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?’