Food Otherwise Conference 2016 February 12-13

Food Otherwise bannerFebruary 12 and 13 the 2nd Food Otherwise conference takes place in the Orion building of Wageningen University. The first Food Otherwise Conference took place in 2014 and has been an overwhelming success with 800 participants and full of spirit to make a difference. The Food Otherwise conference is supported by many organisations that published the Foods Otherwise manifesto: Towards fair and sustainable food and agriculture systems.

Next to the plenary programme there will be 60 workshops in four parallel sessions on four themes: 1. Agroecology, soil & permaculture; 2. Short chains and urban farming; 3. Fair agriculture and trade policies; 4. Access to land and land rights. You can download the full programme and guidelines on how to register yourself. There is a special programme for kids, so you can take them along.

The plenary programme offers inspiring key note speakers from home and abroad: e.g. Irene Cardoso (Chair of the Brazilian Agroecology Association, Professor of Soil Science), Jyoti Fernandes (farmer and member of La Via Campesina Europe), Sieta Keimpema (Dutch Dairymen Board), Jonathan Karpathios (Greek- Dutch chef, food blogger and gardener), Olivier De Schutter (IPES-Food), Jocelyn Parot (Urgenci), Maryam Rahmanian (FAO) and Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (Wageningen University).

Reclaim the Seeds is a special co-event on Saturday, from 10.00-17.00 in the Forum building.

The Rural Sociology Group supports the Food Otherwise Conference. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (professor Transition Studies) contributes on Saturday with an overall reflection and convenes a workshop on ‘Gebiedscooperaties: zelfsturing en autonomie’ with speakers from the Northern Frisian Woodlands and Province of Friesland.

Developing Czech Sitopia

How to get good quality food from your own region? Where to buy fresh and organic food which is in season in the Czech region of Dvur Kralove and in cities such as Trutnov and Broumov? How to get a network going of (potential) producers and (potential) consumers? These were among the questions discussed during a seminar about quality food and permaculture which was held at MIZ in Zdoňov, near the Polish border around 3 hours northeast from Prague on the 14th of May.

During the seminar different aspects of permaculture were presented in both Czech and English to the 10 participants mainly from around Zdoňov. We discussed how to enhance biodiversity, how to build fertile soil, how to start ecological farming and how to set up a regional food network. The seminar concluded with a joint initiative of three presenters to get themselves and their aims known in the region so that other people with similar interest, both consumers and producers can respond.

In a way, this was a tiny start in making Sitopia, I realized today listening to the guest lecture of Carolyn Steel for the Bsc course ‘Agrarische en rurale ontwikkeling; sociologische perspectieven’. Sitopia, she explained is derived from the words “Sitos” and “topos” meaning “food” and “place”. Making place through food, through meals, through sharing, through caring about the origins of your daily meal and thus, searching for a kind of human connection to food which can hardly be expressed in the anonymous context of the supermarket. In this Czech region, there is not much infrastructure yet beyond the faceless produce from globally operating supermarket chains. But just like in many other countries, mentality is shifting and new networks are born each day.