Eating together makes you happy and connects you to other people. Producing food together has about the same effect. It might be more sustainable, too. That’s the thought behind the ‘Herenboeren’ initiative, here in The Netherlands.
Herenboeren: taking back control
Perhaps you’re familiar with the phenomenon of community supported agriculture or CSA. People want to take back control of their food production and responsibility. Herenboeren are residents who start their own nature inclusive farm.
Herenboeren is an old word for rich farmers, centuries ago, who employed people to work on their land. In modern times, it’s the other way around. Herenboeren are farming communities, associated with a sustainable lifestyle. They see their communities as an alternative to the current food system.
Shared farming is not a hobby, it’s serious business. People organise themselves in a local cooperative. Each household is shared owner of the farm. Most of them live nearby.
It’s not very clear to us yet how they get farmland to their disposal. The province might be involved. The participants employ a farmer to work on the land. They ask the farmer to produce the products they want, in a sustainable way. So, at Herenboeren the customers manage the business.
Initiator of the system is Mr. Geert van der Veer. He’s chairman of Herenboeren Nederland. This organisation supports citizens in the development of farms and promotes the philosophy. They initiate research, educate farmers and propose amendments to laws and regulations.
The founding group of people consists of about 200 households, or 500 mouths to feed. Participation requires a one time investment of about € 2,000 and a weekly contribution of about € 10 per ‘mouth’ in the household. In return, the family gets a weekly portion of veg, fruit, meat and eggs. Vegetarians pay a little less.
First working farm
Herenboeren has it’s first working farm now in the North-Brabant province, in the village of Boxtel near Eindhoven. Discutafel hopes to visit it some time. About 15 groups of people elsewhere in the country are preparing to start a farm. The second farm will be officially operational at the end of May, 2019 near Apeldoorn.
More on Herenboeren
Farming communities perspective: our theory of change (document in English)
Short stroll at the farm Wilhelminapark in Boxtel, April 2018 (01:58). Nice pictures, without people or explanation of the system.
Jetske, one of the participants, gets her supper ingredients from the farm (Dutch, 01:50).