EU Farm to Fork Strategy: Collective response from food sovereignty scholars

Two RSO scholars, Jessica Duncan and Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, have contributed to this analysis of the EU’s new Farm to Fork Strategy.

Food Governance

On 20 May 2020 the European Commission (EC) released its new Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system. As scholars committed to supporting sustainable food system transformation, we commend the EC for delivering a  longer term vision, and proposing the development of a legislative framework for sustainable food systems by 2023. Binding mechanisms and coherent, integrated rights-based legislative frameworks are fundamental to ensuring compliance and meeting the proposed targets. We acknowledge that the F2F Strategy contains many positive points, but are deeply concerned that these remain embedded in an outdated framework.

The evidence overwhelmingly points to a need to move beyond the (green) economic growth paradigm. This paradigm, reified by the European Green Deal, perpetuates unsustainable lock-ins and entrenched inequalities. The Scientific Advice Mechanism[1] recently advised the EC to stop treating food as a commodity and start thinking about the implications of seeing food…

View original post 4,028 more words

Stage of afstuderen: Ontwikkeling Voedsellandschap en Moderne Marke Slijpbeek

  • Moderne Marke Slijpbeek – tussen Arnhem en Oosterbeek – is een samenwerkingsverband waarbij de korte keten van lokaal voedsel (van productie tot verwerking, distributie en afzet) het uitgangspunt is. Dit gebeurt in een bio-divers, cultuurhistorisch, hoogwaardig leef- en woongebied. Circulariteit (afvalstromen en mest) en fossielvrije mobiliteit liggen aan de basis en de beleving van de korte voedsel keten staat centraal. Het gebied functioneert als moderne Marke waar men met elkaar en vooral voor elkaar gewas en vee tot wasdom laat komen en waar de buitenruimte optimaal benut wordt om voedsel te produceren. De ruimte is verbonden door een padenstructuur die zowel distributie als beleving van voedsel mogelijk maakt. POP subsidie moet een bijdrage leveren aan het versterken van de samenwerking, de visie- en planvorming en de uitvoering van enkele voedselgebonden experimenten.

Doelstelling: Doel van het project is de consortiumpartners binnen het gebied rondom de Slijpbeek op professioneel niveau te laten samenwerken zodat er duurzame onderlinge relaties worden opgebouwd en er een duurzame voedselketen ontstaat. Het realiseren en innoveren van de duurzame korte voorzieningenketen gebeurt met een groep korte-keten-partners (niet alleen productie maar ook verwerking, distributie en afzet van lokaal voedsel) in ‘Slijpbeekpark’. De uit deze samenwerking voortkomende voedselproducten zijn met gesloten kringloop geproduceerd, emissievrij gedistribueerd en toereikend voor een zo groot mogelijk aantal afnemers in en om het gebied ‘Slijpbeekpark’. Bewoners van het gebied zijn ‘lid’ van hun eigen voedsellandschap.

Mogelijke opdrachten

Formuleren bedrijfsplan De partners hebben als doel samen te werken om een korte voedselketen te realiseren. De betrokken partijen willen de businesscase verbeteren, door meerwaarde toe te voegen aan de productie. Deze meerwaarde wordt bereikt door een gesloten grondstoffenkringloop en biologische en CO2-neutrale productie, waarbij de voedselproducten van het land zoveel mogelijk binnen het gebied en zonder verspilling worden verwerkt, gedistribueerd en afgezet voor en met bewoners en ondernemers.

Hiervoor wordt onderzocht: 1) Welke producten samen een interessant aanbod vormen als voedselpakket voor lokale bedrijven en bewoners, met oog voor technische eisen (landschappelijke ondergrond, mogelijkheden tot verwerking/houdbaarheid); 2) Hoe er tot een economisch haalbaar, kwalitatief product gekomen kan worden, met een overgang van intensief naar extensief beheer; 3) Welke innovatieve bewaar- en verwerkingsprocessen er zijn om jaarrond hoogwaardig voedsel aan te kunnen bieden en verspilling tegen te gaan; 4) Hoe en hoeveel (nieuwe) bewoners, bedrijven en belangstellenden het product kunnen en zouden willen afnemen (lid worden van een coöperatie, voedselpakketabonnement, etc).  

Formuleren voedsellandschapsplan Door middel van een voedsellandschapsplan krijgt de samenwerking van de korte-keten-partners ook fysiek in het landschap vorm. Hierin worden de locaties aangewezen waar natuur- en landschapsgericht wordt geboerd. In samenspraak met de gebiedseigenaren wordt onderzocht hoe en in hoeverre de korte-keten-partners het landschap kunnen beheren en bewerken ten behoeve van de lokale voedselproductie. 

Zichtbaar maken van lokaal voedsel Door de werkzaamheden in de voedselproductie, -verwerking, -distributie en -afzet beleefbaar te maken ontstaat er meer binding met het product en het landschap en meer bewustwording over voedsel in het algemeen. Hiervoor is behoefte aan een visie op beleving, educatie en burgerparticipatie met betrekking tot lokaal voedsel en een plan van aanpak hoe deze visie is toe te passen in de lokale zorg- en dagbesteding bij Hoeve Klein Mariëndaal en bij de beleving/ bewustwording van het lokale voedselsysteem door bewoners, lokale bedrijven en toeristen voor het gehele projectgebied.

Voor meer informatie: Jan Hassink, Wageningen Research: Jan.hassink@wur.nl en 0317 480576

BSc/MSc Thesis vacancy – Volunteers in Gelderland: does Corona provide new dimensions to an old fashion?

The Corona crisis brings about many social initiatives, lots of them along the lines of ‘helping out in the neighborhood’. This might appear innovative, but volunteer organizations are central to social life in Dutch countryside already for decades. From sports clubs to village centers (Dorpshuizen) and local public transport (buurtbus), many small-town-services are supported by volunteers. Yet, volunteer organizations in small villages heavily struggle with a lack of volunteers and an increasing workload, as their (local) governments ‘decentralized’ many tasks over time. This Science Shop research project is commissioned by ‘Vereniging DKK Gelderland’ and looks into the dynamics of local volunteer organizations in the context of austerity and decentralization. How do volunteers organize themselves? What can organizations do to attract new and young volunteers? What critical issues with regard to livability and social services are signaled by volunteers?

We are looking for students that are interested to study volunteer supported (social) services in Dutch countryside (Gelderland) through a literature review and (Skype) interviews, and/or to perform an online (inter)national QuickScan of inspiring examples of volunteer work. Should we learn from festivals (f.ex. Zwarte Cross) about the commitment of young adults to volunteer work? Or is activism and financial support the answer to overstressed volunteer services? In addition, we are keen to understand how an abundance of temporary Corona-initiatives relate to existing issues with permanent/long-term volunteer efforts.

The project runs from May to November, you can start any time from now. Research can be adapted to the Corona guidelines. Both suitable for bachelor and master students. Please contact dieuwertje.vanmuijden@wur.nl for more information. See also: https://www.gelderlandhelpt.nl/corona-hulp

Rural-urban relations in times of COVID-19

** Special online discussion on rural-urban relations**

Bettina Bock and Jessica Duncan

How are the interactions and dependencies between rural, peri-urban and urban areas changing at this moment?

Let us know! Comment below or #ROBUST #RuralUrban

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the foundation of our societies, painfully demonstrating the enormous difference residency makes for your risk of infection, as well as your chance of medical treatment. Shockingly clear are also the social differences in threats resulting from the societal lockdown – in terms of income security, access to education, as well as housing, shelter, and food. Though known before with earlier pandemics, COVID-19 has swiftly exposed and exacerbated social inequalities and injustice within and across countries.

 

It also triggers changes in rural-urban relations, while underlining their importance.  For example, rural areas have been widely perceived as offering a safe haven from the virus, given their lower population density. This has motivated some urbanites to seek shelter in the countryside. However, in reality, rural areas are extremely vulnerable to public health crises of any kind, as their populations are ageing and their primary health care infrastructures are extremely fragile, and often cannot sufficiently serve even the local population. Most urban residents are likely not aware of the risks they carry with them in their own search for security, leisure, or space (i.e. physical distancing). And this is not surprising.

Research has shown that with urbanisation, rural and urban regions grew apart, leading to a lack of mutual awareness, understanding and affinity, as well as a difference in affluence, status, and recognition of interests. This may explain why some rural residents have accused urban security seekers of selfishness for travelling to rural areas (e.g. the rise of #dontvisit; Wales, UK where people have been warned not to travel to; The Hampton, US where some wealthy Americans are bunkering down; or Scotland, where the chief medical officer resigned over ignoring her own warnings by travelling to her second home).  But also students, returning to their rural family home, may have unintentionally brought the virus with them, for instance in the South of Italy.

Current times call for solidarity, for contributing to the security of others even at individual costs. And there is plenty evidence of that solidarity – also across rural-urban boundaries. This is reflected in the many initiatives taken to support local farmers, whether by directly buying the products they cannot deliver to restaurants and schools, or by offering to help with the local harvest, as seasonal labour migrants are also unable to travel and work abroad.

Nevertheless, rural areas, which have long experienced out-migration as people leave for educational and employment opportunities, are now experiencing a critical shortage of people who are capable of working in agriculture and harvesting food. This will also be felt in the urban areas eventually.

COVID-19 is having paradoxical effects. It reveals our vulnerability and our readiness to adapt our daily life if security demands it. It reveals our selfishness, at the individual and national level. It reveals our struggles understanding that we can be part of the problem, even when travelling on our own. It also discloses our compassion for others and the capacity of selflessness that many possess.

It underlines the importance of creativity and solidarity. Knowledge and a sense of affinity are crucial for promoting solidarity. Social distancing can promote discrimination and social division if we prioritise our safety and comfort. For good rural-urban relationships, knowledge, understanding and respect are crucial, as is awareness of interdependence. We need each other now and in the future.

Recognizing that rural-urban relations are not the urgent priority of governments, it cannot be denied that the pandemic is reshaping and will likely continue to reshape these relations in multiple and complex ways. The outcomes of this crisis on rural-urban relations will depend heavily on the decisions taken now by political leaders.

Governments need to play an important role in communicating this knowledge and promoting better cooperation and solidarity between rural and urban areas. In the case of COVID-19, they should set an example of unselfishness and solidarity, both locally and globally.

We are calling on governments to not impose measures that would negatively impact rural residents, or over the long term. Pandemic–related trends (e.g. migration for employment from urban to rural areas) should be carefully monitored to avoid unintentional long-term threats to rural communities.

We encourage governments to consider rural-urban relations explicitly when developing and implementing new policies, including an integrated strategy that clearly communicates that the rural is not a refuge – but a partner.

Finally, we encourage governments to strengthen local food production systems and consumption at a structural level and in line with a city-regional approach. Eventually, when it is safe to do so, we also encourage governments to promote sustainable local recreation and tourism, which is vital for many rural areas.

ROBUST is a European research project involving 24 partners from 11 countries. One of our main goals is to advance our understanding of the interactions and dependencies between rural, peri-urban and urban areas.

We are very interested in hearing from you. How are the interactions and dependencies between rural, peri-urban and urban areas changing at this moment?

Let us know in the comment section or online @bock_bettina  and @foodgovernance

#ROBUST #RuralUrban

ROBUST

Thesis or internship: Nature assisted therapies

Can nature be used as ‘treatment’ 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, the so-called nature assisted-therapies, like walking therapy. 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, healthcare professionals themselves report being more vital and healthy providing treatment outdoors, which is a prerequisite for high quality of care. However, the use of nature in the mainstream healthcare practices is far from accepted.

For students looking for a thesis or internship opportunity we offer the following vacancy:

Investigate the experiences of clients and therapists with nature-assisted and nature-based therapies, and explore how stakeholders involved in the mainstream healthcare sector perceive of this kind of therapy.

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

Effects of high-tech urban agriculture on healing environments in Dutch nursing homes

It feels a bit odd to post about research results while the Corona virus is keeping us all occupied. However, last week Paulien van de Vlasakker defended her MSc thesis, and the results are nice to share. Moreover, so many of my colleagues are working very hard to keep education going – why not report on some of the nice things that are being done here at Wageningen University. For all those currently involved in cursory education: keep up the good work, you are heroes!

The text below is written by Paulien and describes the findings of her thesis. The thesis was preceded by an internship on the same topic, on which she reported earlier.

“In recent years, an increasing number of urban agriculture initiatives have been initiated to offer locally produced and fresh food products. One newer form of urban agriculture is high-tech urban agriculture. Advanced technologies, such as led lightening and hydroponic cultivation methods, allow the production of fresh vegetables and herbs inside the built-up environment. High-tech indoor gardens are a form of high-tech urban agriculture, combining food production with greening, and can offer advantages such as all-year-round production of leafy greens, improved air quality of the indoor space and enhancing the aesthetics of the location. The multifunctionality of high-tech indoor gardens can be of value for places where people live who are in need of improved well-being. In the Netherlands, welfare, housing, daily care and treatment for vulnerable elderly people come together in nursing homes.

I studied how high-tech indoor gardens can contribute to the well-being of elderly living in Dutch nursing homes. In care settings, the term ‘healing environment’ is often used to describe aspects of the environment that have health-improving benefits. The purpose of this study was to identify how and to what extent high-tech indoor gardens can contribute to the healing environment of nursing homes. High-tech indoor gardens have two distinct aspects: 1) the appearance of the garden itself, and 2) the production of food. I hypothesized that the appearance of the garden influences the perceived ambiance, enhancing mental and social well-being, and that the production of fresh vegetables and herbs contributes to the vegetable intake, improving physical well-being.

This case study research was inspired by social practice theory and looked at the emergence and transformation of existing practices in four different nursing homes, located in Velp (Province of Gelderland). I looked at how different leisure practices among elderly residents evolved around the indoor garden, and how the cooking practices performed by the caretakers were affected by the use of the freshly harvested products. For my data collection, I conducted interviews with elderly residents and decision makers. In addition, I used surveys to collect information from caretakers and performed observations at all four nursing homes. For the qualitative data analysis I used NVivo and for the quantitative data analysis I used SPSS.

The thesis concludes that high-tech indoor gardens are effective in the creation of  healing environments because they create more livable environments by improving the ambiance and influencing residents’ vegetable intake. I showed that vegetables produced by indoor gardens can influence vegetable intake by changing the meal experience. Residents explained that they could clearly distinguish the difference between a meal prepared with the vegetables from the indoor gardens and a dish without fresh vegetables. Most residents find it very important to eat fresh foods. They enjoy the taste of the different products from the garden and appreciate that they are locally and freshly produced. Many residents were used to growing vegetables in their own vegetable gardens and expressed feelings of familiarity and recognition towards the garden and its products. Especially typical Dutch herbs and vegetables, such as parsley, chives and butterhead lettuce are popular among the elderly residents.

Whether or not the harvest was used in cooking practices by caretakers was influenced by several factors: 1) Caretakers who have gardening experience and enjoy cooking, are more likely to integrate the harvested fresh vegetables and herbs in existing cooking practices than caretakers with no gardening experience and who do not enjoy the task of cooking; 2) In nursing homes in which mostly non-fresh ingredients are used for the preparation of meals (frozen meals), caretakers are more motivated to use the fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden, and 3) For optimal use of the indoor garden, it is important that it is placed close to the kitchen and close to the living area of the residents. Caretakers can more easily integrate harvesting practices with cooking and other practices when the garden is located at a place that they often pass by. When the garden is placed close to the living area of the elderly residents, the residents can enjoy the aesthetic aspects of the garden.”

 

Special @SUSPLACE_ITN Feature: Exploring the Transformative Capacity of Place-Shaping Practices

Figure 2: Sustainable place-shaping. Source: Horlings et al. (2020) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00787-w

The SUSPLACE Special Feature ‘Exploring the transformative capacity of place-shaping practices‘ is published open access in Sustainability Sciences. It comprises nine articles: eight original research articles and an Introduction article by Lummina Horlings, Dirk Roep, Erik Mathijs and Terry Marsden. From the introduction:

The eight papers in this Special Feature result from the EU funded SUSPLACE collaborative programme that aimed to explore the transformative capacity of sustainable place-shaping practices, and if and how these practices can support a sustainable, place-based development. The programme encompassed 15 research projects investigating a wide range of place-shaping practices embedded in specific settings. From a common framework on sustainable place-shaping, each research project has developed its own theoretical and methodological approach. This editorial explains the overall approach to sustainable place-based development and more specifically the three analytical dimensions of transformative practices, that together propel sustainable place-shaping: re-appreciationre-grounding and re-positioning. After an overview of the eight articles, the contribution to sustainability sciences is discussed. The research programme has provided insight into the transformative agency of practitioners and policymakers engaged in shaping sustainable places, as well as the transformative role of researchers. 

Keywords: Sustainable place-shaping · Transformative capacity · Sustainability sciences · Place-based development

Horlings, L.G., Roep, D., Mathijs, E., Marsden, T. (2020) Exploring the transformative capacity of place-shaping practices, 15(2):353–362 Sustainability Sciences,  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00787-w

New Book: Achieving Sustainable Urban Agriculture

Book cover Achieving Sustainable Urban Agriculture

This collection reviews key recent research on developing urban and peri-urban agriculture. The first part of the book discusses ways of supporting urban agriculture, from policy and planning to building social networks for local food supply chains. The chapters in the second part of the book survey developments in key technologies for urban agriculture, including rooftop systems and vertical farming. The book also assesses challenges and improvements in irrigation, waste management, composting/soil nutrition and pest management. The final group of chapters are case studies on urban farming of particular commodities, including horticultural produce, livestock, and forestry.

The book targets a varied audience: academic researchers in agricultural science, urban planning and environmental science specialising in urban agriculture; urban planners and policy makers in local government; national government and other bodies promoting urban agriculture.

More information about the book can be found at https://shop.bdspublishing.com/store/bds/detail/workgroup/3-190-83836

 

Values and relationships in the diverse economy of De Ommuurde Tuin: an illustrated ethnography

inez thesis coverLast year Inez responded to a RSO thesis advert to join a research team exploring the social economy of food and nature in Gelderland in connection with several science shop projects coordinated by Jan Hassink. Inez completed her research at de Ommuurde Tuin in Renkum, and took the opportunity to further explore visual and creative methods, documenting her results in an illustrated ethnography that was shared with stakeholders at our most recent network gathering Nijmegen. Thanks for being part of our research team Inez ! 

Inez Dekker, MSc student Sociology of Development (MID) Wageningen University

Below please find the abstract of the MSc  minor thesis Values and relationships in the diverse economy of De Ommuurde Tuin: an illustrated ethnography

The full thesis can be downloaded from the WUR-Library by clicking on the hyperlink

Summary : In the last decades a growing number of alternative food and care initiatives emerged in North-America and Europe. Due to uncertain situations within current neoliberal economic systems such as the recent recession, ongoing outsourcing and environmental depletion, and alienation from production (Morgan and Kuch, 2015), these initiatives offer an alternative to an existing neoliberal model. Moreover, they inspire to create a more diverse pallet of economies alongside dominant economic and social systems. Important to mark here is that their decisions and actions are not merely led by dominant economic models, but intentionally done to create worlds that are environmentally and socially just (Gibson-Graham et al., 2013). Often these initiatives fit in an alternative economic framework where a diverse, interdependent, rich and prolific disarray of ‘good life’ are central for their economies. One of such frameworks is the diverse economic research framework based on the work of Gibson-Graham (2008) where the economy is one based on a myriad of human and non-human social relationships that go beyond capitalist economic models. While there seems to be an emerging interest for practices within alternative economic frameworks, such as in community supported agriculture (CSA) or care farms, there is an absence of how human and non-human relationships create values that form an (diverse) economy. Moreover, in conventional economic thinking, practices occurring outside current economic system remain often unrecognized and unseen, though, these are essential for an economy to exist. Therefore, I aim to strengthen a network of diverse economic initiatives focus on initiatives located in the Dutch province Gelderland. To do this, I created a visual illustration that highlights the diverse practices and human and non-human relationships in the organic horticulture business located in Gelderland called ‘De Ommuurde Tuin’. I add to the scholarship of diverse economies by describing and showing the processes that produce a diversity of values in De Ommuurde Tuin’s daily economic practices. These processes are not only led by relationships among humans but include human and non-human relationships as well. To do this, I not only use a written form, but foremost I used visual and sensory research methods that highlights relationships between humans-humans and humansnonhumans. By putting forward the senses, the visual and emotional, this research concerns the processes in daily economic practices through a study of an economy that is lived and experienced. Moreover, I make alternative and diverse frameworks of economy/is more visible for a wider public through presenting my outcomes in a visual manner in booklet form. This approach tries to display and recognize economic alternatives, which helps to connect and build a coherent and powerful social movement for another economy (Miller, 2008; Gibson-Graham, 2008; Gibson-Graham and Miller, 2015)

Register now for RSO55306 – A Global Sense of Place: Place-based approaches to development | Period 5

soap-bubble-406944

In the face of urgent environmental and societal challenges, how do we move towards inclusive futures? What is the role of people in places? And what can be our role as (social) scientists?

In this course, we explore inclusive place-based approaches to development. We analyse how change happens from below and how people take matters in their own hands, shaping the places they live in according to their own needs and values. A relational perspective allows us to see the interdependence between the local and the global, the urban and the rural and the individual and the collective.

Besides engaging with key theories and analysing topical cases, we reflect upon our own role as (social) scientists and explore the tools and methodologies we need in place-based research, specifically focusing on participatory and creative methods.

This advanced MSc course is relevant for all students (including PhD candidates) with an interest in inclusive development, that seek theoretical as well as methodological guidance. The course can help students prepare an MSc thesis proposal and is supported by lecturers from all chair groups involved in the Centre for Space, Place and Society (RSO, SDC, HSO and GEO)

For more information, contact anke.devrieze@wur.nl.