The Netherlands

Landscape partner

Wij.land

Landscape

Western peat meadows, the Netherlands

Total area (ha)

125,000 ha

Stakeholders

250+

Business cases identified or set up

7 cases: Tested/In creation: Regenerative agriculture business case, From tenant to partner (Van Pachter naar Partner), Boeren van Amstel, MOMA, Herbal tea (Ptthee), landbank concept called “Aardpeer”, carbon credits.

Active since

2016/2017

Mission in the landscape

 

Wij.land promotes a healthy and resilient landscape where agriculture and nature come together in sustainable business models. Wij.land works together with farmers, nature organisations, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders on the transition to a 4 returns landscape. Much of this work occurs through enabling farmers to to test new ideas in pilots and then helping them to deploy those pilots at the larger scale.

Wij.land believes that it all begins with inspiration, listening to the ideas and advice of the people in the region.

“Wij.land has been the accelerator for cooperation between farmers and (nature) site managers.”

– Mark van der Tweel, Director the Dutch Society for Nature Conservation (Natuurmonumenten)

The herbal tea 4 R company Ptthee, a restoration business supported by wij.land, won the ‘ASN Bank Prize, helping them to supercharge their business to increase biodiversity on farmland

Stories of change

 

This year marked the year in which several farmers decided to speed up their transition in the direction of a regenerative farm. As an example; one of the farmers who we’re working with since the beginning is experiencing such positive effects from the soil treatments, that he is now convinced he can farm without chemical fertiliser. Several farmers have sowed large parts of their lands with herb-rich pastures instead of monoculture grasslands. And a young, next-generation farmer is re-designing his family farm into a regenerative farm, exploring models such as holistic grazing and integrating more species. And so there have been many more stories of farmers making changes to their farming business.

2019 was also the year of the introduction of new business cases that were supported by Wij.land. The Boeren van Amstel (farmers of Amstel) dairy was introduced in local supermarkets, and Ptthee had a very successful first year as a business, selling native herbal tea grown on organic farmlands.

It’s so inspiring and rewarding to see that what started as an idea a couple of years ago, has grown into a network of farmers, entrepreneurs, ecologists and others creating real change in the landscape!

Failing forward

 

In 2019, Wij.land had a few insightful ‘failing forward’ learning moments. Twice the soil pilot reference plots weren’t put in place before the soil treatments, showing the need to define such responsibilities better.

Reference plots are essential in measuring the impact of soil treatments. Another learning moment was when our expansion of the ‘Van Pachter naar Partner’ project to another area did not receive enough potential participating farmers. Wrong assumptions were that this was an easy way to attract new farmers. Wij.land learned the most logical way to attract new farmers is the first-hand experience of neighbouring or acquainted farmers.

What happened in 2019?

Wij.land focused on greater farmer inclusion this year in their new strategy, as well as deepening their biodiversity approaches (see following sections). Three team members left the Wij.land team, and we welcomed three new team members on office management, communication and sustainable farming. Relationships with stakeholders such as the Dutch Society for Nature Conservation (Natuurmonumenten) & the Province of Utrecht were strengthened  (with a renewed commitment) for pilot projects. New cooperations were also developed with Triodos Regenerative Money Center, Stichting BD Grondbeheer and Herenboeren for the fund for land purchase ‘Aardpeer’.

By the end of 2019, 58 farmers were actively participating in more than 70 pilots. The cooperation between Commonland, Wij.land and the Dutch Society for Nature Conservation (Natuurmonumenten) has been prolonged by three years. Wij.land supported 4 start-ups or innovative business models that positively impact the landscape. Three transition plans were made for farmers that want to transform their farm into a regenerative one.

An external factor of importance was the huge farmer protest in the Netherlands on new nitrogen emissions restrictions. Wij.land’s farmer WhatsApp group provided a space for the farmers to discuss this topic and in November Wij.land wrote their most popular article so far on the issue from the opinions of their farmers, focussing on long-term regenerative wisdom.

“Realize that the basis of your food lies in nature. Then a world will open up.”

– Monique van der Laan, farmer

Highlights

  • Pilot initiative Boeren van Amstel (Farmers of Amstel) entered the market. The first milk was processed and marketed in supermarkets and restaurants.
  • Wij.land started spontaneously receiving donations from individuals within the landscape, showing how much the initiative is valued.
  • Soil: the pilot extends to 58 farmers improving their soil. We organised a soil course with 20+ farmers (and a waiting list) and several other events. Wij.land was prominently present at the first national soil conference, hosted by the Ministry.
  • Development of the Regenerative Agriculture framework for the Dutch peat dairy context.
  • Wij.land launched their quarterly newsletter this year & held multiple ‘Welcome to the Wij.land’ events for (local) stakeholders.

The Boeren van Amstel (farmers of Amstel) dairy was introduced in local supermarkets.

Biodiversity focus

 

This year Wij.land undertook a lot of biodiversity work. The year started with 6 pilots (on  63 ha)  sowing herb mixtures in the ‘Farmers 4 Biodiversity’ project, which then continued throughout 2019. Wij.land also helped treat 66 ha for the Dutch Society for Nature Conservation (Natuurmonumenten) to restore for natural vegetation. Mid-year saw the launch of biodiversity scans for farms to aid farmers improving their on-farm biodiversity. And the year continued with the start of herbal tea pilots. This year’s focus on biodiversity culminated with Ptthee (a herbal tea brand which provides a financial incentive to farmers for biodiversity), winning the ASN Bank World Award plus the audience award, amounting to 30,000 euros.

Strategy refocus

 

After receiving valuable farmer-input during a Wij.land ‘koersdag’ (strategy day) and workshops, the Wij.land team processed feedback and results to elaborate the Wij.land strategy. As of 2020 Wij.land works on three pillars: Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Business Models and Community & Inspiration.

2019 Milestones

500,000
people exposed to Wij.land’s work
58
farmers experimenting on their farms with 70 pilot activities
626
hectares under improved management
7
business cases identified or set up
  • 2019
  • Peat Meadows
  • 1 : 20

5-year ambition:

1 million+ people inspired, 70 farmers participated in the initiative, 70 inspiring videos on regenerative practices.

Year 3:

In 2019, Wij.land exposed 500,000 people to their work, 58 farmers are actively participating, and 42 regenerative practice videos have been created.

5-year ambition:

1,000 ha under improved management practices, plus 250 ha of natural zones improved.

Year 3:

In 2019, another 150+ ha was put under improved management, making 560 ha under improved management. A total of of 66 ha of natural zones have started improved management with soil
amendments & vegetation scans to be used in research going forward.

5-year ambition:

70+ farmers active in 100+ pilot activities, 5 farmers transition to regenerative farms & 3+ community activities organised.

Year 3:

In 2019, 58 farmers are experimenting on their farms with 70 pilot activities. 4 farmers have ‘nature farm plans’ though the transition is a learning process and community activities have not yet been implemented.

5-year ambition:

10 ‘4 returns business cases’ tested & validated, of which 2+ are profitable, plus 5 funders actively engaged.

Year 3:

In 2019, 7 «4 returns» business cases were in development, all in a start- up phase. Currently, there are 4 public and private funders actively engaged.

The Netherlands

  • Peat Meadows
  • 1 : 20

500,000
people exposed to Wij.land’s work
  • 2019
5-year ambition:

1 million+ people inspired, 70 farmers participated in the initiative, 70 inspiring videos on regenerative practices.

Year 3:

In 2019, Wij.land exposed 500,000 people to their work, 58 farmers are actively participating, and 42 regenerative practice videos have been created.

58
farmers experimenting on their farms with 70 pilot activities
  • 2019
5-year ambition:

1,000 ha under improved management practices, plus 250 ha of natural zones improved.

Year 3:

In 2019, another 150+ ha was put under improved management, making 560 ha under improved management. A total of of 66 ha of natural zones have started improved management with soil
amendments & vegetation scans to be used in research going forward.

626
hectares under improved management
  • 2019
5-year ambition:

70+ farmers active in 100+ pilot activities, 5 farmers transition to regenerative farms & 3+ community activities organised.

Year 3:

In 2019, 58 farmers are experimenting on their farms with 70 pilot activities. 4 farmers have ‘nature farm plans’ though the transition is a learning process and community activities have not yet been implemented.

7
business cases identified or set up
  • 2019
5-year ambition:

10 ‘4 returns business cases’ tested & validated, of which 2+ are profitable, plus 5 funders actively engaged.

Year 3:

In 2019, 7 «4 returns» business cases were in development, all in a start- up phase. Currently, there are 4 public and private funders actively engaged.