“It’s the food, my friend!” – Joel Salatin to speak in Wageningen 9 May

On 9 May, Joel and Daniel Salatin from Polyface Farms will be speaking in Wageningen on their efforts to change agricultural practices and thinking in the US.
Joel will also be a keynote speaker for the closing day of the Food Film Festival in Amsterdam on 11 May. More information is available on the evening in Wageningen at the Facebook page for this event.

Il a plus sur le grand paysage – Film about crisis in Wallonian Dairy farming in Movie W

Monday March 31, 20.00 the film ‘Il a plus sur le grand paysage‘ (with English subtitles) will be shown in Movie-W. The film is directed by Jean-Jacques Andrien. The director and a farmer will be present and open for discussion with the audience.

Autumn 2010. In the region of Herve, in Belgium’s east, the milk crisis of 2009 struck brutally at the dairy farms. In this profoundly estabilised context, the decision of the European Union to completely remove the milk production quota in 2015, and the determination of the World Trade Organisation to further liberalise the markets, directly threatened the existence of the farms. Nine farmers tell us of their struggle, from the heart.

Free entrance thanks to the support by Rural Sociology and Sociology of Development and Change of Wageningen University. The evening is co-organised by Otherwise, Movie-W, ILEIA, RUW and Boerengroep.

Food Otherwise Conference – February 21, 22 2014, Wageningen

Food Otherwise Conference: Towards fair and sustainable food and agriculture systems
February 21, 22 2014 Wageningen.

More and more farmers, consumers, scientists and civil society organisations are working towards sustainable and fair ways of producing food. They are forging new relationships between farmers and consumers. They offer creative, dynamic and diverse alternatives to large-scale, anonymous and industrialised food production and the increasing influence of transnational corporations. Do you want to learn, experience, think along and discuss new and feasible food and agriculture systems with others? Would you like to build bridges and help to achieve a more sustainable and fair food and agriculture system? Do you want to get to know sustainable (young) farmers? Become inspired by innovative examples from the Netherlands, Flanders and abroad? Then come to our two day conference in Wageningen on 21 and 22 February 2014!

Keynote speakers Olivier de Schutter, UN rapporteur on the right to food • Pablo Tittonell, professor Farming Systems Ecology Wageningen University • Hanny van Geel, farmer and board member of La Via Campesina Europe • Vandana Shiva, Indian scientist and activist (tbc).

For whom? Farmers, consumers, scientists, beekeepers, students, artists, professionals in the food and agro sectors, policymakers, politicians and journalists. Translation English-Dutch provided in the plenary sessions. Some workshops will be in English. Workshops and discussions around several themes, such as: • Local food networks: from producer to consumer • The power of large agricultural corporations • Agro-ecology • Fair incomes for farmers • Urban agriculture • Permaculture / food forests • Fair trade and Agricultural policies • Land rights • Seeds and biodiversity • Soil and closed-loop agriculture

Grassroots science event – Discussing the future of agriculture: myths, facts and moving beyond

The next event of the Grassroots science series is a discussing on “The future of agriculture: myths, facts and moving beyond”: Wednesday November 20, at 20.00  in the Forum building.

Discussiants are:

  • Josef Keulartz (emeritus professor environmental philosophy)
  • Tomek Ponti (consultant on sustainable agriculture)
  • Jacques van Nederpelt (platform ABC, author of ‘8 myths in food and agriculture’)
  • Jan Diek van Mansvelt (Down to Earth, emeritus professor WUR, co-founder Louis Bolk Institute and former director IFOAM)

Sign up at http://grassrootsscience.nl/events/wed-20-nov-the-future-of-agriculture-myths-facts-and-moving-beyond/

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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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.

Students interested in food crisis and urban agriculture

Over a potluck diner organised by Boerengroep and Otherwise, yesterday, we evaluated the courses that we ran together this academic year. The course Food Farmers and Forks in November/December 2011 and the course Grassroots Science, from Februari until June this year. The courses were designed to give students the possibility to follow the evening lecture series as a course for 3 credits with additional mandatory literature and an essay assignment as exam. In both cases, initially around 30 students subscribed to the course, but not all students were able to finalise the course with the exam. It nevertheless gave both student organisations a steady audience of at least 30 students. However, the lectures were open just for anyone to join and in various cases there were over a hundred people participating. From the high numbers of participants and the positive feedback so far, we concluded that their evening lectures hit a nerve or a latent demand from students across study programs in this university to engage in critical thoughts on food issues.

The biggest hits were those lectures that had ‘food crisis’ and ‘urban agriculture’ in their title. Not to suggest ‘problem’ and ‘solution’ of course. Even though urban agriculture is unmistakenly a trend showing our re-engagement with food, we need more fundamental change in addition to some production in cities or more home grown activities by consumers in order to move towards a more sustainable and just food system. It seems that Dutch supermarkets pressured by NGO’s on animal welfare are finally beginning to catch up with wider societial trends and some leading examples in the food industry.

However, there is a long way to go. Both lecture series (in fall and spring) touched upon various structural inequalities and injustices such as around water rights and access, around seed sovereignity, the origin of our food, and the commodification of knowledge by vested interests (including of course universities) to name just a few. Both Boerengroep and Otherwise are dedicated to bringing food for thought for students who want to broaden their horizon.

They did a great job and are looking forward to organise more next year. If you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to know more about within the realm of sustainable food systems, please send an email to st.boerengroep@wur.nl

Farmer driven transformation: next grassroots-science seminar

As announced earlier, St. Boerengroep and St. Otherwise organize a serie of seminars called Grassroots science: socially driven alternatives that tackle global problems. Next one will be on Monday May, 14, starting 19.30, in the Forum building. See the announced below and register a seat here:

Farmer driven transformation in the Netherlands: sustainable practices and struggles with the state

Dutch agriculture is one of the most productive in the world. This however seems to have come at a price. Disease outbreaks have led to the killing of more than 40 million animals in the last 14 years, it is the only EU country that does not comply to EU groundwater standards, it is the largest user of antibiotics for meat production in the EU, it ranks in the top 3 of the world’s largest pesticide users and the farming population has shrunk by 36% in 15 years. Policy efforts and huge investments in research seem to have brought little change to this. Farmer-led initiatives have however emerged that promise to tackle some of these problems. Frank Verhoeven (Boerenverstand bv) and Douwe Hoogland (chair Noardlike Fryske Wâlden) will talk about two farmer-led environmental co-operatives in the Frisian Woodlands, who, in cooperation with researchers, have devised system innovation by re-integrating dairy farming with nature conservation and landscape management. To realise this struggles with state policies were inevitable.

Grassroots Science course with Boerengroep and St Otherwise

Last year’s Food Farmer Fork series organised by Boerengroep and Otherwise was a big success. Some 750 people came to one or more of the 9 evening lectures and activities. The series could also be followed as a Capita Selecta course with the Rural Sociology group. Initially, 40 students enrolled and 20 students finalised the course successfully with the writing of an essay.  All in all, it inspired both participants and us as organisers. So, the new series until the summer is again available for students to follow as a capita selecta course. Please look at the websites of Boerengroep and Otherwise where you can subscribe to the course and download the course outline. The current topic; grassroots science. Why? Continue reading