We may be at the forefront of agriculture, however, we also all know things can be done differently, smarter, more sustainable. Where it used to be mainly smaller mixed farms that produced our food, it is now the niche farmers or mega-farms that are doing very well. But eighty per cent of Dutch farmers are struggling. They don't have enough money, space or skills to change and compete. The farmer of the future is no longer that man sitting on his tractor, with his family cooperating to keep the business running. A contemporary farmer is always in flux. Perhaps with their family, but in any way another family around them. People who, together with the farmer, give a new impulse to the agricultural sector. Citizens, with all kinds of backgrounds, who feel involved in the future of our food. A motley collection of innovators from an unexpected quarter. A new farmer’s family.
A programme brings them together. Every year in De Boerenversneller [The Farmer's Accelerator], a nine-month incubator programme, around 15 farmers explore their opportunities to innovate. What do they want to change? And who do they need for that? In a contemporary family composition, they go from business idea to prototype, discovering the possibilities behind their figures, receiving coaching from experts within and outside the sector, and increasing their knowledge and innovative power. It’s a well-known phenomenon in the start-up world: an incubator in which companies fine-tune their business plan at an emergency pace and thus enter the road to investors as quickly as possible. However, this popular scene systematically overlooks one sector: agriculture. Even though there are plenty of innovative food startups, it is rarely about Dutch farmers.
To reinvent our food system, we need each other. We need families of farmers that are able to adapt to new times.
An initiative by Food Hub and supported by Stichting DOEN, by now, the growing modern family has over 500 members. Every year they get together during De Nieuwe Boerenfamiliedag [The New Farmer's Family Day] to do matchmaking and share their knowledge to farm better together. Sheepherders, pig farmers, greengrocers, engineers, scientists, and journalists – new family members can also find a warm welcome via social media or the programmed speed date evenings in Amsterdam’s Pakhuis de Zwijger. Together the community explores new value creation for their companies, the industry and society, and cultivates a futureproof agricultural landscape in the Netherlands.