Value from de Achterhoek

Ecological, economic and social research with local stakeholders into the possibilities for a sustainable landscape with high sandy soils. The area is a mix of stream valleys, young heathlands, ash (high-altitude fields) and planted drifting sands. Drought is a major problem in this region. The water system consists of an intricate network of ditches that drain water quickly, constructed in recent decades so that the land can be used for agriculture. On top of that, there have been dry summers in recent years and the prospect that this will continue due to climate change. So we know that more water needs to be retained. How can the area be organized in such a way that there is room for farming, building and living? In which nature can thrive?

Water, water, water
The focus is on how we deal with water. For example, by collecting water and thinking differently about water use, to which everyone can contribute. As a resident by using less drinking water (now an average of 128 liters per day!). So saving water, but also, for example, no longer use drinking water to flush the toilet? That’s where the builders come in. They can contribute by building in a different way: with materials that use less water in production, but also by including rainwater collection and gray water systems in the plans. Farmers can contribute, among other things, by building hedges and forage hedges. The soil below is porous, allowing a lot of water to be stored, which can be used again in dry periods. And by growing other crops that need less water. Then there is a fourth important point: the water system, which has been perfected in recent decades to drain water as quickly as possible, must now do exactly the opposite. Restore the natural water system, for example filling in ditches in some places and giving more space to the natural winding course of the water, so it is drained less quickly.

Who lives where?
There is another challenge in the field of construction and living. It is expected that (many) more people from the West of the Netherlands will move here in the coming years. At the same time, the desire is to have enough affordable living space for (young) people from the region. Where is everyone going to live? Perhaps on top of existing homes. Or with multiple households on the property of a farm. And of course in homes made from biobased materials. To make these constructions possible more easily, existing regulations must be examined.

Farm of the future
And what can a healthy farm look like? By working on healthy soil and good water management, less or no irrigation is required. The soil determines what is grown and when. By forming a community around a farm, with people who know what happens on the land and are involved, you can jointly bear the risks of, for example, a lower harvest. Another way to spread risks is by growing dual-purpose crops, such as grain and false flax. A different valuation of a farmer’s services also contributes to fair remuneration. This is already being experimented with in a pilot of the Marke model: a collaboration between private and public parties and farmers who jointly determine quality goals and an associated reward in the areas of, among other things, water quality, biodiversity, ammonia and nitrate emissions and agricultural nature management.

Because we have to do it together, storytelling is important, share what you are doing and why, in order to involve others.

3D printed landscape by Omlab
A 3D print presenting the current situation is the first part of the installation. It is made by Omlab and consists of only natural materials. The scenarios retrieved during the co-creation sessions serve as the basis for the second part of the installation. This part is expected early 2024 and can be used as a starting point to facilitate conversations about sustainable area development.

What, where, when
2 co-creatie sessies in October 2023
Wonion, Ulft
Expo tijdens DDW23, Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building

Partners: MooiNL, SamenBiobasedBouwen.