Organic Times – first edition of the MOAgazine


Recently students of the Master programme Organic Agriculture (MOA) of Wageningen University launched the first edition of the MOAgazine entitled ‘Organic Times’. The magazine (Organic times online) is written and edited by MOA students and provides some insights into the programme, study and student activities and a variety of issues linked to MOA, including book reviews and organic recipes. As chair of the MOA study programme committee I have enjoyed reading the Organic Times and am proud of the time and energy the students invested in developing this magazine. It reflects the enthusiasm and commitment of this great and dedicated group of international students as well as the interdisciplinary character of the MOA programme.

WWOOFING – fifth post RUW-RSO studytrip to Poland

RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. This fifth blog is about the logistical side of the trip by:

By Lianne Vreugdenhil

After visiting different stakeholders influencing and regulating Polish agriculture, it was time to do more practical work. Public transport brought us to the small town called so “easily” Szczedrzyk, Opole Voivodeship. This village is the home of Ekozagrada, an organic farm owned by Iwona and Jens Frusek. They offered us a place to do WOOFFing. Continue reading

Profitable organic farming – contribution to ‘The Broker’ food security blog

Profitable organic farming is a contribution of colleague Ina Horlings the ‘The Broker online‘ blog on food security.  The Broker has four interesting blogs from a manyfold of people across the world.

IFSA 2012 workshop ‘The meaning of semi-subsistence farming in different cultural contexts’

Together with Imre Kovach and Catherine Darrot,  I will be hosting a workshop at the IFSA symposium in Aarhus, Denmark from the 1st of July until the 4th of July 2012.

The workshop is aimed at exploring the multiple meanings of semi-subsistent food production strategies in different cultural context. Two questions are at the centre of attention: 1) How has the meaning of semi-subsistent food production changed over time for producers, society and institutions? and 2) What recommendations can be derived from the research for policy makers of multi-state institutions (e.g. EU?). We invite researchers from diverse countries to present their empirical research in order to stimulate a fruitful discussion and knowledge exchange.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is the 31st of December 2011.  More information and a link to submitting your abstract can be found here. I hope to see you there!

Porto Alegre’s 22 year old farmers’ market

On the saturday of my arrival in Porto Alegre, the “Feira dos Agricultores Ecologistas” was celebrating its twenty-second birthday. The market is situated at the border of the big Parque Farroupilha Redenção in the city centre and is at least a kilometer long. Back then, the market started with a group of citizens in Porto Alegre in search for healthier food both for the environment and for human health. The environment was not something which was considered a ‘political’ issue at the time of the ‘dictatura’. The environment therefore, was a topic for groups to come together and of course, discuss politics more broadly. More than twenty years ago, an environmentalist consumer cooperative  was established which organised a wide network of farmers willing to produce differently which was back then, more of an activist- against mainstream – thing to do than today. The farmers called themselves ‘agricultores ecologistas’, which refers to this activism. They consider themselves different from the broader movement towards organic production which evolved later. The subtle difference between their name and terms like ‘organico’ or other terms such as ‘agro-ecologia’ can easily be missed by a visitor.

However, these things were explained to me by Flávia Marques with whom I went there and who is one of the professors at the Post graduate program for rural development (PGDR) and who has worked with various of the farmers for years. One of the farmers on the market is specialised in plants for medicinal uses, the topic of her doctorate thesis. Further down the market there was also an empty stand with an elderly woman sitting behind it. Here people can get free advice on ailments also from a natural medicinal or holistic point of view. This week, at the two farm visits near Pelotas, both farmers had an extensive garden with herbs for medicinal use near the house. Also the municipal garden in Dois Irmãos had an herbal garden organised around the various human organs. It is one of the many striking differences compared to home for me. I learned that knowledge of the beneficial use of herbs is widespread and is not limited to organic farmers or ecologically oriented consumers.