News - September 4, 2009

Sustainable agriculture camp

The Sustainable agriculture camp in Wageningen is not for wimps. The Belgian participants soon found that out.

Planting strawberries at De Nieuwe Ronde
But pouring rain and force 5 winds haven't stopped them rolling up their sleeves at De Nieuwe Ronde vegetable garden on the Oude Diedenweg, where the Flemish youngsters are planting out strawberries. 'A fair exchange for the time that the farmers here are taking for us', explains Imma Denorme. 'Wild ideas often need a bit of grounding,' adds Peter de Grande.
Along with seventeen others, Imma and Peter have pitched their tents in Wageningen for the Sustainable agriculture camp which runs from 29 August to 6 September. For Imma, 'Wageningen is the cradle of agricultural research and sustainable initiatives.'
The group will be visiting organic companies, working with the Boerengroep en the Studentenoverleg Ecologische Landbouw. They'll see small ventures such as De Nieuwe Ronde and larger ones such as a group of organic farmers in Hemmen in the Betuwe, who work together. 'We in Belgium can learn a lot from the way farmers work collaborate here', thinks Peter. 'And the Dutch are having more success with large-scale organic farming.' The themes that interest the Belgians most are soil, innovation, continuity, expansion, sales and collaboration.
Imma and Peter are both members of the Belgian JNM (Youth Organization for Nature and Environment), which organizes the Sustainable Agriculture camp together with WERVEL (a work group on fair and sustainable agriculture). The plans include another film at Droevendaal and a lecture from Professor Edith Lammers of the Louis Bolk institute. The Belgians get around by bike and sleep in tents at De Wolfswaard farmhouse on the banks of the Rhine. The camp food, needless to say, is organic, vegetarian and locally grown. On tonight's menu there's mashed potato and beetroot with fried pumpkin and lentils with apple. /Alice van Ginkel