Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Dutch restaurants and cafes had to shut down two weeks ago. Although food can still be picked up or delivered, it has proven to be a burden for many food suppliers and requires innovative thinking. The Duurzame Kost City Farm is located in a unique location, on an industrial heritage in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and is the largest circular indoor farm in Western Europe. It grows leafy greens, strawberries and trout using an aquaponic growing system. The aquaponic farm produces 20,000 kg lettuce per year on a surface of 400m2.
Jos Hakkennes, owner of Duurzame Kost
Some distributors have created a local mini market to supply all produce available and in this case, to sell their products. A client of Duurzame Kost, restaurant Phood, based in Eindhoven as well, has come up with a food Farm Box. Jos Hakkennes, owner of Duurzame Kost says: “Together with their other suppliers, cooks are making recipes where we get to deliver the ingredients needed. The Farm Box can be ordered at the Food restaurant and will be delivered at your home address, but there’s also a pick up point. Last week the first boxes have been delivered out and about Eindhoven. Another initiative is a ‘mini market’ located in Maarheze, which is about 10 km to the south of Eindhoven. The market serves as a fresh collection point for customers, which includes the fresh lettuce of Duurzame Kost.
Hakkennes mentions, “Last week we had a big supply of fresh lettuce that could not yet be used for the mini market and the Farm Box concept. Therefore, we promoted the pick-up of our fresh produce on social networks at a fair price in order to prevent it from being thrown away. We received great support from locals. A few weeks ago, we couldn't have imagined this situation. Nevertheless, it’s great to see creative ideas coming up and that’s really a good thing.”
Jos and an employee checking on the basil
Also Duurzame Kost itself is looking to new products. "We are currently working on the possibilities within aquaponics around salt water growing, such as sea vegetables. We see a big demand in these products from the restaurants we supply to. So there’s definitely a market for it, looking at the sales."
Strawberries, leafy greens and trout
The main product of Duurzame Kost is lettuce, but they also supply 4kg of kale year-round to a local restaurant and grow strawberries as a seasonal activity to provide to local restaurants. As the plants are put up in February, it's going to be a while before they start bearing fruit. “These strawberries take a bit more time to grow than normally, as we offer a mixed fresh produce. In the first one and a half year, we have done a lot of research into crops and specific varieties that can grow next to each other.”
A freshly harvested salad with trout
“Our fruits are not very big but they taste great. As the strawberries are a seasonal side product we love providing them to our local restaurants”, Hakkennes adds. And starting next week they are also kicking off the delivery of their fresh trout straight to customers - being grown in the water used for the cultivation of the plants. "The trout is sold per 300 grams for a price of €3.95 ($4.33) each. What is being produced is directly delivered to the customers after the harvest. Because we can.”
Duurzame Kost also serves as a care farm as we take in people with diverse disabilities and social backgrounds on a daily basis. We have around 12 people that come to our indoor farm, but the visiting days are dispersed over the week as it varies weekly. The social workplace is not cancelled as it serves as a daycare for these people. “The hygiene measures are stricter than ever so we take this into account when we let people in”, Hakkennes mentions.