“For Tomorrow’s Harvest” — Dutch Agriculture Lab

by Rachel Hentsch and Simoon Fransen

Rethinking and transforming agriculture is an essential leverage point for addressing climate change and well-being for societies around the world. In the Netherlands, a partnership between the Presencing Institute, the Dutch government and Commonland aims to address this challenge.

Ninety-five people from the food and farming sector recently convened in the town of Heeze in the Netherlands, for a 3-day ecosystem development program to reinvent the future of food and farming.

The intention of the Dutch Agriculture Lab known as “For Tomorrow’s Harvest” is a co-creation in partnership with the Dutch government and Commonland, convening stakeholders across the whole system — farmers, government, business, finance, education — to learn and work together for a period of at least 18 months.

After a year of preparation and capacity building involving all the different key players, the whole system was brought together in a room for three full days at Kapellerput, in the town of Heeze. This gave everyone the chance to get to know and understand each other, gaining an appreciation and field for the whole field of agriculture, and developing a collective language to continue to work with. In short: to become a team and start working on prototypes.

The program blended theory and practice, with an emphasis on the latter, including: journaling, dialogue walks, 3D sculpting, Social Presencing Theater (village 4D modeling), Qi Gong, dru-yoga, solo-time, basecamp practice, and case clinics. The three days were designed as a U-process, with day one focusing on co-initiating and co-sensing, day two on more co-sensing with an introduction to presencing, day three moving into co-presencing and the first steps of co-creation.

The next steps of this 18-month journey for the lab participants will include signing up for, and going through, the online u.lab 1x course, followed by more in-person workshops in January and March 2019, interspersed with learning journeys, shadowing, and case clinic practices. Following 6 months of capacity building — designed to prepare themselves, the stakeholders and the social field for the prototypes that they will start building in the next phase — the various players will go through their own U-journey under the guidance of their facilitators. Finally, they will spend the last 3 months reflecting, harvesting learnings, and co-evolving solutions.

The days at “Tomorrow’s Harvest” were filled with energy, love for the work and a very present sense of urgency. The sense of time blurred, it felt “both like an hour and two months” says Simoon Fransen, one of the Lab facilitators who worked in a team together with Wibo Koole, and Dieter Van Den Broeck (our partner from Commonland). Participants showed up with an unusual level of readiness and commitment, and came out of the program in temporary groups to digest, sense the system and continue the learning in small teams.

In the words of Otto Scharmer: “The Netherlands is one of the places where the future is beginning to take shape. It’s a movement… not yet (fully) aware of itself.”

Watch the video for a taste of the atmosphere:

Originally published at www.presencing.org.

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