Thesis: the vegetable network

100_5864By Esther Veen, PhD student of Rural Sociology

Urban Agriculture is a trendy concept for a lot of recently set up neighbourhood gardens in cities. The goal is to connect people and food again is often said. I researched four neighbourhood gardens, looking specifically at the social and dietary effects for the people involved. While the new gardens are part of a trend, some gardens have a long history of a traditional allotment complex. Especially THOSE gardeners who not necessariy identify themselves as part of an urban agriculture movement, generally harvest large amounts of produce, that they cannot all consume themselves. Many of them therefore share their harvests with friends, families and colleagues. Continue reading

Master thesis by Lise Alix nominated for International Science shop price!

During the International event of Science Shops in Europe, The Inspiration days 2012, an award will be given to the author of the best Science Shop report. The Wageningen Science Shop nominated 3 projects from Wageningen University. Lise Alix, completed the Master International Development Studies at Wageningen University with a thesis research on an allotment park in Ede at Rural Sociology commissioned by the Science Shop of Wageningen University. Lise Alix is one of the nominees. Her thesis is in Dutch and called Zo tuinieren zij dus (That is how they garden), but has an English Summary. The thesis was examined as excellent. The research by Lise was part of a larger project on ‘Tuinenpark Koekelt’ (allotmentpark De Koekelt), see the project site for more information. The final Science Shop report “Welkom op Tuinenpark De Koekelt” is largely based on the nominated thesis. Below a clip of the allotmentpark ‘De Koekelt’:

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Surinam bami, Georgian beet-salad and Turkish baklava

The allotment gardeners of De Koekelt have gathered for a potluck in De Koekelt on Saturday, third of September. Surinam, Turkish, Italian, Georgian, and Dutch gardeners prepared food with the vegetables of their garden which, all together, made a very tasty and varied lunch.
I am doing my thesis on De Koekelt, trying to find out how to strengthen sense of community and participation of the gardeners. De Koekelt is an allotment garden in Ede with gardeners of twelve different nationalities. By walking around one can recognize great differences between the gardens. Some grow more flowers, others more vegetables, some gardeners build a place to sit down and enjoy, while others use their space in the most efficient way to produce as much food as possible.
These differences are appreciated by the gardeners, but create friction as well: “Why do foreigners need to grow so many beans?” or “Why do Dutch women only grow flowers and weeds on their garden?”
With help from three gardeners, I organized the potluck, where the gardeners had a chance to appreciate the differences between themselves, by tasting the different meals each gardener proudly prepared from their own garden products. By eating together, they used the opportunity to speak with gardeners they usually never spoke with. For example, a Georgian woman and a Turkish man discovered that they used to be neighbours, since the villages they come from are both situated on the border of Georgia and Turkey.
The board of De Koekelt, who was sceptical about this activity (“do you really think the gardeners will do all this effort of cooking and bringing their own plates?”) was also present and enjoyed the gathering. They had experienced a sense of losing control, but they seemed to realize that gardeners initiative should be stimulated, not constrained. They saw how little organization is needed to bring the gardeners together, and although they initially objected against this activity, they concluded that this should be organized more often

Lise Alix, MSc-student Rural Sociology