Green Innovators: A Chat with Laura, De Stadsgroenteboer CSA

By Tess Holmgren

Urban agriculture projects are becoming increasingly popular and viewed as agents for providing food security, as well as a creative way of greening urban areas. As more attention is given to finding innovative ways of growing food closer to and in cities, it is slowly becoming part of the public vocabulary with urban farms in cities including Amsterdam and Rotterdam. However, for many there is still a distinct separation between production and consumption of the fruit and vegetables bought at the shop. Not much thought is given to where and how these apples, or these oranges were grown simply because there is no need for it when supermarkets will supply close to anything in good condition. Among the people bridging this gap with the aim of reconnecting people with the land are the Amsterdam-based De Stadsgroenteboer team, who will lead our fourth Bootcamp session on Friday 24 May.

They have invited us to spend the afternoon at their 4000 square meter farm in the West of Amsterdam where they will be introducing the concept and philosophy of Community Supported Agriculture and its role in healthy urban food production. Those participating will have the pleasure of meeting the inspiring team behind the project, a chance to get their hands dirty and to later taste the fruits of their labour as a way of learning about community supported agriculture. In anticipation of this session, we spoke to Laura from De Stadsgroenteboer team to get a sense of what students can expect, as well as her ideas around healthy urban living.

Please tell us about your organisation, its inspiration and goals. We are a group people who have teamed up to grow vegetables on a small plot of land of around 4000 square meters in the west of Amsterdam. We try to grow as many kinds of vegetables as possible, currently I think we have around 62 different vegetables and we do everything organically. We are a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, which means we supply vegetables on a weekly basis during harvest season to local subscribing members. The opportunity for this project presented itself when the previous owner moved away and got in touch with two of our current team members about keeping the farm. We had a common dream of growing our own food, so in a sense we inspired each other. We had some previous experience, but not necessarily expertise – I guess that comes with the years – so there has been some trial and error in getting started. Our main goal and inspiration with this project is really to recreate a connection between people and the land.

Without revealing too much about what’s in store, could you tell us what we can expect from your participation in this year’s Green Student Bootcamp Challenge?I won’t reveal too much but students will spend the afternoon with us at the farm, which will involve some activities where they will get to experience the work we do first hand. It will also involve some kind of transformation of food, possibly from our own land. And we hope to introduce everyone to the philosophy and the idea of community supported agriculture so they get an idea of the history, the philosophy and the different styles of CSA that exist. And it will also involve a good deal of fun!

What do you hope participating students will take away from the experience? We would really love it if the experience of practicing agriculture on small scale together with other people inspires them to think differently about food. Especially in terms of its whole lifecycle and its value. On the flip side, it’s also inspiring and exciting for us to involve people in what we do, so I hope they leave with these feelings as well.

How do you see our relationship with nature and with our environment? This is a difficult question, and quite an individual one. I think it is always tricky to say: “this is us and this is nature” because we are all part of one big thing. In this sense I think it is important to phrase the answer in terms of what our role is in nature instead of what is our connection with nature. Because I think what is for us to figure out is how we fit into this big intricate puzzle as opposed to how we relate to the puzzle.

Has your work and/or research changed the way you lead your life? If so, how? Well, currently I’m living the life of a farmer, which is more a lifestyle than a job. You are up with the sun and go to bed early, you are constantly working with your hands and your body. In a way we are also constantly creating things which is very rewarding. I think your priorities change a little bit when you live like this so there has perhaps been a change in the way I lead my life, but more because of the nature of the work than a conscious choice.

What does healthy urban living mean to you? Cities are crazy. There is this constant access to anything you might need and there are endless options. There are midnight shops in case you get hungry, it never gets dark, there is always something to do and there are always people around. It can easily feel frantic and crowded. I think healthy urban living means finding your own path – your own balanced way of living – in which you are content and not at the constant mercy of the hectic pace of the city.

If you’d like to join our cooking-in-nature workshop with De Stadsgroenteboer, please mail us before Wednesday 22 May to book your space:

For information on how to join the De Stadsgroenteboer CSA, visit their website:

Green Educators: A Chat with Karin van Toor, IVN & Tiny Forest

By Tess Holmgren

On Friday 17 May the Green Student Bootcamp Challenge takes place at Utrecht University in collaboration with Green Office Utrecht. This session takes us into the forest where we will explore the interconnected world of trees and mycelium with IVN & Fungi Factory.

IVN is a national Dutch nature education organisation that works to connect all generations to the wonder and joy of the natural world. Students will learn from Karin van Toor from IVN how they to make a Tiny Forest‘ in their own back garden, on campus or in their neighbourhood. Karin is the first person in the Netherlands to plant a Tiny Forest in her back garden. She is passionate about the concept of Tiny Forests and the opportunities they create for healthier urban environments. In advance of our session at Utrecht University, I spoke with Karin and learned what students can expect from a Tiny Forest workshop…

Please tell us about your organisation, its inspiration and goals. 

I volunteer with IVN which stands for In Voor Natuur, and our goal is to get people into nature so they can fully experience nature. Essentially, we want to bring nature closer to home. A tiny forest is a manmade forest about the size of a tennis court, densely planted with trees and plants indigenous to the area. The idea of a Tiny Forest was first inspired by Japanese tree expert Akira Miyawaki who devised a successful method of restoring indigenous forests and prevent land degradation. This idea was then translated by Shubhendu Sharma from India into an urban context. Daan Bleichrodt introduced the concept to the Netherlands, so children living in cities can experience nature more easily. Our hope is that Tiny Forests will bring people together. For this to be successful it is important for us to know when we plant a Tiny Forest that, firstly, it is wanted by the local community and secondly that there is a neighbourhood and/or school attached to it because this encourages a sense of custodianship. When people feel connected and responsible the space is used and cared for and so becomes a great place for people to connect to each other as well: it becomes an extension of their home, a starting point for a run, a place to have coffee, a place for children to learn and play.

Without revealing too much about what’s in store, what can we expect from your participation in this year’s Green Student Bootcamp Challenge?

A message about the ways in which we can all contribute to creating positive change. How we can all contribute something small for the better. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when thinking about climate change, for instance, but I am hoping to show that small actions from many can amount to significant change.

What do you hope participating students will take away from the experience?

Hope. And also a sense that everybody can contribute something, that together we can do a lot when we come together.

How do you see our relationship with nature and with our environment?

We are nature – the grass and the flowers and the trees are our cousins, nephews and nieces. Also, I think we often forget that nature can survive without us but we cannot survive without nature, which is important and humbling to remember.

Has your work and/or research changed the way you lead your life? If so, how?

I was the first private person in the Netherlands to create a Tiny Forest in my back garden. When I first moved into my house there were only non-indigenous trees and not a lot of fauna. I wanted it to be biodiverse and more alive so when I was introduced to the idea of a Tiny Forest I was inspired and thought this seemed a simple way to make a big change. Now a few years later it’s full of life- there are surely 60 or more kinds of birds there. I wouldn’t necessarily say that volunteering for the IVN has changed my path per se, but it has inspired me to stay and continue on the same path I was already on.

What does healthy urban living mean to you?

Well firstly I do not live in the city, but I think in order to live healthily in the city we need to feel more. By that I mean we should live less in our heads and live more in our feelings, our sensations. If we really pay attention to how we feel we would quickly notice how bad it feels the take a breath after a diesel car passes and how much cooler the city is on a hot day because of the shade of the trees. If we were really in touch with these feelings, I think we would make healthier choices.

For information on the Green Student Bootcamp Challenge and how to join the Utrecht session, please see:

More information on Tiny forests can be found on IVN’s website at

Green Educators: A Chat with Sameena Safiruddin

By Tess Holmgren

Starting Friday 3rd May, the Green Living Lab will already be hosting its fourth Green Student Bootcamp Challenge. This year students in the Netherlands are invited to go on a tour of the Netherlands to learn about healthy urban living and a series of workshops will take place in Amsterdam, Groningen, Utrecht, Delft, and Rotterdam.

Starting from the ground up, this year’s first Bootcamp session is all about ‘Seeds and Soil’ and it will take place at the Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam on Friday 3rd May. Students will learn about the importance of biodiversity in the soil for life on earth and will roll up their sleeves to build their own DIY worm hotel home composting system, learn how to grow healthy plants at home for food and sow seeds. Commonland will also be there to talk about restorative solutions for environmental degradation.

I caught up with GLL workshop leader Sameena Safiruddin who will co-lead a workshop on seeds and how to grow healthy plants at home, in order to ask about her inspiration for healthy urban living.

Please tell us about your work.
I am a permaculture designer, I lead foraging workshops and gardening tours, teach school children how to grow plants and I am a willow weaver. I work with diverse community garden projects and nature education projects. Amongst other things I’ve helped set up community garden projects in the east of Amsterdam, including a public garden and a community arts and cultural space for people in the neighbourhood. For me it’s mostly about the nature connection. It’s not so much growing plants as getting in touch with nature: learning how things grow, learning the importance of insects, and so on. My work is, for me, about bringing nature back into the city and into people’s lives, and bringing back that connection to the natural world.

Without revealing too much about what’s in store, could you tell us what we can expect from your participation in this year’s Green Student Bootcamp Challenge?
Those joining can expect to get their hands dirty. I think this is important because many don’t do this anymore, too many people spend most of their days sitting behind a computer. So this workshop will be a fun chance for people to use their senses and interact with their environment differently.

What do you hope participating students will take away from the experience?
I hope to inspire students to be more conscious and aware of the nature or the lack of nature around them. I want them to feel both connected and aware of nature. I also hope they feel like they have agency- that they can actively participate in their communities and feel like they have the ability to influence change.

How do you see our relationship with nature and with our environment?
I feel humankind has separated themselves from nature quite a bit. Especially considering we were hunter gatherers at first- foraging for food and intimately connected with the cycles of life. Then with the agricultural revolution we were distanced from the land, and then with industrialisation even more so. For instance now we look at our clocks, not at the sun and the stars. We are no longer as involved with the natural world, instead it has been separated and put in a sterilised environment: our food is mostly wrapped in plastic at the supermarket. Of course this is not true for all people and in many ways I think the awareness of the environment is coming back. But generally this is how I feel our relationship with the environment has evolved.

Has your work changed the way you lead your life? If so, how?
I feel my intuition has led me to all the work I am involved with. At first my goal was to work for an ethical organisation and so I really made a conscious decision to let my ethics and morals guide me. I would ask myself in the face of the work I was doing or in looking for a new job whether this is something that is good for me and good for the earth. I let this act as a filter and, honestly, since I started doing this and dedicating myself to what I love people have started finding me as opposed to the other way around. Because of this there hasn’t been a need to proactively look for new projects to do. I have always had a connection and love for nature, when I was little I had one tree I used to play in. I am still trying to figure out if there was a moment that caused this connection – perhaps it was at school when my teacher, Mr Woods, spoke about the Amazon and he told me about the areas of trees being cut that were the size of football fields. This really moved me and I don’t know if it was him who planted the seed but this for me isn’t a definitive moment, I think my love for the natural world is something that has grown inside me slowly over time and which I’ve let guide my life.

What does healthy urban living mean to you?
I think it’s important to think holistically- from caring for the soil to voting and taking political action. For me healthy urban living also means living as consciously in natural cycles as we can. By this I mean to cause as little disturbance as possible to the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the waste cycle and so on. Biking for instance is a good example because you are not producing waste. Also eating healthy, local, organic food and then composting it so it goes back to the earth. Or being conscious about the waste cycle you are producing personally by the things you buy – to be mindful of buying less, only the things you need and quality products or using rainwater to water the garden. This also involves visiting green areas and to keep creating them. I think we have the ability and responsibility to actively create more biodiversity in the city which is so good for the mind body and soul. We can actually do so much more of this in the city already, and I personally try to do as much of this as I can.

Programme: Green Student Bootcamp Challenge 2019 Netherlands Tour

Students from all universities and colleges are welcome to join, from any study course. See how you can participate & book your space below.

*Friday 3 May, Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam, 14.00 – 17.30

‘Where Life Begins: Soil & Seeds’, with the Green Living Lab & Commonland

Lecture:  Commonland tell us how restorative solutions can reverse the degradation of the land and water systems that are the basis of life on earth, and bring back prosperity to both people and planet.

Green Living Lab Workshops: 

Composting – build healthy soil while making profit from waste. We’ll show you how to turn your kitchen waste into rich compost with a worm hotel.

Sowing Seeds – a guide to growing healthy plants at home.

*Friday 10 May, University of Groningen, 14.00 – 17.30

‘Gifts from Nature: Inspiration & Wellbeing’ with Green Office Groningen & Guests

Tour: A meeting with product designer Tjeerd Veenhoven at his studio to hear how he is inspired by the natural world to develop sustainable products including Palmleather, a plant-based replacement for animal leather, plastic and rubber, and AlgaeFabric, a raw textile material made from algae.

Interactive Lecture: “Links between pro-environmental behaviours and wellbeing” by Steph Johnson-ZawadskiEnvironmental Psychology PhD, University of Groningen.

Green Living Lab Workshop:

Seed Balls – cheering up grey urban environments for people and pollinators with seed balls full of native herbs and flowers.

*20 spaces exclusively available for University of Groningen students for €5,00 per student.*

To register as a University of Groningen student, please contact Green Office Groningen: 

All other students, please contact:

 *Friday 17 May, Utrecht University14.00 – 17.30

‘Interconnectivity in Nature: Forests & Mycelium,’ with Green Office Utrecht & Guests

Workshop: Forests, with IVN & the Tiny Forest initiative. Exploring the role of urban forests for a healthy city,  and learning how a Tiny Forest can be realised on campus or in the neighbourhood.

Workshop: Mycelium & Mushrooms, with Fungi Factory. We’ll hear about the magical world of mycelium, how Fungi Factory’s circular enterprise utilises mycelium to turn waste into profit, and we’ll be challenged to grow oyster mushrooms at home with a Fungi Factory grow-kit.

*20 spaces exclusively available for Utrecht University students for €9,50 per student.* 

To register as a Utrecht University student, please contact Green Office Utrecht: before Thursday 16 May.          

All other students, please

*Friday 24 May, Amsterdam West, 14.00 – 17.30 

From Farm to Table: CSAs & Cooking Workshop in Nature, with De Stadsgroenteboer CSA & UvA Green Office
We visit this newly established CSA to hear about the role of CSAs in producing healthy food for urban populations. De Stadsgroenteboer team met while studying gastronomy in Italy and they will share their love of tasty fresh produce with us from farm to table, as students are invited to get their hands in the soil to harvest and then cook together.

Cooking Workshop: Expect to get your hands in the soil and to cook with fresh veggies from the garden.

20 spaces exclusively available for University of Amsterdam students for €15,50 per student.*

To register, please before Friday 17 May.

*Friday 31 May, Rotterdam, 14.00 – 17.30 

‘Creating Cities for Healthier Futures,’ with Hannah Wright & Jorn Wemmenhove, Humankind

City Tour: Exploring how our urban surroundings influence our well-being, with urban planner Hannah Wright and tactical urbanist Jorn Wemmenhove, Humankind.

Includes a visit to the largest and loveliest productive roof-garden in Europe, De DakAkker.

20 spaces exclusively available for Erasmus University Rotterdam students for €5 per student.*

To register, please before Monday 27 May.

 *Friday 7 June, TU Delft14.00 – 17.30

‘Nature-inspired Innovation,’ with Green Office Delft & Guests

Workshop: Biomimicry Nederland invites us to look to nature for sustainable solutions, and tells us how nature’s design genius is inspiring innovation for a healthy world.

Lecture: Dr. Ingrid de Pauw teaches at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering TU Delft, and will tell us about her research into nature-inspired design, as well as its applications.

Interactive Lecture: Dr. Bertus Beaumont, teaches BioLogic at the Department of Bionanoscience TU Delft, and will tell us about the course’s focus on how biological principles can be applied to achieve green technological solutions.

We will meet BioLogic students, and hear from them about their entry for the Biodesign Challenge, a global challenge for university students to envision future applications of biotechnology.

*20 spaces exclusively available for TU Delft students for €5,00 per student.*

To register as a TU Delft student, please contact Green Office TU Delft: before Monday 3 June

All other students, please contact:

*Friday 14 June, Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam, 14.00 – 21.00

Trees & Us: Trees & People in a Healthy City.

A tree expert will tell us about the role of trees and urban forests in creating a healthy city. We’ll also go on a bird safari and explore what edible delights the forest has to gift us.

To attend, please contact: before Monday 10 June. 


Ways to Participate & Costs

All participants required to be students  & advance payment required.

1) Full Programme (8 sessions):

€85 per student, including workshop materials. Apply before 29 April:

2) Individual Sessions:

€17,50 per session. Please book here:

3) University of Groningen, Utrecht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, TU Delft & University of Amsterdam Students:

We have reserved 20 spaces at a discounted rate for local students at sessions taking place at the University of Groningen, Utrecht University, Rotterdam, TU Delft & in Amsterdam.

Please contact us for information on how to book your space with discount:

An Inspirational Green Tour of the Netherlands!

Netherlands Tour 2019

This year’s Green Student Bootcamp Challenge is going nationwide, as participants set off on an inspirational tour of the Netherlands in May and June.

This is the 4th year of our experiential learning programme for higher education students in the Netherlands. We are both delighted and proud that our graduates from previous years are helping to organise this year’s programme and will lead some of our workshops!

On Friday afternoons, 14.00 – 17.30, in May and June, sessions will take place at diverse locations in the Netherlands in partnership with educational organisations, experts, entrepreneurs and innovators all working to create solutions for a healthier and greener world.

Inspiration from Nature

The Bootcamp Challenge brings students from diverse universities in the Netherlands together for one semester to learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices in balance with the natural world. Our immersive green learning experience takes a holistic approach to student health and wellbeing, as students are encouraged to relax in nature, feel connected to the natural world by acquiring both knowledge and experience, and reignite the joy and wonder of the natural world that we all shared when children.

A Rich Learning Experience

Just as in nature, we see that increased diversity in the group of participants leads to a richer learning experience for the group as a whole. We invite students from all study backgrounds to take part, and no prior knowledge of the course content required. Students learn from experts, entrepreneurs and each other as debate and sharing knowledge and experience is actively encouraged throughout.

Applied Learning 

We introduce students to diverse themes with a focus on exploring the links between our health and wellbeing, with that of our environment and our world. Students are given weekly challenges to be completed at home or as a group, and based on knowledge from previous sessions. In this way, students are asked to apply knowledge in a practical sense immediately. Students share their learning experiences in an online forum, so they also can learn directly from each other.

Partners 2019

This year sessions will take place in Groningen, Delft, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Amsterdam, where we will welcome new partners and meet some amazing partners from previous programmes. We’ll learn about the interconnectivity in nature from IVN ,  Tiny Forest and Fungi Factory, hear from De Stadsgroenteboer about the role of CSAs in urban food production and how to cook healthy plant-based meals, learn of innovative solutions inspired by nature from Biomimicry Nederland and TU Delft, about trees and their role in a healthy city from City of Amsterdam ecologists, and visualise the healthy city of the future with tactical urban planning experts Hannah Wright and Humankind.  Other partners include Green Office Groningen, Green Office Utrecht, Green Office Delft, De DakAkker, Studio Tjeerd van Veenhoven, Commonland, and Duurzame Student.

A big thank you to LemonAid and ChariTea for sponsoring the programme!

Monday 29 April

There are have limited spaces available, and a short application is required. Applications are to be received by Monday 29 April. To request an application, please email us:

3 Stagiaires voor 2019 Gezocht!

Het Green Living Lab is op zoek naar 3 gelukkelingen die een GLL stagiaire in 2019 willen worden! In 2019 gaat onze holistische onderwijsprogramma het Green Student Bootcamp Challenge op tour door Nederland om innovatieve duurzame & groene projecten te ontmoeten. Wij zijn ook bezig om een nieuwe locatie te ontwerpen en nieuwe onderwijsprogramma’s te organiseren. Dus een heleboel leuke klussen!

Graag horen we voor 30 november van enthousiaste studenten tussen 20-28 jaar, met een goed beheersing van Nederlands en Engels, die over oplossingen voor een gezonde samenleving willen leren.

Voor meer info:


Green Gold in Zuidas Amsterdam: An Evening with John D. Liu

It was an honour for us to welcome John D. Liu to The Green Living Lab to learn from his experience of witnessing the value of living systems for both people and planet. John is an ambassador of the Commonland Foundation and a Fellow of The Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NIOO-KNAW. He advises governments and multilateral agencies worldwide, including the United Nations, how to restore vitality to degraded landscapes in order to bring prosperity back to the earth, to local people and the local economy.

John Liu @ the GLL

The Commonland Foundation’s restoration projects work on the principles of 4Returns : the return of inspiration by giving local people a sense of purpose, the return of social capital by creating jobs, providing education and social security, the return of natural capital by restoring biodiversity, soil and water quality, and the return of financial capital where sustainable long-term profit is realised.

We heard from John that biodiversitybiomass and accumulated organic matter are the evolutionary factors that regulate the earth’s climate, along with soil fertility and a freshwater system (hydrological cycle). This is the case in both rural and urban contexts.

Vegetative cover, accumulated organic matter and biodiversity in the city work in symbiosis to create vital ecosystems that are directly beneficial for the health and well-being of the people based there.

It was inspiring for us to hear that John sees that the nature at The Green Living Lab holds great value for the city and people of Amsterdam. This value will only increase over time as the city is forced to adapt to hotter conditions caused by climate change.

The trees and nature at The Green Living Lab work to cool the local temperature, infiltrate water to make the local area resilient against flooding and work to clean the air from the considerable air pollution in Zuidas Amsterdam. The microbial and fungal communities that have developed at The Green Living Lab location over time, give the people who visit this space the experience of nature in its purest possible form in the city.

We heard from John that when the preservation and restoration of nature is given a central place, a healthy society and economy flows from this. Without a healthy living environment, there can be no vital economy in the long-term.

Integrating with nature to design landscapes where the needs of people have a central role is the way to a prosperous and sustainable future.

It is inspiring to see nature in the city is given a central place in international cities including London ( London National Park City ). Hopefully the city of Amsterdam ( Gemeente Amsterdam ) and the Zuidas financial district will not be far behind in integrating nature into current and future development plans in order to make a liveable city.

John is leading the growing citizen-driven movement, Ecosystem Restoration Camps, which brings people together to restore degraded landscapes worldwide. By volunteering and becoming a member, you can help to realise the greener and healthier world that is our best chance of mitigating the effects of climate change.

If you would like to contribute to the movement to restore the earth and co-create abundance for local people, please contact:


Wormenhotel Workshop bij het Green Love festival, zaterdag 23 juni, 15.00 – 15.45 uur! ?

Wormhotel Workshop GSBC 2018
Please see English below.
Composteren in de stad is gelukkig niet moeilijk! Rowin zal je leren hoe je makkelijk je eigen #wormenhotel kunt bouwen en je alles vertellen over hoe simpel je zelf gft-afval kan verwerken tot rijke #vermicompost. Kom onze kronkelende compostwormen vergezellen en verras je huisgenoten door deze fascinerende wezens een uniek plekje thuis te geven! 


Reservatie vereist: Plaatsen moeten op voorhand geboekt worden via email:
Taal: Nederlands & Engels
Workshops en activiteiten bij het Green Love festival zijn gratis met een WeMakethe.City festivalpas, anders op donatie basis. Koop je festival pas hier:
Voor het volledige programma zie:
**Reserveer je plaats voor activiteiten na 18.00 uur per mail:
Worm Hotel Workshop at The Green Love festival, Saturday 23 June, 15.00 – 15.45.
Luckily composting in the city is not difficult! Rowin will tell you how easy it is to build your own worm hotel and will tell you how you can process your organic waste into rich worm #compost. Come meet our wriggly compost worms and surprise your housemates by giving these fascinating creatures a place in your home!


Reservation required: Places to be booked in advance by email:
Language: Dutch and English
Workshops and activities at the Green Love festival are free with a WeMakethe.City festival pass, otherwise on a donation basis. Buy your festival pass here:
For info on the full programme, see:
**Reserve your place for activities after 18.00 by email:

Biomimicry @ The Green Living Lab: Learning Sustainability from Nature

A Sustainable World Already Exists & Holds the Secrets to Our Survival

Throughout the Green Student Bootcamp Challenge 2018, students have been encouraged to observe and interact with nature. From sowing seeds & brightening grey urban environments with seed balls for people and pollinators, learning how to grow vegetables and oyster mushrooms at home, composting their organic waste, foraging and cooking with wild plants, looking with Green Office VU at the issues caused locally and worldwide when humans do not work in harmony with nature at the Whole Earth? photography exhibition, (also on the campus of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ), and hearing how natural processes can be integrated into cities to create a healthier environment for all, our class of 2018 has been on quite a journey!

No better way to spend the penultimate session of this year’s programme than learning about Biomimicry. Biomimicry is a strategic design approach to innovation, where nature’s 3.8 billion years of research and development is a source of sustainable solutions. If we view nature as a teacher, we see that everything that nature does is already circular and sustainable. Animals, plants, and microbes are skilful engineers. By emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies we can create products, processes, and policies that are well-adapted to life on earth in the long-term. In this way we can solve massive sustainability problems we have created for ourselves and future generations.

Jamaica Den Heijer, is a consultant with Biomimicry Nederland and Innovation Manager with Heijmans, a large Dutch construction company, that is looking to nature to develop sustainable innovations for construction. Thankfully more and more progressive businesses & organisations in The Netherlands are looking to natural ecosystems to learn from them how to innovate in order to operate sustainably.

Jamaica inspired students to go out into The Green Living Lab ‘s organic garden to observe nature’s patterns and design strategies, and students began to see the garden, which they had already spent a lot of time in, from a completely different perspective. With a new curiosity, respect and understanding of the design genius in the natural world around them, this group of students from the Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamUniversity of Amsterdam / Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam University CollegeHvA – Hogeschool van AmsterdamUtrecht University & TU Delft are ready to graduate!

For more information on Biomimicry & for info trainings & courses in The Netherlands, see:

Recept voor Zwart Goud, door Laura Vegter

Let's Go Outside

Doe je schoenen maar uit, want we gaan naar buiten! Met deze verrassende uitnodiging begint Rowin Snijder (alias Le Compostier) de tweede workshop van The Green Student Bootcamp Challenge 2018. Vandaag is alles omgedraaid. Het thema is namelijk: de bodem onder onze voeten.

Deze omgekeerde blik is niet vanzelfsprekend. We doen meer onderzoek naar de sterren, dan naar de bodem, aldus Rowin. Terwijl we met onze blote voeten op de betegelde inrit staan, legt hij uit dat de aarde oorspronkelijk ook zo aanvoelde: als een bodem van keihard gesteente. Tegenwoordig heeft de aarde als enige planeet een vruchtbare huid vol leven. Onze bodem is bijzonder en kostbaar!

Bodem : mens
Dankzij kleine organismen die ooit begonnen te snoepen van de rotsbodem, kon een steeds vruchtbaarder aardkorst ontstaan, met organismen die zich verder ontwikkelden. Les 1 van Rowin: hoe complexer de organismen in de bodem, hoe complexer de organismen op de bodem. Daarom is het zo belangrijk om de aarde te voeden. De gezondheid van grond, plant en mens houdt rechtstreeks met elkaar verband. Op dit moment gebruiken we de aarde vooral om er snel zoveel mogelijk uit te halen, zonder iets terug te geven.

Zo belanden we bij het belang van compost. En stelt Rowin ons voor aan de hoofdrolspeler in deze workshop: de worm. Er zijn verschillende vormen van compostering, maar de worm blijkt de maker van de meest exquise compost, ook wel ‘zwart goud’ genoemd. Wormen associëren we vooral met de dood, vandaar dat we er niet zo graag bij stil staan. Vandaag ontdoen wij dit onderaardse beestje van zijn onpopulaire imago. Er zijn weinig andere wezens die continu werken aan het verbeteren van onze omgeving. Rowin: als je wat tijd met ze doorbrengt, blijken ze heel slim!

Le Compostier Lecture

Zelf heeft hij de wormen leren kennen en waarderen door zijn ‘community composting’ projecten. Sinds 2,5 jaar ontwikkelt hij als Le Compostier houten wormenhotels bij het Green Living Lab voor restaurants en stadsbuurten. Zo zorgen buurtbewoners en wormen samen zorgen voor compost ter vergroening en ‘urban farming’. Vandaag bouwen wij onze eigen wormenhotels met behulp van gerecyclede mayonaise emmers. Eerst stelt Rowin ons met de nodige instructies gerust: wormen blijken makkelijke gasten. Ze willen vooral met rust gelaten worden en één keer in de week voeren met groenteafval is meer dan genoeg.

Le Compostier

Blik op de basis
Het Green Living Lab biedt met deze workshops over zaden en bodem een kijkje achter de schermen van onze voedselvoorziening. De kennis die de moderne stadsmens nodig heeft om voedsel te vergaren, beperkt zich tot de openingstijden van Albert Heijn! De weg van zaadje naar glorieuze groente in het schap voltrekt zich volledig buiten ons zicht.

Vandaag huiver ik bij de video waarin een Indiase boer de blauwe korrels laat zien die hij over het land strooit. Ik glimlach bij de boer die ons trots een handvol gezonde aarde toont, het resultaat van traditionele Indiase technieken. Ik leer dat we in de haastige moderne landbouw met ploegen het bodemleven verstoren. Wormen en schimmelketens worden in mootjes gehakt, aardlagen raken door de war. Dat maakt het ecosysteem vatbaarder voor plagen, wat we oplossen met pesticiden en mest. Gevolg: verlies van biodiversiteit, erosie en zelfs klimaatverandering.

Hand vol leven
En dan is het tijd voor het ontvangen van mijn nieuwe gasten. Rowin staat klaar met een flinke schep aarde vol wormen. Uitnodigend houd ik de gouden Calvé emmer omhoog, zorgzaam bekleed met laagjes karton, aarde, compost, zaagsel, groenteafval en bladeren. Hij vraagt mij het hotel neer te zetten, ter kennismaking moet ik mijn nieuwe huisgenoten zelf vasthouden. Daar sta ik met twee handen vol leven en een stralend gezicht, alsof ik de schepping zelf vasthoud.


Met een gloednieuw wormenhotel schommelend aan mijn stuur fiets ik de stad door, hopend dat mijn nieuwe vriendjes niet misselijk worden.

Laura Vegter April 2018

#greenhealthystudents #wormenhotel #wormhotel #compost #urbancompost #foodwaste 

#soilfertility #healthyurbanliving #vuamsterdam #zuidas


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