Farm Experience Internship 2020
The Farm Experience Internship (FEI), a 3 ECTS summer program on Agroecology was offered by Boerengroep a critical students association for the 7th time this year in the months of July and August.
The FEI is constructed with an aim to explore the diverse aspects of Agroecology as a science, movement and way life and originated in Brazil as the Estagio Interdisciplinar de Vivencias (EIV) which was a project initiated by university students to reunite scientific and traditional knowledge.
During the troubling times of a pandemic, the FEI 2020 was organized using the principles of Dragon Dreaming which is a practice that originates from indigenous knowledge of the Aborigines of Western Australia. The practice is based on three objectives: Service to the Earth, Community Building and Personal growth. A common goal for the organizing team of this year was: “To create a holistic circular learning system through experiential learning, rituals and observation in a safe and fun environment in order to build regenerative connections with ourselves, farmers, earth, food and all the elements that make them up to inspire participants to contribute to and embody agroecology as a science, practice, movement and way of life.”
This goal was successfully achieved by the ardent love and labor of the organizing team of this year and the years before it, the extraordinary speakers who participated, the enthusiastic and passionate participants and most importantly the beauty and peace that agroecology emanates.
There were 14 participants ranging from varied backgrounds who were a vibrant, curious and eager group of knowledge seekers that brought high energy, generative questions, aha moments and a general sense of camaraderie to the group, an emotion very fundamental to Agroecology.
Speakers like Pablo Tittonell, Rene Groenen from de Beersche Hoeve, Heitor Mancini Teixeira, Wouter Van Eck, Jelleke de Nooy, Evelien de Olde, Margriet Goris and Bart Crouwers from the Cranberry Company representing different fields of Agroecology were invited to share their knowledge and experiences with the group. There were also excursions to places like Graangeluk, Lingehof, Stroom, Pluktuin Sayuran, Droevendaal food forest and Ommuurde Tuin which presented practical examples of what was spoken about during the lectures.
Topics ranging from explaining the wide area that agroecology deals with, to how are seeds propagated and how traditional varieties can be maintained and preserved, how farms of different scales can by managed in agroecological ways, the movements behind Agroecology and its history, what food forests are and how agricultural practices can be more adaptable and climate resilient, what peasantry means, discussions on race and gender and several others were discussed during the FEI.
While the first and last weeks were all about lectures, excursion and reflections; each participant also worked on an agroecological farm in and around Wageningen. This chance to get ones hands dirty and try to get an idea of what farming looks and feels like in reality is a big part of the FEI.
In order to adhere with the regulations in lieu of the pandemic as well as to ensure the safety of all involved, the FEI took place in an outdoor location at the creative garden by the Hoge Born in Wageningen. This constant contact and connection with nature combined with locally produced organic lunches cooked on field and using horizontal ways of imparting information made the FEI an extremely rejuvenating and positively enhancing experience for all. Everyday started with a morning circle where a personal intention or goal for the day was set and ended with a reflective or celebratory closing circle. Throughout the day energizers and several group bonding activities were practiced so as to create a safe and welcoming space where one could learn and share without fear or judgment.
The biggest take away from organizing and participating in the FEI is that knowledge can be transferred in several unique ways effectively especially in the current troubling times that hover over the planet and its inhabitants. A horizontal nature based sharing of knowledge, skills and emotional support like the FEI not just has the potential to inspire and rejuvenate all people involved but also create ever lasting impressions that trigger the beginning of unimaginable challenging journeys that could possibly save humanity and the nature that sustains it.