Foodscapes in times of uncertainty – blog 2

The Transformative Power of Gardening: food literacy, connection and environmentally sustainable choices during COVID19

By Jessica Breslau and Sofie de Wit

Sparked by the covid19 pandemic food supply chains have been disrupted: food is more scarce, expensive, and difficult to access than before (OECD, June 2, 2020). Simultaneously, the pandemic has increased the number of people participating in home and community gardening (Polansek and Walljasper, 2020). One of the reasons for this transition may be people losing their jobs, having less disposable income to spend on food. Additionally, as people spend more time at home due to the crisis, home gardening became more accessible. Some scholars also identified gardening as a therapeutic act that brings tranquillity during times of stress (Bratman G.N. et al. 2019). As such, the current global circumstances remind us of the therapeutic and educational potential of gardening, particularly regarding individuals’ relationships to their food and how this translates to food consumption patterns (Kellaway, 2020; Wang and MacMillan, 2013).  Continue reading

Thesis/stage: Effect van onderwijs en zorg op de boerderij

Er zijn te veel leerlingen die uitvallen in het onderwijs. Het aantal zogeheten ‘thuiszitters’ blijft de afgelopen schooljaren stijgen. Om deze leerlingen niet in de steek te laten zijn in het land vele initiatieven ontwikkeld om op een (zorg)boerderij naast zorg ook onderwijs te geven. Uit enquêtes en interviews die het afgelopen jaar zijn gehouden blijkt dat de ervaringen vaak positief zijn. Bij meer dan 90% van de leerlingen leidt de plaatsing op de boerderij tot een positieve ontwikkeling. Het aantal leerlingen dat na enige tijd weer naar school gaat ligt boven de 50%. Continue reading

Symposium over de onderwijs-zorgboerderij

Op woensdag 25 november is het wetenschapswinkelproject Leerarrangementen in het Groen – over de onderwijs-zorgboerderij – afgesloten met een (grotendeels online) symposium. Zelf heb ik de resultaten van het wetenschapswinkelproject gepresenteerd. Andere sprekers waren onder andere Natalie Jonkers (ministerie VWS) en Rene Peeters (ambassadeur programma ‘Met andere ogen’). Het publiek kon online volgen hoe de live presentaties werden afgewisseld met filmpjes opgenomen op de boerderij. De belangstelling was groot: ruim 115 deelnemers bleven tot het einde toe ingelogd. Dit laat zien hoe sterk dit onderwerp leeft.

In het wetenschapswinkelproject hebben onderzoekers en studenten van binnen en buiten Wageningen UR de onderwijs-zorgboerderijsector in kaart gebracht, onderzocht waarom onderwijs op de boerderij kan werken, en aanbevelingen gedaan voor het professionaliseren van de sector. Alle bevindingen zijn samengebracht in een uitgebreide eindrapportage en een kortere brochure. Daarnaast is een brochure verschenen met daarin de ervaringen van kinderen. Alle producten, en korte conclusies, zijn te vinden op onze projectpagina.

Het symposium is terug te kijken: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/Onderwijs-op-de-Zorgboerderij

MSc thesis vacancy: developing an urban agriculture typology within a European Context

The European Forum for a Comprehensive Vision on Urban Agriculture (EFUA) has the objective to unlock Urban Agriculture’s potential by achieving better knowledge, better deployment, and better policies in this field. The Chair groups Rural Sociology and Health and Society and Wageningen Plant Research are managing a work package that aims to update knowledge on the types and benefits of Urban Agriculture (e.g. social cohesion, local food provision, health, biodiversity, business generation). We are looking for students who have an interest to collaborate in this European Forum to identify stakeholders and develop a typology of urban agriculture. Your work will be the starting point for understanding the benefits of Urban Agriculture. The research also supports a European agenda on urban agriculture, co-designed within EFUA.

Starting date is flexible. For more information, contact Esther Veen (RSO), Lenneke Vaandrager (HSO) or Jan Eelco Jansma (Wageningen Plant Research).

MSc-thesis topics ‘De natuur als behandelkamer’

Vanuit het lopende Wetenschapswinkelproject De natuur als behandelkamer bieden wij verschillende thesis topics aan: https://www.wur.nl/nl/project/De-natuur-als-behandelkamer-voor-volwassenen.htm

For earlier advertised topics in the same project, please click here.

Topic 1: Leefstijlgeneeskunde en bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur

Leefstijlgeneeskunde wil zeggen dat zorgverleners zoals huisarts, POH of medisch specialist een gezondere leefstijl bespreken, adviseren en ondersteunen tijdens (standaard) consulten met patiënten. Deze leefstijlverandering kan zowel een preventieve als een therapeutische werking hebben, dus ter voorkoming of zelfs behandeling van chronische aandoeningen die gerelateerd zijn aan leefstijl, zoals diabetes en hart- en vaatziekten. Hiermee richt leefstijlgeneeskunde zich op een vrij breed scala aan gedragsfactoren die gezondheid (mede) bepalen, zoals roken, voeding, bewegen, ontspanning en slaap, maar ook sociale context en zingeving.

In de Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg (GGZ) laten BIG-geregistreerde psychologen begeleiding steeds vaker in de natuur plaatsvinden, met o.a. als doel om de patiënt te ‘activeren’. Steeds meer empirisch onderzoek ondersteunt dat de ‘natuur als behandelkamer’ voordelige effecten heeft op het herstelproces, het welzijn van de zorgprofessional en dus de kwaliteit van de begeleiding.

Op dit moment is onduidelijk in hoeverre het stimuleren van bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur aandacht krijgt in onderzoek naar en toepassing van leefstijlgeneeskunde. Ten opzichte van binnen heeft bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur een aantal voordelen. De natuur heeft op zichzelf al ontspannende effecten. Daarnaast stimuleren lagere buitentemperaturen de activiteit van zogenaamd bruin vet, om lichaamswarmte te genereren. Dit draagt bij tot extra gewichtsafname en een gezondere lichaamssamenstelling. Naast deze fysiologische effecten, kent buiten zijn op sociaal en psychologisch vlak ook tal van voordelen. Bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur draagt bij aan een betere kwaliteit van sociale relaties en verbetert de gemoedstoestand. Kortom, het scala aan positieve effecten van het zijn in de natuur sluit goed aan bij de holistische aanpak van leefstijlgeneeskunde.

Mogelijke onderzoeksvragen: Wat zijn de percepties, wensen, ideeën en ervaringen van patiënten en zorgverleners ten aanzien van bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur? Wat zijn volgens deze twee/nader te specificeren groepen de mogelijkheden en barrières voor (meer) bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur? Hoe kan bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur effectief worden gestimuleerd in het kader van leefstijlgeneeskunde?

Topic 2: Klimaatverandering en bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur

In de natuur bewegen en ontspannen heeft een aantal voordelen ten opzichte van binnen. De natuur heeft gunstige, want ontspannende effecten, op mensen. Daarnaast stimuleert een lagere buitentemperatuur de activiteit van zogenaamd bruin vet, om lichaamswarmte te genereren. Dit draagt bij tot extra gewichtsafname en een gezondere lichaamssamenstelling, bovenop de ‘normale’ gezondheidseffecten van bewegen. Klimaatverandering kan echter waargenomen en reële barrières opwerpen om de natuur in te gaan. Er is bijvoorbeeld in toenemende mate sprake van droogte en hittegolven. Daar hebben veel mensen last van, waardoor die meer geneigd zijn binnen te blijven. Dit is ook in lijn met het overheidsadvies zoals beschreven in het Nationaal Hitteplan (RIVM: “Blijf in de schaduw en beperk lichamelijke inspanning in de middag (tussen 12:00 en 18:00 uur.”). Daarnaast leidt de combinatie van warmte en droogte tot meer luchtverontreiniging (ook wel zomersmog genoemd), wat negatieve korte en lange termijn gevolgen heeft voor o.m. luchtwegen, en hart en vaten. Tot slot leidt klimaatverandering tot een toename van teken en muggen (en evt. andere vectoren) die infectieziekten kunnen overbrengen zoals Lyme en Dengue.

Al met al leiden deze ontwikkelingen tot de vraag hoe de optimale adaptatie aan klimaatverandering op het gebied van in de natuur zijn en bewegen eruit ziet. De complexiteit zit onder andere in het feit dat mogelijke risico’s door stakeholders niet moeten worden onderschat, omdat dat een bedreiging vormt voor de volksgezondheid. Anderzijds moet er ook geen angst worden gecreëerd, waardoor risico’s worden overschat en mensen niet meer de natuur in gaan.

Mogelijke onderzoeksvragen: Wat zijn de percepties van stakeholders ten aanzien van de gevolgen van klimaatverandering voor in de natuur zijn en bewegen? In welke mate is hierbij specifieke doelgroepen sprake van onder- of overschatting van (specifieke) risico’s? Hoe kunnen we adaptie aan klimaatverandering rondom in de natuur zijn en bewegen het beste vormgeven? Hoe ziet de ‘optimale’ adaptatie eruit? En hoe, en door wie, kan die adaptatie in diverse settings en richting diverse doelgroepen het beste worden gecommuniceerd of vormgegeven in interventies?

Voor meer informatie: esther.veen@wur.nl (RSO), roald.pijpker@wur.nl (HSO) of bob.mulder@wur.nl (COM)

75th Anniversary: 4) Some thoughts on the overhead projector

This is a picture of Professor Hofstee. It is clearly an old picture: it is black and white (no filter!), and the clothing looks rather outdated and overly formal. But what also stands out is the phone. I wonder whether he was really making a phone call here, or whether this was staged for the picture. In any case, this bakelite phone (‘bakeliet’, have you ever used the word for something else than a phone?) made me wonder how technology has changed over the last 75 years. How differently we must be writing, teaching, researching, reading, searching for literature than the generations before us! Many of us will have cursed our computers or have been annoyed with having to use yet another digital tool, but for sure technology has made our lives easier in several ways. I can’t imagine having to do my work without email, or having had to type or even handwrite (!) my PhD thesis. Continue reading

Foodscapes in times of uncertainty – blog 1

Members of the foodscapes cluster supervise a number of students who are looking at changing food(scapes) in times of corona. We therefore introduce a blog series in which these students can share their work. This first blog is written by Lisa Marijke van den Berg.

How COVID-19 changed consumers’ motivations for local consumption

Since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March (WHO, 2020) countries around the world had several ways to cope with the disease. Despite negative influences of COVID-19 on daily life, some sectors benefit from the pandemic. One of these sectors is the Alternative Food Network (AFN) sector, as you might have seen in the media the past months. AFNs aim to counteract the environmental, social, and economic conflicts that results from the dominant food system (Renting et al., 2003). They aim for local consumption and are characterized by a close producer-consumer interaction (Zoll et al., 2017).

AFNs are an alternative to the global, ‘common’, food system: the majority of the population does not participate in AFNs. However, as said, during the corona crisis the Dutch national interest in AFNs increased (Kamsma, 2020; Smit, 2020). Local initiatives throughout the Netherlands, like ‘Rechtstreex’, ‘Support your locals’, ‘Streekboer’ and ‘Bioweb’ argued that their number of orders more than doubled when compared to the days before the corona crisis (Smit, 2020). Furthermore, chain shortening initiatives received attention in several talk shows and in the news. For example, an episode of Jinek discussed the initiative “Support Your Locals” (Jinek, Baarsma & Levie, 2020), which promotes the idea that consumers should support local farmers during the corona crisis.

In my thesis I studied the motivations of consumers to start participating in an AFN during the COVID-19 pandemic, to better understand the mechanisms behind this increased interest. I interviewed AFN participants who started their participation during the pandemic, and compared their motivations to those of consumers who participated in AFNs already before COVID-19 hit, as found in the literature. The comparison showed that motivations for AFN participation during the COVID-19 pandemic mostly emphasise factors close to home: new AFN participants wanted to support local farmers or to treat themselves, but they did not mention structural societal reformation as a reason to participate. In other words, their motivations were focused on their local area. Reasons for AFN participation as found in the literature – from people who started participating in AFNs before COVID – were to a higher extend focused on a global level. For instance, these people often mentioned environmental concerns. Those concerns were not identified in the interviews with new consumers. Also freshness as a driver for participation before the pandemic had moved to the background. This was replaced by the importance of healthy and safe food to increase personal and family health.

The interviews showed that there is a demand for better availability and accessibility of information about local food purchasing. Several participants mentioned that they did not know that certain types of food were grown locally too. The awareness raised in the media to support farmers encouraged them to take a first step into local grocery shopping. The media showed consumers what they could do to support farmers and where to get specific produce. Hence, while AFN participation is often marketed as a sustainable alternative to the supermarket, this thesis reveals that this is not necessarily the most influential attraction for new consumers to participate in an AFN, especially during a pandemic. These new insights enable better responses to the needs of consumers.

References

Jinek, E., Baarsma, B., & Levie, S. (Presenter, Economist & Guest Speaker). (2020, 19th March). Aflevering 55 [Talkshow]. E. Van der Horst (Producer). Jinek, Amsterdam, Netherlands: RTL Group.

Kamsma, M. (2020a, 30 maart). Terug naar de boer, ook na corona. NRC. Retrieved on 5 April, from https://www.nrc.nl

Renting, H., Marsden, T. K., & Banks, J. (2003). Understanding alternative food networks: Exploring the role of short food supply chains in rural development. Environment and Planning A, 35, 393–411.

Smit, P. H. (2020, 6 april). Nu zien we wel kans om boeren in de buurt op te zoeken. De Volkskrant. Retrieved on 6 April, from https://www.volkskrant.nl

World Health Organization: WHO. (2020, 10 January). Coronavirus. Retrieved on 5 April 2020, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1

Zoll, F., Specht, K., Opitz, I., Siebert, R., Piorr, A., & Zasada, I. (2017). Individual choice or collective action? Exploring consumer motives for participating in alternative food networks. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 42(1), 101–110. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcs.12405

Grow, share or buy? PhD-thesis by Lucie Sovová

October 13 2020, at 13.30 am (CET) Lucie Sovová will defend her PhD-thesis ‘Grow, share of buy? Understanding the diverse food economies of urban gardeners‘. See the abstract below. After the defence the full thesis can be downloaded from WUR Library here. The ceremony will be live-streamed – click here – but is recorded and can be viewed later as well. Lucie Sovová is affiliated as PhD-candidate at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. 

Abstract
How do urban gardens work as sources of food? That is, in a nutshell, the central question of this thesis. Urban gardening and other food alternatives have received growing attention in relation to issues such as food quality and the environmental impacts of food production. However, we know little about how urban gardens actually provide food. In order to answer this question, I conducted an in-depth study of 27 gardening households in Brno, Czechia, exploring the long and lively tradition of gardening in Central and Eastern Europe. I investigated how much food gardeners produce in their plots, how they think of this practice and how it relates to other ways of obtaining food such as shopping. The results reveal that several practices facilitate food self-provisioning, such as food sharing or preserve making. I conclude that urban gardens play a central role in gardeners’ food supply, influencing eating as well as shopping habits in all four seasons.  

Outdoor psychology and coaching for adults with psychological complaints (three thesis topics)

Do you want to contribute to an ongoing Science Shop project focusing on outdoor psychology and coaching for adults with psychological complaints?

Evidence supporting the beneficial effects of nature on our health and wellbeing is accumulating. These insights are being used increasingly for the treatment of people with psychological problems, such as outdoor psychology and coaching. On the one hand, using nature as a ‘treatment room’ is suggested to be more effective than receiving treatment indoors, whereas, on the other hand, psychologists and coaches themselves report being more vital and healthy providing treatment outdoors. However, the use of nature in mainstream practices is far from accepted.

We offer three assignments:

  1. Understanding the experiences of clients who participate(d) in outdoor psychology interventions;
  2. Exploring the image of outdoor psychology among key stakeholders in the mainstream healthcare sector, and underlying motivations of outdoor psychologists;
  3. Exploring the motives and practices of outdoor coaches, perceived barriers and opportunities, and experiences of clients who participate(d) in outdoor coaching.

See the project page for more information and the first report based on an Academic Consultancy project: https://www.wur.nl/en/article/Nature-Assisted-Therapies-Nature-as-a-treatment-room-for-adults-with-psychological-complaints.htm

Interested or want to know more about the project? Contact Esther Veen (esther.veen@wur.nl)

Start Date: Fall 2020 or spring 2021

Neither Poor nor Cool: Practising Food Self-Provisioning in Allotment Gardens in the Netherlands and Czechia

A new open access article co-written by Lucie Sovová and Esther Veen compares urban gardening in Czechia and the Netherlands. The comparative case study concludes that despite diverging framings in the literature, allotment gardeners in both countries are ‘doing the same thing’.

Urban gardening is a shared interest of both authors. Esther wrote her PhD thesis about the role of Dutch community gardens in fostering social cohesion; her recent research deals with urban green infrastructure and urban food growing as prosumerism. Lucie studied Czech allotments in her MSc thesis, and she later expanded on the topic of food self-provisioning in her PhD project co-supervised by Esther at Rural Sociology. Together, Esther and Lucie supervised the MSc research of Kylie Totté, who looked at allotment gardens in Utrecht using the methodology previously designed for the Czech case study. The comparison of the two data sets facilitated a critical engagement with existing interpretations of urban gardening, which often frame this activity as an activist endeavour in the Western-European context, or as a reaction to economic need in Central and Eastern Europe. Below is the abstract of the paper, the full text is available here.

While urban gardening and food provisioning have become well-established subjects of academic inquiry, these practices are given different meanings depending on where they are performed. In this paper we scrutinize different framings used in the literature on food self-provisioning in Eastern and Western Europe. In the Western context, food self-provisioning is often mentioned alongside other alternative food networks and implicitly framed as an activist practice. In comparison, food self-provisioning in Central and Eastern Europe has until recently been portrayed as a coping strategy motivated by economic needs and underdeveloped markets. Our research uses two case studies of allotment gardening from both Western and Eastern Europe to investigate the legitimacy of the diverse framings these practices have received in the literature. Drawing on social practice theory, we examine the meanings of food self-provisioning for the allotment gardeners in Czechia and the Netherlands, as well as the material manifestations of this practice. We conclude that, despite minor differences, allotment gardeners in both countries are essentially ‘doing the same thing’. We thus argue that assuming differences based on different contexts is too simplistic, as are the binary categories of ‘activist alternative’ versus ‘economic need’.