At the end of March Ludwig wrote something about the Agroecology Day… and on Friday we printed our posters and the program flyers! So, there is no way back anymore. 😉
Our theme this year will be on Food Security and how the role of Agroecology is imperative to this. With the various lectures we planned (on the 8th of May), we try to build up an encompassing view on the whole food system. The panel discussion at the end of the knowledge-food market and the lectures should deal with the question: How should our food system be designed to achieve sustainable food security globally? We even have a moderator to facilitate the discussion!
We expanded the Agroecology Day 2019 a bit, because on the 9th of May we now have a participatory workshop with the topic: How can we better promote our Agroecology qualifications to employers? This participatory workshop will be facilitated by Agroecologists from the Norwegian University of Life sciences (NMBU).
You are more then welcome to join both days! We will hopefully arrange a livestream of the lectures and the panel discussion. But stay updated on our web channels. It is so exciting and we are incredibly nervous how everything will work. But it is so much fun! If you will be studying Agroecology here some day, take this chance, find motivated nice fellow students and organise the next AED! 🙂
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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 I want to talk a bit about events that are going on here at Alnarp because there is always an interesting event to participate. So, if you are bored from your studies, you can always get inspired by another lecture 😉 A few weeks ago we attended an event organised by the Lantmästare students. The topic was “How can modern food systems create shared value for people, farm animals and nature?”. It was a seminar with “Rusho”, an Ugandan student who was coming to SLU Alnarp to discuss with us these question. It was really interesting and of course there was free Fika at the end!
Furthermore, there are events organised by Green Innovation Park, VentureLab and SLU Alumn. On the 2nd of April we will join the event “RETHINK, RESHAPE, REGROW Food Production and Consumption on a Changing Planet”. A professor of Geography from Lund University and a Student entrepreneur will discuss this topic with us together.
Green Innovation Park is organising a lot of this kind of events. It is a platform where academia, industry, business, students and creative freelancers meet, share knowledge and experiences and network – always with the goal of a sustainable future! So, if you have a great creative and, of course, sustainable idea which makes life more green and colourful, just contact them and you will get help for developing your idea further. You can find more about them here: https://www.greeninnovationpark.se!
I hope our blog will not bore you and the posts are somehow interesting. If not, just leave criticism here 🙂 Until next time!
The first part of the heading of this blog post was the topic which we we dealt with the last couple of weeks. As we already wrote, the first lectures of the management part of the course were quite promising, and we can say now that the rest of this part was great as well! We learned a lot about the challenges of start-ups and entrepreneurship, how important business model innovations are, what role stakeholders play and what corporate social responsibility is. If you want to become an entrepreneur, it is crucial that you apply the famous “blue ocean strategy”. The aim of the strategy is to find the “sweet spot” where you cover the needs of your customers in a way that your competitors cannot. One typical Swedish example is “VÄDERSTAD”, a company which developed innovative farming machinery. During the course, some fellow students developed now innovative ideas in their minds – maybe you will get inspired as well? 😉
At the end of the course we had to write a paper about an organisation in the agricultural sector. The task was to analyse the organisation regarding its sustainable business model and strategy and how well the sustainable business model is integrated within the company and its environment. Also, we had to do a short presentation at the end which was really interesting! We got to know various organisations, from small scale to large scale, and it was exciting to discuss to what extent are they doing real sustainable business or greenwashing. We learned, stay always critical! 😉
Today we visited several sustainable entrepreneurships in the Swedish agricultural sector!
We started in the morning by bus and visited at first Johan Widing and its eco farm Bokeslundsgården. The first thing we got to see were his free-range pigs and poultry. He is working with landraces and is also keeping bees. In recent years, he bought some other old farms and established now an AirBnB. He also has a greenhouse which was amazing – it was full of diverse plants, like peach tress, olives or grapes. Within the large greenhouse there was another smaller one with more sensitive plants. The smaller greenhouse is additionally protected by the larger one. Johan is delivering his products to restaurants to Malmö and through REKO-ring, a transparent network of farmers and customers which is communicating via facebook and where farmers deliver exactly the amount demanded.
The next stop was Botildenborg, Malmö. Botildenborg is a foundation who funds Stadsbruk, and Stadsbruk is just amazing! Stadsbruk is working together with the city Malmö and is helping urban farmers to get their business running. At the same time it has its own educational farm where people (schools, interested people, etc.) can come, learn about growing plants, how to take care about the soil/ecosystem or just share experiences and enjoy the community. Stadsbruk is placed between different cultures and at first it was challenging for them to integrate the different parties. Now, it is still challenging, but people become more open and take part in common projects there. Stadsbruk is doing a lot more but I can´t remember everything right now 🙂 If you are interested, check them out: http://stadsbruk.se Stadsbruk has a program where innovative farmers can get a piece of land in the middle of Malmö and start farming for one year. If they are successful, they get a larger piece of land with a lease contract for 25 years. One student of the Agroecology program did this and has now its own urban farm outside Malmö (not outside but on the edge of the city).
Today we visited the botanical garden in Lund. The garden is for free and you can explore a lot of different things. The large greenhouse alone consists of more than six different departments with different climatic conditions. In one compartment there were even small partridge-like birds. In summer time, a small cafe will be opened there, too. We were inspired to go to the botanical garden by a seminar in the course “Environmental economics and management”. We formed small groups during the seminar and analysed the business models of the botanical gardens in Uppsala and Gothenburg. This was quit hard at the beginning but a good exercise to understand the concept of a business model better. Botanical gardens in general have a challenging time at the moment. Like many not-for-profit organisations, botanical gardens are confronted by many social and economic difficulties. The aim of the seminar was to provide sustainable solutions for botanical gardens. We developed solutions which should attract more visitors, e.g. more interactive things, more involvement of schools and universities, etc. and therefore safe the preservation of botanical gardens.
Did we ever wrote about the stones on campus which are always (almost every day) repainted in different colours?
The reason might sounds a little bit strange: until the 17th century Skåne (southernmost province of Sweden – so where we are) belonged to Denmark. During the Second Nordic War, Denmark declared in June 1657 war on Sweden. This dispute ended in the peace of Roskilde in 1658 with the fact that Denmark had to vacate its possession in Skåneland (today’s southern Sweden Skåne). The official language in Skåne is namely Swedish, however, most people in Skåne speak more or less strong dialect with some features of Danish. So, some people on campus believe really much in the region Skåne, so they paint two big stones on campus in the colours of the flag of Skåne. Some people on campus, in turn, believe in Sweden as a country and that Skåne is just a part of it, so they paint the stones in yellow/blue – the colours of the Swedish flag. And then there are the people on campus who think or believe that Skåne should be Danish again, so they paint the stones in the colours of the Danish flag. I really do not know how serious this whole action is but people told me this story. 🙂