News from the world of commons:

Weekly reports from the Travelling Farm Museum tours

Reporting from the annual Travelling Farm Museum tours, we bring you snapshots, stories and/or know-hows learned from them by the hosts, members of the Museum and co-travellers! Expect almost a weekly write-up covering these tours where residents, farmers and artists together explore Leidsche Rijn’s agro-ecological past, present & future.

For more information on the tours click here and visit the online depot of the Travelling Farm Museum as well!

Moestuin de Haar & Kasvio

3 & 10 July 2021

Written by Merel Zwarts (part one) and Luke Cohlen (part two); Photo-reportage by the writers respectively with the stories told by Simone from Moestuin de Haar and Mari Pitkanen from Kasvio.

On Saturday we embarked on a tour with the museum to Moestuin de Haar. We gathered at our usual starting point: the reconstruction site of Terwijde Farmhouse. At this farm house in the middle of a shopping area, once sprouted our ideas for developing a participatory museum about agricultural knowledge, heritage and resilient living in and around Leidsche Rijn. 

Our museum activator Leo opens the mobile museum to the public and welcomes all our co-travellers of today. As a special gift everyone receives The Collective Turnip Kimchi.  The turnip cultivated at Moestuin de Haar by farmer Simone at the West side of the neighbourhood, turned into a culinary treat by chef Mari and her Kasvio team on the opposite end of the neighbourhood. This day our tour visits Moestuin de Haar, next week we cycle to Kasvio. 

Then we cycle all the way to Moestuin de Haar, located on old castle lands of Kasteel de Haar in Haarzuilens. It is one of the biggest castles in the Netherlands, surrounded by 55 hectares of park, which used to provide food and leisure for the high class castle residents in the 19th century. Now 1,5 hectare of these grounds are in use for community supported agriculture garden Moestuin de Haar. Natuurmonumenten offered the land to Stiching Moestuin de Haar and their farmer Simone in 2019. Only last year they started with building the infrastructure on the meadow grounds. In a short period of time it transformed into a lush farmland full of crops and flowers, which we encounter when we arrive. We enter through the historical white and red gates, with colours based on the family of the castle, made by Cuypers, famous for designing the central station in Amsterdam. 

Farmer Simone welcomes us. She tells us that Moestuin de Haar grows 16 diffreten vegetables, 30 species of herbs and range of different flowers. The community members of the garden can harvest their produce once a week. Currently 150 pay their share of the season in advance and then all the harvest is shared among them. On average this means 5 vegetables or herbs per week per household, but the harvest is unpredictable every season. They work organically, but without a certain label.  I don’t need a certification to prove how I work’ Simone tells us. They don’t use pesticides and only use organic seeds and materials. Simone is working with a cultivation system based on crop rotation and how plants support each other. Certain crops absorb the nitrogen, which makes the soil healthier for fruit bearing plants, while other plants make the soil loose. In that way the crops rotate their place and benefit from each other. 

Now Simone guides us to the back of the garden where she tells us about the history of the place. A brick wall is literally the backdrop of the story. Simone tells us how this wall used to be a part of one of the a big glass houses in which the gardeners used to cultivate grapes, peaches, tropical plants and flowers for the aristocrats in the castle. In 1898 the development of the castle gardens started and in the beginning of the 20th century the land we are now standing on, was covered with greenhouses and an orangery. Where the walls once where, now locate the walking paths of garden. 

Years later, Natuurmonumenten became owner of the land. Their wish is not only connect the land and food with the community, but also educate people about the history. Now Moestuin de Haar and Natuurmonumenten are thinking of reconstructing one of the greenhouses, however, not the exact same greenhouse. They are thinking of repurposing materials of another historic greenhouse the municipality saved from another location in Leidsche Rijn. Could this be the remnants of one of Johanittersveld glasshouses? 

In less than 2 years Moestuin de Haar managed to have this flourishing farmlands. How did they do it? Simone is very grateful for all the hard working and committed volunteers and community members helping out.  

This land has had different transformations related to food cultivation. Currently the lines that once where walls functioning as borders, now make space for movement through the gardens and a feudalistic system made space for community supported agriculture. As the tour started with an exchange, the tour ended with exchange as well. A lot of the small cucumber harvest where sold or eaten and flower bouquets where being assembled and shared.  

Now switching reporters! The second week we headed to the novel plant-based restaurant Kasvio. As Casco we have been particularly excited for this restaurant to come to life, as the initiator and artist-chef Mari Pitkanen provided us with the loveliest foods throughout many exhibition openings and events we held in the previous years.

After assembling at Terwijde winkelcentrum, the group of cyclists headed to a particular old part of this area called Ouderijn, a ‘hamlet’ now situated within De Meern and Leidsche Rijn. It breathes the essence of a road that has always been there to house, to connect and to supply foods, as a lifeline between Utrecht and the neighbouring agricultural areas. On a long main street briefly filled with the historical while radically diving into the modern industrial the restaurant is located. Housed in the old building of Metaalkathedraal – an old metal factory that even longer ago functioned as a church –  Kasvio started since Spring this year. Allowing to be in direct contact with sustainable farming projects in close proximity, while offering a romantic location just a stones throw away from the city, a new journey for Mari and her team has begun.

Kasvio approaches food not only at the nutritional, culinary and sustainable level, but also how the cooking approach and dining experience can shift conventions. Food here functions as a metaphor – food as storytelling. Weaving tradition and innovation, listening to the past with respect, while concocting something new. Embracing various identities, blending a wide source of universal-resonating yet locally grown knowledges. Exchange of techniques and recipes, an eagerness to blurring structures that have earlier withheld progress. As you wander through the space of Kasvio, you can witness a beautiful selection of artworks that resonate with this feminist-inspired approach to cooking. The artworks are centred around themes of punk nostalgia, queered memories, conversing something difficult and celebrations to come. Curated by Casco team member Staci Bu Shea, these artworks on view are made by close relations of Mari – Martina Bovini, Loren Britton, Sinikka Mieto, Dayna Casey and Staci themself – and are made specifically for this occasion. Solidifying the connection, the interior design comes from Travelling Farm Museum’s Asia Komarova, and the seasonal music playlist is selected by myself.

Questions are asked. How does the nature of this project, and the prices of using special and sustainable produce, affect the access to these new forms of eating? Is there friction with such an approach, taking into account the intersectional theory that inspires this project? It was definitely recognised there comes a paradox with sustainable food and access in the current food system. A totally justified question which cannot be easily answered. ‘Something difficult’ arisen indeed – we hear a respectful and thoughtful answer, where we learn about the food chain and its current unsustainable, unfair structure, where a lot of labor goes unpaid and underpaid. With fair payment along the chain, for producer and workers alike, a product could never compete with capitalist bulk product, and hence a higher price is unavoidable. Therefore Kasvio emphasises each small project should aim to do their part within their scope of influence, and should stride to do so optimally and in the fairest way possible. Therefore it aims to set an example in the context of a restaurant, guaranteeing proper payment for its team’s people and the producers they source from, at the micro level. It is moreover emphasised that without the close cooperation and sweat of friends and supporters, such a project would have been hard to realise in the current economic climate.

Kasvio keeps on developing and learning, with the key aspect to ‘show’ how food can open up thought – how food can either metaphorically inspire to reframe binary or conservative ways thinking, and to eat healthier, getting to know the vegan kitchen better, experimenting with new ingredients. It all depends on whatever you want to take from it, without forcing the message. Mari thus emphasises the food and the crew behind it are merely facilitators. Each guest is free to interpret the dishes and their consumption alike – even no matter what your eating style is, it is all up to you! What we thus learned is that sustainability, which became a simple buzzword in many aspects these years, should thus not only be present in the ingredients you use in the kitchen or where you source them from, but also be reflected in the relational and organisation level, since in the end, we as humans need to live and eat, collectively. As we are nearing the end of the conversation, the neighbouring gardener joins us and invites visitors to his spot where Kasvio too sources from. Wandering over this unique pastoral setting, we continue to dream how we can contribute our parts to a more just (food) system, filled with critical questions and inspirational angles alike.

Image description: people’s presence and the environment reflected through the cargo bike’s mirror glass, holding the collaborative turnip kimchi, talking about food’s harvest and cooking process, in groups, surrounded by the historical presence of gates, cropland and gardens. Credit: (1-7) Merel Zwarts, photos, 2021; (8-11) Luke Cohlen, photos, 2021.

Melktap Harmelen

26 June 2021

This fourth tour takes us to to Melktap Harmelen, a spot selling milk directly from the area, which is surrounded by farms and dairy cattle, kept in the traditional regional manner.

Written by Yessie Vanden Branden of Stekkers; Photo-reportage Txell Blanco with the stories told by Erik and Wendy Glissenaar-Klever from Melktap Harmelen.

On a sultry Saturday afternoon, we collectively cycle from Hof ter Weijde in Leidsche Rijn to the countryside in Harmelen. It’s quite a ride, but it’s so nice to notice that you ‘the countryside’ is so near to Leidsche Rijn. Farmer Erik and Wendy, the Glissenaar-Klever family, live in a farmhouse in Harmelen. Erik welcomes us wearing his clogs and a big smile. He is standing next to the milk tap. Since October last year you’re able to directly tap fresh raw milk in their farmyard. “We really want to sell to the citizen, with no supply chains in between”, Wendy elaborates on her tap. Throw a euro in the machine, hold your (litre) bottle underneath and fill it. “It’s raw milk, unprocessed. Therefore, the fat and protein content is higher than in the milk you buy in a carton package. The consumer gets more value for their product – and so do we. It makes more sense.” And it’s delicious, everyone in the group agrees on that.

The farm has been in the family for three generations. Wendy’s grandfather came to live here as a little boy. Together with Wendy’s parents, they have a dairy farm with about 60 cows, small cattle and calves, not to mention a bull. “It’s not a very big farm. We have time and love for the animals. My father is still a real farmer, with love for his cows. Milking the cows is his biggest hobby.” The farm also has the ‘Planet Proof’ quality mark. “That means we are sustainable. We are conscious of nature, the environment and our animals.” Erik and Wendy feel the need to be more involved in the neighborhood, let the farm really live in and for its environment. When they shall take over the farm from Wendy’s parents, in a few years’ time, they aim to achieve an organic label for their practice. And with more vegetation on the lawns, it also improves the lives of the cows, enabling them to relax in the shade.

The cows, small cattle and calves are inside on this warm afternoon. “When it’s that hot, we reverse the rhythm. After milking at 5 pm they go out and in the morning they come back in after milking.”

The milk tap of the Glissenaar-Klever family can be found at 20 Utrechtsestraatweg in Harmelen. The tap is open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 7pm. You can also buy sweet wine, honey and eggs there. Bring pocket money!

Image description: cows in a stall, which is an old farmhouse, with people attending the small, idyllic milktap next to it, and people of all ages attending the event, where they headed through cycling there. Photo credit: Txell Blanco, 2021. 

Raum & Stekkers

19 June 2021

This third tour takes us to Common Ground Two garden near Raum in Leidsche Rijn and to Stekkers, a garden for growing and selling edible plants. These two initiatives encourage the practice of growing fruit and vegetables in an urban setting and to un-earth the forgotten skills and benefits of gardening. 

Written by Anna Dupont-Crabtree; Photo-reportage Merel Zwarts with the stories told by Yessie Vanden Branden and Boudewijn Rijff of Stekkers.

Twenty of us met on the Berlijnplein in Leidsche Rijn where Iris introduced us to RAUM – a city lab that organizes events and exhibitions – and to Common Ground Two, a gardening project which enables residents to meet and grow fruit and vegetables together, and learn new ways of nurturing and getting nurtured by our common soil. Surrounded by tall blocks of buildings with shiny windows that mirror today’s grey skies, the garden stretches out amongst the concrete, the patches of soil carefully separated with bits of string and someone is meticulously watering the already flourishing plants. Under my feet, some soil has scattered onto the curb, and I think about the roots extending below me. 

In the globalized world we live in, we have grown accustomed to thinking of production and surplus as progress, while our consequential distancing from nature has resulted in an impoverished affective and sensitive relation to ecological knowledge and skills. Someone from the group asked what these forgotten ecological and agricultural skills meant. A few people joined in the response to say that we no longer know how to identify wild plants and are oblivious to their powers and qualities for feeding and healing us; that we seem to deny the importance of bees in the food chain; that we carry on eating plastic-wrapped fruit and vegetables from around the world regardless of the season, provenance and pollution they cause; and that to reconnect with nature, we need to remember how to touch and listen to it. Coming together at the garden in Leidsche Rijn is a way of gathering people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and with them, the stories and skills that connect us all back to the soil. The garden then becomes both a shared activity and meeting ground for neighbours, a place to exchange tips and stories about cultivating urban vegetables and to get your hands and nails covered in soil.   

Guided by the Travelling Farm Museum bicycle, we walk a few minutes to find a beautiful old farm building, partly hidden by big bushes and trees that flow over the curb. We are welcomed by Yessie Vanden Branden and by Boudewijn Rijff, who lived in the house for ten years until very recently, and since 2020, has transformed his garden into “Stekkers”, a nursery that grows edible plants via cuttings. We zig-zag through the rows of potted plants, herbs, fruit trees, and the owner invites us to taste and smell the mother plants from which the cuttings are from. The contrast between this confined jungle and the noisy neighbouring construction site is impressive: it seems like nothing can disrupt this haven of greenery. It seems surreal to think that Boudewijn used to have sheep grazing on the grass here before all these new buildings came along. But the background murmur of the cars does not distract us from all the incredible colours. Not all flowers and fruit have bloomed yet, but the bright shades of green, the occasional burst of white, red and pink, the flowing orange labels on the pots and the soft outlines of the leaves stand out against the sharp, angular overlooking crane and the rather faded colours of the buildings around us. 

The outdoor plant shop functions on the basis of trust. Each plant is labelled with a QR code which takes you directly to the Stekkers website, where you can pay using your card. Boudewijn came up with this system because he does not live in the house anymore, and because it means that the plants are accessible 24/7 for anyone who desires a new basil plant or a fig tree in the middle of the night! 

Amongst the shrubs and trees in the garden, I look at people’s heads happily bobbing around, bending over this flower, or stretching towards this fruit. After a while, some of us compare our new prizes: big paper bags from which emerge leafy stems and not-yet-coloured young fruit that await to be introduced to their new surroundings. Boudewijn explains that these organic and pesticide-free edible plants can be grown in order to constitute a food forest, an alternative to our current systems of agriculture and supermarkets. Whether you have a garden or a balcony, these plants are adapted to our temperate climate, and are perfect for attracting pollinizing insects. It is best to transfer the cutting into a larger pot, or when possible, to plant it directly into the ground, so that the roots can spread more easily. Boudewijn is hoping to create an even larger nursery in the surroundings of Utrecht: another resilient wild space to resist the spreading of horizontal and vertical concrete, and to encourage us to eat when possible from local, organic and hand-grown sources. When we emerge from this green bubble, I try to imagine cows instead of cars and flowers bursting from the cracks of the curb. Thank you Yessie and Boudewijn for this incredible visit!

Image description: the garden of Stekkers with buildings in the background, the tour visitors spread over the pavement in the area, fresh garden produce for sale, a historic farmhouse, and several people posing and walking in the garden. Credit: Merel Zwarts, photos, 2021.

MicrOrganics Company

12 June 2021

The second tour of this year is, in contrast with the romantic expedition to the Voedselbos last week, a bike ride towards a concrete world of blind boxes as buildings, large motorways and almost no trees. An indoor farm, a start up company of microgreens. A magic box to be opened.

Written by Txell Blanco and Maxim Yesodharan; Photo-reportage Txell Blanco with the stories told by Niels Rijksen of MicrOrganics.

Food production in business parks?: For the second tour of the Travelling Farm Museum we were invited by Niels Rijken, the founder of a microgreens indoor farm located in a former mail sorting building at the Wetering business park area in Utrecht. Microgreens are vegetable greens (not to be confused with sprouts or shoots) harvested just after the embryonic leaves have developed. They are used as a nutrition supplement, a visual enhancement, and a flavor and texture enhancement.

In contrast with the romantic expedition to the Voedselbos last week, this time we gathered to bike towards a concrete world of blind boxes as buildings, large motorways and almost no trees. Business parks were created next to suburban areas in order to create different locations for living, work and recreation, and comes with a car-use mentality from the past that increases urban segregation and decreases biodiversity. We wondered how food could be produced in such an environment.

Why did we go there?: And there we were, the nine of us, being students, hobby farmers, musicians, planners or just vinex neighbors. The Travelling Farm Museum departed again from the former farmhouse at Terwijde and within 10 minutes we reached Niels’ location. The urban sprawl in Holland is like a scale model of the American suburbia, not as big, but still, segregated. We brought citizens to Microrganics, and this way we entered a hidden environment.

Niels’ indoor microgreens grow next to a baby photoshoot company, two artists, a 3d printer and a barber shop. That’s what you call a multi-tenant building, where a random mix of start-ups and medium-sized companies find cheap rented spaces. Niels is the only farmer in this building. He begins to tell his story.

Organic, almost circular and zero waste: “As a plant biologist I work almost full time at a company for biological crop protection, where we research how to control pests and diseases in the crop through the introduction of natural enemies, such as fungi and bacteria.” His interest in being self-sustainable and his awareness of the amount of pesticides being used in non-organic vegetables made him start his company next to his job. He wanted to experiment with indoor farming in an organic and almost circular way. His company has existed for one year now and already delivers to 5 restaurants in Utrecht being Landhuis in the Stad, Le Jardin, Luuk, Van Planten and Venster. Niels delivers his greens personally on his bike within two hours from harvesting. That’s an important added value. A bag of microgreens takes 10 days to be produced, therefore restaurants order 10 days in advance and this way Niels ensures freshness and no waste.

“You never get too many worms…”: Why are these little greens, such a source of nutrients, being grown indoors? In a method called “vertical gardening” Niels grows mosterd, broccoli, sweet pea, radish and sunflower on shelves under led lamps, spatially placed in multiple layers. This is a controlled environment, free of pesticides, in a room of about 10m2. Worms are the key organisms in this microclimate. We witness a big worm hotel in the room where they eat the leftovers of the harvested microgreens, and through this process compost is made. That compost he transforms into a fertilizer, to be exact, by creating a liquid extraction of the worm poop mixed with kelp seaweed and melasse (the rest product of the sugarcane industry). In order to make this cocktail a machine is adding oxygen to the mix. This way he gets all the nutrients for microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi, to grow. 

We seem to have an almost closed ‘circular’ system. However, how much electricity, water, kelp, melasse and seeds are needed to run this business? Are we talking about a luxurious product only available for the very few?: “Microgreens are not to feed humanity… but in these times you don’t have this problem anymore” says Niels. We wonder if this is even a good sign. A discussion started, where some of us stressed the fact that an indoor farm is not totally indoor, since creating a tray of microgreens we need 1 or 2 adult plants that have been grown outdoors, to provide the seeds. That means acres of the same plant are necessary to create a few kilograms of seeds. Who´s providing those seeds thus a key process in its sustainability. Niels tells us he is working with an organic seed company based in Groningen called Kiemerij de Peulenschil. The water and electricity used are all included in the price of his “cheap rental space”, but is this green energy? Nobody knows. Melasse is a rest product that otherwise would be thrown away in Holland, yet it could be used for human consumption. Kelp seaweed is a sustainable source harvested without damaging the environment. “You need to outthink a lot of problems.” says Niels. And yet, MicrOrganics is not there to provide basic food, but a luxurious product. In that case some of us suggest creating “DIY grow kit microgreens” for home farming, with a wormhotel included, becoming a solid way to transform your organic waste into food again. Somebody else of us wonders why there are no wormhotels placed in neighborhoods, next to community gardens for instance. It’s all about organizing a sustainable food chain. It’s time to cooperate and work toward a shared goal.

A small company with big dreams: “My idea is to make this indoor farm a way of living so I can start an organic farm somewhere in the countryside” says Niels. In fact, Niels’ dreams are not that far from reality. His pesticide-free organic farm could be an example using different crops in rows that will be harvested at different times. A whole ecosystem where insects migrate from row to row. The Netherlands is a global frontrunner when it comes to agricultural technologies, using robots and drones for harvesting processes in organic fields. In a hopefully near future we wonder if Niels will become 100% circular and sustainable with his company. That is if other farms in The Netherlands will stop importing nutrients from Brazil, if we will prevent waste of food and therefore produce just enough to give back space to nature, or if we shouldn’t have to worry anymore about eating potatoes sprayed with pesticides.

Image description: people cycling through the businesspark, arriving at the urban business complex, a group talking and witnessing microgreens and the growing materials, the tour group posing together with the bicycle architecture in the building. Photo credit: Txell Blanco, 2021. 

Voedselbos Haarzuilens (Agroforest Haarzuilens)

5 June 2021

The first tour of this year took place on the day of World Environment Day along with the re-opening of the cultural institutions in the Netherlands. The place for this first tour is full of blossoming biodiversity!

Written by Binna Choi (director Casco Art Institute) with the stories told by Jan Degenaar and Maarten Scharma of Voedselbos Haarzuilens

Always gathering in front of what we know as the Terwijde farmhouse: the now former Terwijde farmhouse where in 2018 the Outsiders and Casco got an access to use, inhabit, and dream with residents in the area. Otherwise it was not used and semi-ruined since the development of Leidsche Rijn annexed to the city of Utrecht had begun about 20 years ago. Now it’s being developed into a restaurant. Some people felt sad that we lost the farmhouse, no more commoning that place. Yet we still gather in front of it in order to continue commoning wider and bigger, making connections with the local farmers!

Departing and Cycling together:  Usually a group of around 15-20 people follow a staff member of the Museum in yellow suit and cycle about 10 to 15 min across or a little beyond Leidsche Rijn. You’d cycle with experimental sounds from the Museum until you’d arrive in the “outside” of building blocks where the gift of nature to feed us and those caring minds of farmers between nature and people are abundant.

Arriving the Voedselbos Haarzuilens: this time, we cycled towards the north from Leidsche Rijn. We passed the roads, small and big houses, a lake, and then entered a village called Haarzuilens. Already you could notice some operational farms as you see the stalls to sell fruits. At the Voedselbos Haarzuilens where we finally arrived, Jan Degenaar and Maarten Scharma were welcoming us. They met in their biology study at university, co-initiated and have been cultivating  it since 2015. They suggest that we leave the bikes and walk together into the forest. Pointing over the left and right from where we stand, they let us know the forest is in between the intensive agricultural site for pears and the plain land for kettles. Unlike those, it’s hyper diverse, although it’s still a young system. The forest is the size of twelve football fields (6 hectares). It’s leased from the Province of Utrecht for 26 years so there’s still more time to grow! (what would happen after 26 years, we immediately started wondering though).

Walking the mazes, listening, picking, tasting: after walking a road of straight line in a few hundreds meters and, then, crossing a treacherous wooden bridge over a narrow canal, all were mazes, mazes of amazement. Following by the mazes, Jan and Maarten guide us to a whole new “world” of over 200 edible plants and of over 15 different species of bird nesting. Certainly it’s not that we could see and learn all those 200 plants and spot the birds. Yet unlike a usual monocultural farmland, what forms the agroforest is one kind of plant very next to another: fig tree, almond tree, grape tree, sages… an array of things, that’s a parade! Not only those we are familiar with. Many plants and trees whose names I cannot remember and did not know they bear edible leaves and flowers give surprising tastes.

Space for making mistakes, going with flow and growing a little slow: As Jan and Maarten do not use any pesticide, for instance, you cannot cultivate peaches in the Netherlands without using fungicide. Fungi however is what makes soil rich, so other plants grow well in that abundance. They also don’t mow grass, meaning less work!  You let things be and grow, although you try to make the best condition for the diversity to thrive: for instance, plant trees growing tall in the north, the lower ones in the south. With sunshines distributed over the forest, they get less susceptible to disease. Given in The Netherlands there’s a period of little sunshine, there are plants like Wild Garlic that saves solar energy in their bulb. Also somewhat structure the area to prompt the natural predation. This practice also means they go by space for making mistakes, learning by doing, while the self-organizing system of plants find their ways of living together or leaving (dying) away. Go with flow, they say. That lets the complex ecosystem be “built”. Growing slow is a virtue here, the development is multiple phases based. They don’t plan a species that grows fast, spreads, and occupies the whole space – that would make a monocultural empire!

Harvesting and returning: This agroforest being diverse in species means there’s not one intensive harvesting period. Instead you harvest throughout the year, not a huge amount. For now there are 20 people and organizations who subscribed as the members and harvest from the forest, including VOKO in Utrecht (a food collective about 70 members working with local farmers for bringing fresh, (mostly) organic and locally grown food to the city. Merel, an active member of the Museum is also a member of VOKO!). It consciously works with a short supply chain. No storage for accumulating or throwing away. The community of the subscribers also bring their own knowledge for different plants, not only taking away. After each harvest, they also measure the weight, building the data of how much is growing, next to how many as they are dreaming the (re)productive biomass.

At the end of the tour, we sat near a small hut storing some tools, drinking made of elderflower syrup originating from the forest. What we eat determines the landscape, Jan and Maarten said. The environment around us was beautiful. Many children as many as adults, which also gives a vision for the future (most of the area remains open to the public). We all also got the gift from the Museum. Rotterdam based Brazilliana artists Joélson Buggilla and Jorgge Menna Barreto made a visit to the Voedselbos Haarzuilens in advance and made a photograph out of loose assemblage of leaves from here. It’s named “Alphabet Maudit”, referring to language we can’t read or pronounce yet that conceive another world than the one occupied, exploited and wretched by human beings. With this language which we started learning a little from the tour today,  we left the agrofarm towards the city where our homes are. Are we returning or leaving to return?

Many many thanks to Jan and Maarten for the incredible work, walking and sharing their knowledge with us.

Image description: people holding seeds, flowers, discovering edible plants, a tour group talking, standing on distance in the agroforest, a person smelling a flower, and a child being interviewed by the Museum team members. Photo credit: Merel Zwarts, Leonardo Siqueira, Binna Choi, 2021. 

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