While I was studying at university and working at an NGO I started to develop a vision about sustainable farming. Then I realised that having an opinion about it is nice, but how about actually doing it? I decided I wanted to learn to farm.
At the Warmonderhof organic farming school in the Netherlands, where I am currently doing a two-year course, I have met many people with the same dream. Young people, men and women (about half of the students are female), people switching careers, people who also have another job, and people who already farm. All of them want to practise sustainable agriculture. Meeting them and hearing about their passion for farming is encouraging, as it often seems as if the rest of the world thinks you are crazy if you want to become a farmer.
Gaining practical knowledge on sustainable farming inspires me and my fellow students. We learn to integrate crop rotation, livestock keeping, green manuring, agrobiodiversity, horticulture and arable farming. We also learn to think about the position of the farmer, as we need to be able to sustain our lives as a farmer. We are part of a movement of farmers and consumers who can do things differently. When combining the super-sophisticated functions of nature with clever human solutions and creativity, the possibilities are endless. Think about it: invisible micro-organisms transform dead plant material into fertile soil. If only you provide them with what they like most (a well balanced mix of air, water, and plant materials) they will even do it faster for you!
And also: only water, sunlight, and soil is needed to make plants grow. Nature will just “give” us fruit, vegetables, fibre, fodder, shelter, clean water and biodiversity… All we have to do is take care of her! It is no longer a matter of calculating inputs and outputs and exploiting the natural resources; it is about inventing new connections between consumers and producers, and about working creatively with nature to enjoy the fruits of these processes.
In the global context of scale enlargement, pollution, zoonotic diseases, and the bankruptcy of conventional farming, this alternative approach can make agriculture viable and attractive again for a new generation of farmers. A total of seven farmers stop farming every day in the Netherlands. At the same time, the number of Warmonderhof students doubles each year. It feels great to be a part of that shift. I am so curious to see what our future farms will look like!
Full Story as it appeared on Farming matters