Author Archives: Sebastian Burch

Sebastian Burch

About Sebastian Burch

A Deep Ecologist absorbed by all the subtle qualities of Landscapes; I am a Gardener, farmer and land-artist. Since a child I've been fascinated by the meaning of Life, I'm a bit of a Biologist but mainly try to be a Holistic Learner. I'm guided by the Senses of Place, Self and Community in my work as Program Coordinator, IT Designer and E(co)facilitator. -www.gaiaysofia.com - www.posadadelvalle.com ;)

Sebastian Burch

Dutch Programme Day 4

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Thursday morning started with a session by Fionnuala Collins from East Clare Co-op on informal learning tools for adults-using rhythm to move energy in a group to create decisive action and make products from the words and energies stirred up in the group on the theme of food injustice. 2 plays, 3 posters and a 3d sculpture were the products created in this session.

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Through this the group of learners were introduced to the idea of putting ideas into action and of sharing their learning through the media available-posters, article writing, film, booklets etc. The final 2 days were dedicated to this bar the session from Lydia on the food thermometer to give learners a chance to exchange views and take a position on certain food related issues. This was very interesting and ended with people voicing their hopes for what the future of food will look like.

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Well Done to Monique and the Dutch team for organising such a packed and diverse programme-food for thought , food for the soul and food for the body.

Sebastian Burch

Dutch Programme Day 3

Wednesday was Earth Day and a total of 5 projects were met throughout Groningen.

RKZ

The first was RKZ, a cooperative which had squatted a disused hospital in the 1970’s before gaining an agreement on use and now housed a total of 250 residents who were responsible for the maintenance of the buildings, mixed employment opportunities on site and creating small scale gardens to partially produce for their restaurant on site. The gardens were were small in comparison to the number of residents but at least showed food in urban settings as half the population of the world now live in cities. The learners saw biodiversity in a small area with fruits trees, shrubs and raised individual plots. A family of motherless lambs also had their city retreat where they grow before returning to the food chain.There were bees there as well and the learners were informed that actually now in the Netherlands (and in other cities too) bees are finding more nutrition and variety in cities than in the country areas perhaps as a result of crop spraying or indeed vast mono-cultures which are a desert for bio-diversity. It has become quite a site in Amsterdam for example to see bees buzzing in high density human populations and city honey is becoming popular. Many small scale producers will not part with their precious honey for love nor money, but only take what they need for personal use-an interesting idea for the future of food-locally based superfood scarcity?

Gruno Garden

Next visit was to the inspirational GRUNO Garden where learners met Barbara Houtman who is the driving force behind the project. She has created a community garden and in doing so has seen first hand how gardens bring people together who would never otherwise meet each other in the city. Barbara spoke movingly of older people who, if it were not for the garden, which gave them a sense of connection, they would not leave their apartment. Barbara told them that the plans were to demolish the garden in the future but she shared her hope that her group would be able to meet with the powers that be to save their garden, to put people back into the picture. A very positive and inspiring woman who is dedicated to growing networks in the community as much as food and with over 250 residents involved in the project, it looks like they have galvanised local action to grow food in an urban community setting.

Michiel Coesel

The next example was a very interesting visit to Michiel Coesel, a lone ranger if ever there was one. He works alone to create an edible, ecological garden in Goeman Borgesiusstraat. With everything from Figs to Fungi in a tiny space, he has really set his neighbourhood a crawling with the addition of quirky sculptures and periscopes to see nature from different angles. He is responsible for the grounds maintenance but I wonder if his gifts and talents are fully appreciated, as in every corner and crevice, the light touch was seen. As the apartments were set in the backdrop of a forest park, he really encouraged nature to run right up and onto the buildings with twiggy additions here and there.

Gift Foundation/Noodhelp Netherlands

Lucia Amaya addressed the learners after lunch and introduced us to her work. A buddhist nun, she has set up the Gift Foundation, now called Noodhelp Nederlands as a response to the economic crisis. Her words moved and inspired the learners who were reminded that the recession is really only taking a foot hold now. Her work has spread throughout and there are now communities all over the Netherlands offering support to those in need in their locality. She has started a revolution in loving and gifting energy and she led a crystal planting ritual afterwards in the final place we visited, the BioToop. In the bramentuin (reclaimed bramble garden), where an apple tree has found its third and hopefully final home, the learners gathered in a newly created herb circle to bless the work and the garden. Time for tea and warm waffles thanks to Samson and Ruben, the Gardiners -a very welcome end to the day.

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Raw Bonbon making

Back at home in Uelenspieghel, Danielle, raw food chef, gave a demonstration in bon bon making. One word-yummy. Recipes are on the recipe page.

Sebastian Burch

Dutch Programme Day 2

Tuesday.

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The first day of the programme saw an early start with Herb collection with Rascha. Rascha identified 5 herbs growing in the feild around Uelenspieghel camp site and asked 5 collectors to go and find these. In the cold morning dew, Nature was shining and offering her healing plants for those who had eyes to see and hands to pick. The herbs were washed and blended into the first smoothie of the week with pear, water and banana. It seemed an incongruous mix-the local and fresh mystical herbs with the the global banana pear from who knows where.

After breakfast the first session was facilitated by Monique as a welcome and run through of the programme and surroundings. The idea of the talking stick was introduced as a tool to share learning, thoughts, insights and actually community empowerment. Some learners were new to this method and others well versed in it. But as a tool, it ensures that everyone present has the opportunity to talk about what is going on for them, to share-their thoughts, ideas, inspiration, frustration. It allows to an ordered method to ensure equal representation and it could be introduced in every school around the globe on a daily basis to give children the idea early on that their voice will be heard, is important and is valued. Imagine the order in classrooms when you remove the competitive edge to be heard-where only the loudest get heard.

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The day continued with a very interesting exploration of plant phemonology with Belinda once again. Belinda had each participant represent themselves as a flower or plant as a way to understand ourselves and how we are in community better.

The pictures represented how we are rooted, how we conduct energy, how we relate to others and how we are in the world. The pictures were later gathered by Gabo who created a food landscape picture as she matched up the pictures and people were photographed near to their work.

Tuesday also saw a workshop with Lydia on Diet and Landscapes-the learning tool was to to use illustrations to delegates how their present food landscapes looks. The pictures people could choose from ranged from industrial meat plants and battery farms to forests and tropical plantations. It was a very interesting exercise to bring into awareness how we are responsible for contributing to food landscapes by our actions. The particular group of learners were largely in agreement that the way they actually eat is not the way they would eat in an ideal world. In an ideal world we could all forage from the wild-but there are too many people and too little of forests left in Europe to make this a reality. So the question is how do we progress and contribute to our food landscape? Local food markets were agreed on by all as the key activity to ensure we are supporting the small local organic producers to protect our local food eco-systems.

A project on food has to include food preparation so into the kitchen for raw food preparation with Rascha, Agi and Terra to show the use of hand tools in raw food preparation. This was of particular interest to those who were being introduced to whole idea of eating more raw foods for the first time.

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Sebastian Burch

KAS survey on the Future of Food

SURVEY DEADLINE: 29th of March 2015

The intention behind this survey is to document your ideas on what educational experiences are best suited to address the future of food and how they can do it.

Imagine you had the opportunity to design an learning experience on sustainable and healthy food for planet and people.

***What would be the most important fields of knowledge, attitudes & Skills that any activity should have as its objectives in relation to the 4 fields of food?***

Remember Head, Heart & Hands:

  • Head (intellectual capability, ie., knowledge, or ‘think‘)
  • Heart (feelings, emotions and behavior, ie., attitude, or ‘feel‘)
  • Hands (manual and physical skills, ie., skills, or ‘do‘)

Sebastian Burch

Learning & Working with the Senses

This article is a continuation of Planning for Head, Heart & Hands where I shared some notes on how we (FoF partnership) use different methodologies and frameworks to suit different learning interests and styles.

On our website intro you might have read the following text:

What is the future of food? is exactly what we are trying to find out, in an open and experiential way, focusing on the 4 fields of food and how they are present within the diversity of our partnership.

This article tries to explain a little bit what we mean by an open and experiential way to learning.

Wikipedia defines Experiential learning as the process of making meaning from direct experience, i.e., “learning from experience”. Quoting Aristotle saying;

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”

But; how do we learn from experience? doesn’t this basically mean we all have to wait until we are really old -before we can actually know anything…

Not quite – Relax! Luckily this doesn’t seem to be the case, we’ve all had really positive learning experiences outside of classrooms – just remember that “learning” is something that all beings do on earth!

Whilst it’s quite common to think of education as something that is really information based and to do with the “ones that know” and the “ones that don’t know”; there is a long history of philosophers, scientists, psychologists and pedagogues that would argue that learning has a lot more dimensions than just words and those who hold on to them.

“Sense making” is the process by which people give meaning to experience.

At the end of the day no matter what we were told, it comes down to how we each make sense of it in our own personal worlds.

Even the same word makes different sense to different people. The great thinker Gregory Bateson  (author of steps to an ecology of mind) defined information as “a difference which makes a difference.

This is usually when the magic word **subjectivity** comes into the room and initially brings a fear of eternal chaos and big philosophical debates. – Bare with me a moment as I try to show you – how its possible to work with the senses, allowing subjectivity to be free & flourish in a cared for and planned process.

Here is a list of three Learning Senses that seem to be part of the different cultures in our partnership and how we’ve been working them into our learning habits:

Sense of Place

Placed based learning is a big star of non-formal learning programs, improving the place-less quality of many formal learning environments (i.e the most common “a class room”). To develope a rich sense of place within a group its important that:

The place itself has a role as a teacher.

Thats why we always organize fully residential meetings based at each partners “Common Spaces” and include in the program common roles of the place.

During our meetings we live, eat and work in “situ”

Many of us recognize how the place makes a big difference on how we “see” things.

By the time we will have visited each country we will have a richer sense of place within the partnership and therefore a different way at looking at common subjects

Sense of Self

The topic of food is huge, peoples interest in it is varied and within our partnership this manifests as an interesting diversity of learning interests and styles.

Trying to live up to the Erasmus+ spirit of Lifelong learning as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of education – We try to take care of peoples different learning styles by planning for Head, Heart & Hands and by combining two types of processes within our meetings: spontaneously emerging and deeply planned learning outcomes or products.

Somethings we really like to talk and debate about for as long as everyone involved feels its right – and – other times there are “aha” moments that actually materializes in a short period of time.

To allow this to happen  – we have a non centralized working system where subgroups are born mainly from a common interest in a topic or a group bonding moment.

Activities that include meditations and self awareness practices and celebrations can encourage us all to take mindful awareness ideal for group discussions to hold up a supportive mirror that shows us how we each are in the world.

Sense of Community (or common sense)

A learning community is a group of people who share a common motivation, actively engaged in learning together with/from each other, by supported habituation. Through a constantly developing communication with one another, individuals build authentic and nurturing relationships, with each ones gifts. This makes a difference on what each consider “common sense”.

During our weekly skype meetings, as coordinators, we always start with a personal check-in that sets the mood for our work together and helps us get to know each other more ‘n’ more!

By all taking care of the place & the group, with cooking & land workshops, as well as voluntary service in keeping a safe and beautiful environment we nurture a dynamic process that creates an authentic living community.

Sebastian Burch

FoF Journalism

A FoF Journalist writtes, documents and/or edits stories about sustainable & healthy food for pople & planet. Sharing what, how & why is going on in the world around her/him.

 

jornalist

The scope and rich diversity within the world of food is hard to capture in a single glance or way of thinking. Conversations about food tend to be complex subjects with great deal of subtle differences of perspectives and meanings.

Stories are complex and deeply meaningful forms of communicating perspectives and ideas. They differ substantially from narrow explanations of ideas by maintaining a personally empathic dimension that serves the interpreter as a sense making tool to better judge and interpret what is being communicated.

We are inspired by the development of Backpack Journalism http://bpjournalism.eu/ in the EU, i.e the idea that anyone can become a journalist with basic IT equipment that fits in a backpack in todays growing world of online social media. Please watch also watch Clay Shirky’s TED talk about how internet will (one day) transform government.

Invitation to become a FOF-journalist

We want to create an exciting and inspiring website to share up to date information and reach many people. This is why we want to invite you. As a subscriber to the FOF-newsletter, visitor of the FOF-website or as a guest to one of the meetings, we want to invite you to participate and magnify our impact and create a multiplier effect.

We invite you to share your inspiration or concern around what is happening in the world around food, including food production, the preparation of food, sharing of food and communication and education about food.

Sebastian Burch

Food Mimes

Food Mimes are a drama medium, involving miming or acting out a story about food through body motions, without use of speech.

The video edited above was recorded during our 3rd Meeting in April 2014; the game proved to be a great group bonding activity that initiated conversations that noticeably benefited from a more embodied and personalized common language that somehow started to grasp the inherent diversity within the group.

The Future of Food Learning Partnership is keen to explore role of games and spontaneous creative drama such as “Food Mimes” activities relevant in educational settings with children and adults.

Food mimes guidelines for group activities:

1. The group divides into reasonable size teams, depending on the groups size and the length of time.

2. Each team has a set period of time to come up with, and rehears, a spontaneous group theatrical piece about a “secret” Food stories from the 4 fields of food, to be guessed by the other team/s.

This is a great opportunity to remind the group about the 4 fields of food and spend sometime exploring possible “food stories”:

A. Growing & Collecting
B. Food Preparation
C. Eating & Sharing
D. Education and Communication

3. The acting groups then have a set period of time in which to convey the secret “food stories” to the guessers by pantomime.

PLEASE POST YOUR GUESSES TO MIME 1, 2 and/or 3.