Thesis opportunity: the gentrifying foodscape part II

The urban foodscape is in constant transition, among others due to gentrification. This has effect on options and choices of both newcomers and people who have been living in the neighborhood for longer.

Sophie Visser, MSc student Health and Nutrition, studied the gentrifying Amsterdam neighborhood ‘Van der Pekbuurt’ (see Sophie’s blog on her results) by mapping its food establishments, interviewing both older and newer inhabitants and making observations. She found that due to gentrification the number of establishments in the neighborhood increased immensely. While this has positive aspects – the increased offer leads to an increased choice – not all inhabitants feel comfortable in all these new establishments.

We are looking for a student to continue Sophie’s work on gentrification and foodscapes. Preferably the student would follow up on the previous thesis by updating the mapping of the foodscape, and executing more interviews with a broader group of people. Alternatively, the student chooses another neighborhood (in Amsterdam or elsewhere) in a further state of gentrification, in order to get a broader view on how gentrification can affect foodscapes.

Pre-requisites: completed at least two social sciences courses (preferably with RSO); keen interest in foodscapes; able to conduct qualitative research, preferably but not necessarily in Dutch

Supervisor: Esther Veen (RSO): esther.veen@wur.nl

Questions? Please get in touch!

Gentrification and the Van der Pek foodscape

Written by Sophie Visser

‘Gentrification’ transforms cities all over the world. Neighbourhoods are upgraded and there is an influx of new, affluent inhabitants. This often has a negative effect on the longstanding inhabitants of that neighbourhood, as they can no longer afford the housing and no longer feel welcome due to the neighbourhood’s changed cultural and social atmosphere. Gentrification influences the foodscape as well. While there may be an increase in food availability, food accessibility for longstanding inhabitants often decreases due to an increase in price and because longstanding inhabitants do no longer feel welcome in the facilities in their neighbourhood.

With this thesis I aimed to investigate the effects of gentrification on the foodscape, the food choice and food accessibility for the inhabitants of the gentrifying Van der Pek neighbourhood, located in the North of Amsterdam. I used semi-structured interviews, observations, informal conversations and food mapping to collect data.

I conclude that the Van der Pek neighbourhood is at an early stage of gentrification. There is an influx of new inhabitants and a slow decrease in the number of longstanding inhabitants, who are aging and passing away. Over the past years, the number of establishments in the Van der Pek neighbourhood increased immensely. This appears to be positive at first sight because the increased offer leads to an increased choice for the inhabitants. However, not all inhabitants feel comfortable at every establishment. The new establishments are often more expensive, which is unsuitable for longstanding inhabitants: they base their food choice on price and often have lower incomes. Additionally, while some new establishments try to target both new and longstanding inhabitants, mostly new inhabitants are attracted to these establishments. Hence, even though the number of establishments has increased, as the gentrification process furthers, access to food might increase for new inhabitants but decrease for longstanding inhabitants.  

voorblad Sophie

As this thesis provides an in-depth analysis of the foodscape and food choices of inhabitants of the gentrifying neighbourhood, it can provide valuable information to the municipality of Amsterdam – who wants to prevent a division between the two groups of inhabitants in gentrifying neighbourhoods. Besides that it can lead to further research on other gentrifying neighbourhoods to provide a better overview of the influence of gentrification on foodscapes and food choice.

 

Indoor gardens for nursing homes

By Paulien van de Vlasakker

Advanced technology and alternative food-production methods, such as vertical farming and hydroponic cultivation, are part of an upward trend of initiatives for the support of the transition of conventional food-production methods to more decentralized and local production systems. The development of high-tech urban agriculture is one strategy for more sustainable and resilient urban food systems being explored by cities worldwide to feed their increasing populations.

To contribute to the development of urban high-tech agriculture, I established Vegger in October 2016. Vegger is a start-up located on the Wageningen University & Research campus. During the first few years, my colleague and I designed and developed high-tech indoor gardens for the cultivation of vegetables and herbs inside people’s working and living environment. The indoor gardens that we created are cultivation systems equipped with horticultural led lightening, soilless cultivation methods and a controlled environment system. Vegger is part of StartLife, the business facilitator of Wageningen University. We rent our office/working space in StartHub, located in the Atlas Building.

Vegger

For my internship, as part of my MSc Organic Agriculture, I conducted a pilot project with high-tech indoor gardens in two nursing homes of Stichting Innoforte located in Velp, Gelderland. Growing vegetables inside nursing homes can be a response to the need for an increased intake of fresh and local vegetables by elderly people. In addition to increasing vegetable intake among the elderly, this pilot project also focused on contributing to the creation of a healing environment in the nursing homes. A healing environment is a (physical) environment that aims to promote the well-being of patients, their family and the employees, and to reduce their stress. This way people may heal faster (or the (physical) environment does not worsen their situation). The goal of my internship was to explore how high-tech indoor gardens can contribute to: 1. the consumption of fresh vegetables and herbs among the residents, and 2. the healing environment of the location.

I placed the indoor gardens in two locations. One of the locations was specialized for elderly people with far stage dementia. The other location offered housing for elderly people that do not need (intensive) care. It is important to mention that the locations make use of a different food delivery system. In the location for demented elderly, the staff cooks with fresh foods and matching recipes delivered by their food supplier. The meals for the ‘healthy’ elderly from the other location are ready-to-eat frozen meals. These meals do not contain any fresh ingredients.

During my internship I supported the indoor gardens by delivering gardening services. These services consisted of the maintenance of the indoor garden, including the cultivation of plants. The staff was responsible for harvesting the fresh vegetables and herbs. A food expert was appointed by the health care organisation to assist with the contact between me and the end users (staff and residents of both locations). As research methods I used informal conversations with staff, elderly and friends and family of the elderly, observations of the use of the gardens (including harvesting, engaging with the garden, and talking with others over the garden), and measuring the number of plants harvested by staff.

The results of the study were different between both locations. In the nursing home where the demented elderly live, the indoor garden was especially useful to enhance the healing environment. The residents of the home liked to sit next to the indoor garden; the aesthetic aspect of the indoor garden contributed to an improved living and relaxing environment. The vegetables and herbs growing in the indoor garden, however, were not used to their full potential. This was due to the fact that the home for demented elderly was already being supplied with fresh ingredients by their food supplier. In the other home, where ‘healthy’ elderly people live, on the other hand, full usage was made of the vegetables and herbs from the indoor garden. This was because previously no fresh ingredients were used in the meals. Staff used the fresh vegetables and herbs to prepare side dishes such as soup or salad.

The difference between the use of the high-tech indoor gardens did not only relate to the difference in food supplier, but also to the mental health of the elderly. Elderly with dementia experience on average higher stress levels than mentally healthy elderly. Optimizing a healing environment with indoor gardens can therefore have a greater impact on providing a quiet and relaxed environment for the residents. In addition, the elderly who live in the home for ‘healthy’ elderly people were more aware of the meals that were served. The residents of the home indicated that the fresh vegetables and herbs not only made the meal taste better, but also contributed to the experience of the meal because there were ingredients used from their own garden.

Call for contributions

Cultivating hope while getting into trouble with Community Food Initiatives (CFIs)

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, August 28th-30th 2019

Session sponsored by: Food Geographies Working Group

Community food initiatives (CFIs), such as community gardens or food waste initiatives, are often framed as hopeful solutions to our troubled food system. Yet the actual interrelations of hope and trouble are rarely interrogated in locally specific contexts. Hope and trouble are often employed in partial and limiting ways. CFIs are critiqued for being too hopeful, reproducing existing troubles (e.g. racism, power, privilege, and exclusion). Other readings strategically avoid the dominance of trouble, to leave space for hope and possibility. Neither approach is sufficient. Moreover, binary affects of hope and trouble can create methodological tensions that effect our own abilities to engage in action research that is both critical and reparative, hopeful and troubling.

The aim of this session is to develop new methodological, theoretical, and practice-based approaches for interrogating CFIs as sites of hope and trouble. Exploring diverse organizational forms, actors, benefits, and impacts, enables an understanding of their hopes, best intentions, and generative capacities as well as their troubles, failures, and limitations. We are interested in new stories and tools for helping researchers and community food initiatives “get into trouble” in our food system.

We welcome empirically, methodologically, and/or theoretically driven papers and discussions that engage with the hope and trouble of community food initiatives, such as:

  • Food waste initiatives
  • Food banks
  • Community gardens
  • Alternative food networks
  • Solidarity purchasing groups
  • Food Cooperatives
  • Social enterprises
  • Food advocacy organizations

We propose a format of two successive sessions. The first session follows the general structure of paper presentations followed by time for questions and short discussions. We use the second session for more thorough in-depth discussion. The first hour will be used for a world cafe setting to discuss recurrent themes in groups. We will use the last forty minutes for a ‘talk show’: we ask a representative from each table to come forward. We will then discuss the findings of each group by way of a talk show format: one interviewer asks questions to the representatives, potentially leading to discussions or an exchange of ideas. With this set-up we hope to elicit lively discussions on the topic, from various viewpoints and entry points.

Please contact the convenors to indicate whether you would like to present a paper and/or whether you would like to participate in the world cafe. Paper abstracts due by February 1st.

Session Convenors: Esther Veen (esther.veen@wur.nl), Oona Morrow (oona.morrow@wur.nl), Stefan Wahlen (stefan.wahlen@wur.nl), Anke de Vrieze (anke.devrieze@wur.nl)

 

Onderwijsboerderij scriptiemogelijkheid

Voor een deel van de leerlingen in het primair en voortgezet onderwijs werkt een schoolse omgeving soms (tijdelijk) contraproductief. Het gaat vooral om leerlingen voor wie de structuur en aanpak van een school te ingewikkeld is, kinderen die moeite hebben met sociale relaties en het in stand houden van vriendschappen, kinderen met hechtingsproblemen, kinderen die door een beperking niet uren achtereen op een stoel kunnen zitten. Kinderen dus die het moeilijk hebben met zichzelf en hun omgeving en daarom op een gegeven ogenblik niet meer naar school willen, kunnen, mogen, of durven. Voor deze groep is vaak geen passend onderwijs in de regio beschikbaar, en deze leerlingen komen vaak noodgedwongen thuis te zitten. Dit kan leiden tot moeilijk gedrag, een negatief zelfbeeld en een toekomst zonder perspectief.

Verschillende zorgboeren bieden deze leerlingen onderwijs op de boerderij. Een groep van ongeveer 20 van deze zorgboeren heeft een netwerk gevormd om ervaringen en knelpunten te delen. Problemen zijn bijvoorbeeld gebrek aan uitwisseling en onderbouwing van kennis, knellende regelgeving en de kloof tussen zorgboerderijen en scholen. Bovendien is geen goed zicht op het aantal leerlingen die onderwijs volgen op de boerderij (en hun specifieke problemen), en de ervaringen van boeren, leerlingen, ouders en scholen.

Om deze vragen te beantwoorden en uiteindelijk te komen tot een sterke, geaccepteerde en professionele onderwijssector, is de wetenschapswinkel van Wageningen UR een onderzoeksproject gestart. Binnen dit project zijn wij op zoek naar één of meerdere MSc studenten die voor een scriptie of stage onderzoek willen doen op verschillende gebieden zoals:

  • Het in kaart brengen van de huidige situatie (omvang en inhoud van onderwijs op de boerderij, type leerling, samenwerkingsvormen tussen boerderij en school, financieringsvormen), alsmede ervaringen van boeren, leerlingen, ouders en onderwijspartners;
  • Advies geven over mogelijke strategieën voor het versterken van de sector (belangrijkste knelpunten voor onderwijsboeren in kaart brengen, best practices beschrijven);
  • Literatuuronderzoek naar de voor- en nadelen van de boerderij als onderwijslocatie.

Een specifieke opdracht kan samen met de student worden opgesteld. Studenten zullen onderdeel worden van het wetenschapswinkelproject (stages worden begeleid door Jan Hassink van Wageningen Plant Research). Voor meer informatie: esther.veen@wur.nl

 

 

Foodscapes of the sharing economy

On the 25th of September, the Foodscapes cluster of the Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS) organised a critical food studies work shop on the food sharing economy. We invited Karin Dobernig from Vienna to talk about the research that she conducted with her colleague Karin Schanes.

Karin gave a very interesting and inspiring talk on “Collective Action Around Food Waste: Investigating the determinants and characteristics of participation in food sharing initiatives”.

After the talk there was plenty of time to discuss food sharing in more detail. We tried to link the concept of foodscape to that of food sharing, and raised and discussed various questions. For instance, to what extent is food sharing an urban phenomenon? When sharing food, who is liable and should food savers and food sharers accept responsibility? How is this organised in different countries? Also, to what extent does food sharing cross the binary opposition between consumers and producers? Who are the recipients of food sharing, and should they always be in need? There were no clear answers to these questions that can easily be reproduced here, but the discussion was insightful.

This was the first activity organised by the Foodscapes cluster. We much enjoyed the presentation and the discussions. Hoping for more inspiring meetings in the future!

Critical food studies workshop and seminar series

The Foodscapes cluster of the Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS) is pleased to announce the following workshop:

Foodscapes of the sharing economy

25 September 2018 – 13.45-17.00

Room C 62 in de Leeuwenborch (Hollandseweg 1, Wageningen)

During the recent decade, new modes of food provisioning have emerged under the guise of the sharing economy. A dominant picture of initiatives in the sharing economy is associated with platform capitalism and the gig economy. Yet, a variety of initiatives are using the tools of the sharing economy to promote sustainable consumption, thereby reducing our dependence on commercial activity and reducing the use and reliance on material possessions. This seminar will scrutinize the interconnections of the sharing economy and food, people and places. We are interested in food in the sharing economy, how exchanges are performed, by whom, and to what end. We want to provide an embodied understanding of food and place in the sharing economy. We are interested in issues of social, spatial and environmental justice, health and well-being in the sharing economy.

Program

13.45 – 14.00   Walking in

14.00 – 14.15   Introduction

14.15 – 15.00   Karin Dobernig and Karin Schanes: Collective Action Around Food Waste: Investigating the determinants and characteristics of participation in food sharing initiatives

15.00 – 15.15   Discussion

15.15 – 15.30   Coffee break

15.30-16.30     Roundtable discussion

With Karin Dobernig, Karin Schanes, Esther Veen, Oona Morrow, Stefan Wahlen

16.30-17.00     Drinks

About the foodscapes cluster:

The Foodscapes cluster brings together a variety of academic researchers and PhD candidates at Wageningen University, who are engaged in the multi-disciplinary domain of critical food studies.

 

Thesis opportunity: food banks as contested spaces for identity struggles

In general a person’s identity has cognitive-descriptive (C), normative-ethical (N) and affective-emotional qualities (A). Besides a person’s identity, a person can find him or herself to be in a certain position or have a certain status, and a person can have certain (un)officially assigned roles, tasks and functions. See the figure below. These three elements can ‘agree’, or be ‘in line’ with each other, but they can also diverge from each other, or be ‘in conflict’.

Plaatje fb identity

These distinctions are to a certain extent superficial: they are analytical distinctions. In that capacity they can help us discover different elements and qualities of peoples’ experiences. Moreover, a person’s identity is not once and for all a ‘given’. Identities develop and keep doing so in interaction with other people: first with primary caretakers and later with a host of significant others who also have an identity, certain roles and functions, a certain position or status, and corresponding expectations towards others.

In this MSc thesis proposal this interaction is taken to be located at the food bank where volunteers distribute food parcels among recipients. Volunteers and recipients have short or longer conversations about the food parcels and/or the reasons for being there at the food bank. In scientific literature on food banks it is an almost unquestioned assumption that the food bank is a charity organisation, very often inspired by religious ideas or values of love and kindness for fellow human beings in need, and an attitude of gratefulness and humility on the side of the recipient. A sociological understanding of charity would indeed point at these expected roles, functions and attitudes that the concept of charity implies. The general research question of this proposal is: To what extent is this general, unquestioned assumption supported by evidence?

Sub-questions are:

  • What are feelings and emotions towards, and what are normative opinions of volunteers and recipients about the existence of food banks and their activities?
  • To what extent do recipients experience discrepancies between the status in which they, (in)voluntarily, find themselves, and the way in which they see themselves or would like to see themselves? (In other words: to what extent do we see conflicts between the three elements in the figure above?)

Proposed research methods are participatory observations, interviews with volunteers and recipients, identity tests and conversation analysis. Starting literature is available.

The thesis will be supervised by Leon Pijnenburg (Philosophy) and Esther Veen (Rural Sociology). Interested? Contact Jessica de Koning: jessica.dekoning@wur.nl.

Knowledge clips reading for the social sciences

Students often ask us how they should read a scientific paper or book chapter, and what they should learn or remember from them. They may struggle with what they see to be too many readings, or express that they have difficulty understanding the main message of the articles we assign for our lectures.

In order to help students make the process of ‘reading for the social sciences’ more efficient and more targeted, Jessica Duncan and me (Esther Veen) designed four knowledge clips to pass on little tips.

The first one discusses the structure most sociological papers follow. In the second we give suggestions on how to read effectively. The third is on the different strategies you may use when you read for different purposes, and the last gives tips and tricks on how to keep track of your reading.

You can watch the clips here. You are welcom to send your feedback to jessica.duncan@wur.nl or esther.veen@wur.nl.

Thesis option: food in suburbia

The CBS (Dutch Bureau for Statistics) has shown that many young families are leaving the city, looking for more space and more affordable housing. These families often want to stay close to the city and therefore move to neighbouring towns or suburban areas. What does this mean for their food provisioning strategies? Where do these people buy most of their food and to what extent are they constrained by what is on offer locally? To what extent to they (still) use the city for their food provisioning, such as going out to dinner or visiting specialty shops? To what extent is such ‘urban food’ available in suburban areas? And how does this relate to people’s lifestyles and identities?

The urban food landscape is in constant transition, but we do not clearly know how people engage with their everyday food planning – where do they go, what choices do they make, and what practical considerations do they take into account? Answering such questions will help us better understand people’s food provisioning practices, and how to make these practices more sustainable and healthy.

We are looking for a thesis student interested in these questions, and willing to do a thesis with the Rural Sociology Group, starting spring 2018. Interested? Send a short motivation to esther.veen@wur.nl and anke.devrieze@wur.nl.