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.