7.1 Initial Plans
After coming to Texel we proposed our plan to improve Texel and make it self – sustainable and self – sufficient. A part of our plan was to propose a movable dyke which could retract in and out to allow sea water to enter in. This would make the land a floodplain that could have been used as a saline agricultural research laboratory.
This proposal would involve making a certain part of the land unusable for regular agriculture and sheep rearing. The proposal led to many reactions from the Texelaars. Especcialy the older Texelaars who are protective about their land. They believe that every bit of land is precious to them and they don’t want any invasive methods to affect the landscape. However, the younger Texelaars were of the notion that they must have such new unique ideas to have job prospects and reasons to settle down in Texel.
7.2 Understanding the Texelaar
To know more about the Texelaars and their sustainable farmers we interviewed the owners of ‘Zelfpluktuin’  and after speaking with them we could gather that they were really innovative with their approach to give a totally new feel to the people of Texel and the tourists. In half a hectare of land they have fresh strawberries grown in a sustainable way by using soil rich in coconut fibres. In another part of their farm they have green vegetables like kale, spinach, mint etc. Here, people can come and pick up the fruits/vegetables that they like and pay almost as much for these products in the supermarkets. The 'Zelfpluktuin' can make this economically feasible because traders are left out of the circle. The producer and consumer are directly connected to each other. The distribution of the customers is 50% tourists and 50% Texelaars. Even though the establishment was promising and showed immense potential for growth, the owners were not interested in expanding their idea to other areas of Texel and they were happy with what they were doing.
There has been a recent rise in popularity of Marc Van Rijsselberghe, the founder of the company Salt Farm Texel in Den Hoorn. Within this farm different kind of crops are tested on their growth on salty ground. Different kind of salt levels are applied. This enables testing of which species are resistant to which quantity of salt in the soil. One of the most important crops that are tested right now are the saline potatoes. The potatoes which grow in saline soil do not produce as much as when they’re grown in normal soil, but according to the Salt Farm Texel the potatoes taste way more sweet than the normal potatoes due to a natural resistance that the potato plant has against salt. This is present in the research conducted by Wageningen University.
Some of the farmers on Texel choose not to embark on this line of research. They think that the saline agriculture is not profitable and it is based on research that doesn’t affect Texel’s agricultural economy directly, in the near future. They think it is a same to make good healthy ground salty, just to experiment. According to these people the quality of the ground will be destroyed.
By talking to different Texelaars it became clear that a lot of Texelaars and farmers has their own sustainable innovations and initiatives on the island. This leads us to believe that the majority of Texelaars are highly innovative and individualistic. These need not be seen as threats to our research but a way for us to modify our work to make it more effective so that the sustainable Texel idea can be realized. The change in plans would involve focusing more on what Texelaars accept and how the role of the tourists can be incorporated.
7.3 Suggestions for a Sustainable Texel
Texelaars mingle with each other socially but not technologically. They do not exchange ideas and concepts with each other and usually prefer to work alone. This causes an atmosphere of tension among them and this manifests itself in not working together as a community. To encourage the Texelaars to work together we need to unite them to focus on a greater cause. A possible solution can be to encourage development of high end products that are exquisite to the rest of the Netherlands but available in abundance here; like the Texel Sheep or encourage growth of Abalones. Abalones are a species of clams that can be cultured on land with the use of sea water and sea weed. These Abalones sell for €100 a kilo in Hong Kong. Trade of these exotic products can put Texel on the global map. To enhance interaction technologically an innovation center can be created where the farmers can share their knowledge with each other.
Fig 7.1: Innovation Model
The plans henceforth will be based upon Fig 7.1. The innovation for the Food and More sub – system for the future can be sub – divided in three different aspects. It all start with the idea of innovation. To be more economically feasible farmers should 'innovate their product and sell it as an experience'. It is a bottom up system from the farmers up till the municipality.
The strategy we insist on, is to ‘Innovate your product and sell it as an experience’. This strategy involves the farmer and the tourist/Texelaar interacting closely with each other. The farmer innovates his product and can sell his products as an experience which the tourist can feel and empathize with. The 'zelfpluktuin' is an good example of selling your product as an experience. Visitors can pick their own fruit in the garden. There is also a terrace where coffee and cakes can be bought. In this way, a daily activity is a fun day out for the family. The interview with the 'zelfpluktuin' show that both Texelaars and tourists have interest in this kind of activities. We think that this concept can be applied in other sectors on the island. In addition to creating an experience of selling the product it is especially important that consumers get more information about where the food comes from. This can be done by an application or with additional information at the selling point. It should be clear to consumers where the food comes from. When the quality is good, consumers will search for this specific product again. In order to indicate that is a product of the Texel, the brand 'Echt Texel product' do exist. Especially outside Texel using this brand is very important to make a good reputation.
The farmer can sell high end products like Texel sheep meat and cheese, home-grown Texel Abalones and saline potatoes. These products can be either be sold on Texel for the locals or transferred to the mainland. For instance, these products can then be sold in an authentic Texel products shop in Amsterdam. If this model is followed the need for Texel to compete with the mainland will be erased. A market for Texel will be created where Texel products can be appreciated. An added benefit for selling these products can be reduction in carbon footprint. Through the ‘food swap’ scheme where the products are sent to the mainland on a truck, which can then bring back goods from the mainland in the same vehicle.
By using the ‘Echt Texels Product’ brand the people from the mainland are aware from where the food is coming from and this quality will bring up Texel’s reputation. This is maximising usage of Texel’s available resources.
To improve the quality of the product, it is important to continue to innovate. Cooperation with seed research centers is therefore extremely important. Farmers know where the consumer is looking for, while research centers can search for species that are suitable.
The products should be produced sustainable, with innovative techniques such as usage of treated wastewater for farmland irrigation. Meat cycle on Texel shows that Texelaars are already thinking about closing cycles. By closing cycles links can be kept short and waste can be limited. This ensures a sustainable production. In the next chapter you can read more about the initiative of closing the meat cycle on Texel.
To increase production in a sustainable way, it is important to continue to innovate. Also for the production it is important to cooperate with research centers.
Beyond this, a knowledge route can be created where every farm is listed in no particular order of preference. This route can provide information about the farmer and his practices. This route can also include information about how the meat circle is a closed loop on the island. Right from the slaughterhouse where the meat is cut by hand and not by machines. The butcher also has the power to say ‘no’ to his buyers if they just want specific cuts of meat so that every part of the meat is sold so there is no wastage. All of this information mentioned above can be given on flyers to the customers.
7.4 Broader prospective on closing cycles
To get an better of what is already done on Texel, we were invited by Isabel van der Star to have a closer look in the meat cycle of Texel. She lives on Texel and is a boardmember of the ‘Vereniging van Texelse Zoogkoeienhouders’. The meat cycle on Texel is closed due to close cooperation of various parties. The meat remains on Texel from birth till consumption. The ‘Vereniging van Texelse Zoogkoeienhouders’ has started this initiative 3 years ago. By working together and closing the cycle, the chain is economically stronger and the quality of the meat can be guaranteed. It also makes the meat cycle more sustainable. However, this initiative wasn’t primarily started from a sustainable point of view, but rather to strengthen the sector. The good quality of the meat keeps it profitable. The meat cycle on Texel is all about Taste experience, respect for the animals, short transport and proper treatment.
Interview with Werner Dros
“As a farmer, you have to keep your pants up yourself”, Werner told us. Werner Dros is one of the livestock farmers of texel. Here the cows are bred and kept until they are ready for slaughter. The breed he keeps is called Piemontese, a Italian breed . This is unique in the Netherlands. He has years of experience and treats the animals with respect. The cows have spacious stables and calves suckle from its mother. Also within his own company, he tries to close the circle for economical and practical reasons. Food and straw for the animals is grown domestically, while the manure from the animals is used as fertilizer for the land.
The second link in the chain of the meat on Texel is ‘Boschma slachterij Texel’. This is the only slaughterhouse on the island. The animals are here handled with respect as well. The transport and the waiting time is kept short, so that the animals will get less stressed. This is not only better for the animals, but also for the quality of the meat. Due to his working method, it is necessary to also say “no” to consumers. Not every part of the cow is always available and that should be clear. This is due to the small scale of the company, but this also ensures good quality control.
Slagerij & Eetwinkel Moormann & De Boer
The last link in the chain is the consumer. The meat can be bought at several places, in restaurants, but also at the butchery . However, not every meat on the menu is really from Texel. However, Slagerij & Eetwinkel Moormann & De Boer is one of the places where consumers can buy a good piece of real Texel meat. The store is also affiliated with the brand ‘echt Texels produkt’. The meat is processed and sold here in the shop. After tasting a piece of Texel lamb ham it immediately became clear that the quality and the taste of the meat is really strong.