Circular Farming Platform

On Thursday 20 of June, the Circular Farming Platform had its second episode of the series “Together towards circular farming”, with as guest speaker small-scale dairy farmer Roel van Buuren, from the farm Landlust. Roel told us about his diversified farm and his perspective on the problems of our current food system, and his own vision of circular farming and what it should be, and the future of farming.

Roel runs a dairy farm in Maasland (near Rotterdam), with 50 Jersey cows, 150 chickens and 58 432 234 worms in the soil. He has a low-input system (using no synthetic fertilizer), relying almost entirely on his diversified pastures (grass, clover, dandelion and plantain among others) to feed his cows, thanks to a high level of understanding of grass growth management. His horned cows do rotational grazing, and as their manure fall on the grass, the chickens nearby with their mobile coop eat the fly larvae and scatter the manure around. He also cares for biodiversity: Roel has a solar-fed pump that brings water from the ditch on the field, to provide a suitable habitat for meadow birds.

The audience was invited to interact by giving their opinion on a series of strong statements via the app Mentis.com. Statements such as: “Dutch agriculture has to continue increasing production to feed the world”, “To go circular we need to focus on high tech solutions” and “Consumers have to pay more for food because of ecosystem services provided by the farmer” were presented to them. The statements sparked a lively debate, during which Roel van Buuren also gave his opinion.

This event closed off the platform’s activities for this academic year. In October, the platform will hold an annualforum about assessing the work in progress in the Netherlands towards circular farming (many speakers to be announced!).

PS: The Circular Farming Platform is pleased to count a new organization as participant of the platform! Agriforum Wageningen, founded by a group of students-farmers from Biosystems Engineering and Plant Sciences studies, are looking to bring more awareness to the students about the current Dutch agriculture.

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Vacancy Coordinator Inspringtheater

We are now looking for a new coordinator of the Inspringtheater (IT)! As a part of Boerengroep, the IT connects students to real-life challenges of rural life and rural people (and more). The vacancy for coordinator is for Dutch-speaking only. If you feel enthusiastic about bringing new perspectives to people and opening up discussions by using interactive theater, don’t hesitate to apply for the role of coordinator for the Inspringtheater! (or become part of the group ; ))

SENT YOUR MOTIVATION LETTER BEFORE 9th of August

See here the vacancy

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Vrebamelkvee Excursion

Last month, the Circular Farming Platform organised the event ‘Together towards circular farming: collectively transforming the agricultural science paradigm’. WUR student/farmer Anouk van Bakel, from the family farm Vrebamelkvee B.V. talked about the measures that Vrebamelkvee is taking to become more sustainable. She also addressed the challenges that the farm encounters to shift from linear to circular farming.

Boerengroep organises an excursion to this farm on Saturday 15th of June!
Please register by clicking this link
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Registration FEI 2019

Each year Boerengroep organizes an agroecology summer course during the summer holidays! More information about the FEI you can find here: https://farmexperienceinternship.wordpress.com/

Registration for the Farm Experience Internship 2019 is open now!  The deadline is 31st of May

Click here to sign up or copy the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfO5h8Kc-vMfvhZkSXshKLioGklNbHzoZcoiwc9fTNhJrjuNg/viewform

 

The FEI 2019 is a full time course and will take place from 22nd July – 16th August

PART I: lectures, workshops and excursions

PART II: Internship at a farm or garden (somewhere in NL)

PART III: Reflection / linking theory and practice

 

Costs: €100,- This fee includes organic lunch, snacks, drinks, workshops, excursions and lectures during the preparatory and evaluation phase (week 1 + week 4). Your stay at the farm is for free, but it would be appreciated if you give a present and/or financial compensation to the farmer.

More information will become available soon. After the deadline, your registration will be confirmed and you’ll hear if you are accepted. Participants will then also be informed with more information regarding the FEI.

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The Climate March in Amsterdam

More or less 40 000 climate demonstrators joined in Amsterdam on the 10th of March to protest the weak climate policy. They consisted mostly of that part of the population that is inexperienced with demonstrations, or for whom it has been a while since their last protest. But all of them worry about climate change in such a way that they are prepared to march through Amsterdam in harsh weather conditions, with lots of rain and lots of wind. The Dutch middle class was certainly present, but there were also, for example, many students who came in buses from Wageningen University amongst other places. And a very small group, among whom yours truly, who left Wageningen on a bike, seeking adventure on the way to Amsterdam.

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Recap Reclaim the Seeds 2019!

 

After months of planning, Reclaim the Seeds, Wageningen Edition, took place on the 30th of March. It was a bright, sunny day, putting everyone in a summer mood, and making it a perfect day to celebrate agro-biodiversity, sustainable food production and to reclaim our right to freely swap and share unpatented, GMO-free seeds! The main location of the event was the Hoge Born farm, but there were also many food forest-related workshops that took place at the Droevendaal Farm.

A couple of hundreds of people showed up to stroll through the elaborate seed market and to take part in the workshop program. 

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Reclaim the Seeds – Wageningen Edition

CHECK THE MENU BAR ABOVE FOR MORE INFO: ‘Reclaim the Seeds

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Looking back at Akkervarkens Excurion

Summary – excursion to Akkervarkens farm

Summary – excursion to Akkervarkensarm

On 26th January, Boerengroep organized an excursion to the farm Akkervarkens (Field pigs in English) in Walthermond in Drenthe region, for a group of 11 people. The goal was to visit a pig farm with an innovative, more animal- and environmental-friendly way of raising pigs.

Akkervarkens farm is, to say the least, special. Willem and Claudia, the farmers, wanted their pigs to be raised in their natural habitats, so that they could perform their natural behavior. They have 250 pigs that live outside all year round. They live in and feed on neighboring forest areas, and on other farmers’ arable fields where they dig out weeds or the remains of a harvest (like potatoes). This way, new open spaces are created in forests and the fields are cleaned without machines, which leaves more space to soil life. Every day, pigs get additional feed that is locally sourced (such as cereals and beets), to ensure that they remain healthy and so they keep coming to the farmers.

The entire life cycle of the pigs is managed by the farmers, from birth to slaughter. The sows give birth in the farrowing pen on-farm, where they have space to make their own nest made of straw. Some extra space close to the walls is made especially for piglets, to prevent them from being crushed by their mother. Piglets stay with their mother for 8 to 10 weeks (instead of 4 weeks in conventional farms), before they are placed together by age so they learn to get used to life outside and within a group.

The farm raises 3 different breeds (Berkshire, Duroc and Husumer) that are known for being robust and curious, perfect for living outside. Husumer is especially a rare breed that the farmers want to save from extinction. Pigs are raised until more or less 1.5 years old (instead of 6-7 months in conventional farms). The farmers bring the animals to the slaughterhouse themselves to ensure minimum stress. The meat is sold on-farm. It has extra tenderness and juiciness thanks to the special breeds. The meat is not organic but it is free of antibiotics and of conservatives.

Akkervarkens farm is multifunctional and locally rooted. The pigs are used as landscape managers, as they clean fields and forests. Also, because the pigs dig weeds with their roots, the farm works hand-in-hand with the municipality to control invasive exotics, such as the Japanese Knotweed (Japanse duizendknoop in Nederlands). Farmers offer farm visits all year round, and people can pass by freely to say hi to the pigs, some of them give the pigs their leftovers. The farmers also organize activities for children: they have an indoor playground for children parties (including farm animals) and they organize each year an acorn collection campaign: together with local residents and sport clubs they go and pick up (up to 6000kg) acorns, as treats for the pigs.

Getting a 2-hour tour at the Akkervarkens farm is quite an experience. It is especially delightful to help the farmer go feed the pigs, and to see hundreds of them happily running to us from a distance in the field. It is inspiring to get to know about an economically successful farm that raises pigs according to their natural behavior, allowing them to live outside under the trees, dig out their food and to chill in the mud.

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Boerengroep is looking for a new coordinator

Dear all,

The contract of Patricia, the coordinator of Boerengroep, is coming to an end the 1st of May 2019, so we are looking for someone else to take over. We are looking for someone who is fluent in Dutch, as they will be dealing with external (Dutch) parties, farmers and things such as taxes and regulations. Would you be so kind to spread this vacancy among your network?

On behalf of Boerengroep,

Maarten de Graaff
Chair

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Looking back on 2018


Past year the theme which linked most of our activities was ‘Agroecology as a science, practice and movement!’ Our yearly organised Farm Experience Internships, which is focused on agroecology in practice, and attending a big agroecology conference in 2017 inspired us to explore this concept more. Agroecology has an overarching meaning; covering many agricultural practices, approaches, realities, and struggles of people all around the world. During our activities we encouraged people to get familiar with it, so they are able to look from a critically underpinned agroecological perspective at current global developments and challenges. 

Agroecology as a science had a profound role in the Wageningen Dialogue we successfully co-organised. In this edition, ‘Cutting across the silo’s’, conversations were started about the future of food production and food sovereignty. Students and researchers were challenged to share thoughts from different backgrounds to come up with and think about solutions together, past own chair groups and courses.

Agroecology as a practice, working with basic ecological principles in agriculture, was part of all excursions we organised in 2018. In Spring we for example went to two different dairy farms, one focused on preserving an old breed of cows, processing and selling at the farm, while the other one was a high-tech, innovative family farm. These two seemingly very opposite farms fuelled interesting discussions and comparisons about market aspects and farmers position in society. Of course, the ‘practice’ part was part of the Farm Experience Week in July, in which we explored and experienced various aspects of agroecology, seeds, soil, grass management, permaculture and future farms. In November several of these principles came back during the masterclass on ecosystem restoration design which we co-organised together with the Plant. Although the link with agroecology as a science was also emphasized there as the essence of monitoring projects.

The meaning of agroecology as a social movement was incorporated in the Farmers markets we organised, based on the Voedsel Anders initiative. During these events supporting and linking local farmers, initiatives and entrepreneurs to students and researchers was the main aim. The ‘highlight’ of this series of events was the FoodKaravaan stop in Wageningen in September, in which we, amongst other things, explored philosophical views on food and future food production. The power of social movements could also be felt during a presentation about the 15th Garden project in Syria, which is about growing food in damaged places and refugee camps in the Middle East.

For 2019 we are looking forward to further explore these concepts with you, interwoven in the year theme of ‘Circular Agriculture – the way forward?’

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