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De Lepelaar, Sint-Maarten (2018)

n their 70-hectare fields and nursery greenhouse operation, a group of dynamic organic growers -- Jan, Inge, Reinout Schrijver and Joris Kollewijn -- cultivate cabbage, beets, carrots, potatoes and corn. With the size of its operation, they offer ‘forgotten vegetables’ and cultivate herbs. Sustainability is thematic throughout the company, including their most important mission, soil fertility. In their pursuit of sustainability these entrepreneurs have an ongoing relationship with nature.

The starting point is a seven-year plan that gives the soil a two-year rest period. Grass and clover or alfalfa grow during that period. Preference is given to seasonal crops or other crops that can grow with minimum energy. These biodynamic products from De Lepelaar are sold at their own shop, as well as at cooperatives that trade in biodynamic products. The lengthy, special relationship with the Warmonderhof in the Dutch town of Dronton, which offers senior secondary vocational education in agriculture. Trainees, including students from abroad, are always welcome at the company.

The judges find that, from its very beginning, De Lepelaar has consistently adopted a strong company philosophy and long-term vision of biodynamic cultivation. The entrepreneurs, which are ahead of their time, are pioneers in the sector. They have demonstrated that these cultivation methods lead to reliable results. Things are going well: the increase in scale in this sector is exceptional. With their vision, they are introducing innovative ideas in existing horticulture. Food horticulture, which is continuing to shift further in the direction of organic cultivation, can still learn much more from the principles of stewardship: we must leave the earth in good condition for the next generation. The company has strong ties with other organic growers and propagation companies for controlling the organic cycle. It also works intensively with Demeter International Certification – all of which is designed to further the development of biodynamic agriculture and horticulture.

De Lepelaar was nominated by Bejo Zaden and seconded by Demeter International and Triodos Bank.


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