Hi! My name is Jan Knook. ZANN has interviewed me! Read It here and get to know everything about me!
1. How old is your company and how did you get there?
The company already has been 100 years in the family, if I’m right. My grandfather had a business in Nieuwendam (North of Amsterdam) but in 1915 he received the news that it had to be removed since the location was going to be used for the building of houses. Therefore he bought this farm in the Beemster (a town in the North of Holland). Although I always had some interest in farming I wasn’t really planning to do it in the future. Therefore I started a study in landscape architecture and regional planning in Wageningen. But during my study I became more interested into farming and after my internship I knew for sure that I wanted to take over the company.
2. How big is the company?
The company back then was 16 hectares big, which is too small to have a reasonable income.
Therefore I rented some extra land to grow potatoes and summer flowers.
Although I always had much interest in organic farming I did not dare to start with it right at the beginning, the sales just weren’t there at that moment (we’re talking about 1985 here).
3. When did you started with organic farming?
In 1999 I asked myself if I wanted to continue farming the conventional way, if I do not do it now it will never happen I thought. So in 2000 I made the step ! At first only the field crops and in 2004 also flowers.
4. Why did you started organic farming?
As a child and teenager I always had much interest in nature and everything what threatened the biodiversity, therefore my choice of study. The book ‘’Silent spring’’ and everything what became known about the use of products for crop protection made me very worried.
I see organic farming as a way of contributing to the biodiversity.
5. Which products do you grow?
At this moment growing potatoes is the most important for me. I also grow pumpkin, quinoa, onions, grass clover and oats. After 12 years of growing flowers I unfortunately had to stop because of health issues but this is being continued by Julian Langelaan (Op Beemster Klei) on the farm. I think organic flowers should be available for customers to buy and growing them contributes to the biodiversity on the farm since it also attract natural enemies.
6. What do you like so much about being an (organic) farmer?
Now I have some more time to myself I keep getting more and more fascinated about how nature in the soil and above are working together, it truly is an ingenious interaction of all kinds of organisms (fungi, bacteria and insects) . All together they contribute to healthy soil and products!
I think that organic farming and products still truly have a meaning. In the conventional farming you’re not more than an anonymous producer. I also think that the quality of organic farming should be kept closely monitored, not only because of quality of the product but more if it has got taste and if it was able to grow in a healthy way. For example compare a cow which is only being fed the same with a cow which is being fed a diverse diet.
7. Can you tell something about the surroundings of your farm?
My farm is in the Beemster, a polder in the north of Holland. It is Unesco world heritage because of the special 17th century allotments. Because of the heavy clay it is not easy to farm here but when we have long periods without rain the crops still grow slowly. Not the best yields but definitely a good storable product!
8. What are your experiences with ZANN?
Since several years I deliver my products to ZANN. I think we started with flowers and later on we also started with pumpkins and onions. The personal contact is nice and I trust in them that I get a fair price for my products. On my farm I only have someone working 2,5 days a week from a social work facility and sometimes a little help from someone else. ZANN always give me the possibility to deliver small volumes as well, I really appreciate that. Sometimes combining different products together which suits me well is also no problem. Of course sometimes I get a comment on quality but we always solve this together. And last but not least, ZANN pays really fast!