New food projects for an even better South Limburg

Educational food grovesIVN Nature Education, CNME and Stichting De Rollen will create 30 Educational Food Groves in primary schools and childcare centers in South Limburg. They do this together with children, Young Learning Food, parents, teachers and volunteers. “Each Food Grove is 30 m² in size and has 30 species of plants, shrubs and trees, some or all of which are edible,” explains IVN program manager Marieke Wingens. “On the basis of teaching material, the children themselves will plant, look after, harvest, prepare and eat the food. They get to know the plants and look after the bush.”

“Many children do not know where their food comes from. Meanwhile, obesity is becoming a growing problem. With the Food Forests, we contribute to solutions for this. By bringing food production to where children are, they experience for themselves how food grows and flourishes. In addition, Food Groves only supplies plant-based food. In this way, young people learn about a healthy and sustainable way of eating, and we contribute to a healthier, sustainable future for South Limburg.”

A Food Grove also provides a green play and learning environment for children, better soil quality and water retention, more biodiversity and less heat stress. The bushes are a lovely place for birds, butterflies, bees and mammals such as hedgehogs and squirrels.

“We now have six pilot food groves in Limburg. We want to scale up to 30 food forests in southern Limburg in 2022-2024: at least one for each municipality and a larger number where there is great enthusiasm.” The food forests will be located in the LEADER area: the whole of southern Limburg with the exception of the urban centers of the western mining region, Parkstad and Maastricht.

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© LEADER Project Watersley Food Supply

Watersley Food SupplyAnother new LEADER project on nutrition is Watersley Food Supply. The campus in Sittard will grow and prepare healthy and sustainable food for its (top) athletes and for people from the surrounding area. “We will grow almost everything ourselves on 7 hectares: from grain to fruit and from herbs to vegetables,” says project manager Jeroen Niessen. “We have started to renovate the front garden of the monastery. It is the first thing you see when you enter the site, and together with the monastery it should be an impressive sight.”

“Kurthaven’s structure is already in place. More than 70 types of vegetables, fruit and herbs as well as fruit and nut trees will be planted here. In October we put the first plants in the ground and sow them. Planting and maintenance of the garden is mostly carried out by young people with a distance from the general labor market, within their learning and development process. Volunteers have also signed up: people from the neighborhood who are excited about our project and want to help. Groups of volunteers therefore work structurally in the garden from October.”

In the monastery is Proeflokaal Watersleyde, where chef Jacco Walraven and his team cook for the athletes and visitors. “In 2023, we will make complete meals with products from our own garden,” says Jeroen. “That way, we will soon grow and prepare food in the same place as 100 years ago, when the Franciscan fathers did the same here. In 2023, we will start working on other sub-projects. Our food supply is a multi-year project. We tackle each garden step by step.”

LEADER South LimburgAmong other things, thanks to LEADER grants, 21 projects have been created in recent years that strengthen the South Limburg landscape. Last year we asked you to submit new project ideas. The above two new projects have now been positively assessed by Lokal Aktionsgruppe (LAG): representatives of residents and groups implementing the subsidy programme. The grant applications still need to be approved by the Netherlands Business Agency (RVO). Meanwhile, other new projects are also underway.

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The purpose of LEADER is to develop and strengthen the viability and economy in rural areas. LEADER projects arise from ideas from citizens, organisations, associations and entrepreneurs. To realize their plans, the initiators get help from Local Action Group (LAG). The LAG consists of representatives of residents and groups that implement the subsidy programme. Our region will be even better with this way of working, where people get to work with what they find important in their area. LEADER South Limburg is happy to contribute to this.

The European Union, the province of Limburg and the 16 municipalities in South Limburg provide money for LEADER South Limburg. The application deadline for the current program period closes on 31 December 2022. Behind the scenes, hard work is already being done on the new programming period 2023-2027. Possibly 2 or 3 Limburg areas can then start working as a LEADER region.

LEADER South Limburg is partly made possible by:

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