Warmonderhof_2023_HPV9282

"With my own farm, I’m setting something in motion for myself, but also something for our whole family. I enjoy taking risks and not blindly following the path I set out on during my studies. To do something completely different."

"For me, Warmonderhof is a foundation of knowledge"

Martijn Horbach (34) is in the first year of our BBL (part-time) adult training course at the time of this interview. He has chosen fruit farming as his major.
"Fruit is really cool. You work more in harmony with the seasons and you’re forced to think much further ahead than with vegetable growing. When you’re cultivating a tree, you have a five-year plan. You reap the rewards of what you prune in the autumn, and how you deal with pest control, for example. You work in longer cycles. And I think fruit is a cooler product. I’m doing my internship at the Fruittuin van West, a mixed fruit farm in Halfweg near Amsterdam that also has chickens and pigs roaming around. There’s a supermarket as well as a café that houses a room you can rent.

Understanding soil and crops

"Before going to Warmonderhof, I had an allotment but I didn't really know what I was doing. I did a lot purely on feel, by watching closely and then acting. I didn’t have much basic knowledge. This first year at Warmonderhof gave me a lot of insight into how the soil works, how crops grow, the chemistry and mathematics of cultivation and soil. You get a huge overload of information thrown at you in a very short time, and you have to filter the stuff out that gets you really enthusiastic. For me, Warmonderhof forms a foundation of knowledge based on which I can work much more precisely and effectively. I can use Warmonderhof's knowledge to put into theory what I was already doing in practice.

Filmmaker and grower

"Until recently, I was a freelance filmmaker. I was constantly dependent on having a film project on the go all the time. When our second child was born, I started thinking to myself: what are my principles and what do I really want? I was looking for security. I started working in the shop in the Fruittuin van West for a while. I came across a lot of ‘Warmonderhoffers’ and what they were saying sounded super cool. This was what I’d always dreamed about. I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors. I often talked with my girlfriend about outdoor living and small-scale farming. With a second child on the way, that didn't seem realistic. But Wil Sturkenboom, one of the owners of the Fruittuin van West, eliminated all the obstacles I saw in my path.

A hyper-circular business

"I stopped working in the shop and switched to an internship as a representative for the fruit garden. As a film director, I’m used to maintaining an overview and that helped me a lot. Because by now I’d already had some experience in the fruit garden's shop and catering, so I could interact well with the shop team, catering team and the garden staff, so I was soon offered a paid job on the staff. That has enabled me to really make the transition from filmmaker to farmer. I’m learning a lot about business management from Wil Sturkenboom. You can make a business hyper-circular by integrating all its different elements.
Together with a fellow student, I’ve drafted a plan to start a fruit-picking and vegetable garden, partly using the principles of agroforestry, with apples, pears and berries, vegetable cultivation, and small animals such as laying hens. The animal aspect is important, though. My wife is an art teacher. The farm should also have a space where she can give classes and workshops and offer retreats. That way we can both follow our own path in one place.

Sharing knowledge and skills with others

"We’ve had our plan tested by experienced farmers; we’ve submitted our financial plan to the Triodos bank. Money is still the main stumbling block, but even that doesn’t seem to be insurmountable. We’re now looking for a piece of land, somewhere in the eastern provinces of the country. We’re aiming for a plot of around two to three hectares. The location doesn't really matter. One thing’s for sure: I want to get away from the Randstad, because I’m looking for more peace and quiet. For me, the core of the plan is to be able to share my knowledge and skills with others. Just what I wanted as a filmmaker: to be a medium and reach a large audience. And to demonstrate that this is also how it can be done in agriculture. It doesn't have to be difficult to get started. Just look in your immediate surroundings and you’ll find it."

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