From production-oriented farming towards multifunctional entrepreneurship – PhD-thesis Pieter Seuneke

Multifunctional agriculture


On the 9th of May, I (Pieter Seuneke) will defend my PhD-thesis entitled:

From production-oriented farming towards multifunctional entrepreneurship: exploring the underlying learning process


My thesis focusses on the many European and Dutch farming families which, urged by the environmental, social and economic crisis in agriculture, have diversified their conventional production-oriented farming activities by developing new non-farming businesses on their existing farms. Currently, there are many farmers who are involved in agro-tourism, nature and landscape management, processing and selling of farm products and, more recently in The Netherlands, professional (child)care and on-farm education. The development of such new business activities by these farmers represents a shift away from conventional production-oriented farming towards a more ‘multifunctional’ farming model in which the role of agriculture goes beyond mass food production.


Based on four different studies, all drawing on the empirical work done in the context of the Dutch research project ‘Dynamics and Robustness of Multifunctional Agriculture’ (carried out by the Rural Sociology Group from 2009 to 2011), I unravel the learning process which is considered as underlying the switch towards multifunctionality and multifunctional entrepreneurship. In other words: the process by which farmers (men, women and their families) re-invent themselves as ‘multifunctional entrepreneurs’, gain the necessary knowledge, skills and networks ‘to do multifunctionality’ as well as finding their way on the multifunctional pathway. Apart from its contribution to theory – by bringing this complex learning process to light – my work ultimately supports practitioners (teachers, trainers, advisers) in fostering this, for today’s and tomorrow’s agriculture and rural areas, valuable form of agricultural entrepreneurship.


During my PhD, I have been supervised by Prof. Han Wiskerke (professor of Rural Sociology at Wageningen University) and Dr Thomas Lans (ass. prof. Education and Competence Studies, Wageningen University).

The defence

My defence will take place on Friday the 9th of May, at 13.30, in the Aula of Wageningen University. The event is open to those who are interested and can also be followed/seen back on WURtv.


For more information:

Declarations by The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC)

The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) is an autonomous and self-organised global platform of small-scale food producers and rural workers organizations and grass root/community based social movements to advance the Food Sovereignty agenda at the global and regional level.

More than 800 organizations and 300 millions of small-scale food producers self organize themselves through the IPC, sharing the Food Sovereignty principles as outlined in the Nyeleni 2007 Declaration + 6 pillars of the synthesis report IPC facilitates dialogue and debate among actors from civil society, governments and others actors the field of Food Security and Nutrition, creating a space of discussion autonomous from political parties, institutions, governments and private sector.

The IPC recently published several declarations on food sovereignty for Europe, Asia and Africa. See the IPC weblog for more information or Facebook page IPC for Food Sovereignty 


Peasants and Politics – free access special issue of the Journal of Pesants Studies

JPS coverThe Journal of Peasant Studies is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013-14. Volume 1 of JPS was published in October 1973 to September 1974. Part of our series of initiatives to commemorate the anniversary of JPS is the publication of virtual special issues, starting with the 40 Classics in Peasant Studies.

The second in the series is JPS 40: Peasants & Politics. This collection highlights some of the key articles that have been published in the journal over the past four decades on peasant politics.

The articles share one common feature: they all remain extremely relevant, especially in the context of today’s massive, worldwide revival of critical agrarian studies. We hope academics will find the virtual special issue useful in their courses. We hope students of contemporary critical agrarian studies and critical environmental studies, among others, will find it useful in building their theoretical foundations. We hope policy practitioners will find it relevant in informing policy debates. We hope agrarian, food and environmental activists will find it relevant in their political struggles.

Old Amsterdam food market & food tour

Last Saturday a small Purefood delegation visited the Old Amsterdam food market. A lot of interesting things are happening in the Dutch capital and many of these are organized by the Cities magazine. Here some pics of the market, populated by urban geese hunters (really, they catch them in the Schipol airport area!), artisanal fish smokers, mushroom growers and chocolate-makers. Definitely worth it a visit if to be organized again. In the meantime, you can still join the Cities team to the Old Amsterdam food tour 2014: its kick-off will be on April 23rd and 30th.

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“It’s the food, my friend!” – Joel Salatin to speak in Wageningen 9 May

On 9 May, Joel and Daniel Salatin from Polyface Farms will be speaking in Wageningen on their efforts to change agricultural practices and thinking in the US.
Joel will also be a keynote speaker for the closing day of the Food Film Festival in Amsterdam on 11 May. More information is available on the evening in Wageningen at the Facebook page for this event.

(Un)accepted foods: Why are some edible substances considered food and others not?

My Little Pony Burger

Last night Stichting Ruw hosted an event on “(Un)accepted Foods”.

The goal of the evening was to learn more about the potential of insects as food and about eating unconventional food products like horse and goose meat. 

There were excellent presentations.

Rob Hagenouw, an artist, spoke about his project Keuken van het Ongewenst Dier(Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal) where they make and sell  “My Little Pony Burgers” and croquettes from geese shot at the airport.

Arnold van Huis, author of ‘The Insect Cookbook’ and Professor of Entomology (see his TED talk here) gave a fascinating talk covering the opportunities and challenges association with the development of an insect eating culture in Europe.

Jessica Duncan, from the Rural Sociology Group, provided a socio-cultural perspective on food categorisation: why are some edible substances considered food and others not. The presentation is available here.

Burgerkracht in krimpend Limburg: master thesis student(en) gezocht

DorpsraadEen Masterthesis in een real life setting, dat is de mogelijkheid die je hier wordt geboden. In het wetenschapswinkelonderzoek ‘Inzicht in burgerkracht in Limburg’ wordt in opdracht van de Vereniging Kleine Kernen Limburg (VKKL) onderzoek gedaan naar de veranderende burgerwensen in Limburg in het licht van de participatieve samenleving. Door haar activiteiten in de haarvaten van de maatschappij signaleert de VKKL een trend naar een samenleving die voorzieningen zelf organiseert en soms ook zelf bekostigt. Burgers wachten niet langer af, maar nemen zelf initiatieven om hun leefomgeving te verbeteren. Binnen alle veranderingen in de Limburgse samenleving heeft vooral ook de demografische ontwikkeling (ontgroening, vergrijzing en krimp) ingrijpende gevolgen voor de leefbaarheid.

De veranderende verhouding tussen burgers en de overheid lijkt steeds meer te draaien om co-creatie. Dit vraagt om een nieuwe attitude bij de overheid én de burger. De vraag die hier centraal staat is hoe die burger hier nu op voorsorteert. Welke ontwikkelingen zien burgers op zich af komen, hoe anticiperen ze hierop en wat hebben ze nodig om die nieuwe rolontwikkeling in te vullen?
De VKKL, nu 10 jaar actief op Dorpsniveau in Limburg, ziet dat er in de praktijk heel verschillend op maatschappelijke transities wordt ingespeeld. Sommige bewoners en gemeenschappen treden daarin heel pro-actief op. Initiatieven als dorpsoverleggen kenmerken zich vaak door een sterke interne drive, samenhang en gemeenschappelijke focus. Andere, meer traditioneel georganiseerde samenwerkingsverbanden als dorpsraden zijn soms nog meer reactief en gericht op ondersteuning van buiten. Soms wordt daardoor vertraagd of onvoldoende ingespeeld op de maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen.
Als jij het leuk vindt om je te verdiepen in de aard van verschillende typen ‘burgerkracht’ in Limburg (stad en/of platteland), in de wijze waarop dergelijke lokale initiatieven in staat- en bereid zijn in te spelen op de maatschappelijke transities en uitdagingen in Limburg als het je interessant lijkt om de ondersteuningsbehoefte die daarbij bestaan vanuit deze initiatieven inzichtelijk te maken neem dan contact met ons op.
Contactpersonen: Bas Braman ( ) en Jeroen Kruit (


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