New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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Netherlands: I call myself a metropolitan farmer.

Rob Baan, Koppert Cress, The Netherlands

By Ruud Sies (photographer) and partner Hanneke van Hintum (producer)
Resilience Food Stories


As a small boy Rob was often taken by his father on walks through the woods or the dunes, where he learnt which plants were edible, and where they shot rabbits. That was how his father had survived the war.

Rob therefore came to see nature as a friend and he began to love plants. When during his studies he found an internship at the seed company Sluis & Groot, all the knowledge he had built up fell into place. He was intrigued by what the people who worked there could tell from looking at a crop and what interested him most of all was the recognition of diseases in plants. He was fascinated to discover how many variables influence the health of a plant, including its roots, its leaves, the soil, its location and the conditions there.

On finishing his studies, he began a career in the seed industry that took him to more than a hundred countries, and gradually he began to realize how healthy vegetables are for people. Yet nobody in the seed industry seemed to be researching the constituents of plants. Various constituents were used to prevent or treat diseases in plants, but human beings were the missing factor.

It was only during his working visits to countries all over the world that he was truly converted. “As soon as I left western Europe and went to Turkey and Greece, for example, people started to explain to me why I should eat tomatoes, cabbage and other vegetables. In Arab countries they even said that rocket increases your chances of having male heirs.”

Link here.