Summer School Foster

The FOSTER´s Summer School, organized by University of Oxford, has just taken place in the Netherlands!  It was hosted by Wageningen University & Research and the Food Transition Coalition.

Project partners from academia and Change Driven Initiatives (CDIs) from the Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Hungary, Germany and Portugal, as well as further experts invited by the CDIs, gathered together for mutual learning and sharing experience with each other.

The idea of Summer School is to work together with academic partners, CDIs, innovation advisors and focus groups towards a better Knowledge and Innovation system and to share ideas, practices and experiences for having a common vision on how to build a future sustainable food system.

Start of the Summer School

The first day of the Summer School started with a small interactive roll call, and everyone could get to know each other better and become a bit closer. Friendly and positive atmosphere was in the air during the whole three-day training.

The 1st day

Project manager of FOSTER Kerstin Pasch opened the day with a review of the project meeting in Novi Sad in February 2023, of the insights and activities gained there, which the consortium used to concretize its project visions and goals for the upcoming year.

During the first day, participants were able to review the food system mapping. CDIs had a perfect chance to think where they are in the food system chain and what they are going to achieve.

Attendees of the last webinar, which was a preparatory webinar devoted to setting a scene for the first FOSTER´s Summer School and to sharing terms and concepts used in food systems approaches, were able to provide their feedback on the concepts.

In the first day of the Summer School, all participants had a great opportunity to visit De Kleine Aarde. Since 2022, De Kleine Aarde has been all about agricultural transition with Coöperatie Ruimte De Kleine Aarde. Pioneering sustainable and circular living has always been the main goal for De Kleine Aarde. The Young Researchers, founded in 1972 by a journalist Sietz Leeflang, settled in this area in 1973 and pioneered for years with, among other things, organic agriculture, solar and wind energy and sustainable construction. More information can be found here:

After an interesting visit to Kleine Aarde, there was an interactive session with the CDI groups on their challenges using the food system approach, and a mutual learning exercise, where the FOSTER´s team and external experts could learn from CDIs.

The first day concluded with a plenary session and feedback on mutual benefits of food systems and CDIs´ approaches.

The 2nd day

The second day started with the introduction and discussion on different types of knowledge from ECSA and VU Athena. Interactive group discussions on boundaries, framings, stakeholders, and mapping with CDIs, external experts and FOSTER´s team followed by the discussion.

During the second day of the Summer School, the academic partners presented the Toolkit – a set of tools used in the food system for identifying the main instruments that can be used by the CDIs to identify and improve the specific problem or indicator. CDIs were proposed to share their own tools and experience on how those tools help them in their work.

Fruitful group discussions on mapping stakeholders and on Participatory Action Research (PAR) in the context of FOSTER´s plans were raised. The project partners also presented the current governance approaches and got reactions from CDIs.

A couple of interactive sessions between the plenary meetings helped the participants to rethink their understanding of power.

The 3rd day

The last day of the Summer School was a summary of what was learned during these days. Participants could also reflect on what they got from this learning and what new opportunities they see for themselves.

The FOSTER´s teams presented their part of work within the project and plans for the future and in relation to CDIs. Participants were updated on building the FOSTER´s Knowledge Platform and the CDI groups were invited to participate in Horizon projects scanning. The next FOSTER´s Summer School training course will bring more opportunities, more ideas and, for sure, will set another high standard and more challenges.

The FOSTER´s Summer School 2023 was an incredible opportunity to learn, cooperate and look for the new solutions to the existing problems in the food system together. The project partners and external experts could hear from CDIs and those, in turn, could share their experience and thoughts. The FOSTER´s aim is to connect different actors of the food chain to make a new governance system for the food system, thus, its aim is to change the whole system and people´s way of thinking. And that ambitious goal is a bit closer now!