Grounded Community 2019-2024

Empowering the regenerative generation

Grounded is a 100% volunteer-run collective focused on sustainability and social awareness embracing the alternative and non-commercial scene of Utrecht and its surroundings.

Grounded connects people to celebrate a tangible sustainable culture. We are a diversely skilled community, driven by the common goal of regenerating our social and ecological system. Grounded is a community that stimulates connection, competence and autonomy by giving people the opportunity to create value-based initiatives. At Grounded, we engage people with culture and empower them to co-create projects surrounding food, education and art.

The story of Grounded
Once upon a time, in the early wintery months of 2019, a group of passionate young individuals came together, united by a burning question: “How can we make a difference in this ever-changing world?” Frustrated with the state of affairs, they yearned to take matters into their own hands and create a positive impact. With a simple yet powerful idea in mind, they sought to connect with like-minded souls, start small, and inspire others to join their cause.
Grounded Festival 2019

What began as a modest gathering soon blossomed into something extraordinary—an awe-inspiring festival known as Grounded Festival 2019. The road to its realization was paved with challenges and uncertainties, for none of them were experts in organizing such an event. But against all odds, they persevered, pouring their hearts and souls into its creation.

To their amazement, the first festival attracted 600 eager visitors, marking the birth of the Grounded Collective. Their goal of inspiring more people to embrace their vision had been achieved. The journey was far from over, however, as they grappled with questions of organization and growth. Countless meetings were held, values were aligned, and ideas were shared in the cozy confines of shared houses.

Eventually, the Grounded Collective took a momentous step forward by renting their first office space—an antikraak in Kanaleneiland. This space became more than just a physical location; it became a sanctuary where ideas could flourish, and dreams could take root. Plans were made, ambitions were nurtured, and a vision for a bigger and better festival experience began to materialize.

2020: A time of adaptation
However, fate had a different plan in store. The year 2020 arrived, and with it came the unforeseen challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival had to be canceled, leaving the Grounded Collective searching for alternative outlets to channel their energy. In this time of uncertainty, they birthed the “Radio for the Regenerative Generation” project—a series of captivating live video sets that brought the spirit of the festival into people’s homes.
2021: New projects on new grounds

Amidst the chaos, new projects emerged like sprouting seeds in fertile soil. Gardening, yoga, workshops, and awareness initiatives took shape, as the collective embraced their newfound adaptability. They introduced a circle organisation, allowing individuals to focus on projects that resonated with their passions. The celebration of International Women’s Day became a poignant expression of their commitment to raising awareness and empowering women.

Through their tireless efforts, the Grounded Collective continued to inspire and attract more like-minded souls. With each new project and piece of content, their community grew stronger, eagerly anticipating the day they could once again weave their magic at Grounded Festival 2021.
The festival that never happened
Also, 2021 proved to be a year of great uncertainty. Lockdowns were lifted, only to be reintroduced, and the ever-changing landscape of restrictions played havoc with event planning. Yet, hope flickered as the Grounded Collective received permission to hold the festival after two long years of silence. They had restructured their organization, fortified by the support of hundreds of inspired individuals within their network.

Taking no chances, they implemented extensive testing protocols during the festival’s build-up, going above and beyond to ensure everyone’s safety. Spirits were high, laughter filled the air, and people from all corners of Europe united to create an unforgettable experience. But just as the gates were about to open, a sudden press conference shattered their dreams. The festival was canceled, leaving behind tears of disappointment and waves of frustration.

We realized that the true essence of Grounded Festival resided in the connections we formed and the memories we made. It was a spirit that could not be canceled. Despite the challenges we faced, we persevered, driven by our passion and determination.

Grounded Festival 2022

And so, we moved forward, undeterred. The year 2022 brought renewed hope and fresh opportunities. We celebrated another successful edition of International Women’s Day, an event that showcased our commitment to empowering women. Some individuals embarked on new adventures, while new faces joined our ranks.

It was a time for us to shine—to unleash the full force of our collective power and create memories that would leave an indelible mark on the world. Over 1000 people embraced the spirit of community participation and non-profit values, experiencing an incredible festival outside the realm of commercialism.

The success of Grounded Festival 2022 propelled us to dream even bigger. We became better organized, growing steadily alongside the ideas and aspirations of our community. Together, we knew that we could continue making a difference, fueled by the belief that a motivated group of volunteers could create something extraordinary.

As we reflect on our journey, we are reminded that setbacks do not define us. We have weathered storms, faced disappointments, and overcome immense challenges. Our resilience and unwavering spirit continue to guide us as we forge ahead, ready to create an even brighter future for Grounded Festival and the impactful community it has inspired.

A festival alternative

When the 2023 festival couldn’t proceed as planned at Fort bij ‘t Hemeltje, we quickly organised an alternative: the Grounded Summer Camp, themed ‘Free the Soil’! A multi-day experience with camping and programme around food, diverse music and impactful workshops on regenerative economy, resilient regions, new governance, and practical down and dirty activities.

We camped at the beautiful Lutkemeerpolder, a place where we raised our voices in support of the soil. This precious land is the last fertile soil left in the municipality of Amsterdam, and there are plans to build huge distribution centers on it. On the Saturday, we walked onto the polder to raise our voice for the soil to make a powerful collective statement with music, legendary speakers, guerrilla gardening and a human art piece. Together we can create an environment that welcomes protected species back to the land they call home.

The area is already home to a diverse range of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives. They generously invited us to camp there because they believe it will help showcase the importance of reclaiming our land. Moreover, it demonstrated that young people are actively standing up for this cause in a positive, constructive, and inclusive manner.

On the Friday we had inspiring workshops and speakers on topics such as ecosystem restoration, permaculture, nutrient density, bio-based building, community farming, natural art, authentic relating, poetry and dance!

Watch two of our interesting workshops:

Grounded Kitchen at Hogeschool Utrecht: A Fresh Flavour Revolution

You may already know them from the funky little food truck, but now brace yourself for an exciting culinary journey as on October 23rd the Grounded Chefs unveiled the all-new Grounded Kitchen, a local and social restaurant, located in the food court at the faculty of Hogeschool Utrecht at Heidelberglaan 15, Utrecht Science Park.

Grounded has joined forces with Local2Local to pioneer an alternative, fair and health-conscious food system in the heart of Utrecht Science Park. Grounded Kitchen’s mission is clear: we support our local farmers in their dedication to sustainable farming practices and offer a respectable living wage to our young creative chefs, while providing high-quality, affordable cuisine. 

So tantalize your taste buds, because Grounded Kitchen’s chefs are creating magic with local veggies and worldly flavours. However, our commitment goes beyond the taste.

Grounded Kitchen is made possible through the collaboration of HU, Local2Local and Grounded (a community of students and young people which is actively engaged in the food transition). Local2Local has been working with farmers and student communities for positive social and ecological impact in the region for over a decade, making them the perfect partner for this endeavour.

How it started
HU approached Local2Local with the idea of opening a local restaurant. Our first step was to promote what we already had available; Operation Food Freedom, a weekly subscription to fresh local veggies and fruits, with HL15 serving as a pickup point. For the soft launch we named the OFF pickup point after the legacy of ‘Boerderij de Uithof‘ and we organized free tastings and giveaways of local fruits and vegetables for students and staff.

Local2Local are experts in transitioning to local and regional food chains, but we’re not restaurant entrepreneurs specifically. So we asked Grounded Community if they were interested and the talented chefs eagerly stepped up to the plate.

At Grounded Kitchen you can savour delicious, ready-to-eat, freshly made meals and discover an array of delightful snacks. And of course, it still doubles as a convenient Operation Food Freedom-pickup point and as a mini-market where you can stock up on local veggies and other produce to enjoy at home. Grounded Kitchen also wants to serve as a vibrant meeting spot, connecting you with local projects and opportunities aimed at making a positive impact in the region. So, come on down to Grounded Kitchen, where good food and great intentions come together to create a memorable and affordable culinary experience!