On September 25, students and young farmers from Austria took off to the Netherlands, where they were able to dive deeper into the field of bioeconomy and circular economy and to engage in workshops, seminars and hands-on experiences. The young people visited scientific institutions, companies and organizations, starting with a flourishing discussion about how to integrate bioeconomy in the daily life, during a workshop in the train.
After a long journey, the group went to the University of Wageningen to shed light on the topic of bio-plastics and bioeconomy in general. Raymond Schrijver – expert within the field of bioeconomy – gave a brief input about current research topics. Remco Kranendonk – researcher about regional development and BLOOM coordinator in the Netherlands – introduced the activities of the Dutch hub and BLOOM. During a tour through the Biolabs and a presentation of sample products, a vivid discussion about potentials and difficulties of the bioeconomy occurred. Especially, the notion of a technical versus a more holistic approach to bioeconomy was debated by the participants.
Furthermore, the participants visited the World Horti Center, an innovative glasshouse center, which unites education, research, politics, trade and industry in the field of glasshouse production. The center is the first of its kind, which also combines knowledge and innovation. Jan Enthoven – expert in horticulture – gave an introduction about the center, which was followed by a tour through stands of various companies involved in the project. The students were very interested and asked many questions such as “how does circular economy function within a large glasshouse?” or “How does the process of waste products recycling of plant production function?”
Afterwards, the group visited the Floating Farm, the first offshore dairy farm in the world. The activities follow a circular approach. For the participants, it was of special interest that it supplies itself with electricity by means of floating solar systems, as well as that rainwater is collected by a special roof construction and introduced into the cycle. The goal of the farm is to shorten supply chains to the city and raise awareness of agricultural production among the urban population.
The final part of the program was an excursion to Rotterzwam. This company produces edible mushrooms from coffee grounds and re-thinks waste and recycling management. Mark Slegers – founder and owner – stressed the fact that the company also offers workshops, packages for mushroom cultivation, as well as various other products from oyster mushrooms. As a final activity of the study trip, the students experienced bioeconomy within a hands-on activity, where they built their own mushroom farm to take home.