Reflection on a BG Internship during COVID-19

The days are long, but the internship is short. While the pandemic has already skewed my sense of time and sense of self, I can say with certainty that my internship with Boerengroep flew by! I started in the fall of 2020 as a floater with vague ideas about saving the world through food. Fellow members of the Farm Experience Internship (FEI for short) poked me during the summer and said “hey, you should do an internship with Boerengroep!” Working with peasantry did sound glamorous, and I began to ask myself questions.

What do I want out of an internship? 

How do I apply everything I learned from my courses to a Real World Professional Setting? 

Do I have what it takes to be….a Boerengroepie? 

Before finding many answers I was already signing a contract to become the new intern with Boerengroep because all that really mattered to me were the core values of the people I would be working with. At Boerengroep any wacky idea for an event or play can become a reality because the board members have complete trust in each other. Some people are really into soil, while others are into amateur mycology. It doesn’t matter because we are all here for the same reason: to amplify the voices of farmers. 

During my internship I worked in a blended environment subject to change as the restrictions did. The only guarantee during the week was volunteering at a community supported farm in Ede on Wednesdays: Tuinderij de Wilde Peen. The work was hard and the bike ride made my kneecaps ache, but I found deep satisfaction in talking with passionate farmers and volunteers over a milky coffee at lunch. We herded sheep, erected a greenhouse, planted fruit trees and bushes, planned the layout of a new farm site, and designed a composting toilet over the course of months. 

On the chilly days where I sat inside trying to get some work done, I helped Boerengroep to plan and promote events, write for the 50th anniversary magazine, and doodle away on some politically charged cartoons. While attendance of online events has fluctuated throughout the pandemic, we managed to generate enthusiasm around Farmer’s Tales and talks on climate-smart farming and food sovereignty. Excursions were cancelled and scavenger hunts abandoned, but the BG board members came together online to play pictionary and scream over a heated farm-themed pub quiz.

Productivity dipped and peaked, and I cursed myself for thinking in such capitalist terms. Sometimes I couldn’t bear to sit in front of the computer on a Tuesday, but had a streak of inspiration on a Sunday afternoon. During the past year I have learned to stop expecting and accept what comes. The final component of my internship involved developing a project of my own. I had always wanted to make a zine, but could never find the time or the right subject to get started. With support from friends and the BG family, I am happy to finally present PIONEER! The zine is an exploration of sustainable student food culture in Wageningen through the stories of eight students and several anonymous submissions. Thanks for reading, and if you’re curious to see more then take a peek here. (Once there, download the pdf for highest resolution.)

Text: Cristina Biddlecome