A day at FlevoVeldboon, from ground to mouth
“The field bean is a wonderful crop”, says farmer Dick Grijsen, who is working together with five regional growers and a number of chain partners to put the FlevoVeldboon bean on the protein map. “You fall in love with it when you see it bloom, with all those buzzing insects.” With its own plot at Floriade Expo 2022, the FlevoVeldboon also wants to interest consumers in this promising crop. On 14 June, twenty participants visited both test locations.
10:00 hours – Advantage for soil and nutrition…
The – almost forgotten – field bean has many advantages: it enriches the soil, removes nitrogen from the air and can be grown in both summer and winter. In addition, the Dutch climate and the Flevoland clay soil lend themselves very well to the legumes. And the protein-rich crop naturally fits in beautifully with government plans to consume less animal and more vegetable food. Because you can make delicious dishes from the field bean, such as meat substitutes, pastas, spreads or bread mixes. That is why the Province of Flevoland has been supporting this project since 2019 with a knowledge network from the Growing Green Proteins programme to promote economic opportunities.
11:00 hours – …but a few more bumps in the road
But no matter how beautiful the 7.5-hectare trial field of the Grijsen company near Zeewolde looks, the 25 participants in this FlevoVeldboondag also hear and see the downside. Rust, aphid and chocolate spot disease affect the plant and dry periods affect the light-green beans in the shell. In addition, it proves difficult to compete on the international market, where growers in neighbouring countries receive subsidies of up to several hundred euros per hectare. The hobby, entrepreneurship and visionary ambition, on the other hand, are what drive the Dutch farmers to also grow the field bean here.
12:00 hours – Field bean pancake mix from Flevoland
Because Rogier Scherpbier of Zonnespelt in Lelystad knows that a lot is possible with field beans. Together with organic grower Herman Navis and processor Geerts Best from the working group, he emphasised a locally grown product: ‘It is a beautiful protein-rich crop, from which we make beautiful products, such as organic pancake and bread baking mixes. Thanks to the field bean flour, it stays fresh and tender for longer. We supply to consumers and shops; the demand for local and pure products is increasing. The FlevoVeldboon product is a nice addition to our range’.
13:00 hours – Protein from ground to mouth
At the Floriade, The Protein Showcase of about two acres is the flagship of the project group. Project participant and Almere city farmer Herman Navis is proud of the FlevoVeldboon plot, which you can walk through: ‘Here we want to show visitors how we want to make the transition to protein-rich crops from ‘ground to mouth’. The efforts of the working group and its presence at the Floriade have meanwhile made the project more visible. Flevoveldboon and the umbrella organisation ‘Protein Farmers of the Netherlands’ are allowed to present themselves during the Green Deal signing at Floriade. Lines of communication are also being established with food producers.
14:00 hours – Honest pay for the grower as well
Meanwhile, the dishes served by product developer Mariët van de Noort, such as field bean soup, pasta, and spreads, are a hit. This is one of the reasons why project leader Diane Stap sees opportunities for the field bean and a fair revenue model for the growers. ‘But before you can properly put such a crop on the market, it takes up to ten years. The trial fields give us the experience and information to be able to harvest a guaranteed quality and more beans per hectare. To help us on our way, support from the government or project partners is therefore necessary. After that, it is up to the market to pay a fair price for it and to let the farmer have a share of the proceeds. But you would think that now is the time for the FlevoVeldboon’.