The Plukrijp farm and beyond

(c) Francesco Rossetti

In the beginning of autumn, the Organic Five were sent to learn more about organic farming out of first-hand experience. It was about time to say goodbye to sunny summer and accept the rainy reality of Belgium when a Flemish bus took us to the picturesque permaculture farm Plukrijp, located near Schriek to drive us off into an adventure that was about to widen our horizons.

The aim of this visit was to spare some moments to look at what we couldn’t see clearly while sitting at our offices or walking through corridors of EU institutions swarmed by some white collars chased by lobbyists. To better understand who our Brussels-based organisation IFOAM EU works for.

Plukrijp is a GMO-free, pesticide-free and fertilizer-free zone. No surprise about that. However, we weren’t aware that it was more than just a farm, but a community where we would learn not only about physical aspect of farming, but also a whole new philosophy of living. Its population consists of one biological family that is enriched with enthusiastic WWOOFers from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Northern Ireland, Morocco, Spain and Taiwan.

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Frank is the owner and kind of a guru to all its inhabitants. Besides instructing us on how to harvest fruits and vegetables and to build settlements such as Mongolian Yurt, Frank also spent a lot of time explaining us his ideology. That’s how we got insight into his views on politics and society, his criticism of capitalism and the consumerist culture.

If Frank is the rational half then his soul-mate Martine is certainly the spiritual part of the charming couple. With her help, we experienced a great way to start off a day – through a group meditation with other volunteers. After some intense physical work that followed, the perfect way for finishing a well-rounded day of work was some sauna relaxation in combination with soaking in a cold swimming pool.

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(c) Marie-Chiara Tort

According to the Plukrijp leader, human kind should go back to its roots, give up on excessive technology and turn to moral, instead of material values. Some of Frank’s ideas resembled the thoughts written in chief Seattle’s letter (regardless of that document’s authenticity). An idealism that made many of the people from the farm think of permaculture as a way of living which promises bright and sustainable future.

If this is the way to organize new types of small communities in some future scenario, so far maybe still too utopistic, then may it become true! Until it does, Plukrijp’s doors are open to all people that are open to this kind of experience. Therefore visit the farm’s website and visit the farm!

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