The story of
The heart of all operations lays at Ekoto Farm. By having the office and warehouse situated between the fields, Ekoto stays close to its core values. By farming a wide variety of crops ourselves, we stay close to the producers we work with. Besides, the fields of Ekoto are always under constant experiments, in the search for practical solutions that offer better alternatives to modern-day agriculture.
In the south of the Netherlands in the municipality of Etten-Leur, an old farm house with both old and modern sheds surrounding it, is now home to the Ekoto Farm. The five hectares belonging to the farm were for many years used for grass and corn feed production, when the original farm went on a minimal labor input mode. When Ivar came with the idea of actively farming all the land again, but then organically and with some kind of "weird" strip-cropping system, his family was slightly skeptical. Nonetheless he pursued and a true diverse landscaping project with such diversity started to bloom. Gradually the fellow family members got excited and they started bringing even more of a diversity to the farm with many new vegetables but also all kind of farm animals. Now the farm, that went dormant after two generations of farming, has gotten back to life! And with all this diversity, the farm gets this traditional feel that many farmers secretly still long for. Making it a farm that brings joy to the people working on it, producing fresh food for the local markets, whilst giving a better alternative for many staple foods via Ekoto's online store and the retailers joining us.
Where back in the days many small farms all had a few animals, a patch of beans, some fruit trees and many more different crops, now modern day agriculture has evolved around efficiency. Cultivating big fields of just one crop, essentially taking out biodiversity. Using heavy machinery, compacting the soil. And becoming reliant on external chemical inputs. At Ekoto we try to combine the benefits of traditional farming together with moderate efficiency, but with a focus on the health of our food. The so-called strip-cropping method as mentioned earlier is such a model that is being tested. Every few metres another crop can be found, enhancing biodiversity and taking out the need for external inputs as pesticides. By keeping the strips narrow but long, a lot of work can still be done mechanically and thus moderately efficient. The choice of crops and the research done onsite on "new" crops , lay at the basis of old cultivars. The old cultivars have not been modified on for example pesticide resistance or pest and disease pressure, often meaning that the nutrient portfolio of the crops is as strong as it naturally used to be. In short, Ekoto's fields produce healthy food in a healthy system.
One of the strip cropping fields with a strip of legumes in the center. Ekoto has dozens of ancient bean varieties in its research program, on the search for plant-based protein from a local and healthy source.