Ronald Veens

Veens

Hi, I’m Ronald Veens and I grow organic blueberries in the southeast of the Netherlands. My farm is partially located in National Park “De Grote Peel”. I live here together with my wife Rionne and my sons Yurge and Cas. Thank you for buying my fruit, I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Most of my organic blueberry fields are located in protected natural area. “De Peel” and in the past this region was used to cut and collect peat. Some 25 acres of my grounds are covered with forest and pools. When I pass through this area, I often see deer and other wildlife. Furthermore, there is an abundance of birds and small animals on our land. Together with several environmental organizations, I maintain these bits of nature and develop them further. Their presence is good for my blueberry orchards: the biodiversity helps me to control pests and diseases.

I started growing blueberries in this area around 1994. These blueberries are a relative of wild blueberries or bilberries, and are thought to be very healthy. In 1997 I acquired a large piece of new land, that I converted to organic in 1999. The soil in this area is perfect for blueberries, so I have to use very few inputs and still get a good and constant quality. It’s all about choosing the right crop with the right type of soil!
 
What I really like about organic agriculture, is working together with nature. I love the challenge of unravelling the whole system and managing it in such a way that I get a good harvest every year.

 

Interview with Ronald Veens

Nature & More: Why did you choose organic farming?
Ronald: “I studied horticulture in Holland and then went on to study in Scotland for two years. There I found a completely different approach of agriculture: less industrial, more aimed at consumers. There you see “Pick your own” signs all around the orchards. When I came back to the Netherlands, I applied with a company involved in rock wool for greenhouse farming, but the whole thing felt wrong. They gave me the job, but I declined. Shortly thereafter I saw an organic blueberry farm for sale in Helenaveen, and I jumped to the opportunity!”

Nature & More: You have a small conventional blueberry orchard near your house, why is that?
Ronald: “The first piece of land that I bought, turned out to be plagued by hedge bindweed. That’s a weed that winds itself around the plants and pulls them down. The roots are fleshy and grow very deep; if you cut them, they produce new shoots. I could not get it under control without spraying. For years now, I have consistently pulled them out, every week again. Now finally, they seem to retreat. I have good hopes that soon I will be able to stop spraying and convert this last stretch of orchard to organic too.”

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