PROEFTUIN VAN LINSCHOTEN, an ECOLOGICAL MARKET GARDEN
Proeftuin van (Taste Garden of) Linschoten is a new market garden in the village of Linschoten in the Netherlands. It is run by four women: initiator Natascha Boel and gardeners Matty Vink, Emma Smeets and Nina Linders, with the help of many community volunteers. Together they are transforming an old, four acre pear orchard into a nature-inclusive vegetable, herbs and fruit garden. The project is in its second year and is subsidized by the European Fund for Rural Development and the Dutch province of Utrecht.
The garden is situated on the bank of a small river on Landgoed Linschoten, a private estate consisting of a mansion, surrounded by woods and pastures. 2022 was a pilot year, to see if the soil, a very dense river clay, would be suitable for growing vegetables. It was a big succes: the garden exploded with veggies and flowers, which attracted many pollinating insects.
Winter and spring of 2023 brought a flurry of building activity of a different sort. For months the garden looked more like a muddy battlefield than a sunny paradise: irrigation and power lines were installed in trenches, pear trees were uprooted and replanted to make way for two glasshouses and two tiny eco-lodges. Nesting-boxes were mounted in the hedgerow for 26 different bird species.
Finally, the gardeners were able to sow and plant and sell their first CSA shares. The shareholders are encouraged to self-harvest. They receive a weekly harvest email with online links to Youtube clips in which gardeners Matty and Emma explain how to cut spinach so it will grow back for a second cutting, or how to detach a head of lettuce from its roots by carefully turning it around. In four years they hope Proeftuin van Linschoten will be a viable business, so that it can continue reconnecting people, nature and agriculture.
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