Married to the Farming LifestyleHet Groene Hart is a Bayer ForwardFarm located near Schiphol in The Netherlands that is independently owned and operated by Jasper Roubos and his family. We sat down with Eveline Roubos, Jasper’s wife, to discuss her perspective on the farming lifestyle, the Bayer ForwardFarming initiative, sustainable farming and her hopes for the future of the farm and her family.
Being the mother of two young children, running a household and being involved in the daily farming business is very admirable but no doubt comes with its share of challenges. What does a typical day in your life look like?
Being married to a committed farmer and living on the farm means you’ll become a part of the farm ecosystem. Farming isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life. A farmer doesn’t have scheduled working times like many other people in the workforce. Certain work must be done seasonally, but depending on the weather, it’s hard to predict when you’ll be busiest.
Over the years we’ve realized that the only way to run a sustainable farm with a young family is to make clear roles for everyone. Jasper runs the farm, I run the family and our other business – a campsite for motorhomes. I see it as my job to make sure that the people visiting, working and living on our farm are taken care of, so that our days run smoothly.
In the film showcasing Het Groene Hart, you mentioned that “you are married to a farmer, but even more so, you are married to his lifestyle”. What are the biggest challenges and what excites you most about life on the farm?
When Jasper’s activities on the farm grew, and our campsite for motorhomes grew, I decided to give up my job and run our home and hospitality business full time. Jasper works hard to keep our farm running. He has to put a lot of time, energy, interest and knowledge in his work. However, he’s with us in the morning and during meals, so the children still see him quite a lot. Because I’m able to work at home, I can completely be there for my children, which for me, is a great gift. It’s great to see that they seem to love growing up on the farm. The enthusiasm that Jasper has about farming has been inherited by our son. He’s completely into farming and everything that comes with it.
Married to the Farming Lifestyle
What has changed on your farm since you joined the Bayer ForwardFarming initiative? Why do you think it is important to get involved in such initiatives?
Bayer approached us about participating in the ForwardFarming project in November 2014. The more we learned about it, the more we both got the feeling that this was something we wanted to be a part of. We’ve always been interested in sustainability and motivated to contribute to a better environment. We recycle everything we can, and our property runs completely on solar energy. The main reason for joining this project was to help create a platform to improve sustainability in modern farming. To create awareness.
Since we began, we’ve learned a lot about the newest technologies in emissions reduction, precision farming and biodiversity. A beekeeper involved in the project taught us a lot about bees and how important they are. Learning new facets of the farming eco-system is so important. Through our farm, we can show people how our experience can be translated across the agricultural industry.
How important is continuous innovation and adoption of sustainable practices for succession planning and future of a family-owned farm like Het Groene Hart?
We have a great passion for our work on the farm, but there are always things that can be improved. I think it’s important that we look beyond the obvious outputs when developing modern farming. Of course, farming is about yield, but every farmer knows that if that’s the only goal, eventually the land will get depleted. Research is important, and sharing results and knowledge help us all work together to enhance modern farming.
What are your hopes for the future for your family and farm?
Together with Bayer, we took our farming to a higher level. Not only in how we treat crops, but also in how we work with agricultural machinery and how we manage our property sustainably. It would be great if we could witness groundbreaking developments in modern farming come to market, like the precision spraying technology that is currently in development. I believe that new technologies will lead to new insights and new ways of doing things, and I look forward to being there when they’re discovered.
What do you wish people understood most about modern farming?
Being married to a farmer, the image I have of them is not what most people see and perceive. Many assumptions about farmers are exaggerated, such as their misuse of crop protection and disregard for bee health. However, when properly used, following strict regulations, crop protection products are safe, and bees don’t have to suffer from modern farming. The bee hives in our fields are doing well, and in the honey, that was (independently) tested, no crop protection residues where found.
I hope that after a visit at the ForwardFarm people have gained a more well-rounded perception of modern agriculture. Good farming isn’t about getting the highest yield at the expense of the land. We are lucky to be in the midst of study and practice, finding ways to provide people with healthy food, through a way of farming that is realistic and sustainable.
Watch the video below on Eveline and Jasper’s farm and their involvement with the Bayer ForwardFarming initiative. You can also learn more about Het Groene Hart farm on this page of the ForwardFarming website.