ENOAS - European Network of Organic Agriculture Students - past, present and future.
What is ENOAS
ENOAS stands for European Network of Organic Agriculture Students. It is a network created by students for students. Its aim is a twofold one. Firstly, it wants to enable students from different European countries studying organic agriculture or having an interest in it, to get in contact. Secondly, it wants to promote organic agriculture. These two aims can be considered as intermingled in the best case scenario as one might assume that some of the ENOAS members might find their working places in the organic scene after their studies. Thus a good understanding of the agriculture situation in other European countries and the contacts established might be a good help to make organic grow.
History of ENOAS
ENOAS is the successor of the Nordic Student meetings. These meetings had been held in the Scandinavian, later on also the Baltic countries, for already 12 years once in a year. The idea was to meet in one of the Nordic/Baltic countries for about one week and to explore the respective country’s organic agricultural situation. Also these meetings were organised by students. To widen their cycle, the Nordic/Baltic students decided to send out an invitation for their next meeting to all European agricultural universities. Thus in summer 2002 25 students from 11 countries came for the summer meeting in Finland that was organised by the Eco University’s Eco Studies project at the University of Helsinki, Mikkeli Institute for Rural Research and Training and the student organization Elävä Maa. The overall theme of the week was the connection between organic farming and rural development but there was also one group of students busy to think about in what form future student meetings could be enabled. Finally in a plenary session it became obvious that enthusiasm for future meetings and contacts was so big that a board was formed that felt responsible for helping a future host country in organising another meeting. The country chosen for the next meeting was Germany as this is a central country in Europe and thus relatively easily reachable from all parts of Europe and because of Germany’s role and importance in the development of organic agriculture.
A big debate went on about the name of our future network. ENOAS was agreed upon as this combines all the aspects that we considered as being important: A network spanning Europe, from and for students of organic agriculture.
Besides the big annual summer meeting – that we chose to name ESM, European Summer Meeting, we aimed at a variety of other ways and means to stay in contact. The easiest way was of course direct contact, but where this was impossible due to distance, internet could help via an internet platform. A newsletter compiled of contributions from all over Europe should be sent out by mail once a month. On an ENOAS website information could be provided for everybody’s use. Possible could be everything dealing with organic farming, for example information about studying abroad, possibilities for internships or practical farm work, interesting theses, jobs or literature.
ENOAS meetings so far
In summer 2003 ENOAS summer meeting took place in Germany. It was organised by a group of three students of the specialisation of organic agriculture of the University of Kassel-Witzenhausen. The theme was ‘Agricultural Transformation’.
In summer 2004 ENOAS took place in Italy with and around the University of Ancona with the topic of ‘Food quality in Italian Organic Production’.
In summer 2005 the meeting took place in Poland. Host University was the Warsaw Agricultural University and the theme was ‘Organic farming in Poland as example of organic farming in CEE countries – from farm to plate’.
That’s how far we have come. The continuation of ENOAS shows its importance. It is due to the voluntary efforts, ideas and energies that students throughout the years have invested that ENOAS has grown. The strong interest of four participating countries in organising next year’s meeting shows that the efforts it takes cannot stop us from becoming active. That is because ENOAS is fun and we want to make organic the future!
ENOAS steering group
Currently there is a steering group of six (former) students who work on the general topics related to ENOAS. Questions covered are the registration of ENOAS as an organisation, sponsorship, the compilation of a helping booklet when preparing an ESM, the website and others.
Since 2003 the steering group members are Andrzej Szeremata (Poland), Krysztof Lawecki (Poland), Luc Steinbuch (Netherlands), Steve Lowman (UK), Mervyn Tucker (UK) and Lena Wietheger (Germany).
Get connected: website and newsletter
The optimal publication rate of the ENOAS newsletter would be every second months. Still, it depends on the amount of contributions of all ENOAS members to fill the newsletter. Everything that is worthwhile sharing can be included!
The same goes for the ENOAS website (www.enoas.org). Even though the structure and design has been created, there is always space for updated information!
Luc Steinbuch (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the contact person for both newsletter and website.
Anectode: Symbol of ENOAS
In case you have been wondering about the symbol of ENOAS- the donkey kicking his leg: When we were discussing all 5000 terms that were tremendously important to be included in our future network’s name and we had finally come up with ENOAS, there was one opposition of the only native English speaker among us: Pronounced in an English way, ENOAS would sound like ‘in your ass’. Well, we do not want to express aggression but the name ENOAS remains. The donkey has been designed later on by a Finish ENOAS member and as you can convince yourself, it is not going to seriously harm anybody, it’s just affirming with his kick that he is fed up with conventional farming and on his way into the organic future.