Aisha Hassan and Lukas Paltanavičius – who both graduated at the start of this year – are cycling from Wageningen to Tanzania. Along their route, they visit and shoot videos of sustainable farms. The first part of their journey is over. We interviewed Hassan during a short R&R in Jordan.
Hassan and Paltanavičius started their trip in May of this year and have since traversed nine countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albany and Greece. They also visited five farms that practice regenerative agriculture: sustainable agriculture that improves the soil rather than depletes it. How that is done differs per location. That is why they shoot videos of each business. Not just for their own learning experience but to show the world what possibilities different climates have to offer.
How is the trip so far?
‘Good! It is a little surrealistic to be in Amman suddenly. We did not want to cycle through Syria, so we had to travel to Jordan by sea or air. Unfortunately, the only ships are cargo ships, so we chose to fly. That means disassembling the bikes, squeezing the parts into a box, and reassembling them here upon arrival. It is currently 45 degrees here, but it is expected to cool down as of tomorrow, and then we mean to start cycling again.’
What is the next stage?
‘We will visit three farms in Jordan. After that, we cross the border into Egypt. The problems farmers in Europe encounter are very different. For example, I am curious how the farmers cope with the extreme drought here. The effects of climate change are more clearly visible here than in the north.’
What farms qualify for a visit?
‘Making that selection is not always easy. Not all farms that practice regenerative agriculture call themselves regenerative. The terminology is rather new, while the practices farmers employ have been around for centuries. We started networking to find farms when we were still in the Netherlands. Tips we received from Melle Leenstra, agricultural counsellor of Jordan and Egypt, were exceptionally useful.’
Are you still enjoying cycling?
‘Most certainly! We have already met so many wonderful people! People who offered us food and beverages or invited us into their homes. Sometimes it was a challenge, and we started wondering why we chose to do this. And it will be challenging here as well; it is extremely hot. That is a little scary. Will we be able to take enough water with us? Luckily, we are not in a hurry. We have planned ten months for this trip, but if it takes a year, that is fine also. We often linger at farms along the route for longer than we planned because there is so much to learn and to show the world. That keeps us going on the tough days: We are not just doing this for us; we have a mission.’