Grassroots Science: Do the NL have an agro-ecology movement?

Stichting Otherwise organizes another Grassroots Science event. The new course The Farm Experience Internship (FEI) will be presented and the significance it can have for formal education and the agroecology network in the Netherlands. See http://www.st-otherwise.org/thu-4-july-grassroots-science-agroecology-in-the-netherlands/ for more info or the site of the Boerengroep for more info on the FEI course.

GS Agroecology

Agro-ecology debated in Wageningen – grassroots science series

Under the heading of Grassroots sciences St. Otherwise has organised a new series to debate the agro-ecology approach, see the website for the programme and to make a reservation.

Monday, March 18 will be the next event, called The power of agro-ecology. This is part of the Rode Hoed debate series ‘It is the Food Stupid’. Venue: Forum building, Wageningen.

The agro-ecology movement is gaining momentum worldwide. Family farmers, sometimes in collaboration with researchers, have successfully developed agro-ecological innovations that use local resources and work with nature to strengthen production systems, increase farmer autonomy and maintain productivity. This makes farming more resilient, and less dependent on expensive external inputs such as chemical fertilizer and pesticides. What has agro-ecology achieved? Can  it feed the world? What choices can we make to give it a fair chance? And what  challenges are there for Wageningen University? Irene Cardoso (professor of soil science and vice chair Brazilian Agroecology Association) and Tom Saat (organic farmer and winner of the 2012 Ekoland Innovation Prize) share their insights and experiences. You are invited for a drink afterwards. Follow it live at http://wurtv.wur.nl/. Find out more on Facebook.

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Set-up vegetable farm: Internship at PeerGroup

Set up of small-scale vegetable farm in Donderen – Province of Drenthe

Location: the headquarters of the PeerGroup, Depot Donderen. The vacated ammunition Depot Donderen was built in the time of the Cold War and is working space of the PeerGroup since January 2011. The bunker complex sits in a small forest and has several ammunition buildings of varying sizes with open space in between. The PeerGroup shares the grounds with care farm Peest. The site, with the neighbouring farms is popularly called ‘Donderboerkamp’.

Commissioner: PeerGroup, a theatrical group that specializes in site-specific theatre in the northern provinces of the Netherlands working with themes of, in and for rural communities.

STA73745The PeerGroup is looking for a student who relates to the creative energy of the artist community of PeerGroup while bringing along collaborative skills, agro-ecology knowledge and an open mind for co-creation and learning. The student will be selected on the basis of an intake on the site. The student develops a plan and makes it happen with the support of the PeerGroup. The student can live on-site during the internship.

Applications with a motivation letter: Petra.derkzen@wur.nl

Food4all – about right to food, sustainable family farming and agro-ecology

With Food4all Otherwise and Boerengroep offer a critical perspective to food security and sustainable farming next to the yearly Food4you festival. Food4all starts on Thursday 11 October with a lecture on Land grabs and the right to food, next an expert panel on Feeding the world on Friday 12 October, a regional farmers market on Saturday and it ends with the Dutch premiere of the film ‘Crops in the Future’ on Tuesday 16 October. Food4all is organized in colaboration with ILEIA and SOS Faim (Belgium).

Celebrate food and farming in Wageningen, the Netherlands! Food4all is a festival that takes you on a journey through sustainable family farming, agro-ecology and the right to food. The Food4All festival is a critical supplement to the “Food4you festival”. The festival seeks to provide a critical perspective on global food security, and give voice sustainable alternatives.

Look at http://grassrootsscience.nl/ for the programme.

Feeding the world sustainable – agroecology v industrial agriculture

Feeding the world in a sustainable way is vehemently debated these days. In international fora the debate is not just about how to increase food production to feed the world’s growing population but also whether increasing food production is adressing the key issue of the relation between poverty and hunger. Increasing food production is not a neutral matter. Although some voices like to put it that way to sustain their claim that ‘facts’ show that their solution is the only right one. A solution is never neutral just because of the combination of technological and institutional means and the social and environmental impact it has. This is not new at all all. The impact of the (first) Green Revolution has been heavely disputed and this socalled neutralness of technology has been key issue in the massive techology and innovation studies of last decades. One cannot simply ignore the wider impact of technological fixes in the debate about how to provide the world’s population in a sustainable way.

In an editorial Eric Holt-Gimenez,  Executive Director of Food First / Institute for Food and Development Policy (www.foodfirst.org) in response to a recent study in Nature has added a contribution to this ongoing debate. He argues that there is a difference between between producing more food and ending hunger.  Read his editorial at on what kind of agriculture can best solve the problem of the growing number of hungry people: agroecology or conventional industrial agriculture at http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/magazines/global/farmer-organisations/opinion-eric-holt-gimenez or at Nourshing the planet (the weblog of the Worldwatch Institute). One can also see video of a lecture on Food movements, agroecology, and the future of food and farming.

The Christensen Fund made an interesting infographics evaluating the major differences between agroecology and industrial agriculture:

Rural development in Brazil

fabio_kesslerProf. Fabio dal Soglio from the Federal University of Rio Grande de Sul (UFRGS) is currently our guest. He is one of the professors working in the Post-Graduate Programme on Rural Development (PGDR) and he has a particular interest in agro-ecology.

The  UFRGS and the PGDR-group in particular wants to extend collaboration with the Rural Sociology Group, as initiated by prof. van der Ploeg, by the exchange of staff, exchange of MSc and PhD-students and by joint research.

As part of an assignment for the MSc-course Sociology in Development, a group of MSc-students grasped the occasion and interviewed prof. Fabio dal Soglio on the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil and their struggle for land and land reforms.

mst-21Quoted from the MST-website (English edition):

 The MST is the largest social movement in Latin America with an estimated 1.5 million landless members organized in 23 out 27 states. The MST carries out long-overdue land reform in a country mired by unjust land distribution. In Brazil, 1.6% of the landowners control roughly half (46.8%) of the land on which crops could be grown. Just 3% of the population owns two-thirds of all arable lands.

Since 1985, the MST has peacefully occupied unused land where they have established cooperative farms, constructed houses, schools for children and adults and clinics, promoted indigenous cultures and a healthy and sustainable environment and gender equality. The MST has won land titles for more than 350,000 families in 2,000 settlements as a result of MST actions, and 180,000 encamped families currently await government recognition. Land occupations are rooted in the Brazilian Constitution, which says land that remains unproductive should be used for a larger social function.

 The MST’s success lies in its ability to organize and educate. Members have not only managed to secure land, therefore food security for their families, but also continue to develop a sustainable socio-economic model that offers a concrete alternative to today’s globalization that puts profits before people and humanity.