Fresh dirt candy
Urban farming featuring Thijmen Böekling
Welcome to Down-To-Earth by Jenna, fun chats about your offline world •
Remember that otherworldly veggie box that we talked about last week?
This guy grew all of that delicious dirt candy.
Meet Thijmen Böekling. Thijmen is an urban farmer who grows delicious and organic veggies, and then delivers boxes of these glorious harvests to those who are lucky enough to be in-the-know.
His farm plot is just on the outskirts of Amsterdam.
Wanna bike there with me? (It’s probably a good idea to bring your raincoat and mud boots, look at that sky).
Yep. That’s globe artichoke. Mmmmm.
This is as fresh as salad gets. The leaves have such a depth of flavor. It’s like you’re tasting the color green.
Fava beans. You know, I really love fava beans, but I first didn’t recognize these ones because of how healthy and tall they are.
Now… where’s Thijmen?
Ah, he’s digging up something over there.
Can you guess what those pink/orange leaves are? Take a look at the shape. Thijmen says they survived being terrorized by the pigeons that camp out in the tree nearby.
Turnips, anyone? Thijmen says they can get to be even bigger than this - tennis ball size. It’s often said that smaller veggies are more flavorful but he wants you to know that’s not true. It’s how they’re grown.
He also said that often when a veggie has had a rougher time of it, say for instance getting attacked by pigeons, or a natural upbringing without too many chemicals, or even if it looks ugly, or has crumpled leaves…
It’ll be way more tasty and nutritious than that “perfect” food you find in a supermarket.
Jenna: Do you ever listen to music while you’re out here?
Thijmen: [Smiles], no.
Jenna: So you’re just listening to the sounds of nature?
Thijmen: …Or the airplanes. We’re still a bit in touch with the city.
Jenna: You must have a lot of time to your own thoughts.
Thijmen: Yes, but my mind shuts down very easily. I don’t have too many thoughts.
Jenna: True meditation.
Thijmen: I guess so. I used to row a lot, and gardening is really similar for your mind. When you keep doing the same movement, it calms you down. You’re constantly making the same motion, in exactly the same way.
Thijmen is one of those people who is fine with long silences and pauses. His presence is really calming, solid. When you talk, you know he’s listening to everything you’re saying. When he talks, he’s considering his words, pausing to look at you, or share a laugh, or snip a leaf.
Apart from food Thijmen also started growing flowers too, after realizing that many of the cut flowers that we love are grown with tons and tons of pesticides.
Like these orange lilies.
Thijmen says that a lot of flowers that we consider ornamental now were originally grown for food. For instance, he’s tried lily bulbs, and says they’re sugary.
And a lot of what we consider “food” also has beautiful flowers.
For instance, these are arugula flowers -
And these are potato flowers. The purple flowers on the left are from the purple potatoes, the white flowers on the right are from the white french potatoes.
Thijmen makes an effort to grow different varieties that you can’t just find at the supermarket.
He’s even growing Huacatay.
Huacatay is known as “Peruvian black mint.” It tastes like a mix between tarragon, mint, and lemon together. We all break off one of the leaves.
All right, it’s looking like the sky is about to burst. Grab that crate of spring onions if you can, we’re going to head to the giant fridge and you can take home your box for this week.
Speaking of those spring onions - they make every other kind of spring onion you’ve ever tasted seem like paper in comparison.
This might be a good time to tell you that all of this beauty you’re seeing is part of a brand new operation.
Thijmen has only had this farm for a year.
He wants you to know that it’s totally possible to grow your own garden and food like this, even in a city, even as a beginner.
Quick! Before you go, do you think this lettuce will fit in your bike bag? Do you think you can manage?
Good, see you next week.