The Participatory Process

Project EAT intends to inspire and empower the Wageningen UR community through a participatory process that provides opportunity to learn. Learning through hands-on experience, sharing of knowledge, linking different disciplines,  creating partnerships and the creation of a sustainable movement. Participatory process as well as collaborative working and decision making are cornerstones for Project EAT.

Participatory Processes (PP) are specific methods employed to achieve active participation by all members of a group in a decision making process. The goal is to create productive discussions to develop positive solutions (The Weave 2011 – LINK).

participatory process

Having been born from the minds of Wageningen UR students, Project EAT contains input from a wide range of disciplines. This broadened knowledge source yields innovative and creative ideas and perspectives. The transdisciplinary nature of Project EAT provides a unique platform for the Wageningen UR community.

Initially, a project board was created on a voluntary basis by individuals compromised to invest their time into the planning, organization and design of the academic garden. This group have the same decision power as any other participant, but are dedicated to carry out the participatory process. Workshops are most important to inform, consult and empower the community. Knowledge sharing workshops are carried out by students about topics related to the garden. Public design workshops (April 10th and 15th) intended to capture the ideas of the community for the spatial design of the garden.

A voluntary design team was formed by landscape architecture students, students experienced in agroecology and a permaculture expert. This team is in charge of drawing the design based on the community input, respecting agroecological principles and fulfilling its functions. A place for education and social interaction, where aesthetics and production go hand in hand. To provide accurate information voluntary technical focus groups will make suggestions for the design, building and management of the garden.

Partnerships have been built with student associations, Otherwise, Green Office, Facilities, Executive board and chairgroups to collaborate in different aspects of the project.

As well, informing the community is part of the PP. The whole Wageningen UR community will enjoy the garden and therefore should have the possibility to know how the project evolves and have the possibility to contact. Virtual tools as our website, Blog, Newsletters, Facebook and Twitter fill this purpose.

Remember that project EAT needs a lot of hands. If you want to be part of the project, learn a lot and make sure the garden is built soon, participate! What do you think of the participatory process in project EAT? Feel like getting involved? Share your ideas and suggestions with us;


Jean-Yves Duriaux Chavarria

Harvesting Ideas

design workshop 15-04-2013 panorama

Last week the EAT Design Team met to begin processing the pile of designs we harvested from EAT supporters during our two public design workshops on the 10th and 15th of March. We hoped for enthusiasm and ideas and got them both by the lorry-load. The workshops used our own tailor-made methodology including, among other things, the challenge of applying ecological design concepts such as systems, and interconnectivity and multi-functionality of elements.

design structure

During the workshops I first gave an introduction to the systems-thinking design framework we are working with (see above), then Iulia explained the lay of the land – literally – of the campus and the context of the Orion site we are going to use to make our design proposal to the board. The next stage involved everyone drawing an A3 design, individually, imagining what they would want to see or use in the EAT campus garden. Then we moved into several groups hosted by design team members, where personal designs were presented and a large A1 drawing was made using the elements and ideas that everyone agreed they liked best. During the second workshop we even managed to go to another stage where all the workshop members discussed and decided which key ideas we wanted to sample from the group plans. If you used room C67 in Leeuwenborg last Tuesday, you may have been lucky enough to see our fantastic artwork taking up the whole blackboard (we were working on the principle that bigger is better or, at least, more entertaining).

The suggestions for the garden were diverse, creative and sometimes quite unique; they included:

  • Agroforestry
  • Compost islands
  • Seedbanks
  • Keyhole beds
  • Hugelkultur beds
  • Fruit picking paths
  • Ponds
  • A round lecture table that doubles as a podium
  • Water catchments
  • A 5-person swing
  • A bicycle-through greenhouse
  • BBQs
  • Amphitheatres
  • Bees
  • Chillin’ zones
  • Bringing the sheep back to the campus

These were two memorable evenings and, like all creative endeavors, it was huge fun. Now the EAT design team have to record the process and work through the ideas and unite them with wishes from other university stakeholders. With the help of enthusiastic volunteers from the workshops, we plan to research some of the key suggested features in order to create links between our systems and achieve multiple uses for our elements. If you are interested in joining a Technical Team and one of the systems in the garden, contact us and share your passion and your training – email

Thank you everyone!

/Fiona – EAT Design Team

Edible Academic Garden in the making…

The first Project EAT design workshop was a success! Thanks to Petra for writing a wonderfully quick post about the event. Don’t worry if you missed this one, the 2nd is Monday, 15 April at 18.30! Register here:

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

IMG_0077Since half a year, an enthusiastic group of students has set as their goal to establish a productive landscape garden in which education of various disciplines and agroecological design will fuse in a space where students and staff can learn and relax at the new University Campus. The process so far has shaped itself organically as a learning opportunity for many, very much in line with the principles behind the garden. Around 20 students take care of the daily organisation with around 80 active followers and up to 300 students interested. After an initial pre-proposal supported by many chairgroups that was received well by the Board of the university, the phase of making a full proposal has now arrived, including a design, the budget, and issues such as care taking and maintenance.

Last night, the first of two public participatory design sessions was held. It was inspiring to put our…

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Project EAT Garden Design Workshops


Project EAT is campaigning for an edible academic garden at the new Orion building to activate the campus, demonstrate the range of knowledge at WUR and provide an outdoor social heart. We are preparing a design proposal and since EAT is a participatory process everyone from the WUR community is invited to contribute. The EAT design team are holding two public consultations to hear your ideas. We will be rolling up our sleeves and drawing, exploring cutting-edge systems-thinking ecological design, and making our knowledge work for us. Come and join the fun!

Register here:

Agroecology: Time to start a movement

The Netherlands needs an agroecology movement; this was made glaringly apparent during the three evenings of agreocolgy at Wageningen University this past week. A movement, practice and science, agroecology is a unique, thought-provoking interdisciplinary approach to agriculture.

Agroecology is an integral component of Project EAT and the garden will be a visual representation and definition of agroecological practices for students and visitors to the Wageningen University campus.

Definitions are varied across the board, making it a rather fun task to give a ‘quick’ definition. In short, agroecology is a multi-functional approach to agriculture; taking into account environmental, social, economic and political concerns on the path to creating a sustainable food system.

All of that was covered in a total of 6 hours over those 3 days. . .


That would be some major Dutch efficiency, yet that was not the goal of the series of meetings. The goal was to make light of where agroecology  was in Brazil, the Netherlands, Wageningen, and at Wageningen University. Using the knowledge gathered in the first meetings,  we were to take action to make agroecology work.

Irene Cardoso of UFV in Brazil began the series at the “It’s the Food, Stupid” event, detailing the agroecology movement in Brazil. She spoke of the growing concern of “How do we feed the world?” Clearly, she explained, that may be the wrong question to ask.

Isn’t it better if each country feeds itself? Why should the Netherlands feed the world? Such a small country!

Next to the platform was Tom Saat of City Farm Almere. Saat runs an organic farm with 120 hectares of arable land next to the city of Almere.

He spoke passionately about the farm and its rise since 1996, along with the community efforts they have focused on. The farm practices a multitude of agroecological practices: from a grand crop rotation to allowing the cattle to forage in the woods during the Dutch ‘summer’ months.

Day two brought a number of individuals to speak about their agrecological initatives, local and international.

International initiatives:

  • Suprabha Seshan shared insight into the united force of students, farmers, and scientists acting to preserve India’s biodiversity
  • Irene Cardoso detailed the agroecology movement in Brazil. Oddly enough, this movement also involved cooperation between farmers, NGOs, and universities around Brazil. Western countries take note, cooperation and networking seems to be working.
  • Heitor Teixeira spoke of his university, the Federal University of Vicosa, and the student-run initiatives on campus. Vertical gardens and soil-painted buildings are but a few of the many awesome agroecology projects that are going on in Vicosa

Wageningen initiatives:

  • New green party intiative for the Wageningen student councilspurred by the Wageningen Environmental Platform (WEP); currently only 1 party exists
  • Yours truly, project EAT
  • Transition Town Permatuin
  • Interdisciplinary Farm Experience; an internship program to connect Wageningen University students to area farmers
  • Seed Swap Wageningen; a seed swap occurred on March 1st and another is to follow in April (look for details on the WEP website)!

P1010508These presentations were meant to bring awareness to the people attending the meeting; in turn, lending them some inspiration for the workshop scheduled for the next day. The workshop brought together 20+ people to decide what actions we were to enact in order to develop an agroecology movement in the Netherlands. Through the World Cafe Method; we quickly decided on two ideas to take action on:

A platform for agroecology would involve the people in the room facilitating connections between agroecological movements around the Netherlands, now! We would do so by connecting it to the Farm Experience, Stichting Boerengroep, volunteers, and editing the Wikipedia page (of which I am excited to take responsibility for). ACT groups and a social media presence through using #agroecology would bring further solidity to the platform, among other forms of networking.

Interdisciplinary Farm Experience is to begin in the summer of 2013 and will involve a number of groups from around Wageningen and the Netherlands. We brought  together ideas to further the new project: selecting and asking particular farms, connecting with the farmers, determining the length of stay, and developing relationships with organizations looking to get involved.

Agroecology is necessary. It is not an option, we must form  alliances around agroecology and further develop the movement across the world. Now, contact one of the initiatives listed and linked above and get started.


This post was written by Tom Boyden. Tom is an exchange student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison currently doing communications work for EAT and running a blog with the goal of creating a new, sustainable food system, OrganicAndUrban.

An adventurous research idea for a Wageningen University student.

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

nobelveldjeThis research will focus on a broad comparison of national and international examples of temporary use of wasteland. What can we learn from examples in New York, London or Berlin by comparing organizing systems, communication strategies, cooperation’s or coalitions that could be of use for new initiatives of temporary use?

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Thesis opportunities for Wageningen UR students!

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

natuursupertour1The use of the wasteland, ‘Nobelveldje’, in Wageningen in 2012 is an example of a public collective platform being established for the temporary use of a nearby vacant lot.

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