The country’s sustainable future

Standing in front of the work ‘Guernica de Ecologia’ in the village church of Baaium (Friesland), various experts, including Merle Koomans van den Dries (Odin), gave their vision of the sustainable future of agriculture and the landscape on Thursday 20 October.

In front of the wallpaper ‘Guernica de Ecologia’ from left to right: Hester Simons, Marga Waanders, Bert van Ruitenbeek, Claudy Jongstra and Merle Koomans van den Dries.

The approximately 60 visitors, including several farmers and their partners, listened to Bert van Ruitenbeek (Stichting Demeter), artist Claudy Jongstra and Merle Koomans van den Dries (Odin). Hester Simons, director of the Alde Fryske Tjerken Fonden, first introduced mayor Marga Waanders. She argued for an inclusive economy where everyone participates, where farmers and local residents are involved in sustainability initiatives and where the balance between people and nature is restored.

Demeter Foundation: biodynamic companies attract life
Bert van Ruitenbeek cited an article in Trouw about European research showing that rural farmers have five times more toxins in their hair than urban dwellers and four times more than rural non-farmers. But also that people who eat organic and therefore unsprayed food have much lower levels of toxins in their hair. As early as 1924, a number of landowners and farmers were concerned about the use of chemistry in agriculture and its impact on both the health of the soil and the nutritional quality of the crop. From their meetings, to which they invited the scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner, biodynamic agriculture and later the Demeter quality label arose. Bert finds that biodynamic companies are often characterized by an aura of cheerfulness and vitality. “Life attracts life,” he says. There are also several beautiful biodynamic farms in Friesland that demonstrate that truly nature-inclusive agriculture is possible.

Claudy Jongstra: natural paint back in fashion and art
Claudy Jongstra talked about his impressive work Guernica de la Ecologia, which adorns the church in Baaium and served as the background for this meeting. Her tapestry, made with all-natural raw materials, inspired by Picasso’s Guernica, symbolizes the destruction of nature with its dark tones. But Jongstra also spoke about the mastery required in the past to create natural dyes and her mission to bring that knowledge back to art and fashion.

Odin: For every euro you make a choice
Merle Koomans van den Dries discussed the role of retail and consumers. Odin is a cooperative with a farm and apiary, of which any customer can become a member. She talked about the way in which Odin and her own beekeeper have been working together with more and more farmers on biodiversity on their farms for more than 10 years by ensuring a healthy living environment for the bees. She also discussed the wonderful collaboration between the Odin farm De Beersche Hoeve and Claudy Jongstra in the cultivation of color plants such as wood, showing that sometimes new niches are possible for agriculture, beyond the cultivation of food crops. The role of the consumer is also important, she said, because with every euro you spend, you make an important choice about what the world around you looks like, whether it is fair, sustainable, colorful and diverse. You can make a positive contribution to this, just with your groceries. She was able to report to consumers in Friesland that Odin recently opened a store in Leeuwarden.

Premiere video blue gold
Merle also spearheaded the premiere of the short video ‘Blue Gold’. It shows how agriculture and art restore the extraction of natural dyes. Odin De Beersche Hoeve farm and artist Claudy Jongstra bring the dye back to the field, in art and fashion. The dye plant is the raw material for the deep blue color that made painters like Vermeer and Van Gogh famous, and which Claudy Jongstra wants to reintroduce. Last summer, the color plant was grown on a larger scale for the first time in 100 years at Odin’s biodynamic farm, commissioned by Studio Claudy Jongstra. The studio uses the dye in its artworks and installations. The video shows how this special process of paint extraction and co-creation works and can be seen on the Odin Foodcoop channel on YouTube.

Source: Odin

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