A visit to Haarlem’s Bio Dynamic Farm


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Entrance to the farm

This season, my sister bought two ‘harvest shares’ in a growing coop in Haarlem. Coop is probably not the exact definition, but basically you buy the rights for a season (May-October) of vegetables. Two shares obviously gets you twice the quantity.

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Harvesting two heads of lettuce

As she is on holidays, we have to take over the duties of getting the vegetables. Unlike some of the vegetable programs in Ottawa, we actually have to harvest the veggies ourselves.

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The insect ‘hotel’ catering to insects on the Farm

So Friday afternoon, we jumped on the bikes and cycled the few kilometers to the outskirts of Haarlem. The most direct route leads us more or less through downtown, so we first stopped at the Botermarkt square for the weekly Ecomarket. It wasn’t much of an affair but we did find ecological stroopwafels.

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Chickens and the rabbit get along just fine.

On to the harvest chores at Stadstuinderij WTG (Western Horticulture Area). The area is 2.3 hectares (roughly 5 acres). It is an initiative of a De Nieuwe Akker foundation, Erik de Keulenaar (grower), the Haarlem government, long term care facility ‘De Blinkert’ and the Demmers family. Intensive biodynamic farming so close to a city is unique in the Netherlands. It is a nice solution for an area that has to stay open for sight lines and for sustainable land use.

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The blackboard tells us what we can take this week. With 2 shares, you can take double the amount

Erik runs the operation with a group of volunteers; the customers who own a harvest share have input in the planting and seed plan. By the time a crop is ready to harvest, you will receive an email and you can show up and harvest. A blackboard at the entrance will tell you what you can take. Orange flags in the field will tell you where the crops of the week for example, 2 leeks, 6 onions, 6 tomatoes, 2 zucchini and ‘a few strawberries in passing’.

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Our double share allowed for four sunflowers

You are also asked to help weeding if you have a spare hour. Unfortunately the weeds appear to grow faster than the vegetables so once in a while some vegetables have to be plowed under.

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Bridge to the long term care facility

For the long term care facility, it was a long term-cherished wish coming true. For years, the facility wanted to have some kind of a farm or a horticulture facility to stimulate clients to stay in active and be outside. Results from another project showed that people with a disability enjoy the activities. Besides the labour, the Blinkert wants to use the products of the land in the restaurant and in group living kitchens.

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The vane tells you which rows you can harvest from

The farm not only has vegetables, but also flowers, a rabbit and chickens (not for consumption) and two pony’s. It looks like a very social affair, with the volunteers having lunch together. Here are photos for an impression.

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Courgettes were harvested by volunteers already, so we could pick them up in the shed.
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Another ‘share’ holder
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Signs to the garden and the work shop
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There is the tool shed plus some articles for sale
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Stuff from a bygone era: note the balance in the back and the wooden crates, now often used in decorations, I even saw one at Shopify once
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Plant signs for in the fields. Everything kind of looks the same when it is just planted
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Bees are important for the pollination. Bees are in fashion again, I read in the local newspaper. Classes for beekeeping are full and some bee swarms apparently have no home (not sure how that works)
zucchini  soup
Zuccho soup made from our harvested zucchi. Was it ever yummy!

If you want to kow more, here is the website of De Nieuwe Akker: https://denieuweakker.nl (Google Translate does a pretty good job)


One thought on “A visit to Haarlem’s Bio Dynamic Farm

  1. Normally, this would not be my main priority when travelling to the NL, but the fact that there is KRULSLA available makes me want to travel immediately. Imagine the Popeye limbs that I could have with such nutrient rich, wholly benevolent sla from the Krul bush!. Wonderful stuff and I bet it would taste good too. Enjoy and thanks for the share.

    Bob Krul >

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