Don't know where to start either? Help is on the way. Listen to the food forestcast by theme!

After two seasons and more than forty good conversations, a person may well find the linear thread of a timeline full of conversations to be insufficient to hold on to. After all, what does it say? A very long list. That's true. But, where do you start, as a fresh listener?

 

Therefore, it is high time to bring together these unique conversations with headstrong pioneers and inspired nature lovers, agriculture and landscape reformers. And this winter we are doing so by theme. Not only new - but also existing listeners will get a better grasp of the big issues discussed in these conversations.

 

Here, of course, we must immediately make a comment. No conversation has neatly kept to its theme! Rather, in this podcast we want to show the whole person, in all his or her colors, and so that happens in each talk. This format is about the big story of that person or persons, the reason often why we invited him or her or them and offers that little bit more grip ... nothing more.

 

In the fall of 2023, Marieke van der Velden reported to us with a talk record she had worked out from the podcast with Diderik Clarebout. We loved it and she wanted to do more of it. Together we then came up with the idea of grouping the podcasts together and creating an inspirational talking picture for each group. And these great talking boards serve ok exactly the same purpose: to give the conversations a little more staying power for the listener.

 

So, for the first time or again: we wish you much listening and viewing pleasure and hopefully inspiration for your food forest or other quest to live in and contribute to a greener and ecologically healthier world.

 

Frank, Marieke and Marieke

 

The themes

Talking plate theme food forests by Marieke van der Velden, Eyeopeners

Theme 1: So many food forests ... so many kinds of food forests

A food forest is not just a pile of trees and shrubs that are edible. A successful food forest, which you don't have to fertilize, and where nothing needs to be controlled by us humans, has a system. Fortunately, there is a lot of consensus about those systems. Every food forest expert will want to start with making the soil healthier. Every food forest expert will want to build as ecologically rich a system as possible and base it on the natural system of succession. And every expert will want to invite as much life into his or her system as possible.

But, there are also differences in vision and approach. Each expert comes from a different history, sits on different ground, was started in a different time, and of course, as a true stubborn pioneer, has a different vision. That's great! And very rich to listen to.

In this issue, we explore those similarities and differences in more depth. We introduce you to four podcasts from the Food Forest Podcast, each of which tells you a lot about a specific vision of the ecology and systematics of food forests and what important and positive answers all types of food forests offer to the major ecological, climatic and social crises of our time.

Podcast 4: Wouter van Eck

The podcast to start with is Wouter van Eck's. Not only does he explain the core principle behind every food forest, but he is also the great pioneer who has even managed to literally put food forests on the menu in the Netherlands. His vision began in the tropics and he has played a huge role in translating such a tropical forest into food forests in temperate regions.

Podcast 14: Malika Cieremans

The podcast with Malika Cieremans is a logical continuation. She has been working on the subject perhaps longer, but in a very different way and also from a very different background, that of forestry science. She has visited the old-growth forests of Eastern Europe and Russia, as well as lived for a long time in severely drought-threatened ecosystems, and now brings all that knowledge to the Netherlands.

Podcast 3: Martijn Aalbrecht

Martijn Aalbrecht talks about how he became a father. And sought a healthy lifestyle for his family. And, how he, not hindered by any knowledge found the worst country you could have. And how great that gift was. Because without that big problem, he would never have accumulated the enormous knowledge treasure he now shares with the world. So he too, from his background, has built up a unique perspective on the ecology of food forests.

Podcast 39: Maurice Ramaker

This theme closes with the conversation with Maurice Ramaker. He himself is not a long-time pioneer, but he talks about a system that certainly belongs in this theme: Syntropic farming. A very unique food farming system about which little is known in the Netherlands. This system also originated in the Tropics, in Brazil to be exact. Founder Ernst Götsch developed a unique multilayered system that gives great results incredibly quickly, but also requires a lot of labor.

talking point on design by Marieke van der Velden, Eyeopeners

Theme 2: The communication and scaling power of good design

Every food forest is different. You could almost say, just as every garden is different. The owner or designer can put a lot of their own ideas into it. Where will the tall trees be? And where the paths? And will it be all straight or just full of exciting vistas? Is it about botany, biodiversity, perception, or very practical production? What does the owner like? And tasty? Or is it about more?

All these differences within that one term "food forest" mean that there are also quite a few misunderstandings and prejudices about the profession of food forest design. Some think that if you make a pretty picture, you have designed a food forest. Others think that by making a picture you lose the ecological path completely, because you show a final image that will never exist in that state. And still others think that designing for and of food forests is a real profession, in which you can easily develop for years. After all, you have to be able to act on an awful lot of levels. To design really well, you have to understand complex programs like illustrator, mapping systems and GIS packages. But you also need to know a lot about plants and tree species, and beyond. You have to understand landscapes, climate zones, ecosystems and water resources, and be able to get a plan, a vision eb a logic into that food forest design at all those levels.

If you master that complete palette, then you are enormously powerful. Because, then you produce maps, imagination, order lists and action perspective that allow you to literally change the world and communicate tremendously quickly exactly what is intended. The big plan, the vision and a beautifully crafted design mean that you can take people within minutes to the idea and literally show them what the plan embraces. And if that looks beautiful, that helps tremendously in getting agencies, financiers, family, in short everyone excited about a plan. But the magic is only really complete when from that imagination also come planting plans, and order lists, and that you can see what it will look like over time and how the biodiversity and other system services of a food forest will be secured. And then a design acts as a communication tool to everyone needed to make that food forest actually rise.

In short, being able to design food forests is a very important profession that is being developed right now by, among others, the people who can be heard in the following podcasts. This topic includes three purebred designers and two writers with a great affinity for design. Indeed, the strength of their books lies primarily in how they describe what is involved in a food forest design. And those books, just like good design, are also enormously powerful communication vehicles for taking lots of people to a new reality very quickly.

This theme is about the power of well-crafted imagination and how it contributes to changing our planet.

Podcast 2. Evelyn Derksen

Start listening to what was also literally the beginning of our podcast series for us. Evelyn Derksen, the principal designer of the Food Forestry Foundation. At first, this conversation really needs to get going, but as you listen through, she takes you through how she grew to become a food forest designer and also her well-founded, super-interesting and detailed picture of the future, particularly of the Netherlands' large production food forests. Food forests that she has largely designed and watched grow.

Podcast 20: Jelle Fekkes

The most logical one to listen to next is Jelle Fekkes. His background and growth path are partly similar to Evelyn, but he thinks very differently. Much more almost like a graphic designer or and architect. In planes, lines, and especially functions. He really takes his clients, but also us as listeners, into that -if it is good- never ending thought process.

Podcast 19: Madelon Oostwoud

Madelon Oostwoud is not a designer, but a writer. She traveled to food forests, interviewed the owners, and then drew out and relayed her experience for us. Her book Food Forests was the first Dutch-language book on food forests, and that book has sold at least 15,000 copies. Who is the person who has that drive? And how important is she in spreading the food forest virus?

Podcast 15: Weruschca Kirkegaard

With Weruschca Kirkegaard and then Louis de Jaeger, we ascend to greater heights: landscapes around the world. Weruschca comes from the world of styling and restaurants. And now brings that mentality of wanting perfection and excellence to the world of permaculture and landscape design. Nothing spice spirals, but restoring completely degraded landscapes. She takes the craft very seriously and, along with Daniel Halsey, is building a whole team of designers with United Designers.

Podcast 24: Louis de Jaeger

Louis de Jaeger is the youngest guest in this topic, and he can -so our experience in this podcast- fly much further than the first generations of pioneers. He has his own design firm, but also writes books, is a sought-after speaker and makes documentaries and now international films. The way he actually designs his own life and brings more and more people into it is a very catchy ending to this topic about scale and communication power.

Theme 3: money, contracts, regulations and revenue models

They are there: people who (want to) be able to make a living from their food forest and make it their profession: food forest farmer, food forest job or food forest entrepreneur. In fact, it was difficult to define this theme, because there are also people in other themes who derive part of their income from a food forest.

 

Podcast 23: Stijn Heijs

The theme kicks off with company doctor Stijn Heijs. He is used to immediately looking for the weak links and getting companies (back) on track from there. So when he came into contact with food forests, his first impulse was to take a very critical look at that business model, turn it over 10 times and strip it down again, and after that whole process he could come to no other conclusion than that it could work out fine. So he became active within food forestry foundation to coach farmers in developing their new industry: large-scale food forestry.

Podcast 6. Liesbeth van Bemmel

Liesbeth is a lawyer. And food forest builder in the middle of the green heart. In fact, she also reads zoning plan attachments. And teaches us, in this podcast, that we should do the same. She talks about where she came from, how illness caused her to seek health and a different lifestyle, how nearly philosophical legal thinking can be, and how she has developed not one but several revenue models on her still quite small food forest.

Podcast 8. Vincent Bogaart

Vincent is spiritual as well as businesslike. An unusual combination that led him from a childhood in nature to a career in petrochemicals and then to an increasingly spiritual path. He is an impact investor and explains exactly what that means. He also owns a food forest himself and lives in an eco-village. So he also has his own experience with many forms of contract, collaboration and revenue models.

Podcast 9. Arne Driessen

Arne is a very special investor. In fact, he is also a gardener. And Japanologist, but that aside. Together with his mother, he invests in green companies with innovative business models and can tell you about them both enthusiastically and practically. You can hear him constantly looking for models and entrepreneurs and forms of business that can fly and scale without, of course, losing the ecological principles that it's all about.

Podcast 18. Marc Buiter

Until 2023, Marc Buiter was the man thinking big within the Food Forestry Foundation. He has had a long career in organizations like Urgenda, knows an incredible amount about transitions, and about all the environmental problems that regular agriculture brings. Think pollution, energy consumption and that worldwide. In his view, agriculture needs to change day before yesterday, and change needs to hurry up and scale. Listen to a man full of impatience and with, at the same time, a tremendously long breath.

Podcast 38. Maarten van Dam and Jeroen Plesman

Maarten and Jeroen come from the world of finance. So raising 4 million for their regenerative farm Schevichoven was the easy part for them! Their calculations also show that regenerative farming with especially perennial crops can be out in the long run. But their reality is also ecological and also unruly. A delightful podcast full of valuable lessons from two courageous and honest entrepreneurs.

Podcast 40: Kien van Hövell

We conclude this theme with the wide and far-seeing Kien van Hövell of Grootstal estate in and near Nijmegen. A small estate that is colored by the city it is now almost in. And which is also partly in another municipality. If anyone has for years been able to connect their own ecological goals with the nearby residential neighborhood, school, municipalities, farmers, neighbors, forest and city then Kien is it. She has also developed a very interesting model for multi-entrepreneurship on her estate.

 

food forest farming jobs

Welcome to the world of food forest (farming) jobs

A podcast that has landed in this theme must meet the requirement that the guest also tells how he or she gets or wants to get an income from it. How has his or her life changed? What does it mean to have this profession? What makes it beautiful? Or difficult? What do you think about earning power and the future?

The funny thing is, if you do all seven! listening, it quickly becomes very logical that you can make a living from your food forest business or job. And that's what it should become soon: a 'normal' career option for a lot of farmers.

We kick off with two Belgian entrepreneurs who have been living off their food forest for years and talk about it very naturally.

Podcast 27: Bert d'Hondt

Bert loved biology, thought he wanted to be a teacher, and traveled to Australia a long time ago – in the 90s of the last century. There he discovered permaculture and it didn't let him go. He decided to take over his family's house and land and has been doing it full time for about 20 years now. He eats from it, volunteers work there, he grows something, he advises and gives a lot of courses.

Podcast 29: Diderik Clarebout

Diderik is a full-time food forest farmer, food forest grower and food forest processor through a partnership. He farms on 6 hectares of fertile clay soil, in the middle of the meadows and shows it. But he also says that he had to keep a job for a long time. And that he had to learn a lot. About too much hay, too many people, too many activities. Everything is work and you have to optimize all that work.

Podcast 36: Mark Venner

Mark is at the beginning of life as a food forest farmer. He succeeds his dairy farming father and seems to be the perfect example for other sons of dairy farmers. But, of course, the reality is more complex. His reality, but also the communication with that entire field, from neighbor and fellow farmer to Rabobank. Mark and his family are walking a path that has not yet been trodden and he shares very openly what that path entails.

Podcast 33: Kaat Biesemans Hogewijs

Kaat is also Belgian, but she lives in the Netherlands. She was in a situation that was recognizable to many: husband, adolescent children, no one around her who wants to change and then it is very interesting to hear how she managed to find a new job in her own environment from a job that no longer suited after drinking a lot of cups of coffee, namely that of food forest planter and manager.

Podcast 25: Frank de Gram and Joke Feenstra

Joke and Frank are the future, we say in our podcast. Not because their plan and set-up stems from our course, but because they have developed a really repeatable recipe with which you can get through the first tough years with your food forest. Their concept is social, inclusive, local, community-building, economically feasible and of course ecologically fantastic.

Podcast 37: Clarien Klingen

Klarien is a very old hand in the ecological farming profession. She was one of the founders of Future Farmers, now also runs CSA Netherlands and is active within the Green Deal food forests while earning her income with a CSA market garden. So this is not a podcast about food forests, but one about fair wages, the always difficult position of small ecological farmers and her years of struggle for fairer revenue models.

Podcast 12: Piet Moerman and Hilde Eijlenbosch

We finish again in Belgium, at the beautiful food forest Deinze by Piet Moerman and Hilde Eijlenbosch. An example plot for farmers. Sometimes very rough. Sometimes very nicely in rows. Sometimes with guilds, sometimes in circles, but everything in this food forest is always based on perennial woody systems that are resilient in an uncertain agricultural future. Piet and Hilde have had a wonderful career in the petrochemical industry and have now started their second career: not talking but showing that ecological farming is possible. They will share all the data and tell in this podcast how they live the future for farmers.