The idea of becoming a coach for organic growers to make a leap in quality and return on investment and to help conventional growers switch over, has been with Aldo van Os for a number of years. Because he had his own organic farm for the past nine years, it never quite happened. But now it has, because his company was sold at the beginning of the year and he can start working with full focus on sharing his knowledge about organic growing. “Together with five partners from business and science, I am entering into a new partnership with The Conscious Farmer (TCF). Our goal is to help increase organic production, deepen the knowledge and skills of the profession and also to take myself a few steps further.”
Aldo van Os and Mark Velders, two partners of The Conscious Farmer
The motto with which Aldo and his partners set to work is: "I am the earth". A bold statement, both Aldo and Friso van der Wal, one of the partners, realize. “We are connected to the earth, the earth is in us. If you realize that, you deal with agriculture and horticulture and food differently."
The organizational side of organic growing
A major start has been made with a large project in Canada. “I have been active for a few months as a coach at an organic company in Canada that wants to make a quality improvement. They wanted to see if it could be different and better and then approached me to come and have a look in my greenhouse.
Less than a day later they were already on the phone asking if I could come and help on location. In other words, coaching on the spot. As a coach, I help improve organic cultivation methods, including training two growers who can run this large greenhouse horticulture business independently over time.”
The cultivation side with, among other things, biological fertilization and pest control and ensuring an optimal climate in the greenhouse immediately catches the eye, but according to Aldo the organizational side is just as important.
Growers can turn to him about both aspects of organic business. Aldo: “In companies where I was active as a manager at the start of my career, others noticed how calm it was in my greenhouse. Nevertheless, I achieved high yields per square meter and my costs were always low, without stress or overtime. When the basics are in order, there is peace in the greenhouse and you have the time to deal with unexpected issues down the road. And there are actually always those in organic cultivation. With this you prevent ad hoc decisions, which can cost a lot of time and money."
A healthy earth, a healthy plant, a healthy product
According to Aldo, it is all about a grower’s collaboration with nature and crop. “If that is connected to each other, you arrive at solutions to problems. That is a process. Every day is looking again, sorting out, working out, trying out. And so you develop the right approach for your cultivation step by step. Timing is important in this. You do that based on years of experience, knowledge and your intuition."
Mark Velders, agricultural engineer and also a partner in TCF, says about this: “My experience is that it pays to work with the forces of nature instead of putting them out of play. Nature is often very capable of repairing and preventing problems itself. You can use that capacity as a grower."
The partners continue to say: “An important foundation in organic cultivation is also healthy soil. When you grow in healthy soil, plants are by definition less susceptible to pests and diseases. Our goal is a healthy earth, a healthy crop and a healthy product without chemicals."
The TCF training center in Germany
The TCF partners will share their experience with a wider audience. Friso: “In the German Sauerland, less than a two-hour drive from the Dutch border, we have purchased a hotel and we are converting it into a center for seminars, workshops and training in sustainable organic agriculture and horticulture and food in collaboration with local parties and international experts. Growers, retailers, policy makers, students and consumers are very welcome to exchange experiences and to inspire each other: "I am the Earth".
The TCF training center for sustainable organic agriculture, horticulture and food
TCF is currently looking for a customer in Canada for a young passionate grower or experienced grower. For more details about this job offer, contact Aldo van Os by phone or by e-mail.
For more information:
The Conscious Farmer
Aldo van Os
+31 (0)6 8206 6012
+974 7409 6459
Friso van der Wal
+31 (0)6 5475 1303