Some of you may know that I grew up on a farm here in Belgium, did farming studies and then started working on the family farm. And that I later started woodworking as a hobby, which got so out of hand that it became my full time job after attending evening school to get a valid degree. Looking back, this was probably a way to prove I could run a business alone and become independant.
I was a professional woodworker for 7 years but always helping out on the farm during busy periods as my dad was alone. Our farm transitioned to certified organic (BIO) 4-5 years ago and covers about 85ha (210 acres). This transition slowly sparked my interest again as it is a new challenge, and also because I just couldn’t ever see myself farming with pesticides.
small patch of land on which I tested various vegetables
What made me decide to start taking over in early 2018 was probably the fact that a neighbouring organic vegetable farmer asked to use our land for some vegetables. I always loved vegetables but on our farm we only cultivated 3-4 boring crops such as wheat, barley, corn etc… I started helping out more and basically ended up cultivating those vegetables on my own, plus going several days a week on the vegetable farm to learn and help out.
Weeding peas on top of the Eben Emael fort.
So basically my dad is going on retirement in 2019 and I will be taking over the farm at least partially. I was initially hoping to combine my woodworking business with the farm, but this year made me see how difficult that would be. Whenever I was busy with one, the other was being neglected. And then there are bureaucratic problems. In order to be eligeable for subsidies, I need to have my main income coming from farming, and the farm is simply too big, if only in terms of paper work. And since becoming a father in 2017 I don’t want to work 10-12 hours a day, every day like I used to. I do intend to keep my shop and equipment, though I may have to sell my home and shop to finance my installation. But in farming the equipment can be so expensive that selling all my woodworking gear wouldn’t get me far. So I do plan to keep on making projects for the workshop, but possibly also farming or mechanic workshop related projects. In organic farming there is much to be invented, so expect to see projects going that way as well.
Watering the tunnels of a collegue during the drought.
In practice, next year I will very likely stop entirely taking on orders for my woodworking business, I do however intend to go out with a bang and do something to transmit to others the knowledge I built up through the years, especially in terms of making goldsmith work benches. Which I was careful about not to show too much of in the past to protect my livelihood. Farming wise I intend to concentrate on producing at least enough vegetables to supply our collegue all year around in potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnip etc… and who knows start a shop and sell vegetables at the farm.
And lastly I’d like to thank all those who sent me worried messages throughout the year, asking why I wasn’t posting and if I was ok. And an apology to all those for who I wasn’t able to respond, especially during the summer months. At some point I had over 10.000 unread mails and just couldn’t keep up (though most were notifications)
Wish me luck!