Zwarthout partnered with Soil Heroes and Schevichoven

Soil Heroes partners with Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban and Schevichoven to proof the financial model for regenerative farming

In short

Soil Heroes Family lead
Soil Heroes
Focus area(s)
Best PracticesQuantifying impactRegenerative revenue modelsRegenerative market mechanisms
Phase of project
pilot
Farm
Schevichoven farm
RegenAg practices
no-tillage, cover crops, market gardening
Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban & Schevichoven

Partners

Schevichoven Farm
Zwarthout

Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban partnered with Soil Heroes and Schevichoven to further compensate their environmental footprint, while increasing their positive impact locally

In today's fast changing world, businesses face challenges increasingly related to climate change; think adapting to consumer needs, building resilience in the supply chain, responsible sourcing and reducing carbon footprint. But these challenges become opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs to make positive changes to help both ecology and economy thrive. This was a motivation for Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban, a Dutch producer of high-end charred timber cladding, to partner with Soil Heroes to further compensate their footprint while increasing their impact locally.

With sustainability already at the core of their business, e.g. they use only certified wood from sustainable forests and offset by planting trees, Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban understands the only way forward for their business is to work in harmony with nature. In regenerative agriculture, they saw a meaningful way to offset while contributing to a resilient food system in the Netherlands. In this ambitious project, Soil Heroes connects Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban with Schevichoven, a Dutch farm which Soil Heroes helps to transition into regenerative farming, enabling them to unite in restoring nature through regenerative agriculture. By partnering with Soil Heroes, Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban fast-tracks its climate ambitions and gains on-the-ground experience where the impact happens.

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"Agriculture is at a crossroads; we want to make a positive contribution to a sustainable new form of agriculture where economy and ecology go hand in hand."

Maarten and Eliette van Dam, Schevichoven farm

Schevichoven farm believes that consumers are hungry for change

The second farm that Soil Heroes helps in the Netherlands – and who happens to be Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban's neighbour - Schevichoven in Leersum, Utrecht has a promising future as it transitions into a regenerative farm. Making the brave leap are the owners Maarten and Eliette van Dam who believe that regenerative agriculture can transform the industrial food system and that farmers can lead the way to restore nature. Inspired by Soil Heroes’ showcase farm, Maarten, an entrepreneur and impact investor in food and agriculture, and Eliette embarked on a new journey to start their own regenerative farm. Judging by their hugely successful crowdfunding campaign to get Schevichoven off the ground - one of the first campaigns for regenerative agriculture in the Netherlands - consumers are hungry for change.

“To convince other entrepreneurs that the transition to regenerative agriculture is a part of a sustainable future of the farming sector, we need to show that it’s (financially) viable. That way, we have a bigger chance of inspiring others to join us too.”

Maarten and Eliette van Dam, Schevichoven farm

To make this transition they'll experiment with agro-forestry and permaculture techniques that restore the soil and biodiversity, and a diverse planting scheme including 75 types of fruit, nuts, vegetables and herbs; many are trees and perennials shrubs. Planting is underway and delicious, nutritious produce such as chestnuts, walnuts, berries and paw paw can be expected. Their plan starts with converting 2 hectares, expanding gradually to 20 hectares by 2028. It’s an ambitious undertaking considering that intensive agriculture and high land prices are the norm in the Netherlands, and the (financial) risk which farmers take to make the transition. By proving the financial viability of their farm, Maarten and Eliette hope to inspire other farmers to make the transition, but also show governments, entrepreneurs and investors that regenerative agriculture is worth investing in. If this test case works in the Netherlands, it’s likely to succeed elsewhere.

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"To convince other entrepreneurs that the transition to regenerative agriculture is a part of a sustainable future of the farming sector, we need to show that it’s (financially) viable."

Maarten and Eliette van Dam, Schevichoven farm

Soil Heroes and Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban jointly help Schevichoven to commercialise the environmental benefits of regenerative farming, thereby generating an additional source of revenue.

Soil Heroes and Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban jointly help Schevichoven to commercialise the environmental benefits of regenerative farming, thereby generating an additional source of revenue.To support and accelerate the transition, this is where Soil Heroes comes in. From the know-how side, Soil Heroes provides access to practical toolkits for regenerative farming, guidelines, networks and peer-to-peer learning. Income-wise, Soil Heroes helps Schevichoven to commercialise the environmental benefits of regenerative farming, thereby generating an additional source of revenue.

In this, Soil Heroes’ unique holistic approach analyses environmental benefits not only in terms of carbon but as ecosystem services together with biodiversity, water and nutrients. To quantify the benefits, which are needed to commercialise them, satellite-, drone- and ground data and farmers’ inputs are used to measure and verify improvements in the ecosystem services. The resulting soil improvement is expressed in scientifically verified carbon credits, biodiversity per m2 and water savings. Via Soil Heroes’ digital platform and an impact report, Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban can access this data to see their impact. In short, Shevichoven sells their ecosystem services to companies like Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban who become part of the farmers’ journey as they make the change. While this compares to offsetting, regenerative agriculture goes further by restoring nature – in essence, leaving a positive footprint. Through collaborating with pioneering companies and farmers such as Zwarthout l Shou Sugi Ban and Schevichoven, Soil Heroes shows that mixing business with nature is the perfect driver of change.

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