News from YIP: March 2024

Photo by Yander Fabri

Dear friends of YIP,

We hope this newsletter finds you well,

While the Yippies were away on their internships, we had a little more winter here in Sweden. Throughout the month, the ice on the fjord started melting little by little whilst nature hesitated whether it was the right moment to shift to Spring: relatively warm days were alternated with freezing, cold nights.

At the end of the month, birds are returning and everywhere there are little yellow, white and purple flowers popping up. It seems that nature has finally decided to make the total shift to Spring, although while writing this, a snowstorm is blowing outside my window. Maybe nature wants to let YIP16 enjoy Winter a little more after coming back from their internships.

During this month, the Yippies left in 6 smaller groups to 6 different initiatives/ organizations around the world, where they lived and worked for 5 to 6 weeks.

written by Yander Fabri

In this newsletter you will find: 

– Internship: Navdanya (India) written by Ada Brunfaut

– Intership: Kufunda (Zimbabwe) written by Lewis Macmaster

– Intership: Movement Vilnius (Lithuania) written by Jade Temple

– Messages from YIP: YIP17 planning and application update written by Annie Meijer

– YIP-Alumni Survey from the Organzing Team

– YIP-Alumni Project: Healing the Land with Cows: My Path into Regenerative Farming written by Hannah Steenbergen (YIP3) 

Internship: Navdanya, India

Photo’s from Ada Brunfaut

A little message from the author: We each experienced this trip in a uniqe way. I share my story with you that I wrote in French, my mother tongue; what you will read is a bad translation in English:

In a week, the festival of colors, Holi, and the full moon will mark the end of a very special cycle.

28 days ago;

The plane descends towards Delhi, and the smell of the air suddenly changes—an indescribable smell, a smell of no return. I look out the window, and a thousand lights illuminate the night like reflections of terrestrial constellations.

The plane landed around 5:30 a.m. local time; the visa, the suitcases—everything is in order. With a ball of excitement in our stomachs, we go out, the taxi zigzagging in incomprehensible traffic illuminated by the golden rays of the rising sun. We smile at each other; it’s a unique moment.

8 hours by bus to Dehradun;

Gazing from my bunk at the beauty of the unknown, a desire for this film to never end emerges within me. A film of a thousand colors. The suspension of time is real here. Faced with reality, time doesn’t matter, we do. I contemplate without imposing myself. My body is surprisingly peaceful. With my eyes half closed, I let myself be lulled by the swaying bus and the horns coming from everywhere. I dozed off in front of this sequence of total chaos. I surprised myself by feeling at peace with this disorder.

Navdanya welcomes us to its dark and cold night. In the early morning, we discover a little paradise where the silence of nature reigns, the birds, the sun, the calm, everything seems surreal.

The first days are a little blurry, and the unexpected cold reinforces the feeling of discomfort. We try to adapt as best we can… The right way to shower with the bucket, the slow pace of the farm… Which comes with wonderful discoveries, simple and delicious food, a landscape of rare beauty, and sounds of birds never heard before. Only prayers and distant horns remind us that reality and chaos are just behind the walls.

I discovered a universe where time is suspended, everything is slow, escape is difficult, coexistence with boredom is necessary, and it is difficult for me to feel time.

Little by little, I focus and write small details in my notebook, details that I will surely miss: the undercooked beans and chickpeas for breakfast (strange at first and then so familiar as the days pass), the daily prayers sung so beautifully through the loudspeakers, the healthy food with a thousand flavors (some unknown), the wonderful colors so soft and warm of the ocher-colored buildings contrasting with the flamboyant green of nature bathed in the different shades of the sun throughout the day.

We learn to live our role as Bijaks (= saviors of seeds, students of “Earth University”); a routine sets in; 8 a.m., breakfast, 9 a.m. morning circle and sharamdaan (service hour) 10 a.m. work in the fields and each day is unique…

The importance of seeds is becoming more obvious. It is a precious stone that we must protect. “Seed is life,” repeats Vandana Shiva. I find myself being a little seed experiencing a rebirth, a process that is difficult to explain, but like many things here, everything in its time.

Navdanya is an immersion in themes such as ecofeminism, the preservation of biodiversity, the connection of body and mind, the importance of healthy food, the fight against GMOs…

For me, it is above all a personal path, where the search to feel good in a world where absolutely nothing is familiar, dominates my days. How to make your body become your own home, refocus on yourself and become your comfort zone in this environment where living conditions are based on the principles of Gandhi (live simply and be content with just what is necessary).

Living between the extremes of the calm of Navdanya and the chaos of India changed me forever; my few escapades were the cause of mental collapse, of violent revelations in the face of images, smells, and sensations so raw that only the traveler here knows and where you can’t wait to return and take refuge in this haven of peace, which seems paradoxically surreal.

The daily struggle of my mind wanting to return and my body wanting to adapt was tiring me immensely. However, I became aware of the richness of this learning and the beauty of this place.

The kindness of the team and the other Bijaks-volunteers softened the atmosphere, which was sometimes heavy due to this strange freedom that I was not used to.

Over time, uncertainty has become normal.

The departure is soon, and it is with relief and a pang in my heart that I will say goodbye to the magic of Navdanya (to whom I leave a small place in my heart with a small desire to return to complete the work started).

Written by Ada Brunfaut

Photo’s by Ada Brunfaut

Internship: Kufunda, Zimbabwe

Photo’s from Lewis Macmaster

Today is our second-last day in Kufunda. What a journey it has been!

We have spent hours with the children of the village, in music, art, English and sports classes, clapping with them in the morning circle and singing songs together.

Their zest for life has lit something in me. I don’t know where it will take me, but I feel like it’s shown me where to find meaning in life.

We ate our second last dinner at the Koke family’s house, sharing cards and food, and telling stories of our Sweden, where we will soon return 🥲.

We will miss the village people, the way of life here, and the easy way people make friends. Many of my key takeaways come from the people here; their openness teaches me how easy it can be to build relationships and live in a beautiful community. Their passion teaches me the value of speaking your mind with vigor – not taking yourself so seriously that you need to speak quietly or with restraint. When they raise their voices at each other, there is a twinkle behind their eyes, and you know they’re enjoying the debate. The welcoming attitude when it comes to food and resources is astounding; if someone is short of an ingredient for dinner, they can head to the next house, and their neighbor will help them out. It really is the meaning of community, and I’m so happy to have experienced it.

Another big learning is the harsh reality of resources. Every US$1 is counted, for it comprises 5000-6000 Zimbabwean dollars, depending on the day. This brings into clear focus what we spend our money on and where it can be most effective. The obvious disruption of culture through colonization is heartbreaking for me to see, yet simultaneously one day rolls into the next; families keep taking care of each other, resources get shared, and despite poverty there is an aliveness and sense of connection here that I think many with more material opulence would pay to experience.

The constant warm weather, beauty of the bush, and local sense of time lend a sense of groundedness to everything. The people seem to flow through the day, moving from one task to the next without too much stress about the clock. As we sync to their rhythms, we find ourselves more at ease with going with the flow and being able to enjoy the moment or task while it occurs, with them.

Written by Lewis Macmaster

Photo’s from Lewis Macmaster

Internship: Movement Vilnius, Lithuania

Photo’s by Roseanna Holbrook and Jade Temple

Here in Vilnius, our days are pretty relaxed. We have movement practice either once or twice a day, and the rest of the time is free. For the most part, I have really enjoyed the practices.  In the beginning, sometimes I found myself quite outside my comfort zone, but it was really good to push through. I would get a bit annoyed with myself if I couldn’t get something right, but that really changed in the end. I mean, there’s not really a right or wrong. But also the point is not to get it right, the point is to gain this ability to ‘move’ and to learn and grow in our bodies and minds. This letting go of caring was really freeing. Although the big mirror made it a little harder. But that was also something to get over.

I think from the outside, some of the things we do might seem quite odd, but they really feel so good and “right”. Like, my body wants to do this. One exercise we do often is move across the studio on the ground, kind of just doing it however we want to. Or we crawl on our hands and feet, or we go from standing to lying down while moving across the room. There’s something about moving on the floor that’s really nice.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get fully out of my head and just let my body take control. But I feel like this is getting easier, and I’m reconnecting to my body more. It’s really quite fun to do all these ridiculous things. But it doesn’t actually feel ridiculous. The movement is also based on the fact that we are our bodies. Our bodies aren’t this separate thing from us. 

Aside from movement, I spent a lot of my free time exploring the city, checking out cafés, going to museums and reading. Every day, someone would cook a meal for everybody, which was quite nice. The apartment was very small for five people, and there were no doors either—pretty much just one room. It was a bit of a challenge, but it forced us to communicate well. And it was nice too. 

Written by Jade Temple

Message from YIP: Planning YIP17 and applications update

Photo by Reinoud Meijer
As the current YIP 16 participants have been off campus and busy with their internships, we on the team have been in the office and the hive (on rare occasions, in the sun outside) imagining, planning and preparing YIP 17. We began by compiling all the feedback from this years participants and contributors and looking at how this compares to previous years and how we want to work with it into the coming years’ design.
 We have been arranging and setting up meetings with our local and inspirational partners (the gardeners here on campus, the Vidarstiftelsen, Arvid and ABF, the Youth section in Dornach etc.) to hear how they experience YIP, if they have any wishes and what dates we want to be awake to in the design of next year (Campus garden work days, conferences, Järna festivals etc.)
 We have looked at what has happened throughout the year in the world (that we are aware of) and considered what is being asked, what do we need to include, how can we support young people to meet the world consciously, how is resilience, initiative, interest and enthusiasm nurtured etc.
 We began to gather themes and names of contributors who inspire and who dedicate their lives in their attempt at “doing the good”.  There are of course far too many names and themes, enough to have a program that vastly exceeds 10 months!
 After honing and research, we then embarked upon the puzzle and have begun reaching out to contributors to see who is available and at what time. It is really a gift to be able to be in contact with such an array of dedicated and inspired individuals. This week, we presented the tentative year to the board for their reflections and feedback and we will in the coming weeks present again to a broader circle of friends, contributors, alumni and educational initiatives that share a similar ethos and hear their reflections and questions. A central and really beautiful aspect of these weeks is the closing of the first round of applications and the interviews and communication with the applicants of YIP 17. They, after all, are the reason why we design and plan, imagine and co-create. It has been a joy to experience the initiative, creativity, diversity and commitment of the people forming the YIP 17 group. So many caring and questioning individuals with a wish to place their initiatives in service of the world. In some years, applications come quite late in the process but this year we already have accepted many participants and many more are just missing a reference to complete their application. We notice how much enthusiasm this gives us on the team as we design the year sensing for whom it will be. All going well, these applicants will have time for their visas to be processed in order to be able to attend the beginning of the year which is why we introduced this first round of applications. There are still places available. Anybody needing a visa would be advised to apply sooner rather than later. For those from within Europe, the second application round closes on the 15th of June (we do accept on a rolling basis). On behalf of the team I would like to express my deep gratitude for all those who make YIP possible; participants: current, past and future, contributors, local collaborators, foundations who support us, educations who share their wisdom with us, friends, past colleges, all those physical and non-physical who contribute, the land here in Ytterjärna and many more. We feel very privileged to be able to do the work we do. Written by Annie Meijer Apply now for YIP17For questions, email The second application round closes on the 15th of June 2024.

YIP Alumni Survey

Dear alumni,

In February, we sent out an alumni survey with two segments. One looked more at the general role YIP has had in people’s lives and secondly asked you for your feedback regarding the ways YIP might facilitate ways to connect and strengthen the growing network.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to send us your feedback. 

The alumni network has passed the 500 mark, which is an exciting fact, but also calls for a more organized effort to facilitate this growing effect/element of YIP.  

It has been inspiring to read about the many projects people have been involved with since they completed YIP. We will make an effort to process your feedback into a format that can be shared and compared with earlier surveys.

It is clear that the community aspect of the program is and has been the most significant part for many, and so we wish to support where wished in nourishing that aspect beyond YIP. 

We saw from the responses that people are not looking for yet another social platform to pay attention to.

Our hope for the future is to dedicate time to:

  • Facilitating in-person gatherings, both centralized and local
  • Enable alumni to find and contact each other in a database and/or on a map
  • Set up the database in such a way that people are prompted and enabled to maintain their contact details themselves, keeping the database up-to-date and relevant.

We would also like to explore the possibility of:

  • Setting up a shared library of YIP resources available to alumni (songs, methods, templates etc)
  • Choosing an existing platform to be used as a noticeboard for requests and offers to the network

After 16 years and with the growing network of alumni, we on the organizing team of YIP understand it as our primary task to find ways to enable the different generations of YIP alumni to know where each other are, and step into contact if they wish to do so. 

In addition, we will prepare some of the data on the impact YIP still has on the life journey of alumni and what graduates are busy with in their lives post-YIP into a format that can be shared with some of the foundations who continue to make YIP possible.

Thank you again for filling out the survey. For those alumni who missed the chance to fill out the survey, please reach out and we’ll send you the link. We look forward to staying in touch and updating you on the developments of these efforts.

From the Organizing Team

YIP Alumni Project: Healing the Land with Cows: My Path into Regenerative Farming

YIP is a social entrepreneurship program, and each year the alumni network expands and a lot of projects are worked on. We are curious to see what these projects are that YIP alumni are working on, so we decided to include each month an article written by an alumnus in which they can explain their work and experience.
 This month we hear from Hannah (YIP 3 alumna) about: Healing the Land with Cows: My Path into Regenerative Farming

Photo from the Meadowsweetfarming website
As I walk through the pasture among my herd of cattle, their rhythmic munching of mouthfuls of grass filling the air, I often ask the question: How on earth did I end up being a farmer? My name is Hannah Steenbergen, I was in YIP 3, and this is the story of how my passion for fixing the food system and a deep reverence for the land led me on a journey to regenerative agro-ecological farming. The seed of this project was planted in my heart long before it took root. Growing up on a biodynamic farm, I saw how good-quality food could be produced in harmony with nature. When I witnessed the wider global environmental challenges and the current state of industrial agriculture, it served as a wake-up call, igniting my drive to create positive change in the food system. During YIP, I volunteered at Nibble Gård assisting with the milking. There was something profoundly comforting and very grounding about being close to the cows. But I never thought I would end up being a farmer myself. I lacked positive role models and examples, and my academic degree seemed to point me in a different direction. Plus, lacking access to land and capital seemed like insurmountable obstacles. Meadowsweet Farming Co is a small-scale regenerative farming project I founded in 2020 in Somerset, England. Together with a friend, we scraped together our savings to buy our initial herd of 26 cattle. Then, through very good fortune, we found a landowner who was looking for someone to farm her land regeneratively. As I learned, not having lots of money and not owning land do not always have to be barriers to starting a farm enterprise. My current beef herd is still small-scale, with just 53 in total, including all cows, calves, growing stock, and a bull. They graze the pasture here their whole lives, and each cow is known by name. I then sell the beef directly to customers in my local area. This means I do everything from watching the calves being born (if I’m lucky, as they often give birth when I’m not looking!) up until standing on a customer’s doorstep and delivering them a box of delicious beef. How does it feel to send an animal I love to slaughter? It’s not easy, and there are definitely tears involved sometimes. However, despite the emotional complexity of it, working on this farm is a deeply fulfilling experience for me. There’s a sense of connection and purpose that comes from witnessing the animals and land thrive under regenerative practices, and knowing that we are part of a larger cycle of renewal and regeneration.
 What does being guided by agro-ecological principles mean to me in practice? Using a toolbox of regenerative grazing practices, I balance the needs and health of the cattle with those of the rest of the ecosystem, so that the grazing and dung of the cows have a positive effect on the health of the soil, plants, water, and wildlife. For the farm to function well as a project, I also need to balance the financial and social context of the farm. The multifaceted nature of farming is what keeps me on my toes and constantly learning. Looking ahead, my dreams for Meadowsweet Farming Co are to evolve from running a single enterprise to involving a team who collaborate to run several enterprises together such as a raw milk micro-dairy, honey bees, pastured eggs, and tree products. Perhaps also, offering an educational side to the farm too. There are many more possibilities, but only so many hours in the day!  To follow my story on social media: meadowsweet_farmingOr get in touch via my website:
 Written by Hannah Steenbergen (YIP 3 alumna)
Photo from the Meadowsweetfarming website
In the next newsletter you will find:- Internship Monte Azul (Brazil)- Internship Sinal Do Vale (Brazil) – Internship Review and Kickstart Self Designed Curriculum- Creative Writing- Gardening Week- YIP-Alumni Project

Photo by Yander Fabri
Newsletter composed by Yander Fabri and Naomi Richards