Project

Tiny Restaurant, Big Potential: Building Lasting Relations between Farmers and Citizens

Stichting MIEP is looking to evaluate if their initiative, the Tiny Restaurant is successful in creating lasting connections between citizens and local producers. The Tiny Restaurant is a pop-up restaurant deployed at various places (such as schools, sports clubs, village squares) which prepares food using sustainable, artisanal, seasonal, regional and Fairtrade products. The goal of the Tiny Restaurant is to establish relations between local food producers and citizens through meetings, tastings and (in)formal knowledge exchange.

A pilot project of the Tiny Restaurant run in 2019-2020 in four towns in the Laarbeek municipality. During this time, an educational program was developed, and the Tiny Restaurant also served as a safe meeting space during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This project aims to contribute to understanding the effect of the Tiny Restaurant on the people that visit and evaluate its contribution to building lasting relations between farmers and citizens. It will help Stichting MIEP identify its priorities for the upcoming period, and formulate a clear strategy to communicate its message to potential partners, policy makers and funders.

Questions we aim to answer are:

Student assignments

One village, two worlds: How do rural dwellers perceive local farmers?  

This thesis/research internship assignment is part of a broader Science Shop project which, together with local stakeholders, explores possibilities of connecting producers to local inhabitants in the municipality of Laarbeek of the Dutch province Nord Brabant.  

Preliminary insights suggest a disconnect between the inhabitants of this rural area and the local farmers. We are thus looking to conduct a survey to explore local opinions. Furthermore, it would be interesting to see how media representations and national-wide debates on issues such as the nitrogen crisis or the protein transition shape local understandings and relations between citizens and farmers.

The research speaks to broader debates on rural development and the role of agriculture in society. The results should indicate possible avenues for bridging the gap between producers and citizen-consumers.  

The precise delineation of the research and the methods used are open to student’s creative suggestions. Considering the research population, a working knowledge of the Dutch language is an asset. Starting dates are flexible, with results delivered by the end of May the latest. 

How to bring local food closer to consumers? Formulating the vision of the Tiny Restaurant

This internship opportunity is part of a Science Shop project in which Wageningen University works together with MIEP foundation, an NGO based in the Dutch province of Nord Brabant. The goal of MIEP foundation is to bring together rural inhabitants and local farmers. In 2019, MIEP launched the project of Tiny Restaurant: a pop-up restaurant deployed at various places (such as schools, sports clubs, village squares) which prepares food using sustainable, artisanal, seasonal, regional and Fairtrade products and which can be used as a space for meetings, educational or other events.   

MIEP foundation approached the WU with a request to evaluate the functioning of the Tiny Restaurant, and its successfulness in creating lasting relations between producers and consumers. A first assessment, carried out within a framework of an ACT project in autumn 2021, indicated that the potential of the Tiny Restaurant is not yet fully used. One of the weaknesses was the lack of clarity in the restaurants’ vision and core message.   

We are looking for an intern with high communication and facilitation skills that will assist the MIEP foundation in formulating their vision and goals as well as setting criteria to assess their progress. We welcome and encourage creative methods and outputs, e.g. a popularization flyer, a public event to promote the Tiny Restaurant, etc.   

Starting dates are flexible, with results delivered by the end of May the latest.

Start Teaching them Young: Connecting Children to the Local Food Chain

This thesis/internship assignment will investigate the opportunities of educational programs for school pupils on the topic of local food and farming. It will draw from a literature review and work on a local case of the Tiny Restaurant, located in the municipality of Laarbeek in the Dutch province of North Brabant.  

The Tiny Restaurant is a grassroots, non-profit initiative aiming to bring producers and consumers together. It takes a form of a pop-up (mobile) restaurant that provides a meeting place for (in)formal exchange of knowledge. One of the projects of the Tiny Restaurant is educating children about the food chain through an experiential culinary program. The Tiny Restaurant wants to ensure its educational approach fits the schools’ learning goals and contributes to the ultimate purpose of creating a long-term connection between farmers and consumers. The goal of this assignment is to evaluate the current approach and advise on how the educational program can be improved. The following questions form a starting point:  

  • How can educational programs enhance awareness about local food production?
  • How does the theme of local food chains fit schools’ curricula and learning goals?
  • What is the optimal balance of head (conveying information), heart (shaping attitudes) and hands (learning by doing) in these educational programs?

Depending on the student’s preference, the assignment can be more academic (e.g. using a literature review to learn about education for sustainability) or more applied (e.g. working on the Tiny Restaurant educational program). The vacancy is part of a broader Science Shop project which, together with local stakeholders, explores possibilities of connecting producers to local inhabitants in Laarbeek. Starting dates are flexible, with results delivered by the end of May the latest.