Xander Meijer is an entrepreneur and is at the cradle of the farm. The company offers team-building cooking workshops and innovative catering for companies and events. They cook with local, seasonal produce from regenerative farmers – a farming method that restores biodiversity and makes the soil healthier. Together with chef Jonathan Karpathios, he is committed to putting plant-based, sustainable and locally produced food on the map.
Have you always been busy with sustainable food?
“At the start of my career I worked for large companies such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble. In my late twenties I found out that I am incredibly sensitive to chemicals. My personal health benefits tremendously from eating preservative and chemical free. When I started to delve into it, I automatically ended up with the farming system. This can not only ensure that people’s personal health is improved, but also to heal the earth, the environment and the earth as a whole. “
“I have made a promise to myself to only work for companies that have a positive impact on the environment. Among other things, I have been director of Ecover, Zonnatura and Natudis, a natural food wholesaler. What happened there in the 90s was truly groundbreaking for what we now call sustainable. Things were thought of very early on cycle farming and healthy soil. But it was also a movement that had set itself outside society. For example, if you came to Biowinkel, it does not necessarily smell attractive. ”
How did you start the farm kitchen from there?
“I am surprised by what comes from Dutch soil. You can eat it all year round. And if you focus on what’s nearby, it means a huge enrichment of your dining experience. You suddenly eat all kinds of local beans that are almost forgotten – products that you never come across in normal supermarkets.”
“In 2018, I met Jonathan Karpathios to ask him for one future proof Food program for companies. He had just had his restaurant Vork og Mes, where he cooked, sold and wanted to extend that concept wider with home-grown vegetables. He saw the partner in me who can roll something like that out. In Jonathan I saw the man who can lift the taste experience from sustainable food to a higher level and will experiment with what can come from the land. We found each other immediately. Twenty minutes after our meeting, we shook hands and started the Farm Kitchen. We want people and companies to discover how great it is to work with fresh products from a local farmer.”
What are the local farmers up against?
“My experience is that there is a fairly large group of farmers who want to switch to regenerative agriculture, but it is not possible now. We offer their support, a market and a face. We make sure that they don’t go to waste. There is great uncertainty about the collection of products and the price. We provide that security. We guarantee a fixed drop, and because we don’t work with intermediaries, we can offer more than the market price. ”
How do you do that exactly?
“Farm Kitchen offers large companies to ‘adopt’ a hectare of land. We have contact with farmers from the area who are willing to renovate a hectare in such a way that the soil becomes healthier – this is the core of regenerative agriculture. The company receives the proceeds from the hectare, and we ensure that it ends up in the employees’ lunch packs. The employees also take the employees to the farmer to pick the harvest. With cooking workshops, employees experience the rich taste of these products. In addition, we cater events with it, and the employees get vegetable packages home. The ultimate goal is to inspire people to consume environmentally conscious and local food. ”
What does it do for your customers?
“They see what an enormous abundance comes from the country. We make soups and sauces from roots, beans and charcoal. Or we wake them up, as happened in the past. The best thing is that people are aware of what a winter bowl is, or a typical autumn bowl. Cut fennel from the ground and pull beetroot out of the ground and transforming it into a meal is a rich experience. It is something that touches you, like to pass on and do it again with what you can eat and can easily make it sustainable. “
Read also: Changemaker Jonathan Karpathios: “Absurd that as a chef I served meat from a dying breed”