It’s 8 o’clock in the morning on a cloudy Friday in Amsterdam. Twelve Taste Before You Waste members wait in front of the Dokhuis Galerie. We’re about to hit the road to Flevoland to visit Bio Romeo, a union of organic farmers. Because nothing ever happens without unexpected events, one of our cars does not start. Since we at Taste Before You Waste are positive minded people, we stay optimistic and enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee until the car is fixed. With a delay of more than two hours we eventually arrive at Bio Romeo.
In the potato field
Once out of the car, we instantly join the farm workers on the potato field. Our task is to remove weeds and throw them into the ditches. We enjoy the feeling of soil under our shoes and wind in the hair. It feels good to be out of the city. It feels even better to make our hands dirty and see instant work progress. Because we arrived later than expected, the lunch break is about time. Krispijn van den Dries, the founder of Bio Romeo, welcomes us at his farm at Zwijnsweg 5 where we eat lunch together.
On the farm
While we share our food, Krispijn tells us the story of his farm. His grandfather got the farm assigned after the Second World War. Since 1990 they cultivate vegetables organically. To optimize the growth of their veggies they use their own compost which is enriched with nutrients. Therefore Krispijn is able to harvest between 20 and 40 tons of organically grown potatoes per acre following the principle of good soil – good crops. However, he grows not only potatoes. Parsley, celery, carrots in all colours, spinach, cabbage turnip, chicory, cauliflower, oats, and parsnip are planted on the fields as well. Krispijn’s palm cabbage and spinach gets delivered to juice bars in Amsterdam. However you will find many more products in Amsterdam made by Bio Romeo. Bio Romeo, which is a cooperation of organic farmers, offers 150 different kinds of vegetables and fruits as well as honey. To get an impression of the scope of this organisation, Krispijn gives us a tour – his dog always leading the way.
In the spinach field
After lunch we walk past fields of oats and cabbage. The white and purple clover fields in between them catches our eyes. Krispijns explanation for their need is as simple as genius: They serve as refugium for butterflies, birds and other small animals. Whenever crops get harvested, animals find protection in clover fields. This way of farming is thought through well and does not harm the nature as much as conventional farming does. Speaking of harvesting: It’s time for us to get back on the field. Krispijn needs our help on the spinach field. In between the spinach plants grows also wild spinach. Wild spinach is edible; however customers do not like it due to its comparably small leaves. If wild spinach and spinach would be harvested together, the spinach could not be sold as a first class product; its value would decrease. That’s where Taste Before You Waste comes in. We are plucking the wild spinach and, lucky as we are, we are allowed to keep it for ourselves. No sooner said than done. In less than 40 minutes all our bags are stuffed and it’s time to return to Amsterdam.
Back in town
The time on Krispijn van den Dries’ farm was a wonderful experience for the Taste Before You Waste team. If you also want to get your hands dirty and get some knowledge about farming, just contact Bio Romeo. Helping hands are always welcome. It is even possible to WWOOF at his farm.