Rob van Paassen

Rob van Paassen, Netherlands

Hi, I'm Rob van Paassen and I grow organic, biodynamic vegetables in the Netherlands for Nature & More.

My greenhouse lies in a polder near the heart of The Netherlands, in a small place called Oude Leede. Despite it’s location close to the royal city of The Hague and the world harbour of Rotterdam, Oude Leede is a wonderful calm and quiet place. The area is home to a number of small farms, which are often separated by small dikes, which form the only elevation in an otherwise flat landscape. Very Dutch!!

Our farm is a typical family farm which was originally purchased by my father. Today, together with my wife Sandra, we run the farm along with a great team, some of which have been working on the farm as long as us! My Dad still helps out from time to time and takes care of ‘special projects’, which need particular attention and extra care. The greenhouse covers 1 ha and 1.3 ha are seeded into pasture which is used for the family horses (a hobby of our children). The manure and stable waste are incorporated when making compost for the greenhouse crops.

The marketing of my products takes place via Nautilus Organic.

 

Interview with Rob van Paassen

N&M: What was your main reason to start with organic farming?
Rob: When I was a conventional farmer I had experienced and used a lot of biological pest control and compost already, purely out of personal interest and respect for plants, food and environment. Unfortunately these efforts were not recompensed / remunerated at all in the market. For the conventional market vegetables still have to look perfect from the outside no matter what the inside hides. But when a big Dutch trader asked me to switch to organic it was a logical step to me. I had found the financial security to bring my way of farming into reality. 

N&M: What was the most difficult part of the converting to organics?
Rob: To burn all your ships behind you and start afresh. Once you choose to go down this road, there really is no way back!  In the first years the soil was very poor with hardly any worms. 

N&M: Can you tell us something about the insects and birds at your site?
Rob: Obviously we work with a wide range of different insects.  Birds also regularly enter the greenhouse and ensure we are caterpillar free.  What was very exciting is that this year one of the students that was helping out in the greenhouse found a very rare butterfly “pijlstaartpauwoogvlinder” between the cucumbers

N&M: What is special about your farm?
Rob: Our farm is special because it is small. This means that we are able to experiment with new crops etc.  We like to think that the three horses, which take care of the organic manure, also make the farm extra special!

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