Thematic tracks VA 2020

Read this page in Dutch

The Voedsel Anders conference 2020 will offer around 80 workshops. These are organised along six thematic tracks. At each workshop round, you can choose whether you would like to swap or stay in the same track. These are the six tracks:

  • Agroecology & climate change
  • Short supply chain & farmer-citizen cooperation
  • Access to land & the commons
  • Fair prices & just trade
  • Eating Otherwise
  • New skills and perspectives

Track 1: Agroecology and climate change

Agroecology is both an ecological and a social approach to agriculture. It is a collective name for practices but also a science and a broad movement. Agroecology gives priority to and uses local resources, relationships and knowledge for resilient and productive farming. It cherishes the production of food as a result of the management of healthy ecosystems. Agroecology is a worldwide movement of which the principles are put into practice by millions of farmers via innovative cooperation, particularly with citizens and scientists. Agroecological systems are more climate resilient and use a minimum of chemicals and fossil fuels. This makes farmers less dependent on industrial inputs while increasing their control and autonomy. There are numerous examples of these developments in the Netherlands, Flanders and around the world, jointly heading towards regenerative, climate positive and nature inclusive circular agriculture.

At the conference we learn from each other thanks to practical and inspiring workshops about wisely handling nitrogen, healthy soils, biodiversity, agroforestry and food forests, strip cultivation, farmers seeds, animal welfare, space for nature and food in the city. From ‘carbon farmer’ to city farmer, from South to North, from the Sahel to the Frisian Woodlands. Agriculture that makes you healthy, landscapes that makes you smile. Jointly we can make that happen, which is reflected in the workshops offered.

Track 2: Fair prices and just trade

A more just and environmentally friendly trade and agriculture policy is a condition for fair prices. This can ensure a stable price for farmers which covers all their costs while consumers pay an accessible price that reflects environmental, social en animal welfare costs. When markets are regulated, regions like the EU can for a much larger part become self sufficient in food, animal feed and other agricultural products. The dumping of Europe’s surplus abroad will decrease, as well as the logging of trees and the use of land, for example for the overseas production of animal feed. Farmers in developing countries will retrieve their land and markets for their own food production, which will increase food security.  With market regulation, the European agricultural budget could be used much more effectively for societal objectives. Therefore we need to get rid of current free trade agreements and work towards a regulated international trade that respects and protects human rights, the climate and environment. 

During the conference, diverse workshops are dedicated to this track. Apart from (inter)national policies, attention will be paid to provincial and local policies, fair food prices,  other forms of funding and European sustainability certification schemes.

Track 3: Short supply chains and farmer-citizen cooperation

The current food system is in various ways characterised by broken relationships. Farmer and citizen, city and country side, but also policy (Brussels, The Hague) and practice at farm level have increasingly become separate – and at times it even looks like opposite – worlds. Short, more regional food chains are a practical form to restore the connection and solidarity between farmers and citizens. Farm shops, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), food collectives and cooperative groups of producers that jointly deliver in the region, can all contribute to a better price and market share for farmers, higher quality and at the same time – if managed well – less CO2 emission and food waste. Short chains require a different type of processing, logistics and food environment. This means for example that an urban food strategy and regional economic cooperation between farmer and citizen will be needed.

In the workshops, we will dive into lessons learned by people who set up regional, short supply chains. But we will also look at challenges ahead, at how to scale up these practices and at opportunities to deliver to public institutions or in the business-to-business market. Moreover, there will be a focus on ways to restore the connection between farmer and citizen (such as for example in Food Policy Councils, or new ways of farmer-citizen dialogue and solidarity).

Track 4: Eating Otherwise

What does our future diet look like? Another food system not only requires another way of production, but surely also another way of consumption. It is clear that we need to use less animal and more plant based proteins. But does that also mean we should all start eating meat substitutes, or perhaps cultured meat? Will smart marketing continue to seduce us to eat too much fat and sugar, or are we going to eat unprocessed foods, of the seasons and using local ingredients? And do we still have the time and skills to cook and eat good and healthy food? In the path Eat Differently we will explore how we can continue to shape the transition to another consumption pattern. With more diversity, creativity and pleasure in preparing and eating food.  We will show what this means for various groups in society and for the position of the farmer in the chain. Examples of community building and the development of a social movement will be reviewed. And naturally, we will also show that good alternatives exist, that we can also eat delicious and healthy food in the future, with and without meat.

Path 5: Access to land and the commons

Land rights are crucial to ensure that people who live from local natural resources, like farmers, shepherds, fishermen, hunters/collectors and forest dwellers, get and keep access and control over land, water and forests, but also to the genetic diversity of cattle and seeds. In this context, it is important to consider natural resources not only as means of production but also as natural habitat, landscape, and supplier of ecosystem services, with respect for the holistic vision on the relationship between man and nature in various cultures. Many movements and initiatives are ensuring that the above mentioned resources in the first place serve local people instead of export agriculture, big land owners or the extraction of oil, gas or minerals. These movements take land and other natural resources out of the market and bring them into collective property or management (commons). Moreover, they ensure that new farmers will have access to land and get entitled to stay on the land.  Workshops at the conference will discuss the commons, how to negotate for better lease contracts, the use of local money, regional cooperatives and land movements.

Track 6: New skills and perspectives

We agree that a transition to a new farming and food system is necessary. Working in a new system not only requires new knowledge, but also new skills and ways to look at the world. In this path, you will learn about new perspectives and creative methods to understand, experience and shape the farming and food system. For this, we will use our head, heart and all senses. Are you going to learn how to make use of ‘appreciative research’ to evaluate the sustainability of food systems? Will you make a system drawing or assimilate your message in a cartoon? Or do you prefer exchanging ideas about how to build a diverse, inter-sectional movement or how to work on degrowth in farming and food? All is possible!