‘Where are the onion trees?’ “Sir, I don’t like potato fries.” ‘Aren’t carrots produced in the Albert Heijn?’ Just a few of the comments and questions Martin and Linda de Ruiter receive weekly from children and adults on their farm. The self-harvest farm not only makes it easier for people to eat vegetables and potatoes, but also increases their knowledge of vegetables.
In addition to their 52 hectares with potatoes, green beans and grain for wholesalers, the De Ruiter couple has 3 hectares where citizens can harvest their own potatoes and vegetables. Linda: “I think it is very important to teach people about the origin of their food.”
Lesson about beans thanks to Russia boycott
The adventure started in 2014 when Martin couldn’t get rid of his beans, partly due to the Russia boycott. Plowing was the advice of the wholesaler. “I didn’t become a farmer for that,” Martin says indignantly. Via Facebook, the arable farmer invited everyone to come and pick beans themselves. That caught on. Many visitors thanked him for showing their children how green beans grow. “They had never seen that before!”
Martin and Linda then started with help from different angles Live it and Eat it. Marketing and communication agency Deelstra en de Jong from Montfoort helps them selflessly with website and flyers. Van Iperen (advisor and supplier in the field of fertilization, crop protection, plant reinforcement and soil improvement) sponsors the seeds and plants. Thanks to a subsidy process, 20 colored wheelbarrows are available, with which visitors can transport their harvest.
Out of season, 8,000 followers on Martin’s Facebook page see everything that belongs to his arable existence, including the setbacks
Now, 7 years later, visitors are not only harvesting green beans, but also potatoes, onions, carrots, beetroot, pumpkins and cabbages. The farmer takes the potatoes out of the ground himself with a small potato harvester. “It makes sense to me that you put the prong under the tubers, but not for our visitors. If they do it themselves, the potatoes will be pricked and trampled.” Visitors may pull, cut or saw off the other crops themselves.
From mid-August to the end of October, consumers can visit the self-harvest farm every weekend. Every year, about 7,000 customers and 30 schools visit the farm in the Hoeksche Waard. Out of season, 8,000 followers on Martin’s Facebook page see everything that comes with his arable life, including the setbacks. “Hares had eaten our sprouts. People can see that too.”
We hear it over and over. Children who have been here eat more vegetables
happiness and health
With €0.70 per kilo, the De Ruiters earn more from their Live it and Eat itcrops than to their cultivation for trade. However, the self-harvest portion is too small to be profitable. It does give Martin and his wife more satisfaction than the ‘normal’ farm work. “I have known the game for 40 years and I do that with 2 fingers in my nose. It is precisely this project that brings us a lot of wealth: dealing with consumers and a great social life. This is a much nicer way of farming. There is always something to do with wholesale. While the people here on the land are always happy. It’s simple, yet very special.”
The best thing Linda thinks is that people come to themselves completely. “They get more respect for nature.” An additional advantage is that people who know where their food comes from will eat healthier. “We hear it over and over. Children who have been here eat more vegetables. They ask for beets or carrots, which they didn’t want before,” says Martin with a light in his eyes. “We get food from the anonymity it has in the supermarket.”
Linda: “We also see more respect for farm life.” Martin adds: “Our sector is regularly in the news negatively. We are framed as pesticide-spraying subsidy providers.” According to him, the sector is too closed. “The entire sector should invest in information, so that we can bring arable farmers and citizens closer together.”
Harvest in every province yourself
Martin and Linda wish every province a Live it and Eat it so that children and adults throughout the Netherlands can learn where their food comes from. Martin is convinced that this contributes to a healthier diet. According to the entrepreneur, the money that is needed for this must come from the government. “We contribute to a social goal, and social money is allowed in return.” The De Ruiter family wants a cooking shed for their own company. “How nice would it be if children harvest their own food and learn to prepare it, together with a cook?”
Registration for the second edition of the Healthy Innovation Awards will start at the end of September. Would you like to receive a personal message when registration opens? Mail to co-organizer Bianca van der Ha.