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 (Netherlands) every year, 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 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? Join the FEI and send a mail to FarmExperienceInternship@gmail.com.
Are you having the idea that milk comes from a factory and tomatoes grow underground? No worries, everyone can join – because you will be prepared during the first week, full of lectures, workshops, debates and excursions!
1. PREPARATION – Lectures, workshops, excursions, group work. 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 cook together and eat together – sharing knowledge, food 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! Practical experience on a Dutch farm, garden or food forest. 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. After two weeks harvesting, 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!
Researches about the FEI:
Pablo Tittonell about the FEI: “The idea of the Farm Experience Internship is not that they [students] become farmers. No, it’s to have a different dimension in a way that they learn about agriculture and agroecology. For instance, a classical example is how a crop, or a plant, responds to the additional nutrients. So you can go to your lectures in the university and first of all the two axis are always there. On those axis you have for instance how much Nitrogen there [x-axis] and how much the plant grows [y axis] and there is a nice curve. Well try to find that somewhere in reality. It is completely different. First, because there’s not only two axis, there are many many more. And second, because there’s so much variabilities, so much heterogeneities, so many other things going on, and that gives you a multidimensional perspective of how things are. Still, when you go back to the classroom, and you sit there, we’re going to ask you about this curve and you are going to have to know this. But you will know this, together with what you have seen in the field. So you can judge that knowledge, those models of reality, with a different eye once you’ve seen things in the field.” – Pablo Tittonell is a former professor Farming Systems Ecology, Wageningen University and current coordinator of the National Program on Natural Resources, Environment and Eco-Regions of the National and Agricultural Research Institute of Argentina and – most of a all – a big fan of the FEI! (see also his TED talk Feeding the world with Agroecology)
Irene Cardoso about the FEI: “What I like about it, is the way that the students can be connected to the reality, but in a way that they feel free to become part of this reality. So they don’t go there as a technician, they don’t need to give an advise – they just go there to live with the farmers” – Irene Cardoso is professor of Soil Science at the Federal University of Vicosa, Brazil and vice-president of the Brazilian Agroecology Association.
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 50 euro’s, since we think it is important to offer this knowledge to everyone interested in sustainable food production. This fee includes organic breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks and also workshops, excursions and lectures during the preparatory and evaluation phase. Your stay at the farm is for free (unless the farmer is not able to host you – however most farmers can host).
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, would you like to sign up or are you interested in organizing a FEI? Send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org