De Boterbloem: Farms Are Closer Than You Think

We cannot forget the more traditional farms as we get preoccupied with creating the most innovative mode of sustainable agriculture production in the most urban of spaces. Some of these farms are also within the city limits and certainly need just as much (if not more) support. I am talking about one farm, drugs in particular. Less than one kilometer away from the final stop on Tram 1 sits Amsterdam’s only certified organic crop farm: De Boterbloem Farm.

I had the privilege of spending a night at De Boterbloem with the excuse of my research about female farmers in the Netherlands. During this second trip to the farm, Trijntje and I discussed her ideals around biological farming and her unconditional love for her land.  I asked her if I could write this post on behalf of the farm because I see it as one of the Amsterdam’s best hidden gems.

Trijntje showing me the land. The farm sits in the background, amid the fog.

In 1996, Trijntje Hoogendam started her farm, de Boterbloem (The Buttercup) on the land that was once her grandfather’s farm. Having grown up on those hectares, Trijntje has had a long-standing connection to the farm’s land. Like many biological farms throughout the Netherlands, de Boterbloem is a care farm, meaning the government will give her extra funds for taking on individuals who need extra supervision or “care” in their work (this might be due to intellectual impairment, addiction, or other disabilities). During my first visit to the farm last year, Trijntje proudly gave me a full tour of the farm. I was amazed by the dramatic view: the farm was juxtaposed against the highway and smoke stacks just behind it. The farm has inadvertently become politicized because the government constantly threatens to take her farm in order to convert it into a concrete park due to the farm’s proximity to the city. As long as she can protect the farm, Trijntje’s ideal future is to continue farming.

View of de Boterbloem Farm and the concrete park behind it, to the right

De Boterbloem garden with the Amsterdam smoke stacks in the background.

As we walk through the gardens and the potato fields, Trijntje emphasized her connection to nature when she explained that she loves working with her hands, “harvesting potatoes is like digging for gold; gold in the richness of nature” One friend and volunteer noted the care with which Trijntje treats her work. Such regard is epitomized in her treatment of insects: instead of killing all of the slugs that ravage her strawberry plants, she tactically puts each of them in the distant woods or fields. Everyone who works on the land mentions Trijntje’s wealth of knowledge when it comes to farming. This knowledge also surfaces as effective leadership in the way Trijnte runs her farm. The biggest lesson that Trijntje brought back from grape farming in wine country was the importance of collaboration. She explained that, “You learned how to work in teams. It’s not a competition. You have to work together. Lots of people can’t handle it. I like it!” The close-knit community that Trijntje has developed on de Boterbloem seems to influence the positive vibe and productivity on the farm, itself.

Trijntje harvesting potatoes

De Boterbloem welcomes visitors to pick their own foods or stop by their quaint food shop. If you stay long enough, you might even be given the opportunity to challenge Trijntje to a game of chess. You should be warned…you will lose. Whether you visit de Boterbloem to lose a chess match, weed the fields, harvest strawberries, pick out some fresh cheeses from the shop, or learn about the legal threats of the land, your visit will be as stimulating and fun as mine. On a closing note, I hope that Trijntje had a very happy birthday yesterday!

Contact:

Lutkemeerweg 262
1067 TH  Amsterdam
Telefoon: 020-6100821/bij storing vaste telefoon 06-13752988
Triodosbank: 19.84.97.288
E-mail:
 deboterbloem@kpnplanet.nl

Written by Marisa Turesky

 

Posted on 06 August 2012 and filed under Uncategorized

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