RECAP on Farm Experience Internship 2018
From 23rd – 27th of July Boerengroep organised a very successful Farm Experience Week, which is the first part of the Farm Experience Internship (FEI). Twenty-four participants, from eleven different nationalities, have completed a full week of workshops and excursions focused on agroecology as a science, a movement and a practice. This large diversity in nationalities and backgrounds offers a unique opportunity to learn from each other and to get into dialogues on sustainable ways of food production. Most of the participants are currently continuing their learning process by working alongside a farmer in a farm or garden somewhere in the Netherlands. The 5th of October all participants will meet once more to share their experiences and reflect on the theory and their learning processes.
The FEI is a movement co-created by peasants, farmers, gardeners, scientists, students, activists, NGOs and agroecological companies – working together towards a sustainable, healthy, viable food system that is fair and just for the earth, the consumer and the producer. This edition marks the 6th edition of the FEI at the Wageningen University and we are very pleased to see the FEI movement growing with every edition.
Students of Wageningen University can expand the FEI and turn it into a Capita Selecta course with The Rurual Sociology Group. The group offers this option because it acknowledges the added value for students to be part of the FEI. As students, destined for a future career as researcher, policy maker, entrepreneur or farmer will benefit from a more qualified professional education if they understand and experience the daily reality of a farm.
During the mornings of this years’ Farm Experience Week the participants took part in interactive workshops guided by experts from the field and from research; WUR, Louis Bolk Institute, Biovitalis, Van Akker Naar Bos, Cultivate! and Boeren in het Bos. In the afternoons the group went on excursions to farms, gardens and fields, allowing the participants to bring their knowledge to the field and to learn more about ‘agroecology in practice’. The following places were part of this years program; Nieuwe Ronde, Ommuurde Tuin, Ketelbroek foodforest, Veld en Beek, Anna’s Tuin en ruigte and a research plot of Stichting Heideboerderijen.
Besides co-organising the program of the FEI, the FEI receives financial sponsorship and sponsorship in kind from many of the co-creators. Sponsorship in kind ranges from offering a free tour at a farm, or giving a guest lecture for free to contributing by giving products such as vegetables or seeds. This character of jointly wearing makes it possible to keep the participation fee low and thereby accessible for every student.
While working towards better food systems, the joy of sharing a nice meal in the middle of the day can not be left out. This year the local caterer ‘Vreemde Streken’ turned the sponsored food products every day into another delicious meal showing what is possible with local products and limited budget.
Patricia Lemmens – Coordinator Boerengroep & FEI 2018
THE FARM EXPERIENCE INTERNSHIP
The FEI is a growing movement, that is being co-created by peasants, farmers, gardeners, scientists, students, activists, NGOs and agroecological companies – working together towards a sustainable, healthy, viable food system that is fair and just for the earth, the consumer and the producer. Together, we co-organize a 3 ECTS international summer course at the Wageningen University every year (since 2013), which intends to bring together theoretical knowledge from students with practical skills and knowledge from farmers. Are you interested in growing your own food, discovering local knowledge and practices on organic farms and gardens in the Netherlands? Do you want to learn about agroecology, food sovereignty and sustainable food systems? Or would you like to interact and discuss with farmers to find creative, innovative ways of farming? Then don’t wait any longer and join the FEI!
SET UP OF THE COURSE
1. PREPARATION [2018 is all about this!] – Lectures, workshops, excursions.
During the first phase of the FEI, you will get to know about all kinds of topics related to agriculture, e.g. agroecology, sustainable food systems, food sovereignty, seed patents etc. We share knowledge, eat together and have a good time. The preparation week will be held at The Building with the Clock (Generaal Foulkesweg 37, Wageningen) and the schedule is full day.
2. LET’S GO FARMING! [2018 we support you to start farming!]
–Practical experience on a Dutch farm.
After the preparation week, each student is sent to a different farm somewhere in the Netherlands. Before the start of the FEI, you can tell us your preference, e.g. food forest, goat farm, organic garden etc. For two weeks you will be full time working together with the farmer, following his/her working rhythm, learning practical skills and local knowledge. Students are asked to make pictures or a short video about their stay at the farm, which they will present later on. The participating farms are mostly organic, however some are currently still seeking for a more sustainable management practices (which is very interesting for you as a student: can you find ways to support the farmer?).
3. EVALUATION [2018 we will have one reflection day in September]
–Present your pictures, share your experience
After two weeks harvesting, weeding, feeding cows, goats, or making cheese, students will come back to Wageningen for the evaluation phase. Share experience, discuss what you’ve learned and create the one and only FEI Story Book!
CREDITS or CERTIFICATE. Wageningen University is supporting the FEI through the chairgroup Rural Sociology (RSO). Via this chairgroup, WUR students can obtain 3 ECTS after completing the Farm Experience Internship and after handing in the evaluation report. For non-WUR students, a certificate is handed out by the RSO group. Note that you can only receive credits when you are enrolled at the Wageningen University.
ACCOMMODATION. During the Preparation and Evaluation phase, you will have to arrange your own accommodation. The FEI team recommends participants to first try to arrange a place to stay themselves via couchsurfing (free hosts). Later we will send a mail in advance to all participants so we can arrange hosts for those participants who do not live in Wageningen and have not find a host yet.
COSTS. The Costs for the FEI are only €40, since we think it is important to offer this knowledge to everyone interested in sustainable food production. This fee includes organic lunch, snacks, drinks and also workshops, excursions and lectures during the week. Your stay at a farm is for free, but it would be appreciated if you give a present and/or financial compensation to the farmer. (note: not all farmers are able to host you – check the farmers list for details).
INSURANCE. Participants of the FEI who are not enrolled as WUR students have to arrange their own insurance during the FEI. Both Wageningen University and St.Boerengroep are not responsible and will not provide an insurance to FEI participants. By enrolling for the FEI, particpants agreed to have arranged their own insurance.
PARTICIPANTS. The FEI mainly aims at university students in order to connect them (and thereby the University) to farmers. However, non-students with an interest in sustainable agriculture are most welcome as well! Do you have any questions or are you interested in organizing a FEI? Send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org