Aardpeer is a movement that connects farmers and citizens in a transition towards sustainable food production. Part of this movement is making land available to nature-inclusive farmers for 7 generations. Thus, tackling a major obstacle for farmers in the Netherlands: land price.
Land is more than economy
Farmland in the Netherlands is scarce and often an object of trade and speculation. Yet land prices no longer reflect the profit made through agricultural returns. That pressures farmers to squeeze as much harvest from the land as possible, usually with the help of intensive and chemical-based methods. And that means the real cost of land price is paid through biodiversity loss and soil degradation. The impacts of intensive agriculture are clear; numbers of Black Tailed Godwit (limosa limosa) – an iconic Dutch meadow bird – plummeted more than 70% in 50 years. In fact, biodiversity loss in the Netherlands is much greater than elsewhere in Europe and the world.
Many Dutch farmers want to find balance between nature and agriculture. They are aware of the issues and they want to transition to more sustainable methods. But high land prices push them towards intensification. So, to boost biodiversity and regenerative soil in the Netherlands, it is important to remove land from speculative markets; giving farmers room to transition and placing land beyond economy.
Aardpeer: building a movement
Aardpeer is a movement that is accelerating the transition to nature-friendly agriculture in the Netherlands. The initiative is a collaboration between Stichting BD Grondbeheer, Stichting Herenboeren NL, Stichting Wij.land and Triodos Regenerative Money Centre. As part of the movement, land is made available for nature-friendly farmers for at least seven generations. Providing a healthy earth, healthy economy and communities connected to healthy food.
“For me, the mission of Aardpeer will be successful if we can reconnect farmers, citizens, soil and biodiversity through land. Farmers can farm more sustainably, citizens are reconnected to their food and soil and biodiversity benefit.” – Danielle de Nie, Director Wij.land
How does it work?
Stichting BD Grondbeheer acquires land through investment opportunities and makes it available to agricultural entrepreneurs who strive for healthy soil, healthy food and a healthy economy. The land is leased at a fair rental price and for the long-term; thus, offering a tenant long-term security and the freedom to invest in sustainable management.
Currently Stichting BD Grondbeheer is issuing a bond (a way of loaning money for a defined period) of which the prospectus has been approved by the Dutch financial authorities. Ordinary citizens can also invest or donate to BD Grondbeheer. By buying this bond it becomes possible for everyone to contribute to a more sustainable agriculture system. Not only does this allow all people to participate in a transition, but it allows people to participate in a transition on their doorstep. And it creates a closer connection between citizens, farmers and what it means to produce food well.
Who leases the land?
Every entrepreneur is unique, and each farm is different. Nature-inclusive businesses should be able to develop differently. One farmer may want to create habitat for meadow birds, while another may dream of establishing a food forest. Aardpeer supports farmers with various aims. What unites them is an ambition and will to continuously improve the land. Each management plan is tested by Aardpeer to ensure that there is sustainable land management, a restored balance between agriculture and nature and that the business connects to the landscape it is within.
“In order to be able to graze cows as naturally as possible, additional land was needed. I lease 25 hectares for 30 years under fair conditions. Without participating in Aardpeer and renting from Stichting BD Grondbeheer, I would never have been able to be where I am today; not even through some other creative form of financing.” – Jarin Brunia, Dutch dairy farmer
Looking beyond economy
Land offers so much more than financial gain. Giving farmers, who are passionate about finding balance between nature and agriculture, land to develop sustainable practices means that we all profit from the ecological and social benefits. By taking joint responsibility of that landscape, the distance is reduced from farmer to citizen and from soil to plate. In this way the earth is preserved for the next seven generations. So that not only we, but also our children’s children will enjoy healthy food, landscapes rich with biodiversity, a livable earth and an agricultural sector that is sustainable and economically healthy.
Do you want to find out more?
Join speakers on 27th January to hear more about Aardpeer and how this movement is making long-term change happen in the Netherlands.