The reopening of the renovated Kasteelpark was festively celebrated on Sunday the 5th and Monday the 6th of June. These days, various members of Boeren van Weert offered their food in Slotsparken because they had traditionally had a great impact on the food supply of the counts who lived here. “Weerter farmers are inextricably linked to the castle and its inhabitants,” said Peter Korten, chairman of the Weerter Stichting De Aldenborgh.
“Farmers are at the beginning of the food chain,” says Peter Korten. “The city can not do without the hinterland, and the hinterland can not do without the city.” Here in Weert, farmers had until the early twentiese century triumphed. Many more people lived in the countryside than in the city, and agriculture was the largest form of employment. “Back then there was some industry, but most of the industry was again focused on farmers,” Korten explains. “You had a flour factory, a slaughterhouse and a milk factory; all suppliers or buyers of products from farmers in Weert. “According to the figures, 51 percent of the farms in Weert at the time were farms, the vast majority were mixed farms with partly livestock and partly crops.
In the Middle Ages, Weert also played an important role in the clothing industry. “It was because of the many sheep that roamed around here,” Korten explains. “Weert was a real sheep town because the Weerter territory was favorable for the animals to graze.” The wool was used to make fabric and eventually clothing. The card: “The Weerter cloth was world famous because Weert had its own fabric halls in Antwerp and Bergen op Zoom. That’s where the Weerter clothing products went, and that’s how they ended up in the big city. “
In 1822 the canal was dug in Weert, through which goods could be transported by boat to Maastricht and Den Bosch. “For example, Weerter farmers’ sales were even higher than before.” According to the Map, Weert had a real agricultural community until World War II, after which this began to falter due to industrialization. “Large companies like Philips settled here, which created a different kind of employment. In addition, families consisted of more and more children and with such a large family, they could not just live on the farm. So they were forced to work elsewhere. ”
In the Middle Ages, the peasants were obliged to give a tenth of their turnover to the counts, as a kind of tax. In Weert, the peasants therefore gave 10 percent to the residents of Nijenborgh Castle. The products were then stored in the Tiendschuur, which was located behind the castle. In Slotsparken you can see a copy of Tiendschuur. “The work that the farmers did was therefore very important,” says Korten.
The chairman explains that from the Middle Ages to the French period, it was the noble families who were responsible. The families who lived at Nijenborgh Castle also had a sheriff living at the castle, who collected the tax. Food was not only stored in the Tiendschuur, but also in houses (barns) in the courtyard of the nobility and of the staff. In addition, there was also the then very powerful church, which ruled together with the nobility. For example, the Franciscan fathers went to the peasants’ doors to beg for food. Out of generosity, the peasants donated food to them. In this way, the peasants kept two important estates alive: the nobility and the church. “
The end of 19e there was an agricultural crisis. “In response to this, farmers began to work together, and Weert played a pioneering role in this,” says Korten. “We received fertilizer from America, with which the poor soil in Weert could be properly fertilized. There was more production and people also started clearing more forests to make fields. The area grew, also through collaboration. This is how the first cooperative steam dairy, Tungelroy, was founded in 1892. ” The ‘farmer king’ Jan Truijen from Altweert became the first chairman of the Limburgsche Christelijke Bond, which was founded in 1896, the predecessor of the LLTB. “The association was founded to work together in an agricultural expansion cooperative and focused on more production, a larger sales area and joint investment.”
The importance of farmers
“Farmers have always been important in the food supply,” says Korten. “With the reopening of Kasteelpark, we are reminded that they are inextricably linked to Weter’s history and Nijenborgh Castle and its inhabitants.” According to the President, ‘agriculture’ involved a lot of work that no one thinks about today. ‘There was not yet a supermarket where people could go. The peasants stored the meat themselves, but there was neither a refrigerator nor a freezer yet. So they had to pickle the meat themselves and preserve the fruits so that the food was not spoiled. Being a farmer was hard work, and it still is in 2022. There may be fewer companies in number, but among other things due to mechanization, they now sell much more work than before. Farmers are still important to Weert. There is no food without farmers, that is one thing for sure. ”