lunch talk about the COP 23 climate conference

In the last two weeks a climate conference and international negotiation took place in Bonn. The various Wageningen researchers and students who were involved would like to share their experiences and engage in an open dialogue with you. The outcomes of the conference will be discussed and put into the perspective of Wageningen research opportunities. Topics include climate smart agriculture, fossil fuel divestment and climate negotiations.

24 November, 12.30 – 13.30, Impulse.

We are proud to announce our panel:

  • Prof. Dr. Martin Herold who spoke at the COP23 at an official side event titled “REDD+: Bridging national and subnational levels of government”.
  • Eline Floor Houwen who is one of the student leaders behind “WU’R Going To Bonn” and active at Fossil Free Wageningen.
  • Fabian Kemps Verhage, Research Student Assistant at CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture & Food Security (CCAFS), who has attended the full two week conference.
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Workshop ‘Make your own bee hotel’

RUW Foundation and Green Office are inviting you for an afternoon full of ‘Bee Hotels’.

Poster Workshop Workshop Beehotel

In the beautiful forest area of Ppauw Ecovillage we get to learn about the function of Bee hotels, and already work towards making one ourselves. The tangible results you can either take home or donate to the forest. All material and tools will be provided.

Only 3,- subscription fee, and max 13 participants, so subscribe soon.

 

Subscription list:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1oAqhoJeFvPFq4LZUxhlsVF-G9U9XDFj9zm-r8ynO7Ss/edit

*This event is part of the ‘Seriously Sustainable week’, hosted by Green office, 9/13 October

Vacancy: “Wageningen’s visions on the future of food”

A documentary about Wageningen UR

RUW Foundation is proud to announce that during the Academic Year 17/18 we will be making a video documentary around the topic of “Wageningen’s visions on the future of food“. The application for a position in the documentary is now open.

We have noticed that there are strong and often conflicting ideas and methods in Wageningen that are developed and promoted to feed the world sustainably. Globalise or localise? Permaculture or GMO’s? Or are these dichotomies outdated?

We want to create an overview the different schools of thought in Wageningen by interviewing researchers and professors and find out where their science agrees and disagrees. The spectrum of opinions is broad but we all work to “Explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life” at the Wageningen University. This documentary is there to celebrate that diversity and to critically assess the beliefs that underpin these different schools of thought. The viewer should, after having watched the documentary, have a better understanding of the current state of Wageningen research in sustainable food systems and be able to form an opinion herself based on the information presented.

“How do we want to feed the world in a sustainable way?”

Additionally, we will produce a set of high quality knowlegde clips. These are excerpts from the documentary and extended interviews which didn’t make the cut for the documentary or are extended sections that delve deeper into one topic. These videos will be given to the Wageningen University for promotional useage and to celebrate the Centennial. 

Making a full-featured documentary is not a small challenge and we are aware of the amount of work that will have to go into this ambitious project. Only with your input and help we can create the documentary Wageningen deserves. That is why we applied for funding (FOS) for 5 Wageningen students to form the documentary team with us. Do you have experience in working with video? Do you dream about making a movie? Thanks to funding from Wageningen UR we are able to offer the following positions in the documentary team:

  • Director
    • The director is the logistic and artistic leader of the group and carries the final responsibility for the outcome.
    • Acts as contact person
    • Keeps the overview of the project
  • Camera person + planner
    • Operates the camera and has a keen eye for creating the most fitting shots. Having a camera is plus.
    • Sets the conditions for creating these shots: logistics, room booking, making sure everyone is there, etcetera.
  • Editor
    • Compiles and arranges the recorded material into a coherent and visually appealing product. Having experience with Premiere Pro, After Effects or other professional video software is a plus
    • Develops the styling of the documentary together with director and storyboard maker
  • Storyboard
    • Creates the narrative together with the researcher and director and visualizes this in a storyboard
    • Writes the script
    • Helps with the research and the creation of infographics and movie posters
  • Research + interviewer
    • Delves into the topic of sustainable food systems and finds who at WUR is relevant to talk to
    • Conducts the interviews and is able to ward off misleading answers
    • Is sceptical and critical by nature (with this we don’t mean cynical and negative)

The documentary team will be supported and supervised by the RUW Foundation board and coordinators throughout the process. All students and staff of Wageningen university can apply for these positions.

Send a short motivation in which you illustrate relevant experience for the role you aim for + some video material if you have done video projects in the past to ruw@wur.nl. The deadline for application is the 1st of October. The aim is to premiere the documentary in June 2018.

Regreening 2017

We want you to get to know everything and everyone green in Wageningen. In just 4 days (and nights) you will visit all the green hot-spots, meet green-minded people, grow food, participate in workshops by the many green organisations of Wageningen, experience sustainable living at Ppauw Ecovillage and become a part of Wageningen’s Green Active Network.

If you are interested in sustainability, this is the perfect way to start the new academic year in Wageningen and discover how we can, together, make your greenest dreams come true. Oh, and there will be a festival in the end, how cool is that?

 

Make sure you register here for the Regreening, as there are limited places available in the program.

 

 

Excursion to Strohplatz

To Germany

What is it like to live off-grid and self-sufficient? With a group of 18 Wageningen students we went to Strohplatz in the rural German Eiffel to find out. During our roadtrip towards Strohplatz we experienced that Germany is leading the way in the renewable energy transition. Not only did we notice that the German landscape is filled with solar and wind power installations, during our visit to Energielandschaft Morbach we learned how this energiewende is organized on a regional level. Biomass (biogas and wood pellets), wind and solar are complementary technologies that are utilized by the community of Morbach in a circular economy setting. Did you know you can combine a sheep farm with a solar farm? Neither did we.

Sauce is everything. This we realised during the vegan dinner at the local Thai restaurant where 3 different sauces were presented to spice up our meal. The Asian kitchen lends itself beautifully to a no-meat, no-dairy diet.

 

Strohplatz

That evening we arrived at Strohplatz where a burning campfire was waiting for us. We were welcomed by Niels Gorisse, the founder of Strohplatz. Six years ago he saw the raw potential in this place and has been working on transforming it to a self-sufficient, sustainable and off-grid settlement since then. A truly life-changing decision. We received some rather specific instructions during the introduction (Groups never eat enough, so please eat more + How to use the compost toilet and the gravity lights.) and celebrated our first night of this adventure at the campfire.

The next morning we started by making coffee and tea on a rocket stove. We now know that coffee tastes even better if you have to put a considerable effort in making it!

Before getting into the various technologies and systems at Strohplatz we first got a permaculture primer. This proved very helpful as the permaculture philosophies and methods underpin everything that makes Strohplatz such a remarkable place.

The tour through Strohplatz showed us the many elements in their various states of development. We saw highly efficient solar heat collectors called solar tubes, Ecologically responsible insulation materials, the food forest, the constructed wetland, the shower system, the wall heating and the 12 volt electricity system.

A group exercise proved to be a much needed reality check: we had little to no idea how much energy and water various essential tasks consume and how much heat and electricity can be generated renewably. We’re now painfully aware of our energy-illiteracy. Off-grid and self sufficient living might seem like a more simple and relaxed way of living, but that is (at most) only part of the picture. You have to manage your own grid, own water, own food and own heat, because no-one is doing that for you anymore. In order to do that well you have to have both the skills to create and manage the systems that provide these services, and to have an understanding of the needs and flows in these systems.

Walk the walk

Our hiking trip on Sunday was captured in video by Mehrab. It shows both the sublime landscape and the enthusiasm of the participants.

During the walk someone described Niels’ project as doing an awful lot of work to not have to do an awful lot of work. This is a spot-on summary in my opinion. For example: the food forest has a very detailed design plan aimed at letting nature do most of the work and keeping the amount of human intervention/maintenance as low as possible. The idea is that when you do something you have to make sure it is the right thing, otherwise it is a waste of time and energy. As we learned in the Permaculture primer: Work is something the system hasn’t taken care of yet. I’m not saying Niels is choosing the lazy way: I’m saying he’s mission-driven and wants to do things effectively. I’m also impressed by the fact that Niels chose to build beds for 25 people before finishing a great deal of other tasks. It shows me that he is dedicated to sharing his experiences, stories and place with others.

Conclusion

Visiting strohplatz in the middle of this unique transformation made our visit more fascinating. We can already clearly see the different parts and systems coming together in a synergy that will allow for a fully self-sufficient lifestyle that largely eliminates the necessity of having a job. We then started to think how we could apply some of these ideas and ways of thinking to our own lives.

Due to our time constraints we’ve got only a weekend-long taster of the “story of Strohplatz”. Based on our experiences we can warmly recommend you to check out the workshops offered by Niels.

To conclude I’d like to answer our question about off-grid and self sufficient living with a metaphor: Stohplatz is like the coffee we made there during the weekend. It takes more planning and work than one would expect for something we had mistaken for just “simple and relaxed” but once you get into it, it turns out to be a lot of fun and the result tastes extra good with a rediscovered appreciation for the basic components of life.

To sustainability and beyond!

This post has been written by Erik-Jan van Oosten, Coordinator at RUW Foundation.

The Celestine Prophecy – Book Discussion!


We’ll be discussing James Redfield’s “Celestine Prophecy” summer-style: on a terrace while having a drink in the sun. If you’ve read this book about a spiritual awakening or if you are interested to know more about the various insights that are laid out in this book, feel free to join the conversation on the 6th of July, 19.30 at Café de Zaaier.

What did you think about the book? You can already start the discussion in our Facebook event (and invite your friends).

 

Weekend excursion to Germany: 14 – 16 July

Germany is leading the way in many ways when it comes to the transition to sustainability. The RUW team has arranged a special visit to a pioneer in self-sufficient and sustainable living at Stohplatz from the 14th to the 16th of July. We will learn about permacultureoff-grid technologies, contribute to a sustainable building project and have a hike through the beautiful landscape of the Eiffel.

The preliminary schedule

Friday, July 14 13.00 Gather in Wageningen and Travel to Germany 15.00 visit to Morbach, a renewable energy park and information centre 18.00 Dinner at local vegan restaurant

21.00 Introduction by Niels Gorisse, the initiator of Strohplatz.

22.00 Get to know eachother games + presentation about self-sufficiency

Saturday, July 15 9.00 Learn about off grid technologies and self-sufficient living

11.00 Non-violent communication workshop

13.00 Contribute to a Sustainable building project at Strohplatz

18.00 Dinner

20.00 Campfire

Sunday, July 16 9.00  A beautiful hiking tour through the German landscape

13.00 Permaculture design workshop primer

18.00 Dinner

20.00 Travel back to wageningen

You can register by sending an email with your name, student number and whether you have a car/drivers licence. The participation fee for this weekend is 30 euro which includes food, transport and accommodation. Note that there are only 15 places available for this excursion.

 

Wrap up: Organic vs. intensive agriculture: the facts!

The RUW Foundation visited organic farm the Hooilanden on the 6th of June. We cycled through hard winds to hear the story of this farm. The owner gave a tour to the 8 participants of the tour over the property; we saw the +/- 90 cows, the calves, the milk parlour and the fields.

We heard a passionate story about setting up a farm from scratch, without a lot of farming experience. With the help from other organic farms and a farmer-motivation to go organic or don’t farm at all the company is now thriving! We learned that the main difference between organic and conventional farming is the way the farmers see their animals. Instead of focussing on earning money, these farmers were focusing on the well-being of the cows and the fields using its natural strength and recuperation power. The focus was on the ability of land and animals to sustain itself without unnatural inputs like chemical fertilizers and extra feed concentrate. The organic system seemed so obvious when we heard everything about it, yet the far majority of farms in Holland does not embrace this system.

After the tour on the farm we went to the classroom to ask all questions we had to the expert panel we invited. This panel consisted of Bert Rijk, from Plant Production Systems (WUR), Bernadette Backers, from Organic Shop de Kardoen in Bennekom, Ellen Hartman, professor Nutrition and Disease (WUR), Maria-Franca Dekkers and Houkje Adema. The last two are students from the honours-program who wrote in a team of five students the book: “A closer look into organic statements (Biologische stellingen onder de loep)”. We discussed six statements from this book, with all possibility for the audience to ask their questions, place comments, and even sometimes act as the expert! The audience of around 20 people was a varied group of pro-organics, (conventional) farmers and people who couldn’t pick a side and were looking for genuine information on the topic.

All in all we learned that E-numbers also occur in processed organic foods, though only a limited amount is allowed. There is more biodiversity around organic farms, which is related to the maximum 6x increased land use of organic farming. Conventional farmers also love their animals, otherwise they would never continue in the business. Furthermore, organic foods contain more nutrients, but the question is if we actually need more nutrients. Bernadette also spotted an increased energy level around organic vegetables, this however we did not proof scientifically ;). Lastly organic products are much more expensive than non-organic products. These and many more facts were discussed during this interesting event!

For the future of the agricultural system the entire panel agreed that more social values amongst consumers and farmers seemed to be the most promising solution. We hope we created some consciousness in the audience through the critical content!

Organic versus Intensive Agriculture: The Facts!

We want to know the actual facts about organic agriculture! Therefore we organized a tour to the organic dairy farm ‘The Hooilanden’  and afterwards we will look at several statements about oganic agriculture. Because; what is the difference with intensive agriculture? Is it really ‘better’? These and all other things you always wanted to know are discussed during this event.
To join the tour costs €3, send an email to ruw@wur.nl to subscribe!

Program:
– 15.30 Meeting at Forum, cycling to the Hooilanden
– 15.45 Tour at the Hooilanden
– 17.30 Discussing statements with our expert panel in C106, Forum

Our expert panel consists of: 

  • Bernadette Backers: from de Kardoen, organic shop in Bennekom
  • Bert Rijk: from the Plant Production Systems group (WUR)
  • Maria-Franca Dekkers: co-author of the book “A close look into organic statements”.

Skills for Sustainability: Summer Camp

This summer the RUW Foundation team invites you for 8 days of hands-on sustainability training, because there is only so much one can learn from books and lectures. During this summer camp you get to experience the real deal and put your knowledge into practice! To do this we will live, learn and build in Wageningen’s own ecovillage PPauw and in the self-sustaining Strohplatz house in Germany. You will, together with a group of green-minded people, will learn relevant new skills, in two great and inspiring environments and get plenty of opportunity to apply these immediately! In total we have 25 places reserved, makes sure you subscribe before the 25th of may here.

The Preliminary schedule:

Sunday, July 9 – Arrive in the evening at Ppauw ecovillage.
– Tour through the ecovillage + get to know eachother + setting up tents
– Introduction to local currencies.
Monday, July 10 make your own soap.
– Crash course sustainable cooking.
– Work on a sustainability project of your choice.*
Tuesday, July 11 – Day excursion to inspiring. sustainability project in the Netherlands (TBA)
Buscraft workshop
– Edible plants workshop
Wednesday, July 12 – Work on a sustainability project of your choice*
– Afternoon excursion to inspiring sustainability project in Gelderland (TBA)
Repair cafe workshop (learn how to fix broken things)
Thursday, July 13 – Workshop electrical skills
– Sustainability skills transfer among participants through self-organised workshops
– Finalise the sustainability projects at Ppauw*
Build your own Pizza evening + Party night
Friday, July 14 – Travel to Strohplatz, Germany
– Introduction by Niels Gorisse, the initiator of Strohplatz.
– Reflect on first part of the summercamp.
Saturday, July 15 – Contribute to a Sustainable building project at Strohplatz
– Learn about off grid technologies and self-sufficient living
Permaculture design primer
Sunday, July 16 – A beautiful hiking tour through the German landscape
– Non-violent communication workshop
How are you going to use the skills and knowledge you’ve gained this week in your daily life?
– Travel back to Wageningen

* During the Summer camp we offer the following projects for skill development:

  • Building a Pizza-oven (and make delicious pizza’s!)
  • Learn how to garden and harvest by using agro-ecological and permaculture methodologies.
  • Construct a composting system which incorporates chickens in its design
  • Get creative by reusing plastic waste with various upcycle techniques.
  • Build an outdoor summer kitchen facility, including a rocket-stove, hooikist and solar cooker.
  • Create your own soap and cleaning products
  • Build a huge circus tent out of recycled and reclaimed materials.
  • Design and make a constructed wetland filtering system for rainwater catchment and purification.
  • Install a 3kWh off-grid solar PV energy system.
  • Bushcraft: Learn basic survival skills like making fire, build a shelter, find edible plants and drinkable water.

Costs:  150,- (235,- for non-WUR students) This includes transport, material, workshops, stay, most of the food, etc

Register here.