Tuinderij De Stroom – Growing strong through collaboration!
Tuinderij De Stroom is an organic vegetable farm in a small village in the Netherlands. It is owned and managed by three young women who have proven that it is still possible to start land-based farming activities with low financial investments.
In 2005, Welmoet de Waard (35) and Angelien Hertgers (33) were looking for land where they could start producing vegetables for their own vegetable box scheme. They wanted to rent the land, since they did not have money to buy it. They had a look at several pieces of land around Utrecht, since there they expected they would be able to find a market for their vegetables. Angelien: “None of the places really attracted us, until we came to Hemmen. We immediately fell in love with this beautiful and historical village! It was also fantastic that we could make an agreement with the organic arable farmer in the village. We would rent a small piece of his land and we would be part of his larger rotation scheme.”
But there are more synergies of working together with arable farmer André Jurrius. Welmoet: “We did not have to plough or fertilise the land and we did not need many machines to start with.” But the cooperation goes further: last year the vegetable girls (groentmeiden) how they call themselves moved into a part of André Jurrius´ sheds, where they have a small shop and even built a small cold storage. Welmoet: “It was a great opportunity for us since we did not have any buildings ourselves. Now we pack our 280 boxes in this shed as well and we have lunch and coffee breaks together with the workers of André. That is really nice!”
Many volunteers from the neighboring villages come to help with the work of the vegetable farm. Welmoet: “Some of the people that come to work with us have some problems and it is fantastic to see how working together and with the vegetables and the soil can help. Working on a farm is good for everyone!”
Linde Swart (27) who joined the team last year as a trainee, just recently stepped into the business as a partner. “I have studied Soil-Science at Wageningen University but I decided that I wanted to do more practical work. I started a part-time training in biodynamic farming at Warmanderhof, the school for biodynamic farming in the Netherlands. One of my practicals I did here on the farm of Welmoet and Angelien. I liked it very much and they asked me to stay”.
Many farmers are not or insufficiently insured when they fall ill and cannot work for a longer time. The farmers´ ladies from Tuinderij De Stroom are part of a collaborative insurance initiative called Broodfonds which builds on trust among a group of people. Welmoet explains from experience: “Only if someone from the group falls ill, all members pay a contribution to the person that is not able to work. Last year I couldn’t work for a few months. If you look at my bank papers from that time, you can see that I received small amounts of money but from many people. All together just enough for me to be able to live.”
Want to visit Welmoet, Angelien and Linde at Tuinderij De Stroom, and taste their delicious vegetable, get in contact: https://twitter.com/groentemeiden and http://www.degroenekring.nl/stroom/pages.php?page=8.