria Fonte, Cecilia Diaz and Willem Treep will join a select group of Brazilian researchers and practitioners as Ivana Lovo, Marcos Borba, Livia Barbosa, Patrícia Chaves, Francisco Milanez and Altivo Cunha in a workshop designed to join academia, public agents and food practitioners.

Live streaming and translation from Portuguess to English will be offered. So every one can join and enjoy the seminar. The online streaming will begin on Tuesday 3rd of December at 09:00 am Brazilian Time and will finish on Wednesday 4th of December in the afternoon. The following link will give access to the internet connection: http://multimidia.ufrgs.br/ramgen/broadcast/plageder/aovivo.rm

Full access to the program and information is available at http://www.ufrgs.br/weaa/.

PUREFOOD final conference: Save the Date!

PUREFOOD logoOn 14 and 15 May 2014 the city of Utrecht (the Netherlands) will host us for the final PUREFOOD conference. The conference is organised in cooperation with the ‘Day of Dutch Urban Agriculture’ (Dag van de Stadslandbouw), which will be held on Thursday 15th of May in The Fabrique in Utrecht and attracts yearly around 500 people. The PUREFOOD project will contribute to organising 9 international sessions on Thursday. The PUREFOOD conference will start with a meet & greet on Tuesday evening at a special location in Utrecht. On Wednesday morning there is an interesting programme, in English only, where we will listen, discuss, brainstorm, present and network with a selected group of people (therefore: limited places available!). In the afternoon we will explore Utrecht and its surroundings to see, hear, feel and taste some of the fabulous products developed in the region.

The full programme of the conference, including speakers and other interesting people, will be available soon. Keep an eye on the weblog of the PUREFOOD project: www.purefoodlinks.eu.

Master thesis experience in the US

A post by Max van Tilburg (MSc student International Development)

max

The nature of urban agriculture; initiatives in Lansing and Detroit, Michigan, United States

Urban agriculture over the past decennium has become very popular in the Western World, this brings up questions about the commonality between all these different initiatives. This question stood at the basis of my master thesis, and was translated to whether urban agriculture initiatives in Lansing and Detroit (Michigan, USA) could be seen as (being part of) a social movement.

Although the history and (organizational) background of the urban agriculture initiatives in Lansing and Detroit are very diverse, the similarity in practices, ideas and ideologies (both displayed in shared discourses and themes) was remarkably high. It turned out that community building with all its aspects is a first order concern for the initiatives, neighborhood organizations, a soup kitchen, private farmers, all practiced and expressed a major concern about working on the community.

On the overall I arrived at a point were I more or less hypothesize the same as Touraine (1998) did in his research on social movements; “that their ‘real’ purpose was a broad-based effort to oppose the corporate and government technocrats who initiated and directed most social change”.

Read more in my thesis!

Master information evening

Yesterday evening, Dirk Roep and I informed various Master students of Wageningen University about the possibilities for doing a thesis or internship with the Rural Sociology Group. As always, it was an evening full of enthusiasm, questions and confusion. The Wageningen education system is not always easy to understand and thus difficult to make choices. The best advice we give students: think about something that makes you want to jump in the air, then you have a topic of interest (that could be something on certain themes, but also on approaches). Starting from that, look for someone that would fit that interest. Of course, you can always get some inspiration from past thesis stories or thesis possibilities in the special section of this blog. Furthermore, the various EU research projects that run at our group offer wide possibilities for doing an internship or thesis with our partners in these projects (within and outside of Europe). If you have difficulties coming up with a topic or want to get some input on your ideas, make an appointment with our education coordinator. Don’t feel lost!

SUPURBFOOD 1st International Seminar

Vigo videoIn June, the SUPURBFOOD First International Seminar took place in Vigo (Spain). In order to contribute to improving the agro-food system’s ecological performance researchers, policymakers and SMEs from Europe and developing countries discussed the links between short food supply chains and other flows (e.g. nutrients, water, and urban waste) at the seminar. With attendance of over 60 people from 14 countries, a North-South dialogue has started on improving the agro-food system’s ecological performance.

The report on the dialogue, sharing of experiences, exchange of best practice and joint learning at the SUBURBFOOD First International Seminar aims to inspire participants and other interested readers to developing an integrated approach to urban and peri-urban food provision. By clicking on the images above, you can still watch the videos of the live streaming of the seminar. For more information on the SUPURBFOOD project and how you can participate, visit www.supurbfood.eu.

Farming styles in Mato Grosso, Brazil

by Mateo Mier y Teran

On 11 September in Wageningen I presented my PhD research on contrasting soybean farming styles in Querência, Mato Grosso, Brazil, on the southern fringe of the Amazon rainforest. The diversity of soy farming practices brings into question the simplistic portrayal of farming by the standard narratives that advocate or condemn soybean production in Brazil (e.g. be as a success model to reproduce in African countries or as a threat to the Amazon Forest and small-scale farming). I argue that the heterogeneity of farming styles has to be acknowledge for the implementation of policies for sustainable soybean agri-food systems. Here I will like to share some thoughts that came out from the seminar, and briefly show how I used the farming styles approach (developed by Jan Douwe van der Ploeg and colleagues from the Rural Sociology Group at WUR). Continue reading

2 Events: Free lunch & Public lecture on Food Waste

POSTER_Food waste eventsFirst Event

Organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development & Food Security (CSD&FS) of Wageningen UR and a team of enthusiastic volunteers:
TURNING FOOD FOR BINS INTO FOOD FOR KINGS
Did you know that more than one third of the global food supply is wasted between the farm and the mouth? Imagine, if this food was eaten, nobody would be hungry in the world! After New York, Paris and London, it is now time for the agrifood-city of Wageningen to take action on this pressing issue!
On 29 September 2013, between 12.30 and 16.00, Wageningen University Campus is hosting an event on food waste in front of the Orion building. There will be a warm, FREE LUNCH for 500 people, made from food that would normally be wasted! Mind you, a carrot that Continue reading