Permaculture and the power of a green environment

Permacultuur Nick Peters

Guest blog by Nick Peters

This week we would like to share an interesting blog from one of our followers; Nick Peters, a 34-year-old permaculture enthusiast from Elsloo. With his passion for nature and sustainable living, he started to create a beautiful organic garden in his backyard. During this process, he inspires others with his experiences and lifestyle on Instagram by the name unraveled.life.

Last week he shared his vision on climate control, permaculture and food production with us. His goal: to create awareness and offer practical solutions for a more sustainable living environment. “Together we can make the world a bit greener,” he says, a shared objective with Stichting De Groentedeler.

 

Climate Control, permaculture and food production

In a world where the impact of climate change is becoming increasingly visible, it is essential to think about ways to create a more sustainable future. A green environment is crucial to make a difference. From climate control to permaculture and food production, there are many benefits to a green environment. Let’s see how we can use the green space to our advantage.

 

Climate control through a green environment

One of the most immediate benefits of a green environment is its impact on our climate. Urban areas, with their concrete and asphalt, can heat up significantly, leading to the so-called urban heat island effect. By integrating green environments in urban areas, such as parks, gardens and green roofs, we can reduce the daily temperatures. A natural effect of plants and trees absorbing CO2, one of the most important greenhouse gasses, and releasing oxygen. In addition, they provide shade and evaporation, which helps to regulate the ambient temperature.

 

Permaculture: sustainable food production

Permaculture is an agricultural method that mimics natural ecosystems and enables sustainable food production. Instead of intensive, monocultural agriculture, permaculture focuses on diversity and cooperation between plants and animals. This reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides and improves soil quality in the long term.

By applying permaculture in our gardens and on our farmland, we can not only produce healthier food, but also promote biodiversity and improve soil structure. This helps sequester carbon in the soil, which contributes to the reduction of climate change.

 

One step further, creating a ‘food forest’

A food forest or forest garden, is a form of permaculture where a diverse ecosystem of edible plants is created. In a food forest, trees, shrubs, herbs and climbing plants work together to form a self-sustaining system. These forests are not only a source of food, but also provide habitat for animals and insects, and help to conserve water and soil.

Food forests can be created on both a large and small scale. From backyards to community urban projects, the possibilities are endless. They offer a sustainable solution for food production and contribute to a greener, healthier living environment.

 

Green roofs and vertical gardens

In densely populated urban areas, space is often limited. Green roofs and vertical gardens offer innovative solutions to integrate greenery. Green roofs insulate buildings, reducing the need for air conditioning and heating, and contribute to rainwater collection. Vertical gardens can be constructed on building facades and not only improve air quality, but also improve the aesthetic appearance of cities.

 

Community gardens: working together for a green future

Community gardens bring people together and promote social cohesion. They provide a space where people can grow their own food, share knowledge and work together towards a more sustainable future. These gardens can play an important role in urban environments, where access to green environments are often limited.

 

Conclusion

Utilizing green environments offers numerous benefits for climate control, sustainable food production and promoting biodiversity. By applying techniques such as permaculture and food forests, and investing in green roofs and vertical gardens, we can make a significant impact on our environment. Let’s work together to make our cities and communities greener, healthier and more resilient. The future is in our hands – and in our green environments.

 

Create your own green environment!

Are you curious about what you can do to make your environment greener? Or do you want to experience the power of green and sustainable food production yourself? Come and visit us at Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei!

Here we harvest fresh vegetables every week on Tuesday morning, straight from the field. A vegetable growth that benefits our environment by strengthening the biodiversity, that is good for our volunteers who find peace and connection in the garden and the soil and of course beneficial for the customers of Voedselbank Leiden who receive these vegetables.

You can also contribute with a donation! This way we can continue to create green environments and share fresh vegetables.

 

Fresh vegetables, a welcome addition in nutritious foods for Voedselbank Leiden

Paula van Kesteren, former board member of Voedselbank Leiden: “It all started with an idea from Ekklesia Leiden. They wanted to do something for customers of De Voedselbank, which we are obviously thrilled about! We aim to provide fresh and healthy food for everyone, but there aren’t always enough fresh vegetables available. Gradually, a plan was formed to harvest vegetables at Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei. This resulted in a wonderful collaboration, and the amount of freshly harvested vegetables we received weekly kept growing. Now, for the fourth year in a row, our customers are enjoying a welcome addition of fresh vegetables alongside the harvest from our own garden, De Bontekoe.”

 

Harvested especially for you

“It is wonderful for our customers to receive these high-quality vegetables. Normally, they get fresh produce that is on the edge of being consumable or no longer consumable. Products that no one really wants anymore. The beautiful fresh vegetables they now receive from the garden make a huge difference. They are extra tasty, nutritious, and contribute to our customers’ sense of self-worth,” Paula explains.

The weekly harvest is distributed on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. “Tuesday is always extra special. We can tell our customers that the vegetables were freshly harvested that morning, just for them by the volunteers of Stichting De Groentedeler. People really appreciate this!”

However, new customers often need to get used to all those fresh vegetables. Vegetables straight from the land. Vegetables that, although rinsed, may still have some soil on them. A variety of vegetables that are not always found in the supermarket and may be unfamiliar to them.

Overall, the customers of Voedselbank Leiden are delighted that the harvest season has started again. They eagerly await the fresh vegetables each week.

 

What to do with unknown vegetables?

Introducing new vegetables from the garden can be challenging sometimes. After all, what do you do with vegetables you don’t know? Since customers of Voedselbank Leiden can choose their products themselves, unknown vegetables are often less taken than familiar ones. Usually not because they don’t want to try them, but because people don’t know how to prepare them.

“The garden vegetables can taste very different from what people are used to. Often they find the vegetables incredibly tasty, but sometimes they try something, and it doesn’t taste as expected. With vegetables new to our customers, we often get questions about preparations. To assist our customers, the Nutrition Centre initially wrote recipes for five types of (less known) vegetables. Simple preparation methods that don’t require a pantry full of spices or extra ingredients. This way, our customers can try and experiment with these delicious new vegetables.”

 

Voedselbank 2

A perspective for the future of De Voedselbank

Looking forward, Paula indicates that more vegetables are always welcome. Annually, about 600 households rely on Voedselbank Leiden. They receive food for four days a week, with fresh vegetables available for two days. “This means there are still plenty of opportunities for expansion in the future. Maybe at De Bontekoe, maybe at Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei, or maybe from a new garden.”

Although an increase in fresh vegetables for De Voedselbank is highly welcome, Paula can also imagine this project being spread out more broadly. “It’s great that De Groentedeler became a foundation. This provides the opportunity for fundraising and means you can do even more for other people.”

We can surely conclude that harvesting fresh vegetables for people with less to spend is a success. Like Paula, we can imagine a similar project starting in other cities across the country.

 

Help to share vegetables

Are you curious about the various ways to support Stichting De Groentedeler and Voedselbank Leiden? Click here.

Thanks to your contribution, whether in the form of a donation or by helping as a volunteer, we can help more and more people to enjoy a healthy diet full of fresh produce.

Join us for an evening filled with inspiration about our soil and vegetation

Did you know that a teaspoon of healthy soil contains more living organisms than there are people living on earth? Discover more of these fascinating facts through the documentary ‘Onder het Maaiveld’ during the film screenings on september 19 and 23, 2024. Evenings in which we emphasize the importance of the earth and discuss the ways in which we can contribute to a healthy living environment. Will you join us?

 

A unique start to the Caritas Action

This year, the Caritas campaign of the Roman Catholic H.H.Petrus- en Paulus Parochie in and around Leiden, focuses on Mother Earth. A week in which awareness and caring for the earth is met with collections and activities on behalf of Stichting De Groentedeler. The Laudato Si working group also participates in this action.

A unique and informative part of this week is the film screening ‘Onder het Maaiveld’. This documentary shows the world of organisms and growth underneath our feet. It will bring people together in Leiden for two evenings, inspiring connection. Not only among each other, but also with the earth itself.

The documentary provides a broader understanding of the theme ‘caring for the earth’. It creates awareness of the limitless amount of life right under our feet. In addition, this evening will delve deeper into questions such as: what can we do to use the soil wisely? And how can we support the people around us to deal with the earth more consciously?

 

The program

We gladly invite all interested parties in Leiden and surroundings to attend the film screenings. Join us and get to know each other by initiating conversations. We seek connections, bring people together and strive to increase awareness of the nature that surrounds us.

We would like to welcome you on Thursday, September 19, 2024 from 8:00 PM in the Vredeskerk and on Monday, September 23, 2024 from 8:00 PM in de Regenboog. We will start with a short introduction from the board of De Groentedeler Foundation, outlining the importance of the earth in order to provide everyone with sufficient healthy food. We will watch the documentary together and have the opportunity to start a conversation afterwards.

 

About the movie

‘Onder het Maaiveld’ is a documentary by the makers of De Nieuwe Wildernis and De Wilde Stad. For this film, they go underground to visualize the world beneath our feet. A world that, according to Leonardo da Vinci, we know less about than about the galaxies above our heads.

The film inspires, amazes and provides insight into the soil. An underground community of roots, larvae, worms, fungi, bacteria, amoebae and arthropods. A microcosm in which communication takes place in an astonishing way. “It is rather fascinating that we overlook nature every day, while it forms the basis of our existence on earth”.

 

Practical information

Entrance to the film screenings is free, but a voluntary contribution* to Stichting De Groentedeler is much appreciated! This way we can work together to treat the earth well and help everyone to receive sufficient healthy food.

 

Date and location

Thursday, September 19, 2024 in de Vredeskerk (Van Vollenhovenkade 24, Leiden)

Monday September 23, 2024 in de Regenboog (Watermolen 1, Merenwijk Leiden)

 

Time

Walk-in at 7:30 PM

Program starts at 8 PM

Expected ending around 10:15 PM

 

*The contribution of an amount of your choice can be made during the collection, or by scanning the QR code at the entrance to make a donation on our website.

Click here to watch the trailer of the documentary

 

A vision for green, sustainability and connection

The vegetables grown and harvested for Stichting De Groentedeler are grown at Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei in Zoeterwoude. A beautiful place that is maintained with passion and care. In this very garden, our volunteers harvest fresh vegetables for the customers of De Voedselbank. We come together weekly at this inspiring place, where new connections, greater awareness of crops, nutrition and sustainability are developed.

In a conversation with owner Mariska Verhulst, we learn more about her vision, about the way she runs the garden and about her ambitions for the future.

 

An inspiring vision for Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei

“As consumers, you could say we lost our connection to food in a certain manner. At some point I started to wonder, where my own food came from. What exactly was I eating over the years? I started researching and noticed that the more I found out, the more questions I gained. At Bij Mei I want people to reconnect with nature and the nutritious value of the vegetables they eat.”

Apart from restoring the connection to food, Mariska has a broader ambition. “Food has the ability to connect people, this type of connection is an important goal for me. Every year I am amazed by the wonderful community that is created at the garden. Both among the individuals who come to harvest, and among the volunteers of Stichting De Groentedeler. With great dedication, these volunteers harvest and sort numerous portions of fresh vegetables for the customers of De Voedselbank. They provide vegetables to the people who would not be able to buy these themselves, but who urgently need healthy food. Isn’t that wonderful?!”

 

Treating nature with care

In her way of working, Mariska tries to ensure that agriculture and nature work together. An inclusive way of growing where no pesticides are used. The natural environment around the garden is used to assist the growth of plants and crops. For example, by stimulating biodiversity, insects are attracted to the garden to eliminate natural enemies on the plants. The hedgehogs that live along the edge of the garden and the great tits in the nest boxes around also assist Mariska in her work. They eat the snails and caterpillars around the crops and prevent the leaves from being eaten.

When asked why sustainable and organic cultivation is so important, Mariska answers that she does not want to drain the land. “For me it is about stewardship. We have to ensure that our natural environment is still available for future generations, by treating the natural resources with care. For example, by maintaining the soil and avoiding using too many heavy agricultural machines. We ensure a striving biodiversity by adding nature. We use trees, native plants and bushes to accommodate insects, bees and birds. By taking good care of both the vegetable beds and the edges around the garden, I want to leave the soil better than I found it.”

 

Growing through the seasons

In the open ground at Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei, the possibilities for alternatives when the weather changes, are limited. With the experience of recent years, Mariska adapts as much as possible to the course of the season. “I experienced that nature determines the right time for any crop to grow. I can be impatient and ready to sow beans, but in the end they only grow when nature is ready.”

 

Connection as a common goal

Connection is central in both the garden and Stichting De Groentedeler. Connecting the city and the countryside. Our connection with the earth on which we live and where our food comes from. The connection with the community that understands the importance of fresh and healthy food. With people who come to the rural area in Zoeterwoude for this purpose. But also with all the people who currently do not have the fresh vegetables that we may take for granted. “Stichting De Groentedeler helps me to reach out to a group of people that I cannot reach myself. They make my vegetables available to everyone.”

 

Contribute to healthy food for everyone!

Are you curious about the garden, and would you like to help harvest vegetables as a volunteer of Stichting De Groentedeler? We would like to welcome you within our team, in order to share fresh organic vegetables with those who need them most.

Would you like to do something but working in the garden is not possible for you? You may be able to do a financial contribution or start a fundraising campaign. This way we can continue to increase the amount of vegetables to be harvested and donated to De Voedselbank.

A day to reflect on everything Mother Earth has to offer

As a horticultural advisor and board member of Stichting De Groentedeler, Peter Klapwijk is well aware of the importance to reflect and remember, especially on World Earth Day. “It is good to consider what the earth has to offer us. To remember that you are allowed to be here thanks to the earth. This is the environment where we walk around, where our houses, villages and cities are located. Where trees grow, where lakes are situated and where our food comes from. We are helpless without the earth.” says Peter. “The earth is a great gift that we should never take for granted. We have to take care of the earth, even though we forget about it sometimes.”

 

Earth brings life

The earth has always played a significant role in Peter’s life. “When I look at the earth, I see a place from which we derive our right to exist. The earth is balanced. There is rain, there is sunshine, there is fertility which makes things grow. I deeply respect everything that can arise on this earth.”

“One of my earliest memories is sitting in a sandpit wearing blue overalls. I come from a family of horticulturists, an old farming lineage. I started my career as a grower, from which I grew out to become an expert in the field. When I stopped growing, after years of practical experience, I became actively involved as a knowledge entrepreneur in the international high-tech agricultural sector.”

As a grower, developer, and in his role as an advisor, Peter understands the importance of treating the earth well. “The earth determines what grows and thrives. This means that you have to work consciously and with deep respect for your environment,” he emphasizes. His considerate vision often makes people say that Peter can think like a plant. That he is intertwined with the earth.

 

Mother Earth and Stichting De Groentedeler

Just like in Peter’s life, the connection with Mother Earth is of great importance to Stichting De Groentedeler. We strive to raise awareness of everything the earth provides and subsequently share all the vegetables we can harvest with the clients of De Voedselbank.

“I think it is wonderful that we work along with a group of volunteers. These are mostly people who grew up in the city, rather differently from me. While working in the garden, they reconnect with the earth. They see how vegetables grow, work with the earth and the plants, and share the harvest with people who are less fortunate than we are. For a fair and sustainable future, it is crucial to be able and willing to share, and that’s precisely what we do and advocate with Stichting De Groentedeler.”

In a time that has become increasingly individualistic, working in the garden also offers the opportunity to do something meaningful together. With a shared passion for the earth and the vegetables harvested from it, the volunteers are committed to the clients of De Voedselbank, the garden and each other. “Sometimes it is tough to work in the rain, but it is especially valuable to see how everyone connects with each other and how we all engage with the earth. This is the greenest and mentally the healthiest gym that I can think of,” says Peter. “It is a place where people rediscover the wondrous world around them. Where a certain foundation is restored through a newly found connection.”

 

Caring for the earth together

On World Earth Day, Peter advises people to reflect on the choices they make on a daily basis. Would it be possible to use a bike rather than a car? Can you eat more organically? Do you really need the items you are about to buy? And how sustainable are the products you purchase? By being aware of what you do, you can make a difference in creating a healthier earth.

“You are allowed to enjoy, after all, the earth produces for that purpose too. I enjoy living a prosperous life, but at the same time, I try to be aware of what I eat and what I do. I try to do it in the best possible manner. For example, by eating seasonal vegetables, being mindful of what I consume, and investing in food and materials that are produced consciously.”

At a corporate level, Peter sees countless opportunities. He is involved in the development of greenhouses that can be used as solar collectors, exploring the possibilities of extracting organic fertilizers from animal manure, and emphasizing the opportunities of a hybrid way of cultivation. “It is wonderful to collaborate with nature, but you can also use modern technology for that purpose. It is all about your footprint as an entrepreneur. Are you willing to pay the price for the choices you make? Are you able to clean up the mess you create?”

 

A vision for the future

“Perhaps even more important than the vegetables we harvest is the connection and awareness that we create with Stichting De Groentedeler. It allows us to make a lasting impact, making it increasingly natural to treat the earth well and share with those around us, especially the less fortunate.”

 

A gift for Mother Earth

On this day, which is actually the birthday of Mother Earth, Peter Klapwijk invites people to donate to Stichting De Groentedeler. “After all, a birthday is usually celebrated by sharing a gift.”

“I am convinced that without sharing, you can’t multiply. So let’s start sharing today, so we can sustainably help the clients of De Voedselbank to maintain a healthy diet, even when times are financially tough.”

Ready to share? Donate now!

 

Start as a volunteer of Stichting De Groentedeler!

A new season has started at Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei. This means the volunteers of De Groentedeler are already gearing up to harvest the first vegetables in about a month or two. We are looking forward to sharing a variation of highly nutritious vegetables with all clients of De Voedselbank in Leiden. Will you lend a helping hand? We will start mid-May!

 

A new season with an even greater ambition

Last year, our volunteers harvested 8,000 portions of fresh vegetables. A number that brought great joy to the clients of Voedselbank Leiden. This year, our ambition is even greater. We aim to offer the households that rely on Voedselbank Leiden (approximately 1,600 people from over 600 households) up to 10,000 portions of fresh vegetables.

Mariska Verhulst, owner of Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei where these vegetables are grown, is excited about this goal. “Fresh organic vegetables are often mainly accessible to the wealthier population. I think it is wonderful that by collaborating with De Groentedeler, we can now bring these vegetables to people who cannot afford fresh organic food, or even vegetables at all.” she says.

 

A wide variety of nutrients

Every year, Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei plants and harvests around 40 to 50 different crops. With a mixture of familiar and lesser-known vegetables, it is always a surprise to our volunteers what they will harvest that particular week. For example, this year root parsley is planted, with a taste that resembles a mix of parsnip, celeriac and parsley. With these types of vegetables, we get to discover new varieties through every season.

The clients of De Voedselbank are also curious about the new crops. They look forward to the fresh products that this new season has to offer. Vegetables they may not always be familiar with, but which they enjoy tasting nonetheless.

The first seedlings of the season have been collected by Mariska, the soil has been prepared, and the people of Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei are actively sowing. Let’s hope for some great weather conditions for a prosperous growth!

 

“You need other people to achieve the most idealistic goals”

Vrijwilligers Jule Forth
Photo credits: Jule Forth

By working together with volunteers, a new connection is formed. With each other, with the earth and with the food that you eat. You meet new people, discover new crops and help the clients of De Voedselbank while you enjoy the outdoors, learning a variation of harvesting techniques throughout the season.

Whether you have years of experience or none at all, as a volunteer, you’ll learn everything you need to know. “Besides, it is a thousand times more fun to work in the garden than to go to the gym,” adds Mariska.

Our volunteer Chris Oppenheimer tells us in an interview that his primal motivation is to help others. You can read more about his experiences as a volunteer on our website.

 

Your tasks as a volunteer

Volunteers of Stichting De Groentedeler come to the garden on Tuesday mornings. Some arrive weekly, others every other week, depending on their schedules.

Between 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., vegetables are harvested, washed, bundled and handed over to De Voedselbank. The vegetables are distributed to many grateful people that very same day.

As soon as the vegetables are collected, it is time for a nice coffee break, naturally accompanied by a tasty cookie. Then we clean up the vegetable beds together and head home again.

“It is very special to me that every Tuesday there are volunteers present to harvest fresh vegetables for someone else. Here at the garden, a community is formed that helps other people. There’s involvement and connection. A togetherness that can make a difference for those who lack fresh vegetables in their daily meals,” says Mariska.

 

Try it out and join a morning in May

Are you curious if harvesting vegetables suits you? Come join our team for one of the first mornings. Here you can experience the satisfaction that harvesting brings, the unity with other volunteers and the learning curve you go through during the growth process of the vegetables you harvest.

Send an email to info@degroentedeler.nl and meet the rest of the team!

 

Both photo’s are taken by Jule Forth

On February 6th, our team paid a visit to Voedselbank Leiden, the place where the vegetables we harvest are so gratefully received. We were given a tour within their impressive distribution center and received more information about their work, requirements, and customer experiences.

 

A vision on healthy nutrition

Voedselbank Leiden aims to provide a healthy and varied diet for all clients. Based on a balanced dietary, customers receive weekly portions of fresh vegetables, dairy and potatoes, rice, or pasta. In addition to their weekly goods, they receive products like cheese, eggs, butter, flour, coffee, and tea once a month.

Voedselbank Leiden distributes donated goods as much as possible. However, some products need to be purchased due to availability and expiry dates. Among these products are the necessary portions of fresh vegetables, which are in short supply during the winter period since the gardens can only harvest to a limited extent.

Peter Klapwijk, advisor in the horticultural sector and board member of Stichting De Groentedeler, immediately responds to this. “This means that it would be very helpful if we could extend the harvesting season in the gardens,” he summarizes. By hearing about the challenges at Voedselbank Leiden, he finds himself challenged to think about new possibilities to facilitate even more support in upcoming seasons.

 

Sustainably grown, high-quality vegetables

“We believe that everyone deserves a proper meal,” says Margriet Nieuwenhuis, board member of Voedselbank Leiden. She indicates how much the clients look forward to the amount of fresh vegetables during the season. Tasty crops full of nutritional value.

We can clearly see the conscious way people think about new ways to profit from vegetables. New initiatives arise frequently to make the most of these crops. For example, Paula van Kesteren, also a board member of Voedselbank Leiden, explains that some vegetables are unfamiliar to their clients. While volunteers are asked how certain vegetables can be prepared, an initiative was started to create simple recipes for specific crops. Well-considered menu’s that are quickly prepared, without the need for a well-stocked pantry with numerous herbs and additional products.

 

Vegetables from De Groentedeler

By now, Stichting De Groentedeler, has been donating fresh vegetables to Voedselbank Leiden for 3 years. By visiting their distribution center, we saw where the vegetables we harvest end up and how they are distributed. This gave the whole team an extra boost to raise funds in order to continue our efforts to donate fresh vegetables.

In 2023, we harvested over 8,000 portions of fresh vegetables, and this number will increase to 10,000 portions in 2024. Together with Mariska Verhulst from the garden Bij Mei, who was also present during this visit, we are committed to providing customers with the varied nutrition they need.

 

Together, we can share all the necessary vegetables

Are you willing to help us share all the necessary vegetables? We would greatly appreciate your donation! Now that we have obtained the ANBI-status, you can even enjoy tax benefits if you donate structurally. We believe that we are stronger together. So, let’s join our forces and ensure an increasing quantity of fresh vegetables donated to the clients of Voedselbank Leiden.

 

Stichting De Groentedeler and Voedselbank Leiden in Leidsch Dagblad!

An article about our visit to Voedselbank Leiden also appeared in Leidsch Dagblad. Are you curious about this article? Click here to read more.

A conversation with our volunteer Chris Oppenheimer

As the oldest volunteer, Chris Oppenheimer enthusiastically dedicates himself to supporting Stichting De Groentedeler. At 80 years old, he cycles back and forth between Leiderdorp and Zoeterwoude to work in the garden. Why? Because he highly values the connection to other people, to the earth and the ability to make a difference for those in need.

 

Volunteer at Stichting De Groentedeler

Through an announcement at Ekklesia Leiden, Chris Oppenheimer became acquainted with Stichting De Groentedeler. An appeal for volunteers to contribute to the garden caught Chris’s attention. He saw an opportunity to be outdoors and work together with others towards a common goal. He decided to sign up.

Since then, he has been working at Bij Mei with great pleasure.

“It’s wonderful to see immediate results. As the vegetables are picked up by the end of the morning, we have to make sure we are ready in time. After some hours of physically demanding work, we can enjoy a cup of coffee with all the volunteers, which is always very enjoyable!”

Sometimes the work is challenging. Drought makes it difficult to cultivate the hard ground, while too much moisture can cause the vegetables to wilt. You have to deal with all the natural circumstances that come about.

 

An eye for the origin of vegetables

Before joining as a volunteer, Chris Oppenheimer had no experience working in a garden. He developed his harvesting and weeding skills under the expert guidance of other volunteers. Gradually he gained insights into the growth process and the origin of certain vegetables.

“While looking at all the shiny vegetables that you find in supermarkets, you have no idea where they come from or how they are grown. By working at the garden, you create an eye for the origin of the vegetables you harvest in direct contact with the earth.”

Just like in the supermarket, the vegetables that look less appealing, are sometimes rejected in the community supported agricultural garden Bij Mei. Chris gladly takes these vegetables home, enjoying fresh meals and discovering new flavors regularly.

 

“It’s idealistic work; we are here to help others.”

Chris Oppenheimer doesn’t know how long he will be able to continue the physically demanding work at Stichting De Groentedeler, but for now, he carries out all the tasks at the garden with great pleasure.

“With a common goal in mind, we work together in a very pleasant environment. It’s nice to stay in touch with each other and with Mother Earth. Moreover, organic farming is something we should move towards for a sustainable future. After all, sustainability is becoming increasingly important!”

We would like to express our gratitude to Chris Oppenheimer for the fantastic contribution he makes to our foundation!

 

Become a volunteer yourself!

Are you inspired and willing to volunteer throughout the next season? Send an email to info@degroentedeler.nl now!

 

Entering the new year by taking conscious steps

Support Stichting De Groentedeler by joining the inspirational audio walks offered by Movemeant. By listening to the audio’s, you are invited to contemplate on every step you take. Guides by Marit, you will consciously look back on the steps you’ve taken in the past year and the ones you want to take in the new year. You can walk at your own schedule, pace and location. While you are doing so, €5 of each contribution will be donated to Stichting De Groentedeler.

 

How to take the next step

When you sign up for the walks, you will receive an email with the link to the audio’s, which allows you to embark on your journey. In addition to the link, you will receive an online workbook. This enables you to review the questions from the walks and start with some additional assignments to help you develop even more insights.

On Wednesday, December 27th, you will receive the audio’s to conclude the year, and on Monday, January 1st, you will receive audio’s to start the new year. All you need is headphones or earphones, a charged phone, and a notepad with a pen. It is up to you to decide when and where to walk. The audio’s will be available throughout the entire month of January.

Movemeant and Stichting De Groentedeler

These audio walks were developed by Marit Nieboer – Klapwijk. Having learned to walk again for the third time, she now coaches and guides people in taking conscious and meaningful steps. She believes it is very helpful to take your time to reflect because we often tend to overlook the things that truly matter.

Marit is a regular to our foundation. She was involved in the initial steps of the ‘De Groentedeler’ project from Ekklesia Leiden. This is the second year she organizes the audio walks as a meaningful way to contribute. Last year, her initiative was a success. With 70 people participating, enabling us to provide one family with fresh and healthy vegetables weekly in 2023.

 

Do you want to join?

You can find more information about these walks at: hetjaaruitlopen 23-24 – Movemeant.

You probably already figured that we work hard throughout the season. We harvest, rinse and sort all vegetables that we donate to Voedselbank Leiden. Yet, people often wonder what a day at Stichting De Groentedeler looks like. What do we do during the season? And what activities are organized around it? You can read more about it in this blog.

 

Our volunteers

Working together to great satisfaction

During the harvest season, volunteers of Stichting De Groentedeler are actively assisting in the community supported agricultural garden Bij Mei. Some are there weekly, others once every two weeks. With a common goal in mind, they work hard to provide the best vegetables to all customers of Voedselbank Leiden. By spending time together in the garden, a bond is created. Even when someone is away for a holiday or other obligations, there is always someone ready to step in. No matter what happens, their work in the garden continues.

 

Before the season starts

Plowing, planting and sowing

Before the season starts, most of our volunteers aren’t actively engaged yet. However, much needs to be done during this period. The soil has had time to rest during the winter, but it needs preparation in the spring.

Mariska Verhulst, owner of Bij Mei, drafts the plans for the upcoming season. She decides which vegetables she wants to grow and where they will be grown. Together with her team, she starts preparing the ground. They turn and fertilize the soil, remove weeds and so on. Once the soil is ready, they proceed with planting and sowing according to her plan.

Meanwhile, the board of Stichting De Groentedeler uses this period to attract new volunteers who can help us during the harvest. We create a schedule and ensure a proper distribution of tasks throughout the season.

 

During the season

A day at the garden

From the moment Mariska signals us that it is time to harvest, mostly around mid-April to early May, a group of four volunteers gathers in the garden every Tuesday. Energized and motivated, they delve into the fertile soil. They harvest, rinse and portion the vegetables. Everything is carefully placed into dedicated delivery boxes, ready for pickup by the volunteers of Voedselbank Leiden. It is physically demanding work, but our volunteers do it with utter dedication and joy!

 

8:30 AM – Time to harvest!

At 8:30 AM, volunteers gather in the garden and start harvesting. On extremely hot summer days, they often initiate to arrive even earlier to beat the heat.

 

10:30 AM – Voedselbank Leiden picks up our harvest

At 10:30 AM, the big bus of Voedselbank Leiden arrives. Volunteers help to load all the boxes with fresh vegetables, which will be distributed among their grateful customers.

10:45 AM – Coffee with all volunteers

Once Voedselbank Leiden has departed, Mariska’s team and all volunteers enjoy a cup of coffee during a well-deserved break.

 

11:00 AM – Garden maintenance

Maintenance is just as important as harvesting. After the coffee break, volunteers assist in keeping the beds clean. A rewarding task that results in a neat weed-free vegetable bed, ready for new crops to grow.

 

12:00 PM – Time to go home

Around 12:00 PM, most volunteers head home. Some stay a bit longer to finish the last tasks, but the main work is done by noon.

According to this schedule, a total of 8,000 portions of fresh vegetables were harvested in the season of 2023. A fantastic result for which we are extremely grateful to our volunteers, Mariska and her team!

 

After the season

Preparing for winter

Even after the season, there’s still much to be done. Once the last vegetables are harvested, the garden is prepared for winter. Vegetable beds are cleaned, and if necessary, turned over to let the soil rest.

Our board members continue to look for funds, ensuring the continuance of our activities over the next season. This is the time to draw up the budget, together with an estimation of the number of vegetables that can be grown next year. We plan, consult Mariska and slowly prepare for a new season to come.

Join us in the garden!

Would you like to contribute by helping in the garden during the season of 2024? That would be great! We can always use an extra pair of hands. Affinity with greenery and agriculture is useful, but experience is not required. Our more experienced volunteers will gladly explain what needs to be done and how to harvest the various crops.

I want to help!