Back to the Land

The “pick-your-own” concept isn’t hugely popular in Holland, which is odd for a country full of farms and greenhouses. But for the next three weeks, under a (modern) windmill in the middle of reclaimed land, you can haul as many potatoes, onions, carrots and beets out of the ground, and harvest as many pumpkins, cobs of corn and green beans as you think you can handle. And everything’s organic.

It’s called “Eten Per Meter”, or “Food by the Metre”, and here’s how it works: you show up with your own bags, bins, shovels, pitchforks and hoes, let someone know how many metres of something you want to harvest, they measure it out and write it down and you start digging.

If you’re there at the right time of day, someone may be making rounds through the fields with cups of free pumpkin soup, or a fresh apple cake might just have been pulled out of the oven. And there’s always coffee and other treats in a tent set up under the windmill in case the weather’s not cooperating. It could not be more “gezellig”, or pleasant – charming in a back to the land kind of way.

Last year I came with my bike and trailer and came back with a load of stuff so heavy it took me more than an hour to ride the 10 km to the train station, so this year we borrowed a car. We spent two hours grabbling about in the dirt and came home with about 20 kilos of potatoes (5 metres), 20 kilos of red and white onions (6 metres) and 10 kilos of carrots (2 metres). All for the hefty price of 8 euros and 20 cents, and some dirt under the fingernails.

Organic, people! A bargain at three times the price, all for a little bit of work – and a huge sense of satisfaction.