The need to secure food supplies for a rapidly growing world population (by 2050 there will be an additional two billion mouths to feed) presents us with an immense task, if only because of climate change and the overwhelming demands we are placing on the natural environment. Producing healthy and safe food is a huge challenge in itself. The key to it is making use of nature’s own resilience, its powers of recuperation.

It all begins by cleverly and sensibly minimizing the use of artificial fertilizer and chemical pesticides. But at least as important is to change our habits, so that food is grown more locally and sustainably, with proper regard to the seasons, and wherever possible with less tillage and with greener and more eco-friendly methods of cultivation.

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A Journey through the World
of Resilient Agriculture

Ruud Sies (photographer) and partner Hanneke van Hintum (producer)  take you on their journey through the world of sustainable agriculture and horticulture, visiting high-tech greenhouses, smallholders and endless soybean fields all over the world. It tells the story of a priest in Romania who after an epiphany in a supermarket began growing red peppers, and the story of the High Nature Value Farmed Landscapes in Romania

featuring a million self-supporting farmers.
It presents the world of sustainable rice production in Spain and potato production in the Dutch province of Brabant.

Resilience Food Stories is a storytelling platform that shares with you the astonishment and admiration of the creators concerning the developments and possibilities of sustainable agriculture and horticulture.

It shows that only sustainable agriculture and horticulture that make use of natural principles can make food production worldwide healthier, safer, more productive and more resilient. The complex worldwide subject of food production becomes a matter of real people and their exciting and hopeful stories, which are extraordinary, inspiring, instructive, moving, funny and auspicious.

Photographer Ruud Sies and Hanneke van Hintum

Who are Ruud Sies and Hanneke van Hintum?

After careers as communications advisers, and a voyage around the world with their children, Ruud Sies and Hanneke van Hintum took a major decision. From that point on they wanted to make pictorial stories together as a team, focusing solely on social subjects they were passionate about. Based on the combination of Ruud’s photography and Hanneke’s editorial and production expertise, they created several long-term photodocumentaries, books and exhibitions.

Horticulture, agriculture, food

Partners with Nature, (2017) is a book that Koppert Biological Systems in Berkel published to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. Ruud and Hanneke made it in collaboration with the researchers at the international company, which develops alternatives to chemical pesticides. Think of all kinds of flies and mites, of microscopic worms and moulds, and bumblebees for pollination. The main part of the book is a documentary in pictures, spanning the globe, about the various forms of agriculture and horticulture that make use of Koppert products, from California to China, from Africa to the Czech Republic.

As a result of their travels to farms and market gardens all over the world, Ruud and Hanneke were gripped by the urgency of the huge challenge presented by the need to change agriculture and food production. There are more than eight billion mouths to feed, and everyone will understand that the present system is unsustainable. It has a hugely negative effect on climate change, it destroys communities and it devastates areas of natural beauty, thereby accelerating the extinction of species. It pollutes and exhausts the soil, making food supplies dependent on substances that are running out or are downright poisonous, and that have extremely damaging effects on ecology and human health.

These are complex and politically difficult problems, since major interests are involved. A great deal of knowledge is required to fathom it all and to identify opportunities for real improvement and progress. Yet everyone knows from experience that the issue comes up every time you go shopping at the market or in the supermarket. So these are matters of importance in your kitchen, on your plate and therefore in your body. The problems of the world don’t come any closer than that.

Human and hope-giving stories

Ruud and Hanneke started the Resilience Food Stories project to provide access as directly and humanly as possible to the practices of people who succeed, as growers or farmers, in producing food profitably without damaging the climate, nature or human health. We badly need critical journalistic studies and reports that reveal abuses and scandals. No less important is the need for the public at large to be able to learn about the most important scientific discoveries and solutions in the search for new ways of farming. Political conflicts over laws and regulations must of course be reported on too, and involved in the debate. But there is also a great need for human stories that do not revolve around being in the right, or a political judgement.

Resilience Food Stories shows, soberly and without denying the problems, that all over the world, on a hugely diverse scale and with all kinds of different methods and approaches, people are working with nature instead of over-exploiting it. They need today’s science and technology in doing so, but also centuries-old farming knowledge and expertise. Far more is at stake than merely efficient solutions for the agricultural transition. Ruud and Hanneke collect stories that demonstrate how personal histories, family traditions and spiritual and religious inspiration have a part to play. They show that it’s not just a matter of artificial fertilizers and poisons and the resilience of nature but about preserving farming landscapes.

Acknowledgements

Resilience Food Stories is a storytelling platform
by Ruud Sies and Hanneke van Hintum
in partnership with Koppert Biological Systems.

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