Right before the Newbie project ends, the Belgian and Slovenian teams managed to organize a small exchange to talk about innovative marketing strategies and the role of the family on the farm. Our Belgian team invited 7 Slovenian guests (and one baby farmer) over: farmer Tilen and his wife, farmer Domen and his wife, farmer Aljaž and his wife and lastly researcher and Newbie team member Sara.
Stop 1: Farmer Steven and Lisa
Farmer Steven is Newbie award winner 2021, and for good reason! He combines a 30+ ha arable farm with some short supply chain activities. Steven introduced three vending machines on his farm, heavily investing in the looks of the location. Customers can sit down and enjoy the view of the flower garden. Additionally, Steven markets some of his high-quality wheat as TUR.WE (to the Dutch name for wheat “tarwe”) which is sold in his vending machines and to local millers. Special bread is made from the wheat and this bread is sold in his vending machines, among other locations, as well.
Stop 2: Farmer Benny and Sarah
Young farmers Benny and Sarah will explain everything about their successful on-farm store. Benny took over his family farm and Sarah later joined to start the on-farm store ( “hoevewinkel” in Duth). Their attempt is the have only their own produce in the store. To do this they combine a lot of different branches of the agricultural industry. They have 60 dairy cows, 100 pigs, a garden for vegetables and fruit, a garden for spices, 20 meat cows and some laying hens. They try to use unconventional breeds of animals as much as possible.
Stop 3: Discussion circle with Marcel Vijn from Wageningen University
After the first two visits we took some time to reflect on what we had seen and what we wanted to ask the other visits. We got Newbie team member Marcel to join us online to explain some more about the new Newbie toolkit: how to have a good farm take-over. This tool also helps to make arrangements with the family about work, commitment and priorities. We also discussed the innovative marketing strategies we had already seen and whether they were something our farmers could try in Slovenia.
Stop 4: Farmers Bengt and Laura
Groentegem is a harvest-yourself farm by young farmers Bengt and Laura. It follows the model of community supported agriculture. For less than 1 euro per day, customers can harvest all year long from their farm while Bengt and Laura run the farm itself. Addittionally, their products are sold in a nearby on-farm store. This store is only 50m away and is owned by farm Bio De Zwaluw (= swallow bird). This farmer is also the owner of the land that is used by Bengt and Laura. He started the concept of harvesting yourself some years ago.
Stop 5: Farmer Gert
Molenkouter is a small vegetable farm close to the large city of Gent. It derives its name from its geographical location. Namely, the patchwork pattern of fields surrounding a mill. Young farmers Tom and Gert started their initial farm on the old vegetable farm from their grandfather Marcel. After a few years of testing, they bought their own land and started their own farm: Molenkouter. This farm uses a marketing strategy of vegetable packages that people order from their website. The customer pays on a yearly basis and each week (from April until December) they receive a package of vegetables. For €600 per year you receive 6 pieces of vegetables per week. You are allowed to trade one piece that you do not like.
Stop 5.5 Baker Baab
Baker Baab is a young entrepreneur and craftsman who produces artisanal sourdough bread. He looked for farmers who produced old varieties of wheat in a sustainable way as well as millers who still use an original windmill to mill wheat to flour. He cooperates with farmer Steven to produce the wheat. After baking some of the bread returns back to the farm in the vending machine. That way the cycle is entirely round.
Stop 6: Farmer Frank and Patricia
Frank and Patricia (Frapa = FRAnk + PAtricia) started their goat farm in 2002. After farming for 15 years they decided to start their own processing. Since 2017 they produce their own goat milk products which they sell directly to the consumer. Each week they make roughly 30 different pasteurized goat milk products. Their products are sold in 20 locations in the surrounding area of Gent.