Who we are
Since 1971, Stichting Boerengroep (Peasants/farmers Foundation) aims to connect the university (students, research, education) with the reality and challenges of farmers and peasants in the Netherlands and worldwide.
“The education at the university was very theoretical and moreover it often gave a wrong impression of the reality of farmers and peasants”
– Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, one of the founders of the Boerengroep.
Therefore Boerengroep started to conduct interviews with farmers. These interviews were then taken into the university where researchers were questioned and stimulated to conduct research on the true needs of the farmers in reality. In 1971, a massive demonstration took place. Half a million farmers were on the streets to protest against the low prices – Boerengroep was there to support them. Until the moment of today, Boerengroep is still fighting for social, just and sustainable food production. We do this by bringing students into the fields and farmers into lecture rooms at the university.
We work together with chairgroups at Wageningen University, like Rural Sociology Group (RSO) and Farming Systems Ecology (FSE), with organisations, like Cultivate, ASEED, Milieudefensie and Toekomstboeren, the organisations of Green Active Network (GAN) Wageningen like St. Otherwise and RUW, international research and advocacy institutes, like TNI and educational institutes like VHL and Warmonderhof. We work closely together with farmers unions, since we are part of platform Aarde Boer Consument (ABC, ‘Earth Farmer Consumer’).
We support and encourage students and PhDers of Wageningen University to organize activities they find important to address, e.g. a symposium or movie screening. Besides this, we are supervising on average 2 interns with Boerengroep, so that students have a place to work on topics they find important to share with others, while gaining work experience, broadening their professional network and having the informative opportunity within an international organization with over 40 years of experience. Moreover, we are actively involved in offering thesis topics to students, that are related to agriculture related challenges of the realities that peasants, farmers, gardeners and indigenous communities face.
Together we organise:
- critical discussions and lectures about agricultural topics, both practical topics as well as political debates related to food production
- capita selecta courses at the Wageningen University, like the Farm Experience Internship
- field trips to farms throughout the Netherlands
- excursions and exchange programs abroad, like a Permaculture Trip to the UK and a EU Youth Exchange in Romania
- research mediation between university (researchers, students, education) and the needs of farmers in the Netherlands. Boerengroep stimulates farmers to provide us with research questions and their challenges. We can then find students who can work on this as their internship or thesis.
- working groups. Together with the RSO chairgroup we stimulate students to organise events of their own interest, related to farming. Currently we are discussing with RSO to turn this into a capita selecta for which students can obtain credits.
- conferences, like Voedsel Anders
- markets, like Reclaim the Seeds
- interviews with farmers. In cooperation with Toekomstboeren, Boerengroep members go to the field to conduct interviews with farmers on topics like access to land, innovative ways of farming, agroecological approaches etc.
- interactive theatre, ‘Inspringtheater’, which is an important part of Boerengroep. Inspringtheater provides students a critical view on developments in agriculture in an interactive form of theatre.
These events are linked to a yearly theme, for 2019 that is “Circular agriculture, the way forward?” and for 2020 it will be “Agriculture in the face of climate change, what is climate smart agriculture?”
Boerengroep aims to:
- Approach agricultural topics from different angles: connecting social science with natural science; academic theories with practical challenges and innovations.
- Highlight the (im)possibilities and challenges that farmers face
- Create understanding for diversity of opinions and stimulate a critical attitude towards your own position
- Stimulate transparency of the food production chain to support a critical attitude of consumers, farmers, researchers and students
- Realize fair and vital agriculture by:
- visualizing the situation of farmers today and in the future through knowledge exchange amongst farmers, students, consumers, and professionals
- improving the position of the farmer
- Inform, experience, discuss, facilitate, publish, and activate in order to shed light on present-day issues in agriculture. This way, Boerengroep and Jump-in Theather wish to stimulate a critical attitude towards agriculture and food.
Read here in the year report of 2019 how this was done last year.
Get involved as volunteer or intern!
Are you a students at the WUR and would like to gain practical skills and knowledge on organising events related to food production? Would you like to set up a documentary evening, working group, organise an excursion, WWOOF weekend, or a Farm Experience Internship at a university in your own country? Let us know and we’ll help you with the organisation, provide you with a network of organisations, farmers, foundations and researchers. Feel free to send us a mail or pass by at the office.