It's not going well with Dutch biodiversity, and it's all over the news. Wilder Land's Matthijs and Daan came up with a way to help insects by making herbal tea using weeds. We spoke to Matthijs Westerwoudt about the importance of biodiversity, Wilder Land’s mission, and what you can do to lend a helping hand.
Why is it necessary to help biodiversity in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is at the bottom of the list regarding biodiversity in Europe – we are also champions of 'biodiversity loss’. And of agriculture. The more intense the agriculture, the less space there is for nature. 65% of our land is agricultural land, and farmers wants to make money off that land. It makes sense that a farmer would use this land as efficiently as possible - you don't make money with weeds and native plants. But native plants and weeds are perfect for biodiversity since they attract butterflies and bees. A bee isn't very excited about corn or just one type of grass - which is precisely what the farmers in the Netherlands profit from. As a result, biodiversity in the Netherlands is declining rapidly. Over the last 30 years, we have lost 75% of our insects - it's a very negative spiral. That's why it's so interesting and necessary to investigate how we can turn the tide and move from loss of biodiversity to recovery because we're all extremely dependent on nature. Without bees, there would be no pollination of crops, and then what would there be left for us to eat? Nothing!
Matthijs, what is your background and how did you come up with the idea to set up Wilder Land with Daan?
Daan and I both have backgrounds in psychology and business administration. We started Wilder Land from an entrepreneurial perspective. For a long time, we wondered what kind of company to set up, but one thing was clear, it had to be a company in which nature restoration was paramount. So we devised a revenue model contributing to Dutch farmers and biodiversity. With recovery as a starting point, it works like this: the better you get and the more products you sell, the more favourable it is for nature. How beautiful is that?
You work with farmers from all over the country since they manage about 65% of Dutch land. You sow on the edges of their fields and pastures. How do you select the farmers you work with?
Well, the good news is that every farmer can participate. And it looks like they want to because there's even a waitlist. We ensure that farmers get paid for the piece of land they give to grow weeds and native plants. The more tea we sell, the more farmers can participate, and the more we can stimulate biodiversity in the Netherlands.
Suppose you have a beautiful large garden or a small city balcony. What can you do to contribute to Dutch biodiversity?
First, let a part of your garden grow naturally, and the weeds run wild. The advantage of this is that you don't have to buy seeds and plants but let nature do its work. It's also good to sow organic, wild, native plants. You'll see that they attract a lot of insects. We've also put together a bag of seeds to help you grow your garden naturally and eventually make herbal tea. You can plant the seeds all-year-round; the only condition is that it shouldn't be too dry or too wet.
Want to get your hands dirty? Then drop by one of the Studio HENK stores from 3rd of June to take a look at our new collection, the Elements Outdoor Collection, taste Wilder Land's herbal tea, and get a free bag of Wilder Land seeds. Via the QR code on the packaging you can see which plants are included in the pack and discover how you can make your own tea. Want to know more about Wilder Land? Check out the webshop here.