This is our officially last post (before the summer). The administration of SLU is not sure at the moment in what format and if they want to continue with the student blogs at all. That makes us sad, since we experienced (from your comments and messages) that it was always a quite lively information and exchange platform. So if you feel like rebellion – write an email to email@example.com or any other SLU administration. 😉 Or comment here.
We wish you a great summer! Jana is back in Germany, working in a farm management. Ludwig stays in Sweden over the summer and is continuing to work at the already mentioned farm. Cheers and Hejdå!
To take responsibility as an Agroecologist and facilitate the dialogue between different actors of the food-system, I am right now organising a new event, called AgriPub. It will take place tomorrow evening in the student union house and invites anyone who is interested in food and agriculture related questions. We, as students, want to create a casual and regular meeting that can be seen as platform to exchange, mingle and discuss.
For the first AgriPub ever I am lucky to announce that Albert Matapo, a fellow of us and native of Zimbabwe will talk about his long experiences with his home country and the agricultural and political development there. I am excited and looking forward to this promising evening that will hopefully initiate a regular food system network at SLU Alnarp.
You can find the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/414752222411315/
Sweden – the country of the lakes and forests. These days, when the sun shines warmer the days remain longer, the nature calls us out – one and another time. We don´t have to travel far to dive into a nearby lake, take a boat tour and explore lonely islands. Therefore, we travelled to the lake Immeln, near Kristianstad, one and a half hours from here. With sunshine and temperatures around 20C° it was quite endurable on the water.
The pike, that was grilled after a long day on the lake, was fished by ourselves in advance from the same water. Let the pictures transport some impressions to you, how you could send a nice weekend in Swedens awesome nature.
But we have had not enough from the nature when paddling on the lake. We were hiking as well in the nature reserve near Fulltofta, at the heart of Skåne. There we explored a bit of the famous hiking path that crosses all the Skåne län and we visited a well, called “Hanakällan”, that just pours out of the ground. Legends say that the crystal clear water contains healing compartments.
We hope we created some anticipation now on the Swedish nature! It is definitely worth exploring it.
This weekend we followed the call from a farm near Höör that needed urgent help for planting and seedbed preparation. The two women Cecilia and Monica moved out from the city Malmö to the countryside and become rural farmers near the Lake Ringsjön. Therefore, they left heir urban farm behind, or better to say took it to the countryside and expanded it.
Due to this is their first season that they grow on their own 4,75 ha of land we found an empty field that was a former pasture when we came there on Saturday. The plot was covered with plastic for two months to suffocate the vegetation. Additionally it was cultivated. Due to there is a big plague of Quick grass our first task was to clear a plot of 20×11 m from their rhizomes. After that we spread a bit manure and prepared the soil for planting out hundreds of onions. We planted them in 10 cm spacing with 20cm wide rows, all by hand with hand tools. A second group weeded the garlic that was already set out before and covered it with hey afterwards to protect the bare soil and keep weeds down.
Luckily there came around 19 people to help on this day. That made the working progress very fast and we have had much fun. It is always great to meet likeminded people that are interested in growing and exchange thoughts with them. During the whole day the weather was very sunny and we as well had the chance to sit in the sun during lunch and Fika. We can just recommend to join such voluntary working calls – its just so much fun!
Since last week the weather is continuously getting better and the most of the days are sunny and the day temperatures are quite nice. That means that the fields are dried up and the seedbed preparation and the drilling of the first crops has started.
As well on the farm were Ludwig is working the work is more and more concentrated out on the field. This week I was rolling some of the fields where field beans were drilled before to compact the seedbed a bit better and improve the contact of the seeds to the soil so they will hopefully germinate soon. Another task was to harrow a bare left field to brake up the harsh crust. This was carried out by a machine that I helped to rebuild during the last weeks and it was equipped it with new goose-foot blades. You can see the difference of a worked and non-worked plot on the pictures below.
Maybe You are wondering how it is going with organising the Agroecology Day 2019?
To answer this question: we have really made some progress in the last weeks. Firt of all, the date is fix: 8th of May. Hopefully we can send out an livestream that you can follow the lectures as well from at home. The list of speakers is almost complete. We will have a knowledge market as well, were different enterprises, organisations and projects can share their ideas. Furthermore, there is a workshop in the planning process, in cooperation with Agroecology students from the University in Oslo, Norway. We have managed to get some funding as well to reimburse the speakers for travel-costs and invite them for lunch and, of course, Fika! (Unfortunately the SLU itself does not see much importance in the Agroecology Day and will not contribute with any funding… thats another reason for enforcing the initiative, mentioned in the last blogpost here.)
Så, now you have got an short insight into the process and status. There is still some work to do, but we are already excited and looking forward to the day. We will keep you updated with the programme when released and so on.
Here comes a special insight into the development of the Agroecology programme at Alnarp that seems to be currently stuck in its own development.
Since nine years the programme is existing now. But still there is not the success, in terms of applicant numbers and participants, that was aimed by the founders. Furthermore, the programme is lacking proper acknowledgement by the University in general. Although, SLU is advertising to support sustainable and future oriented education, the importance of such subjects like Agroecology is not very high in the agenda.
On the other hand there was much critique from the students side in recent times: Content overlaps and lacking coordination of the recommended courses within the programme are only one example that confuses students. A great challenge as well is the different knowledge levels and interdisciplinary as well as cultural backgrounds of the students. This makes teaching not easy and to reach one level for having proper discussions and progress seems quite hard.
Such and similar related questions were recently concluding in an student-initiative of students from three years of the Agroecology programme that sat together and exchanged their dissatisfaction. Out of that an invitation to all Agroecology related teachers emerged to discuss this questions and issues. Luckily, the teachers were very welcoming this request and last week the meeting took place.
In the meeting there was a very constructive discussion taking place, facilitated well by students and teachers. The conclusion was that many things have to change and as well the authorities of the university will be contacted regarding some issues. Everyone got his/ her homework to do and hopefully the programme will develop positively in the future. We are looking forward to coming generations of students and their appreciation of our initiative.
today, the second part of our current course “Environmental Economics and Management” has started. The Management part of this course is led by another PhD Student then the first one. The examination will be to write an individual paper about Management, to what we will be introduced next week. So later more about that…
Todays lecture was about strategy in business administration. Because an Enterprise starts and ends with strategy. Having such a long term activity plan that leads your enterprise through the market and lets it succeed is definitely a good idea. Otherwise you will be outcompeted. 😉 In the words of Porter (famous economist ;)): its all about being different. Different, that sounds quite agroecological as well. So maybe economics is´nt so boring and monotonous like it always sounds? Well, we will see. 😉 But the second part of this course, we are having at the moment, seems quite promising. So if you are thinking of working in the area of management, business consulting or even starting an enterprise by yourself later on, this course can give you some good tools and inspiration how to not fail with it.
Hope, you are doing fine out there and please let us know how you like this blog, if you want us to continue like it is, or change something. Just leave a comment here. 🙂
Recently, I (Ludwig) was hired on a farm as part-time farmer here in Skåne. I was lucky to get this job because this farm needs some more working force, due to its conversion to organic. Organic farming means more work in several areas. For instance in the weed management it seems quite efficient, to spray herbicides and the weeds are mostly killed. In organic farming these external inputs are restricted. Therefore it is necessary to e. g. work the weeds mechanically, for instance with a harrow.
This job means to me to get more experienced in practical farming and to follow the operation flow of the farm during a longer time. I am happy that I can manage this beside the studies even though its only 1-2 days per week at the beginning. Furthermore, I can bring in some valuable experiences and knowledge that could help the farm developing further. I will keep you updated how it is going there.
At the moment the work focusses on maintenance and rebuilding and preparing machines for the coming season. For instance the harrow, that I talked about before, needs to be revised and repaired. By doing that I get to know all the machines that I am going to work with later.
We already mentioned the traditional Sauna in this blog before. Therefore I want to write about it briefly to give an insight to you how amazing this activity can be. Several times now we have been in Bjärred, a town near Alnarp where you can find a Sauna in the almost middle of the sea! Yes, you heared right. The Kallbadhus in Bjärred is at the end of a landing stage, 600 Meters in the sea. If you think this is not amazing enough, guess what makes it even better? Directly from the hot Sauna you can take the stairs into the water! That makes you feeling your blood circulation very well. 😉
What do you do after Sauna? Of course: enjoy a cold beer. Where? Of course: in the restaurant, right next to the sauna, in the middle of the sea. Do you think that isn´t amazing? Well, then you maybe get impressed by the hundred of Swans that stay there over the winter. With the light from the Sauna it makes the evening even more marvellous.