Platteland: geintegreerde benadering nodig.

Op de Plattelands conferenties werd het weer duidelijk: voor een vitaal platteland gaan we over van een sectorale (landbouw) aanpak naar een integrale, veelzijdige aanpak.Volgens Nicola Crosta (OECD) hebben we een nieuw plattelandsbeleid nodig.

“Wat betreft de benadering verschuift de aandacht van sectoraal naar integratie. Wat betreft de doelen verschuift de aandacht van compensatie naar het verhogen van het regionaal concurrentievermogen. Wat betreft middelen verschuift dan aandacht van financiële subsidies naar investeringen. En wat betreft het beleid, verschuift de aandacht van nationale overheden naar lokale overheden, NGO’s, et cetera. Dat houdt een geïntegreerde toenadering in, met gebruik van lokale hulpmiddelen en lokale kennis.”

Dat betekent per defenitie dat veelsoortige actoren betrokken zijn. Het platteland is de puzzel, maar de losse stukjes zijn verspreid over vele mensen. Nog voor we kunnen gaan puzzelen zullen we een groot aantal stukjes boven tafel moeten zien te krijgen.

Guus kan daarbij helpen. Doordat mensen laten zien welke internet sites ze interessant vinden, doordat ze bloggen of anderszins onder de aandacht brengen waar ze mee bezig zijn, laten ze zien welke puzzelstukjes ze kunnen bijdragen. Door meer van jezelf te laten zien kun je gevonden en gekend worden, zodat het puzzelen sneller gaat. (photo credit: by lumaxart)


European Eemland Conference

Morning session “Workshop megastallen – Building in the landscape”

On Friday, the last day of the European Eemland Conferentie, I was happy to attend a workshop which was related to agriculture. “Building in the landscape” adressed the question how (large) farm buildings can be developed, without being considered a threat by neighbours. The casestudies were about dairy and meat cattle. The Province of Groningen uses an approach of “kitchen table conversations” where the licensing authorities and eastethic committee visit the farm, and all stakeholders together, in an early stage, talk about and jointly develop the plan.

The conclusions:
1. Increase in scale is not the only viable option for farms;
2. but increase in scale need not be “a threat” (as it is often seen now);
3. There will only be a limited number of large-scale farms;
4. Individual approach for each case is needed;
5. Farms need to “earn” the right to continue working in the area, in the landscape. (The license to operate or in Dutch: “zorg voor vergunning én gunning

The advise in general: be transparent and remember: “No farmers, no landscape!”

In another presentation three scenarios were given for the future of dairy production in the Netherlands: specialized dairy production, community dairy and nature dairy. The scenarios are quite detailed and the type of farmer suitable for each scenario is clear.

In the group discussion we discussed:

  • The trend that modern buildings for cattle are much more open than before.
  • The cluttering of the landscap (verrommeling), to which some farms contribute. Often it are not the large, well run farms, but the small ones going out of business that are more messy. Is there a way to repair what was spoilt in the past?
  • Light shining out of cattle stables all night is deemed less disturbing if it is coloured green. Also LED lights and lamps that enlight only the target (no sprawl) can contribute to minimizing the light-pollution.

Afternoon session

The countryside has so much more to offer… and we need multiple stakeholders to unlock the more hidden values of the countryside. From values to cash.

Jan Huijgen summarizes the European Eemland Conference in one sentence: “Do not wait for the Government. If we form the right coalitions, we can be the pioneers. Policy will follow.”

Another result from the conference: stop agricultural subsidies, start rural investments.

Today, the third day, we had 4 or 5 options for the morning programme. Several excursions were organised, a workshop “megastallen”, de Ondernemersdag, and an English spoken session.

After lunch we came back together. The findings of the Conference were presented in movies and presentations. Unfortunately Mrs Fischer Boel was called upon by Mr Sarkozy to be in Paris, so she could not be with us. A lively and diverse information fair also took place.

Guus is also present. An inviting “Guus stand” with four working stations enables people to be introduced to Guus. This way in the coming months Guus plans to be present at events, so Guus will get friends from all types of stakeholders from the countryside. In the pictures you see “Fast Guus” where you can receive explanation while standing up, and “Slow Guus” where you can discuss Guus while relaxing.

Live blogging Eemland conference (3) Learning Regions

These are some notes I took during the afternoon session on Thursday. The normal live blogging disclaimers (my personal notes, not an official documentation, typos and omissions are part of the act)

Learning regions

October 23, 2008
European Eemland Conference
Autumn Conference Rural Development
Netwok Netherlands

who are attending this workshop?:

  • people working at the Province
  • large group from research and education
  • someone from municipality
  • students
  • entrepreneurs, farmers
  • consultants


Aim of workshop:

  • ⁃ the variety of initiatives (knowledge arrangements for regional development
  • ⁃ knowledge offer / v. demand from the field
  • ⁃ offer d demand match
  • ⁃ white spors in KA
  • ⁃ inspire and learn from each other
  • ⁃ follow-up alliances


  • A- presentation by wiskerke professor of rural sociology
  • B- gallery of 5 Knowledge Arrangements (participants are asked to give feedback in the form of  “money” that they would like to invest in the differen KA’s
  • C- open space
  • D- initiatives as a follow up


A- Presentation by Han Wiskerke (prof of rural sociology)“On regions lost and regions regained”

On regions lost: post WW2 we focused on industrialization and food prod.
=> the landscape became more large scale, parcelation, drainage was installed: the character was changed

loss of: landscapes, biodiversity, food products, regional culture and identity

also lost: connection of development and utilisation of knowledge on the one hand and regional specificity on the other. academic knowledge was the “only valid knowledge”. a knowledge chain hierarchy resulted

regions regained: now there is a renewed social political and scientific interest in the region:

  • urban demand
  • revitalization of regional identity(rural idylle)
  • protection of valuable landscapes
  • regional specificity as an economic developmet tool (branding)
  • despite modernisation the countryside is still versatile in many respects

(slide of the different Dutch landscapes).

The challenge of regional learning: reconnect knowledge to regional practices (of all stakeholders). knowledge for impact, diversity of practices

how do you organize this? regional learning communities of regional actors and knowledge institutes, aim to embed knowledge in regional practices

this requires: long term commitments and agreements between all partners (knowledge institutes and actors). institutionalisation of these commitments in education and research. this is a real challenge: how to put regional learning in practice?

no single recipe!  however there may be some general underlying principles and specific factors to do so.

5 examples

werkplaats; newcastle university; RIC plattelands academie; kennisloket, countyside exchange

questions for Han Wiskerke:
*academics are payed just for producing knowledge, other knowledge producers not

  • -in Leader one of the conditions for getting a subsidy is to share your knowledge
  • -innovative entrepreneurs: when you give more than you get, you get paid

*it is a lot to ask from volunteers; how to build better bridges between those who are paid an income directly for doing this, and those who have to find “value” in it?.

  • han: long term arrangements
  • willem foorthuis, regional transition (belongs to Groene Kennis Cooperatie)
    working on connecting to regional scale with national scope
  • knowledge and learning

*knowledge institution are trying to monopolize learning but lots of learning takes place outside knowledge institutions

  • that is what we can contribute: our core business is learning, we can share this

*what is first: knowledge / learning or change?

the moderator ask us to be still for 30 sec and think about:

What is the question that you think you can solve with rural KA?

B- the “gallery” of 5 different knowledge arrangements
1. Kennisloket (knowledge guichet)
getting the schools involved in local dev.

a collaboration between educational institutes (all types of secondary schools) that want to contribute to reconstuction. the experiences from the region are used in the curricula. kennisloket has eductional interfaces. It includes education, research & government. Link with the region is made by “streekhuizen” (centres for the region, that already existed). In the Province of Brabant are 5 “kennisloketten”.

  • we find the personal contact very important
  • if the askers don’t have time to jointly develop an answer, they should go to a professional agency
  • average process time from question to answer: 6 months

2 Workplace, or “Werkplaats”, by Lectorate Van Hall Larenstein and Wageningen –Rural Development

  • innovative research
  • trans powerment: inhabitants, governments, science, experts, companies, education
  • multi-actor / multi discipline accompanying during the entire process
  • go into the regions, personal contact. students go into the field, talk to the villagers in the local Inn (they have an office and hostel in a village)
  • the process is cyclic. from theory to project and to practical experience
  • it is different and re-developed each time
  • from project to process
  • region, regional stakeholders (entrepreneurs, locals, gov) and education and research
  • regional innovation programme: dev of knowledge agenda and projects
  • signed regional contract
  • multi-actor learning, knowledge innovation environment
  • learning-by-doing: execution of projects for the living environment. by: students teachers, researchers experts entrepreneurs, locals gov. officials

what do the region see as the results?
-when they bring a problem, they do not really know how to go about it. they find creative process in our workplace. regional innovation programme


3 Plattelandsacademie /RIC by: sandra, LEI and ron, CAH

ron: his passion is to deliver excellent professionals to society.his story is linked to the first story

regions are differentiated. two circles: 1 people are trying to do their business 2: schools, with their own rythm and rules etc. How to create the connection between the two? education interfaces
the school system should have a “guichet”, which is like an entrance.

regional committees were already present in some areas. not in others, that is where we started plattelandsacademie. filter out of the region the real questions and decide where to deliver the question

SLOW ADVICE: confer: slow food vs fast food

reformulating the question helps you to find part of the answers

it might look like all questions go to ed institutes, but it is only 20%

RIC: regional innovation center (eg in Eemland, nearby). In this area is increasing urban sprawl from Amersfoort. This creates new city-countryside relations and new opportunities. How?:  connect to education. this is plattelandsacademie. also regional meeting place. we try to match parties

in Eemland case a local knowledgeable man with living knowledge is also closely involved. kees: biography of the landscape. connect “Wageningen” knowledge to community knowledge, via google maps app

workplace is long term commitment
RIC is more for entrepreneurs, to pay for access
the school should pay for creating the openness of their institute

RIC operates as a broker between knowledge, a match maker
funding is still a challenge for the future

4. country side exchange, bruisend vechtdal.
100.000 inhabitants

process: LOC (local organizing committee) prepares plan, agenda. a team of international experts are brought in for a 1 week very intensive programme. then proposals, plans, solution directions are discussed
beneficial or failure?

a new committee was formed after failure of the first. there was some sceptism, distrust, but the LOC persisted. local rural dev group, supported by: stimuland, ETC

the role of those last raises mixed feelings. they had the best intentions, but …. all, and therefor no-one, felt responsible. can you expect from volunteers that they have the capacity? the process should be more professional.

then we found excellent experts, immediate chemistry… together they managed to make the programme succesful. it was fun and people were talking about it
over 100 people present at final presentation

but then… municipalities stopped funding, ETC/stimuland also stopped, while the people were just starting
but because of “a few weirdo’s” they insisted and continued

LOC: no money, but building up their group. 40 projects on their list
if you have endurance, patience, luck and skills, you will succeed

8 recommendations
1. form core business / goals, incl finance
2. describe what you need and with whom
3. efficiency and smart
4. make clear early on, how much time volunteers can or should give
5. there should be more continuous focus on projet org and PM
6. some form of pament for volunteers / members
7. open attitude
8. preserve money and guidance after CE for the local group

again: a platform, a function for matchmaking, brokering,

2 questions:
1. who is responsible for follow up?
2. …


5. Jane Atterton and Nicole Thompson from Newcastle University; Northern Rural Network

public sector, community sector and working with rurdev practioners. there was a recognition in the university. now 1100 members. team is managed at univ.

objectives: promoting shared understanding, shared learning about issues facing rurdev in N england; a way for showcasing research; exchanging best practices and highlight innovation

activities: seminars and short courses; rural business survey 2008; reserach based action learning with businesses; local development activity; website

funding: national, regional, charity foundation, university contributes in kind

  • 3 people in management
  • steering group: mixed bunch
  • “critical friend”: an expert coach
    regular reporting to funders

for who?: mixed constituents and mixed audience
email and contact: events are free to attend
roughly half from public sector and hybrids that have part private funds
local org’s
private sector

what do our members think?
-real experts
-latest develoments in rural policy
-good practice
-new perspectives
-balanced debate
-quality evidence
-networking in ‘neutral space’

not good follow up for practical difference on the ground
not very participantive, no way to influence agenda

focus on rural economies and businesses
reporting requirements for funders and ‘measuring impacts’


C.  feed back:

1. kennisloket: 4 sheets of 10.000
number and diversity of schools working with the KA
clear and independent
all stakeholders around the table
most organised

go meet the rest of Holland

2. workplace (program regional transition) : 7 notes of 10.000
rightl balance between local and ??
inside and outside the region
well structured, also long term
very necessary for knowledge

3. RIC: 2 notes of 10.000
working in the fiel and close to the content
stimulate local people to enter and share their knowledge
connect also w other regions
(obs: potential is not a compliment if it always remains a potential)

4. country side exchange: 1 note of 10.000
organize groups
involve disadvantaged groups
to get ownership
in addition to starter budget
make a plan

problem: those who want to do it need to do it themselves. but don’t have time. combine plans.

5. NRN: 2 notes of 10.000
strong commitment and visibility at grass roots level
highlight best practices
comment: involve stakeholders more actiively

how to formulate hard outputs

6. new arrangements
11 notes
dissatisfied or new creativity?

these 5: sharing experiences within and between regions

over country borders
organize a stairway to paradise in small and safe steps
give room for passion
only experts from the regions, no schools (is this resentment that it is only about people from the regions, not with)

give support to local grassroots organizations, invest in the people

link and unite knowledge

workplace is rooting in government
plattelandsacademie is entrepreneurial


C – open space

– we are moving away from an expert model, towards a network model. university is a broker. we tend to form entrepreneurial networks on a regioanl basis (2,5 million people area) learning from the region, than come forward

– networks need to be supported. it is a myth that they spontaneously keep going

– e-extension entrepreneurship community entrepreneurship. yes use ICT

– our facilitators do a lot of work. we do constant evaluation

– asset based approach. what are the assets and how do you use those
social constructivist approach, emphasize the positive things instead of focussing on weaknesses.

concrete initiatives or conclusions:

-living knowledge and cliptoo: the possibilities are unlimited
-we will develop a program against bureaucracy
– local people should be leading
– these KA are still based on terms and conditions of the institutes

Veerman over ons moreel kompas, Huijgen over voelhorens

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Veerman op de Eemland Conferentie

link naar video met Veerman

U benadrukte in uw speech het belang van de individuele verantwoordelijkheid, terwijl anderen juist het belang van relaties met andersoortige stakeholders benadrukken. Kunt u dat toelichten?

Ik heb het ook gehad over de verantwoordelijkheid van een organisatie, als een ethische, morele eenheid.
Kijk, als we niet het goede geweten als kompas gebruiken, het geweten in plaats daarvan proberen vast te leggen in regels en wetten, en zeggen, “nou we hebben aan de wet voldaan, dan zijn we dus een goed mens, dan hebben we netjes geopereerd” dan komen we dus te kort. Want we kunnen a) niet alles vastleggen in regels en wetten en b) het afgaan slechts op die regels en wetten verschoont ons teveel van de vraag: “doe ik het nu goed? kan ik hiermee rechtvaardigen voor mezelf dat ik op een correcte wijze in het leven sta? ” En dat kan nooit anders beantwoord worden dan door een goed opgevoed en getraind geweten.

Eigen verantwoordelijkheid dus?

Eigen verantwoordelijkheid.

Bent u het met me eens dat het ook gaat om voelhorens naar onze omgeving en naar ándere belanghebbenden in onze omgeving, en dat we die voelhorens zouden kunnen trainen, naast het eigen geweten?

Dat eigen geweten is de vrucht van karakter, opvoeding en relaties met anderen, zo ontstaat dat. Maar dat kunnen we niet wegpoetsen. Ons geweten heeft een centrale rol in ons leven, dat maakt ons tot wie we zijn. Dat is onze verantwoordelijkheid naar anderen en naar de schepping.

Vervolgens vroeg ik Jan Huijgen hetzelfde: het belang van voelhorens naar onze omgeving?

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link naar video met Jan Huijgen
Jan vertelt dat dat essentieel is. Wil je verbindingen leggen, dan moet dat starten met interesse en van daaruit ga je verder bouwen. Hij legt in het filmpje een voorbeeld uit van een school die de boerderij bezoekt, of iemand die vraagt naar de herkomst van een smaakvol produkt. Als je (via die voelhorens) die ander begrijpt, kun het overbrengen. Dan ontstaan waardevolle verbindingen tussen twee werelden.

Live blogging at European Eemland Conference (2)

(About live blogging Here are some notes from the European Eemland Conference. The usual disclaimers for life blogging apply: these are just some notes of one individual, not a representation of “The Thruth”. If others will share with us their notes, a mosaical, multi-perspective “social report” will grow. This “stream of impressions” is nice for those who are not with us, to get an idiea of what has been going on, as well as a shared “product” which we co-create from the conference. Anyone can join, just tag blogposts, photos, with “guusnet” or ask for a login in for this Guus’ blog and become an author).

Jan Willem van de Schans’ presentation on Wednesday afternoon

“Von Thunen revisited”

when he started work: the feeling was: we pay too much for agriculture, best to move it to developing countries

competing claims for space

70.000 ha of farmland converted to other uses: recreational, nature


cities are becoming increasingly aware of sound food policies

city food strategy: closer-by food production
eg London and Toronto
in city planning they want to re-introduce food production planning

food as a public responsibility
Amsterdam also wants to reconnect with farmers

food policy in Europe has become a supra national affair, but needs to be localized again

cities, local regions, are reconnecting

Quality of life
Three cities, Boxtel, Oisterwijk and Best. They wanted to attract knowledge workers who want excellent quality of life and recreational facilities. so they introduced in their regional planning  quality of landscape; nature as well as farmland.

Food miles
Oil production has peaked already, so our footprint is becoming important. Super markets are picking up on this and show foodmiles.

circular city maps with city and surrounding country side (perishable products near the cities, livestock for meat a bit further, arable crops in the periphery)
central city
the Von Thunen model
country side
but the rules and conditions of the Von Thunen model have changed

eg. LCA life cycle analysis shows, it is better to grow roses in Kenya than in NL (the transport is bad, but energy during growing cycle is much lower)

closing the natural circles
if you close the natural circles, (not only food miles, but also manure miles etc)
local is not good just because of food miles, but also to close local cycles

food security
this was deemed ridiculous for our wealthy country to be concerned about food security, but history has shown: in the long food chains there are some risks: export bans etc
so local food security becomes more important
urban agriculture
farming and the city are a natural combination
farmers could grab the chance to teach their skills to those urban people who want to do it.

(so the farmer joins the traffic jams to work in the city?, we are listening to a plea for agric in the city and hosting city people for anything but agriculture  in the rural area?????)

park  on top of parking

an edible park; a farm or garden rather than a park
real estate

“Food sovereignty”

people want to reclaim control over food

urban food system planning
-farming as positive rather than negative externality (move them closer and make food prod  a real issue in town and city planning)
-think in terms of mixed functions (eg happy shrimp farm, tropical shrimp in R’dam area)

Urban rather than rural re-vitalization
focus on the real demand of cities rather than trying to make good use of whatever happens to be redundant in rural areas
focus on middle and lower incomes
consider ethnic variety as opportunity (turkish yoghurt procuced in the green hart

some examples:
spin farming

Farmers have something to offer
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Agrarisch landschap is ook natuur!

Dit zijn Inge and Hans. Ze zijn deelnemers aan de Eemland Conferentie. Ze zijn collega’s, beide werken bij Provincie Zuid-Holland.

In hun werk lopen ze tegen het volgende aan.
De vraag van burgers naar “mooi landschap” wordt door beleidsmakers vaak min of meer automatisch geinterpreteerd als een vraag naar “natuur”. Terwijl veel mensen een agrarisch landschap ook waarderen, sterker nog, in de beleving van veel mensen is landbouw zelfs helemaal niet gedifferentieerd van natuur: Een koe in de wei is ook natuur. Bij “landschapsbeheer” als functie denken de politiek en beleidsmakers veel eerder aan natuurorganisaties dan aan boeren.

De vraag van Hans en Inge:

Hoe krijgen we (beheer/waarde van) agrarisch landschap op de politieke agenda?

Live blogging from Eemland Conference

About live blogging

Here are some notes from the European Eemland Conference. The usual disclaimers for life blogging apply: these are just some notes of one individual, not a representation of “The Thruth”. If others will share with us their notes, a mosaical, multi-perspective “social report” will grow. This “stream of impressions” is nice for those who are not with us, to get an idiea of what has been going on, as well as a shared “product” which we co-create from the conference. Anyone can join, just tag blogposts, photos, with “guusnet” or ask for a login in for this Guus’ blog and become an author.

Wednesday, afternoon session

Interactive forum discussion with different speakers on the four pillars of the Versatile Countryside concept
show master: Eelke Wielinga

first pillar:

What are the symbols of your enterprise that you have brought?

Alfredo Cunhal: the symbol i have in mind is “a home”, i want my farm to be the home for manykind people, for animals, for biodiversity

Hillar Pulk: for me the symbol of my farm is “enjoyment”, meaningful enjoyment. It is never a single thing alone which people like, the complex interplay of the many facets of the farm, which turn it into a real experience, is what people enjoy.

Bram Prins: (showing elastical “spider” with hooks, used for tying things, eg. to the back of your bike) This is what I think of as a symbol for my farm: a spider in the web of my surroundings, links, networker, ties to others.

But when we think of entrepreneurial spirit, we do not usually think of ties, of considerations with the surroundings. Usually we think more of a free spirit. Are you a special kind of entrepreneurs? What makes you an entrepreneur? Why do you feel responsible not only for your own income, but for societal values at large?

It is a matter of seeing opportunities, and of course it is very important to look at the values people feel are important.

Can you make money, earn an income: is there a business case?

It is not always easy, but I have survived so far. There are so many components to my farm.

In the times when my father farmed it was simply a matter of producing as much milk as possible. Now it is more complex.
We need to “earn” a license to exist, we need to earn a license to produce. We have to justify what we are doing.
For all types of farms it is needed to link to the surroundings and take into account what others deem important.

What is the entrepreneurial part in it?

We are an SME, a small or medium enterprise, we need to play a role, innovator role to regional innovation.

What do you expect from this conference?

Well, we are people too, we look for inspiration, new ideas, motivation.  Contacts with other people.

Maybe we can establish a collaboration

Possibly cooperate with universities.

Splitting up “farmers” in groups as if they where separate is the stupidiest thing to do. Look, Jan Huijgen is a very different farmer than me. but all of us have to work in the triangle of PPP; People Planet and Profit. Each of us has to decide on a good mix of these P’s. I am often associated with working for a profit, but also large, production-oriented farms have to realise that nowadays they need a license to exist, that they need to take planet and people into account. And i sometimes need to remind Jan that he has to make a profit for a living!

So today our conference motto is ploughing, breaking ground. It is also symbolic for breaking structures, so that new things can develop. What are the things to do according to you?

Changing the mindset of farmers, to make them aware of what is happening around them.

To think of ethics, ethical values.