Les Indomptables : An ethnography of niche novelty production in Walloon Agriculture (MSc-thesis)

By Vincent Delobel, MSc Regional Development & Innovation Wageningen University

My ancestors from both sides have been farming for ages. Peasants have continuously held this as ancestral as salutary art of nourishing “débrouillardise” (lit. problem-solving creativity) for ages; they have fed others in the plain as in the mountain, under dictatorship as under “democracy”. However, farmer newspapers today say we may disappear soon; ‘eternal’ peasant population rushes to the bottom.

Are we really going to disappear? How and why did we get to this situation? What is going on in farms today? What are farmers’ plans and projects? What futures do these projects lead to? This is in short the structure of my MSc-thesis ‘Les Indomptables : An ethnography of niche novelty production in Walloon Agriculture’. This alarming observation motivated me to go and see on farms in order to better see, understand phenomena going on in the reality of farms, and to reflect deeper on underlying issues. Thus, I phoned a few cousins and other colleagues and told them I was interested in their “inventivité” (inventiveness), their own way of doing things; I asked them to go and work with them in their own farm, in their daily activities -whatever it would be- to understand why and how they are looking to change their routines, i.e. for novelties.

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Tatra National Park – second post RUW-RSO studytrip to Poland

RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. The is second blog on the Tatra National Park posted by:

Emanuel Sandrini, Kyra Weerts, Ileen Wilke, Meret Windler, Meia van der Zee

Museum Tatra national parkToday our trip took us to Tatra National Park, in the south of Poland. It is one of the 23 national parks in Poland.

First we arrived in Zakopane, a village close to the park. Zakopane is the so called wintersport capital of Poland and in summer many tourists come to hike and do other outdoor activities in the area. Each year in fact more than 2 million visitors come to Zakopane. Here we went to the local museum where we got a tour about the history and natural environment of the area from a very enthusiastic guide.

We learned about the Gorale people, the original inhabitants of the Tatra mountains. Traditionally they lived under harsh conditions with cold and long winters in the mountains and survived mostly from hunting. The Gorale are nowadays still famous for their wood crafts and making music. Continue reading

Going global and remaining local: challenges of Poland in implementing climate change policies

RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. This is first is posted by:

Caroline Lumosi, MSc-student Forest and Nature Conservation.

The first day saw us spend time learning about nature conservation in Poland. We focussed on climate change policies and agriculture. Poland faces challenges in implementing regional EU climate change policies in relation to implementing its national regulations on energy and economic development. Poland relies on the use of coal to support 90% its electricity. As the EU moves to cut down on its carbon emission, this in turn means focus is put on use of renewable energy sources. For Poland, and in particular the city of Warsaw, this presents a huge challenge as the city heavily relies on the use of coal for electricity, in transport and in household heating. Continue reading

Puur & Eerlijk zonder zegeltjes – Topkoks over voedsel en koken

Door MSc-student Guido Verheul

Puur en Eerlijk zonder zegeltjes Koken staat volop in de belangstelling. De afgelopen jaren zijn kookprogramma’s op televisie als paddenstoelen uit de grond geschoten en onlangs is er zelfs een ‘kookkanaal’ opgericht waar men 24 uur per dag terecht kan voor lekkere recepten of documentaires over voedsel. Ook topkoks worden gelauwerd om hun kookkunsten in televisieprogramma’s, boeken, tijdschriften, kranten en andere media, wat hun mening maatschappelijk bezien erg relevant maakt. Ik heb daarom besloten om voor mijn MSc-thesis deze topkoks te interviewen. In ‘Puur en Eerlijk zonder zegeltjes; een analyse van de claim op ‘kwaliteitsvoedel’ van Nederlandse topkoks‘ doe ik verslag van mijn bevindingen. Continue reading

Re-making of place in Maramures, Romania – MSc-thesis reserach

By Anthonet Baijense, MSc-student International Development Studies (Research Master Variant).

Currently, I stay in Romania were I will spend my summer to learn the language, visit friends, do some traveling and last, but most importantly: to gather data for my master thesis. I am pleased to write once and a while about my experiences and research here and I hope you enjoy to read it!

Some students visited Romania last February as part of the Intensive Programme, and wrote some blogs with their reflections: e.g. on Traditional food. It was very nice to read about your experiences! Indeed, the Romanian saying goes that ‘my favorite vegetable is meat’ and for a vegetable freak as me, it was a change of diet! Amazing what people here eat for breakfast! It took me some time to get adapted! I stay in the North of Romania, in the district called the Maramureş, which is on the border with Ukraine. Because traveling around here is –let’s just say- complicated, my research focuses mainly on one village: Poienile Izei (see photo’s).

Let me now introduce you to my research as well. If you go on Google to find some pictures of the area where I stay, you will gain the impression that the Maramureş is indeed –as often described- a rural area overflowing of traditions and with a traditional style of life and architecture.

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Learning about the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development – student’s reflection (3)

Together with four students of Wageningen University, I spend two weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania to represent Wageningen University, and the Rural Sociology Group, at this years’ ‘Intensive Programme’ on rural development. In a series of posts, the participating students reflect on the programme and share their experiences.

By Tikva Kooima (student Regional Development and Innovation at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (part of Wageningen UR):

In April, we went with a group of five people of Wageningen University to Lithuania to participate in an intensive international conference about rural development, hosted by the Aleksandro Stulginskio University of Kaunas. Without knowing the details, I went quite open-minded to this conference, and filled with lots of ideas, experiences and impressions, I went home.

The first days

The first two days  were filled with lectures which were more or less associated with rural development in Lithuania. It was exciting to follow classes with about 50 international students from all over Europe with totally different backgrounds. In the evening we were introduced to the countries. The different countries presented themselves with a presentation followed by delicious national food specialties.

The trip

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Learning about the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development – student’s reflection (2)

Together with four students of Wageningen University, I spend two weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania to represent Wageningen University, and the Rural Sociology Group, at this years’ ‘Intensive Programme’ on rural development. In a series of posts, the participating students reflect on the programme and share their experiences.

By Woutine Pauw (student Master Agricultural & Bioresource Engineering):

On forehand, I did not have the objectives of the Intensive Programme (IP) clear in mind. What would be the program, the methods and the results? What people and cultures will we meet and work together with? What are we going to learn about rural development? I did not know what to expect, but I did know: whatever I would expect was not going to happen – and the other way around. I decided to pretend my brains to be a sponge and let them soak everything I saw around me. So here it is:

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Learning about the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development – student’s reflection (1)

Together with four students of Wageningen University, I recently spend two weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania to represent Wageningen University, and the Rural Sociology Group, at this years’ ‘Intensive Programme’ on rural development. In the following series of posts, the participating students reflect on the programme and share their experiences.

By Malou Heidekamp (student Master International Development Studies):

The last two weeks of April I got the opportunity to participate in an Intensive Program (IP) in Lithuania. It is a yearly study program of two weeks to bring students from over whole Europe together to discuss a topic. This year theme was: “Role of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Sustainable Development”. The program consisted of presentations, field excursions in smaller and larger groups, social evenings, group work in international setting and country presentations. In total there were about 40 participants and 20 tutors, a mixed group from different universities, countries and cultures.

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A day in researching sense of place in the National Park “Galicica” in Macedonia

By Bojan Rantasa, MSc-student International Master of Rural Devleopment (IMRD)

Earlier I introduced my thesis research regarding the ‘Sense of place in Galicica national park‘. My research is coming to an end, but I am still cautious to speak of results prematurely. So I will share how my research days look like. Embarked on the mission to do a field research in the National Park “Galicica” in Macedonia, I begun packing my backpack: 

  • Field audio recorder. I will do open interviews with people, and writing notes whilst doing interviews is out of the question. First, if I write, I will have to pause the conversation and that will take a lot of time, and the person might forget what he or she was talking about, but most important, I am too lazy to write.
  • Photo camera. I am researching sense of place, and having visual records of the places is a must. At least this is how I see it.
  • Video camera. Photography is beautiful and my favourite art, but sometimes it does not say enough. Image and sound is compelling to more senses than just image.
  • Handheld GPS. I should not get lost, but it will also come handy in marking those places that people see important, and making a map of what I’ve researched, as places reside in locations.
  • Replacement batteries. I do not think that I will bump into a MediaMarkt shop behind that mountain peak.
  • Walking stick. It is a mountain, dogs wondering around, thorny bushes, and my left knee is not really in a good shape. Besides, this one has a ¼” screw on the top, so I can use it as a monopod for the camera.
  • Some snacks. I will spend a full day out.
  • Sun tan cream. I hope that there will be some sun today.
  • Toilet paper. No need to stress this importance.

Well, if people are not scared from my looks, I figure that means that they are open for a conversation on their sense of place. So I’m off on the first bus to the next village on my list. I arrive there around mid day. At this time only retired people are in the village. I walk around and I meet an old granny. But she refuses to speak with the recorder on. She says that afterwards someone might come to look for her. I, on the other hand, refuse to talk to her without the recorder. It is not only the issue of not noting all the detail of the conversation, but it is the issue that at a later stage of my research I will see some interesting correlation, something I might use to build a theory on. Now if I have only my written notes, I will not have this new thing noted. But if I have an audio recording of the conversation, I can check if there is really a pattern or something to relate to my new discovery in the interviews I’ve did in the past. Additionally, people that refuse to talk with the recorder on are people that have something to hide. So those people will tell me less or even lies, thus I can consider them as a misleading factor, or simply a waste of time. So I go my way. The granny did give me a boiled egg, as it was Eastern just yesterday, it will come in handy for my lunch later.

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Factoren die beleving van maaltijd bereid uit lokale producten beïnvloeden – MSc-thesis onderzoek

Door Marina van Maanen,  MSc-studente Gezondheid en Maatschappij

Lokaal betrokken en streekproducten staan steeds vaker op het menu van zorginstellingen. Waar eerder een trend was van steeds meer geïndustrialiseerde maaltijden als gevolg van kostenbesparingen, lijkt nu de ambachtelijke maaltijd terrein te winnen. Er zijn veronderstellingen dat een maaltijd op basis van lokaal betrokken en streekproducten een toegevoegde waarde kan hebben op de maaltijdbeleving en gezondheid van ouderen in zorginstellingen. Hier is echter (nog) geen wetenschappelijk bewijs voor.

Doel van mijn thesis onderzoek was daarom een verkenning van de mogelijke relatie tussen een maaltijd op basis van lokaal betrokken producten, maaltijdbeleving en kwaliteit van leven in een zorginstelling. Hier doe ik verslag van in mijn MSc-thesis getiteld:  Beleving van de maaltijd bereid uit lokaal betrokken producten in zorginstelling Joris Zorg.

Om deze vragen te onderzoeken heb ik een casestudy gedaan in zorginstelling Joris Zorg in Oirschot. Binnen Joris zorg worden op dit moment al maaltijden geserveerd op basis van lokaal betrokken en streekproducten. Binnen de casestudy heb ik interviews gedaan met bewoners, gastvrouwen in het restaurant, de koks en met vrijwilligers. Ook heb ik op verschillende dagen meegegeten en geholpen met het afruimen van de tafels. Opvallend was dat bewoners niet of nauwelijks op de hoogte waren van de herkomst van hun maaltijden. Ook waren bewoners niet bekend met termen als lokaal of streek. Dit maakte het doen van ‘gewone interviews’ lastig. Als een ‘verbeterde’ interview methode heb ik een vragenlijst ontwikkeld op basis van een menukaart, waarmee meer waardevolle informatie werd verzameld. Reden hiervoor is waarschijnlijk dat deze vragenlijst beter aansloot bij de belevingswereld van ouderen in zorginstelling Joris Zorg.

Maaltijdbeleving in Joris Zorg: uitkomst na proef met menukaart

Het verband tussen de maaltijd en kwaliteit van leven zoals verondersteld door literatuur, heb ik niet kunnen bevestigen op basis van mijn onderzoek. Kwaliteit van leven binnen Joris Zorg wordt voornamelijk geassocieerd met verzorging, rust en georganiseerde activiteiten. Wat de maaltijd aangenaam maakt en wat factoren zijn die bijdragen aan de maaltijdbeleving zijn: de juiste bereiding van de maaltijd, sociale factoren van de maaltijd, maaltijdsamenstelling en de versheid van producten. De toegevoegde waarde van het gebruiken van lokaal betrokken producten voor de maaltijd zit nu voornamelijk in de kwaliteit van deze producten en de interesse en het leuk vinden van deze producten in de Week van de Smaak. Wat zeer opvallend is, is dat bewoners buiten de Week van de Smaak niet of nauwelijks op de hoogte zijn van de lokaal betrokken achtergrond van de maaltijd. Uit de menukaartjesproef komt naar voren dat wanneer bewoners wel op de hoogte zijn, dit kan leiden tot goede herinneringen, verhaal en discussie aan tafel en herkenbaarheid. Dit kan een zeker een toegevoegde waarde zijn voor de maaltijdbeleving.

Aanbeveling voor Joris Zorg is dan ook om meer/beter te communiceren naar bewoners over de achtergrond van de maaltijd. Dat kan bijvoorbeeld in de vorm van een nieuwe menukaart (deze heb ik ondertussen samen met het keukenteam ontworpen). Aanbeveling voor vervolgonderzoek is het gebruiken van onderzoeksmethoden welke aansluiten bij de belevingswereld van ouderen. Met als voorbeeld in dit onderzoek de menukaartjesproef.

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