For 5 generations the Van Schie family has been making cheese on an island near Leiden. 6th generation Joost investigates the relationship between cows, cheese and climate together with his parents Jan and Roos. Can they go together sustainably? Farm 'De Eenzaamheid' is a research ground for regenerative methodologies.
The Van Schie family is exploring the possibilities to give more back to nature with sustainable farming than what is taken, from three different angles:
- Reinventing dairy farming
- Developing regenerative agricultural systems
- Creating new biotopes
Reinventing dairy farming
In order to make a positive contribution in the end, we need to reinvent our dairy farming. Cows are among the biggest polluters, but are crucial landscape managers in the Veenweide area. It's not about the COW, it's about the HOW. They are going to build up the soil and keep greenhouse gas emissions to a minimum, among others, through a new way of manure processing (composting), grazing and more herb-rich grasslands. They absorb CO2 and nitrogen and offer the cows a varied diet. This keeps them healthy and lowers their methane emissions.
Developing regenerative agricultural systems
A CO2 neutral dairy farm is still quite a challenge. That is why they're also on a different sustainable path. In addition to the land that is grazed by their cows, they have 5 hectares available for regenerative farming methods where they work to improve soil, biodiversity, water quality and carbon storage. Their island polder is an ideal testing ground due to its relatively isolated location. Among other things, they develop a vegetable garden and a tea plantation, explore the possibilities for wet crops and are open to other ideas.
Creating new biotopes
The farm is in the service of nature. Their dream is to give back more and more step-by-step. They have already started with a meadow bird biotope, consisting of one hectare of marshland plot and plots that they do not mow in the breeding season. With this they create an optimal foraging and breeding area.
Since 1849, Van Schie family has been making cheese from the raw milk of cows grazing in their island polder. Their belief is that the best food is simply the food that ends up on your plate with as little processing from nature as possible. They aim to give you such a piece of nature every day.
In search of a cow that supplies the best possible milk for the production of Wild Meadow cheese, Jan and Roos surprisingly stumbled upon the Montbeliard cows on holiday in the French Jura. A beautiful and robust breed that fits well in their island polder. They give less, but very good milk with an excellent fat-protein ratio for a creamy, flavorful cheese.
The routines of milking cows and making cheese are the heartbeat of the company. A military rhythm that is followed with passion day in and day out. Over the past 170 years, ther family has simplified and improved the process from farm to table. This has led to a cheese that is valued both locally and far beyond national borders.
In their cheese you can taste the challenging notes of the herb-rich island grass. Due to the biological methods, the herbs are increasingly settling in the pasture. The cows are offered a diverse diet with essential minerals. This way they stay healthy and deliver the highest quality milk.
Wilde Weide (Wild Meadow) cheese is about tradition and transition in the Green Heart. Grazing cows in green polder landscapes and centuries-old family farms that provide the surrounding cities with artisanal products. A landscape that is constantly changing.
Wilde Weide cheese originated from a collaboration between farmers from the Green Heart who pioneered one of the first organic local products in the late 1990s. A cheese prepared with an eye for nature and meadow birds.