VAN ROSSUM CAFÉ, RESTAURANT & STADSHOTEL WOERDEN, THE NETHERLANDS
Ed and Wieteke Breuren van Rossum always dreamt of having their own farm. Not just any farm, but one that would reflect their philosophy, an idea that goes beyond merely providing the ingredients for their restaurant. It was a search for natural balance and quality of life - for plant, human and animal alike. Today, fruit trees grow in the orchard, the kitchen garden produces tasty seasonal vegetables, and both orchard and garden are home to chickens who enjoy picking off the slugs and caterpillars.
In search of their farm, Ed and Wieteke spent around six seasons scouring the countryside around Woerden, a town which styles itself as the capital of the Groene Hart, the rural ‘green heart’ sandwiched between the Netherlands’ western conurbations. Finally, in the summer of 2017, they found the perfect spot 20 minutes’ drive from Woerden, near Woerdense Verlaat, a village that grew up around a sluice built there around 1448.
With their daughter Sjuul, Ed and Wieteke moved in to the summer house in the middle of their farm, which spans a little more than a hectare. For the farm as a whole, which includes a large farmhouse dating from 1935, various outbuildings in need of repair, and an unusable stable, the couple developed a mas- terplan based on the philosophy that everything is about natural balance. The metamorphosis has been underway for around 18 months.
CLOSING THE LOOP
In the entire Van Rossum business, from the hotel to the café restaurant and the meeting house, efficiency goes hand in hand with sustainability and generous hospitality. The couple run their farm according to the permaculture approach, a principle for design- ing the human environment in a way that is both ecologically sustainable and economically stable, drawing on the example of complex natural ecosystems. This means that the soil is the place to start. Before anything was planted in the orchard, kitchen garden, wild-food wood and the pick-your-own garden, all the topsoil was ecologically enriched.
The farm is now also home to pigs and free-range chickens, ducks and geese. In 2018, there was a sizeable harvest of ecologically grown produce, and Ed and Wieteke are proud that the Van Rossum chefs now make dishes using fair, organic meat and veg from their own farm.
The farmhouse has been completely renovated in state-of-the-art self-sufficient and sustain- able style. The solar panels produce more than the farm itself needs, and the overcapacity is used by the hotel, café restaurant and meeting house in Woerden. Ed and Wieteke have closed the loop.
For 25 years, the couple’s dream has been a piece of land where they can live self-suffi- ciently. With their entrepreneurial spirit, they keep setting out on new adventures, staking their savings to make their latest idea a reality. In hospitality, the art of business is to pour your energy into creativity.
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