Chapter on Agriculture: food and more

1. The sustainability challenge and ambition, problem statement, and research question with regard to Agriculture

‘Food and More’ is the sub system that is researched in this chapter. Food is a very wide domain of research in which two main divisions can be made. The first division is the production side. We will investigate what role food production plays in the socio-technical system of Texel. The other side is consumption. The people on the island need to feed themselves and we are investigating what effect this has on the island.

We try to find key problems in the socio technical system of the island. We will formulate a future perspective as a possible solution to solve these problems.

Texel is an island close to the northwest side of the mainland of the Netherlands. It is bordering the North Sea on the west side and the Wadden sea on the east side. It is the largest island of the Netherlands and it has about 13600 inhabitants. The island is largely dependent on tourism. The average tourist ‘population’ throughout the year is about as big as the permanent population itself. The inhabitant-tourist population is thus 50:50. [1]

1.1  The scale and focus of the unsustainabilities of the research

1.1.1 Scale

The food we consume nowadays comes from all over the world. For this research it is impossible to focus on the entire worldwide food chain. It is rather necessary in this research to investigate on the scale of the island and the connection to the mainland.

The food system is an important branch on the island. It creates a lot of jobs on both the production and the consumption side. Agriculture and fishing account for 10,4% of the jobs on the island. The hotel, restaurant and café branch accounts for another 20,3%. The hotels are not as closely related to food as the restaurants and cafés. Therefore the real percentage of jobs related to food in this category should be a bit less. However, together with agriculture, it is still one of the biggest branches.

The food system is also important for the landscape of Texel. About 65% of the area of the island is used for agricultural purposes. Farmers have therefore a big influence on the appearance of the landscape, but also on the ecology of the island. Both aspects are important attractors for tourists and thus very valuable for the island. [2]


1.1.2 Focus

On the production side of the system, we focus on the effects of agriculture on the landscape. What is the relation of the farmer with the landscape? How do they keep it attractive for tourists? And how do they cope with regulations to preserve the ecosystem? For example, farmers are not allowed to irrigate their land. But how do you keep sufficient yields despite that? 

A collective of farmers on Texel that calls itself “The Waddengroep” made a shortlist of common problems. The problems are not only affecting the agricultural sector, but it has also influence on other parts of the Texel’ society and ecosystem. 

1: A sharp reduction in the number of farms and farm employment in the area.

2: Declining incomes and outward migration.

3: Significant environmental losses (especially of an uncharacteristic Dutch landscape of leafy hedgerows) due to scale-enlargement farming; hence, loss of spatial diversity and places of specific natural beauty as well as the loss of traditional breeds and architecture.

4: Standardisation of products for world markets, and ever-declining prices were leading to the loss of traditional ways of producing, processing and consuming within the Wadden Islands. [3]

We also focus on the connection to the mainland. A lot of food has to come from the mainland. It is a bit more expensive and unsustainable due to the extra transport. It is also impeding financial security for farmers, because the extra transport costs make it harder to compete with farmers on the mainland. How can the position of the farmer be strengthened and how can the food chain of Texel be made more sustainable? Less dependence on the mainland could be a solution for this. 

We also focus on the main consumers of the island. How can the consumption habits of both tourists and locals be made more sustainable? A lot of food has to come from the mainland and accounts therefore for a larger eco-footprint. Can increased locality be an answer to this?

1.2 The societal needs that the sub-system has to fulfill 

Tourism is the main business on the island. It keeps the economy running. So one of the first societal needs is a viable touristic sector. The food system should contribute to this so that it can also exploit it.

The waddengroup has come up with a few cornerstones that should help solving the problems stated in the previous paragraph.

The cornerstones of the Waddengroup initiative were:

1: Combining local experiences and effort to build up a collective capacity in producing primary products (Texel sheep and a variety of cheeses, for instance), in processing, distributing and sales.

2: Using collective knowledge to support new members and others engaged in related businesses within the Wadden, area.

3: Implement, by means of a registered trademark and a common logo, a collective presentation for a wide assortment of products from the area on the basis of high quality and place of origin. (To qualify, processed products had to be at least 51% locally sourced.) [4]

These cornerstones are concrete proposals to fulfill more abstract societal needs.

Creating better job perspective is one of them. The agricultural sector is not really profitable. Farmers can’t any longer live solely from agricultural practice and therefore have to find other part-time jobs. They are mostly producing staple crops and cannot compete with the mainland because of the higher transport costs. Agriculture thus has to be made more profitable.

Another societal need is the prevention of migration. Many young adults migrate from the island, because they can find better jobs on the mainland. There is thus a need for more attractive well-paid jobs on the island to attract the youth.

Another societal need is the preservation of the landscape. Texel has a special character that is attractive for both locals and tourists. Preserving the landscape contributes to the identity of the island and brings economical resources. A direct resource is the agricultural yield. Indirect benefits come from tourists that are attracted by the landscape. Preservation of the ecosystem is thus important as a societal need. Protection of biodiversity can also be seen as an important basic need for mankind worldwide.[3]

1.3 The sustainability criteria that the future sub-system should meet

The future food production system should contribute effectively to preservation and improvement of the ecosystem. Farmers should focus at crops that are more suitable to grow on the island. These crops should be more profitable than stable crops that are also grown on the mainland. The food production should be an effective symbiosis with the environment. The soil is a bit saline and is therefore suitable for growing halophytes. Research has to be done to figure out which halophyte crops are suitable and profitable. The crops can be used as delicacies contributing to the food-identity of Texel. The gained expertise in farming on saline soil can also be exploited in other parts of the world.  

The system should focus on local production and consumption. Food kilometres can be reduced in this manner and in this way it is easier to close the food cycle. The island becomes more independent and lowers its environmental impact. It is impossible to close the food cycle entirely, but we can at least try to close it as much as possible.

The food industry should contribute to tourism to make it more profitable. Tourism can help marketing the local products, which can also be exported to the mainland. Selling the products on the mainland is counter-effective for closing cycles, but it is helpful for economical reasons. Export to the mainland is a necessary for a healthy financial future, but it has to be more sustainable. There has to be looked for a more efficient import and export system.


1.4 Sketch of the future socio-technical sub-system    

Farmers should be provided with information about nature preservation and suitable crops to contribute to the environment. These crops should be more profitable than the ones they grow now.

The agricultural sector should rather focus on local delicacies and innovative crops or cultivation techniques. It should focus more on knowledge that can be exported than bulk production. The “Zilt Proefbedrijf” is a good example of an innovative way of agriculture.

Tourism is used to market the local products. Local food becomes an integral part of the restaurant branch. The marketing of local delicacies will contribute to eco-awareness and nature preservation and more export to the mainland.

The municipality is stimulating use of local products by restaurants and inhabitants with regulation. A special tax on imported foods can be an exemplary measure. Closing cycles is impossible, but the municipality should pursue it. Centralized import and export can contribute to more efficient transport and consequently smaller eco footprint.



[1] VVV Texel, (2014). Factsheet Toerisme op Texel 2014.;1043 

[2] Texel in Figures

[3] Marsden, T., Smith,E., (2005). Ecological entrepreneurship: sustainable development in local communities through quality food production and local branding. Geoforum, 36(4)

[4] Texel cooking and real Texel products



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2 The current argicultural sector, the relevant trends and current initiatives

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3. Design of the future sustainable socio-technical sub-system

Proposal map of Texel

A transition will take place in the agricultural sector. In order to keep the sector should profitable more income should be generated, without harming the environment.Action should be taken with respect to the landscape. Locally produced food and organic farming are the two main focus points. The agriculture should shift from bulk products to more high-end products, like delicacies. 

3.1       Technologies that will be prevailing

The most technologies of the current system will still be prevailing. Sheep’s will be kept and crops will be grown, but the food should be produced for the local market. The important thing is that this has to be done with respect to the ecosystem. In order to do so, the land should be divided in areas with different kinds of agriculture. Every area has its own character and therefore its own specific use. Each species has its own demands to the landscape.  Fig 3.1 shows the proposal for the future agricultural division of the island. This proposal is based on the soil conditions of the existing situation and the height map of Texel. The map gives an indication of how the land can be divided. It gives an indication where the soil is suitable for what kind of agriculture. 

Fig 3.1: Agricultural map of Texel

The white dots shown in the map are the cities and towns. The most fertile land is shown in ‘red’ and here is where mixed agriculture can be practiced. The green patch running from the North West to the South West of the island is where the sheep can be reared and is called the dunes. Since Texel is a home to many unique bird species and its island ecosystem is critical for its survival there is a minimum limit of 4000 hectares to be empty grasslands so birds can use them as nesting grounds.

The area in the north east of the island shown in ‘dark and light blue’ can be used in the future as a saline agricultural area. In the height map of the existing situation, it can be seen that this area is situated at a lower level, and that it is kept dry by dikes. This area gives a great opportunity as an experimental area for saline agriculture. The area can be controlled with a controllable dike shown as a ‘yellow dotted line’. This will create a transition region between saline areas inside and outside the dike. This will be according to Marc van Rijsselberghe a perfect place for research and innovations.[1] Saline soil is many countries in the world a major threat to agriculture. Marc van Rijsselberghe is doing research on crops that are able to grow on saline soil. He developed vegetables and potatoes that can grow in these areas. The whole world sees this research as an example. This new saline area will give Texel the opportunity to expand this knowledge and use it as an source of income.  

Besides the use of agricultural research area  in this place can be used to attract tourist. It will be a unique place in the world. A new kind of nature will be created where unique animal species will live. This will certainly have an attraction to tourists. There will be information centers and tours are given in and around the area. This ensures that the area will be economically feasible.


Fig 3.2: Texel Food Swap

Besides the division of the land there should also be a transition from bulk products to more high-end products, like delicacies, in order to make the agricultural sector more profitable. These high-end products are worth more and will be attractive to tourists. These products can also be exported to the mainland. There can be a special market which sells Texel’s exotic goods on the mainland. This includes, the saline potatoes, Texel sheep, cheese, mussels, clams and beer. The ferry which transports these goods to the mainland can also bring back food from the mainland to Texel – a possible ‘food swap’ as shown in Fig 3.2. This idea will reduce the transportation costs tremendously and also prevent the Texel farmers from competing with the farmers from the mainland. This sort of marketing will get the people from the mainland interested to purchase these exotic Texel goods and Texel will benefit from this.


3.2        The actors and their contribution to the sub-system


Farmers are one of the important actors in the sub-system of food and more. In order to keep the business profitable they should shift from bulk products to more high-end products, like delicacies. In this way they also can compete with the farmers on the mainland. It is important to grow crops that are suitable for their land. Farmers should be provided with information about nature preservation and suitable crops to contribute to the environment. This allows them to produce food in a naturally friendly way without deteriorates their economic values. Besides growing crops for the local market, they have the potential to attract tourist. They can combine the farming business with activities and campsites on their land. In the current system there are already some farmers that are combining these activities, but in the future this would be usual business for the farmers on Texel. 


Researchers needs to be attracted to the island in order to keep innovating. They should pull the agricultural sector to a higher more sustainable level. They can provide the farmers with information about the environment and how to treated it in the best way. In this way the production can be increased without harming the environment. As already mentioned the saline area on Texel can be used as a research area. This can be an example for saline agriculture and organic farmer for researchers all over the world. Knowledge will become an export product of Texel.


Tourists want to have the best experience the island. A large part of Texel consist of agricultural land. The opportunity of combining these two important parts of Texel will be used in the future. Farming will be combined with tourist activities. By offering locally produced food in restaurants and at marketplaces, they will get the best gastronomical experience of Texel. In addition, tourists can visit the farmers for a real peasant experience. Tours will be given around the agricultural areas. It would be able to camp on the land of a farmer. Tourists are willing to pay for these kind of activities. This will provide income for the island.

Local people

To involve local people local products have to be available in a simple way. Products must in the supermarket for sale. The price of the products are important. The local people are not willing to pay more. So the cost have to be kept low. In restaurants the locals can come into contact with the special delicacies of Texel. The residents can be proud of their products. In addition, the locals will also have to understand the value of a saline area. They should be provided with the information and the advantages of this area.


The municipality must ensure that Texel a breeding ground for new knowledge. The government should provide the farmers with subsidies as well as financial protection in case of a calamity or disease to mitigate losses incurred by the farmer. The government may either tackle this by itself or by sub - contracting this to insurance companies which can help with the policy making.


The initiatives that are already in the restaurant industry will be put through. There will be more restaurants like Jef Schuur’s which offer local food at affordable prices. Everyone will eat locally and hence the import costs will reduce tremendously. Saline products can be integrated in the recipes. They can show the locals as well as the tourist how they can prepare the food and how the food taste. Restaurants will have a real role model.


3.3        How the technologies will be embedded in culture and behaviour and How people will live and work in the sub-system

Agriculture will still be a large part of Texel. People should become more aware of the impact of the food production on their living environment. By producing and buying locally produced food the ecosystem can be retained. The island will retain its appearance, which is important for the income of Texel. Various parties will work together in the future. The tourist sector and restaurants  won´t  see the side activities of farmers will no longer as a threat, but as opportunity.

By working together cycles can be closed easier and economy is enhanced. By producing food for the local market, the island will become less dependent on the mainland.  Instead of importing food, knowledge can be exported. The quality of the island will used optimally, which will reinforced the attractiveness of the island.


3.4        How the elements, like technologies, industries, organizations, people are interrelated in the future

Through sustainable technology of landscape management, the food production will be increased and improved without doing damage to the environment. By the transition to more locally produced food, technologies, industries, organizations and the people on Texel will get closer to each other. People become more aware of the impact of the food production and were the food is coming from. In order to achieve this Different actors on Texel must cooperate with each other. Together they will buildup resilience against bad economic times and knowledge economy and innovation will be maintain on a high level.

As mentioned before the tourist sector should collaborate with the agricultural sector. The opportunities of this sector will be optimally used. Farming can be combined with giving tours and other tourist activities like camping. Restaurants will serve locally produced food and Texel delicacies will be available everywhere.

By working together the amount of waste on the island can be reduced. Huib de Leede gives a good example with his project ‘uit je eigen stad’[2]. He shows in his project that by working together cycles can be closed. For example the  waste of the restaurant can be used for animals, manure from the animals can be used to fertilize the land and the products of the land are used in the restaurant. Closing these kind of cycles should be examined more frequently in the future.

As a result of integrating the different sectors there will be more revenue and the picture of Texel become stronger. Texel will be less dependent on the main island. 


3.5       Rules and regulations

The municipality must set rules to protect the environment. In addition, the municipality must make it possible to innovate. Exceptions to rules and regulations are possible if this will improve innovation, regarding to sustainability of the food production. It will be possible for locals to invest in the initiatives. As a result, the initiatives will be economically feasible and the locals can be integrated in the developments.Thereby developments become less dependent on subsidies and the mainland. 



[1] interview Marc van Rijsselberghe

[2] Interview Huibert de Leede

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4. Texel's situation: Present vs. Future


The subsystem ‘Food and More’ encompasses everything to do with types of food, the distribution of this food and the effects these actions have on the ecosystem.

4.1 Present scenario

Presently, Texel earns its maximum revenue from the food sector with a turnover of about 30 million Euros. This is due to the fact that there has been considerable field enlargement and land consolidation since the 1960s. The island has around 220 farms focusing on dairy, vegetables, sheep and a mix of all of these. Having such a diverse classification has caused the people to form a local marketing association where they help each other by selling their wares together.

Fig 4.1: Farm Statistics in Texel

There are sanctions on irrigation because of the lack of fresh water sources on the island. The only way to obtain this fresh water is by transporting it from the mainland, which in large quantities can be very expensive. This also stresses on the need to have various research groups work on saline agriculture.

Fig 4.2: Maps of Texel

Shown above in Fig 3.2 is the basic height map of Texel, 'Red' is high and 'Blue' is low. This gives a clearer picture with regards to which areas can be modified as locations for farmlands, grasslands and preserved area. The lower areas are covered with saline soil. In these areas traditional agriculture is impossible. Saline soil is a major problem worldwide. 

One of the sectors that are already shifting to more locally produced food are the restaurants. Restaurants in Texel are having locally produced food on the menu with sheep as a speciality. Jef Schuur a Michelin star chef has set up his restaurant in Den Hoorn which serves the Texel sheep. These unique sheep have a salty taste and a smooth texture due to the grass that they feed on and the salty air that they breathe. There are also locally brewed beers and herbal liquors available. The local people in Texel don't eat that much locally produced food. Most products in supermarkets are imported from the mainland.  However, with up and coming entrepreneurs this mentality is changing.

Texel’s migratory birds are important to the ecosystem and there is an environmental co-operative for Texel called the De Lieuw which contracts farm land. For each hectare contracted the farmer owning the farm land must participate in nest count and surveys. The farmers presently receive subsidies from the government. Of this subsidy, they pass on some of the money to the co-ops - organisations that are in charge of looking after the wildlife and the ecosystem.


4.2 Future scenario

Taking the ideal scenario where Texel is self – sustained (in terms of food) the population of Texel depends on the available arable land which depends on the available land that can be made arable (converted to farm land). However, to make a conservative estimate it has been decided that Texel should provide for more than 30% of its food needs as well be able to export 30% of its sheep. 

There will be two ways to improve produce in Texel. First will be for Texel to grow in size - it must be able to reclaim land from the sea without harming the ecosystem nearby. Another way will be to improve the present farming methods; organic farming is something that can be done easily and is known to improve the output by almost 15% over the time period of 5-10 years. Mechanised farming is out of the question because this gives most efficient output for large land holdings, and land size is a major concern in Texel.

Fig 4.3: Agricultural map of Texel

To make the argiculture more profitable the land should be divided in areas with different kinds of argicutlure. Every area has its own character and its own use. Fig 3.3 shows our proposal for the future argicultural division of the island. As shown in Fig 3.3, the location to the north east of the island shown in ‘dark blue’ can have a controllable dyke shown as a ‘yellow dotted line’. This is the location where saline agriculture can be practised and research groups can work on their research. The dyke defines how much water is needed, on the other side of the dyke is the Wadden Sea shown in ‘light blue’ and here is where the clams and mussels are fished. The white dots shown in the map are the cities and towns. The most fertile land is shown in ‘red’ and here is where mixed agriculture can be practised. The green patch running from the North West to the South West of the island is where the sheep can be reared and is called the dunes. Since Texel is a home to many unique bird species and its island ecosystem is critical for its survival there is a minimum limit of 4000 hectares to be empty grasslands so birds can use them as nesting grounds.

Fig 4.4: Texel Food Swap

Besides the division of the land there should also be a transition from bulk products to more high-end products, like delicacies, in order to make the agricultural sector more profitable. These high-end products are worth more and will be attractive to tourists. These products can also be exported to the mainland. There can be a special market which sells Texel’s exotic goods on the mainland. This includes, the saline potatoes, Texel sheep, cheese, mussels, clams and beer. The ferry which transports these goods to the mainland can also bring back food from the mainland to Texel – a possible ‘food swap’ as shown in Fig 3.4. This idea will reduce the transportation costs tremendously and also prevent the Texel farmers from competing with the farmers from the mainland. This sort of marketing will get the people from the mainland interested to purchase these exotic Texel goods and Texel will benefit from this.

There will be more restaurants like Jef Schuur’s which offer local food at affordable prices. Everyone will eat locally and hence the import costs will reduce tremendously. Sheep’s milk and cheese will replace cow’s milk as it will become a staple diet for the people of Texel. There will a large change in the mind-set of the people and new entrepreneurs will come up with sustainable ideas to produce food locally and ideas like hosting an annual Texel fair – where competitions will showcase people and their products. The best will be crowned the winner and their methods to improve the products will be implemented. Also supermarkets should sell more locally produced food. In this way also local people will eat more local produced food. It is import however that the prices are kept low, otherwise local people won't changes their habits. 

The government should provide the farmers with subsidies as well as financial protection in case of a calamity or disease to mitigate losses incurred by the farmer. The government may either tackle this by itself or by sub - contracting this to insurance companies which can help with the policy making. Another way to mitigate losses can be that farmers and the other Texelaars would have a farmers union where different people can invest and the profits can be distributed evenly. As mentioned previously the Texel farmers do not have a good reputation among the Texelaars. This sort of union can create a harmonious bond between the two groups and hence improve the reputation of farmers among other Texelaars.

All the sub – systems of Texel will work in harmony with each other. The waste from Food and More Sub - System (SS) will be handled by the Materials and Waste SS. The food from the Food and More SS will be marketed throughout Texel and the mainland by the Health and Happiness SS. The research on saline agriculture will help the Leisure and Knowledge SS. These are barely a fraction of the numerous interactions that await Texel in the future and all of these SS will work synchronise and work to create a self - sustaining Texel. This will ensure that island does not need to depend on the mainland for majority of its support and will be able to fend for itself. More about the integration with other subsystems can be found in Chapter 6.






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5. Achieving change in technologies and mind-set of the people of Texel

The first step in achieving change is by changing the mind – set of people. Any change that effects culture, traditions and religious beliefs even slightly is resented. Change can start by inspiring people. Change that gives a monetary benefit is an added incentive. Having a positive outlook is also a bonus in achieving change. This is a difficult process to achieve if not planned out properly, as it is easier to break trust than to gain it.

A realistic aim for the year 2065 is to reduce at least 30% of vegetable imports from the mainland and export at least 30% sheep products out of Texel.  


5.1 Actors

5.1.1 Farmers

Texel, as previously mentioned has a typical agricultural based economy. So it is obvious that any improvement in the agriculture will directly benefit the economy and the food output. However, the current farmer’s reputation among the other Texelaars is vulnerable because there is not much contact between the two parties [1]. This results in him not giving back as much as he can to the community. This atmosphere of tension can only result in a cycle of hate where, the community dislikes farmers and vice versa. If there is such a thought process the output will most definitely drop.

Present Farmer Situation

Fig 5.1: YUPTA for Current Farmer

The current farmer has bad reputation low value for engagement. He is not engaged/enthusiastic in what he does because he doesn’t receive due credit for his efforts. However the effort he puts in is almost maximum. It is due to this that his reciprocity is low as well. The negative environmental impact of the farmer is large due to unsustainable practises like mechanised farming.

Future Farmer Situation


Fig 5.2: YUPTA for Future Farmer

From Fig 4.2 it is clear that the reputation of the farmer must improve and this can be done by working with the community and having a farmers union where local people can invest and strengthen bonds. If this increases the enthusiasm as well as reciprocity will increase. The farmer can then participate in improving the farming practises like replacing mechanised farming with organic farming.


5.1.2 Consumers

Present Scenario 

 Fig 5.3: Current Locals

The current local people have a very small role in the efforts to improve food production and they are also less engaged than the current farmer. They don’t have a high positive environmental impact either. If the locals extend a supportive hand to the farmers half the battle is won.

Future Scenario


Fig 5.4: Future Locals

Encouraging people to invest in farm land solves the problem of isolation of the farmers as well as helps in damage control (if there is a calamity). Following which the farmers can be encouraged to sell their produce at farmers’ markets; this gets rid of the middle man and forces interaction between the two parties. All of this interaction will be positive reinforcement for the farmer and will improve the production of food.

After the problems of producing local food and possible solutions are mentioned, consumption of this local food is the next step in closing the loop. Inculcating the habit of eating locally can help the island as it can:

  1. Reduce transportation of unnecessary goods from the mainland.
  2. Offer healthy alternatives

This can be done by arousing the people’s interests, possibly by hosting an annual cooking competition in Texel (using local ingredients) and inviting famous Dutch Chefs or eminent personalities like Jamie Oliver to taste and judge the dishes. The winning recipe can be made publically available for the rest of the year in restaurants across the island. Ideas similar to this will intrigue people and cause them to switch over to eating locally. The hype of this event itself will be another way to cause a mind – set shift. An incentive to eating local food is that it will be cheaper than buying food from the supermarkets.

Another innovative idea could be ‘Food Swap’ where local unique produce on Texel can be exported, to the mainland and food from the mainland can be shipped back to Texel. The unique Texel sheep, cheese, saline potatoes can be exported. These exports from Texel will cost more and will compensate the farmer for the food being subsidised on Texel. This will be a more efficient use of transport and will give the farmer a larger return on his efforts and encourage people to eat locally.


5.2 Technologies

Achieving a change in technologies is another step in improving the output for farm lands. Switching over to organic farming from the normal ways of farming has been said to improve the output of crops by almost 15%. For small land holdings like Texel, organic farming can improve production after a period of 5 – 10 years.

Since majority of the water in Texel is saline, it is logical that to maximise food production saline alternatives to the crops must be possible. Presently, potatoes are being grown by Marc Van Rijsselberghe. There are different types of salt tolerant crops like garden beets, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, winter wheat, spring wheat, oats, peas and many more. [2]

Considering the lack of arable land for food crops, cultivating halophytes (salt resistant feed crops) is an efficient use of the rest of the land. These crops can grow in salty soil and can serve as feed for the sheep in Texel. These crops will not compete with the other food crops and instead provide food for the sheep, provide protection to the land by preventing soil erosion and work as feeding areas for the fish, birds and other animals. By leaching salt from the surrounding lands a few of these halophytes can provide more land for non – saline agriculture. An added bonus is that a few halophyte species can act as biomass if the island has plans for a biomass energy plant. After the camel, sheep is the most salt resistant livestock. Therefore, there is no drawback in feeding these halophytes to the sheep. [3]


5.3 Culture and Tradition

Texelaars are a proud and a hardy group of people, they had faced difficulties of being away from the mainland, learning to be self – sufficient and lived through the Germans warring with the Georgians after World War II. New changes will be difficult to push forward unless the people are thoroughly convinced that it is beneficial. So shifting the mind – set will be one of the major challenges.

Since the dykes have caused a major separation and there are no floodplains left Texelaars have forgotten their connection with the sea. Inculcating the love for the sea is a fair way to build up confidence and unity of the locals. There must also be a hero or an icon for the Texelaars to look up to so that people can emulate those ideals.


5.4 Policy and Government Interventions

Presently, there are not many policies in Texel that benefit the farmers or the ecosystems. Even the few ones which are present are intertwined with bureaucracy and other laws. The Netherlands has a notorious reputation for having too many laws when it comes to agriculture [4]. Being an island Texel should have its own laws. Laws that provide compensation for loss of produce or sheep due to calamity or disease can be a fair way to help protect farmers. To assist the government in this, insurance companies can also pitch in and provide the necessary financial protection. This will ensure a mind – set shift causing more people to take up farming.



[1]. PR Landbouw



[4]. Frantzeskaki, N., et. al. Outliers or Frontrunners? Exploring the (Self-) Governance of Community Owned Sustainable Energy in Scotland and the Netherlands (2013). Renewable Energy Governance, Pg. 111.




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6. Expectations and Potential Tensions with other Sub-Systems

Sub System Interactions

The entire sustainability map of Texel can be identified from different perspectives. In this chapter everything will be with respect and from the perspective of the Food and More sub – system (SS). All of the points mentioned below are possible expectations and possibility of these to be successful outcomes completely depends on the feasibility of the concept.


6.1 Materials and Waste


The Food and More SS will produce agricultural waste, mainly that which is bio – degradable. The waste can be used to either produce biomass or put in a compost pit to form manure. This manure can be reused as natural fertiliser for the soil in organic farming. The sheep droppings can also be used in biomass plants. There will also be some non – biodegradable wastes from fertilisers; chemicals. These can also be handled by disposing them safely or by reusing them elsewhere on the mainland.

Potential tensions

If waste is not disposed of properly the farmlands and grasslands may be damaged affecting the bird population. Waste treatment plants must be secluded and not near these locations. There may be excess waste produced considering that there are more sheep than humans in Texel and the Materials and Waste SS must dispose of this waste in a biomass plant or transfer it to the mainland.


6.2 Sustainable Mobility


The vision of the Food and More SS is to reduce the carbon footprint generated from the transport of food from the mainland by employing unique strategies like ‘Food Swap’. The Sustainable Mobility SS can help by providing sustainable transport of products on and off the island, by means of bio – fuels.

Potential tensions

There are no potential tensions with this SS.


6.3Texel as a Host


Texel is unique because of its local food and its culture and farmers are the perfect source of this knowledge. These points can make a selling point for the Texel as a Host SS to include in their brochures and activities. Possibly a visit to your local farm or a visit to the special saline agriculture farms. Even a visit to the nesting grounds of birds can be included. Highlighting in their brochures only specific restaurants who cook local food can be an added bonus.

At the end of every tourist’s trip the Texel as a Host SS can hand them with a feedback form where people can give their thoughts or criticisms about Texel’s local food or sanctuaries. This will benefit the municipality and the farmers by helping them improve upon those areas.

Potential tensions

There are no potential tensions with this SS.


6.4 Water Cycle


The Food and More SS produces wastewater due to the fertilisers being used and the Water Cycle SS can treat this wastewater and send it back to the farms for reuse. In essence, closing the water loop, reducing chances of environmental hazards and reducing the load of transport of fresh water from the mainland.

Clams and mussels are Texel’s delicacies and overfishing will affect them. Providing data about the amount of fish present and the ideal time they need to multiply will help fishermen decide how much they can fish.

Potential tensions

The residual chemicals from the wastewater facilities must be disposed of safely by transporting to the mainland or by dumping in secluded areas. These residual chemicals must not be dumped into the ocean as it will destroy the habitat of the fish, clams and mussels.


6.5 Leisure and Knowledge


There are very few areas in the world where saline agriculture is practised and everyone is looking to Texel for this research. New research centres can be put up by the Leisure and Knowledge SS typically for research of saline agriculture and benefits of cultivating halophyte crops. The results of this research can be used by the Texel farmers to improve the production.

The knowledge of where maximum output of different crops will be known by the Leisure and Knowledge SS, and they can help the farmers identify these locations and give them tips on how to grow these crops.

Potential tensions

There are no potential tensions with this SS.


6.6 Health and Happiness


The Health and Happiness SS will also keep track of the quality of the food coming into the island from the mainland and going out of the island. This will ensure that only good quality products are being transferred.

This SS must ensure that happiness is high by providing feedback forms to the farmers and the locals and question them about the quality of the food being produced and the food being consumed.

Potential tensions

There are none.


6.7 Public Space


The Public Space SS must allocate area for farmland (saline agriculture and non – saline agriculture) and area for sanctuaries and it must clearly demarcate all of this. After this approval the farmers can start cultivating crops. It must also help in beautifying regular farmlands and places nearby.

Potential tensions

There are none.



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7. Transition in ideas after reactions and interviews on Texel

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’ [1] 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.[2] 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. 

7.3.1. Selling

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. 

7.3.2 Product

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.

7.3.3 Production

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. 

7.4.1 Farmer

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.

7.4.2 Slaughterhouse

Cor Boschma

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.

7.4.3 Butchery

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. 


[1] Interview Zelfpluktuin

[2] De wilde keuken - Fruit de mer

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