Close to Amsterdam, situated in the idyllic landscape of Landsmeer, where water channels frame the houses, lies the little farm De Groene Boearderij. A big vegetable garden, a small bamboo forest, animals and the paddock, a meadow, and the nature reserve `t Twiske nearby provide the best opportunity to connect with nature.
In this beautiful setting, Jeannette, Amber and their daughter Liv have created for themselves and their guests a peaceful and serene place to be.
I met Jeannette in the School for The Work in 2016. When we got to know each other, she told me about her family and their project. She told me about their mission to create a “House of Happiness”, a place where people could reconnect with nature and themselves. I told her I share the same dream and she invited me to visit. So I did in September last year. During my time there I also got to know Amber and Liv, the dogs, the horses, and the garden. It is a truly beautiful place, as you can see in the pictures.
My biggest motivation to share this project with you is the core work they do. I remember very well a time in my life when I was not doing so well. I was depressed and very insecure about my future. I was lucky to spend a couple of weeks at a community farm in Spain (IXUXU), where I was taken in as a family member, where I could give my help and serve with my abilities. Nature, regular meals and community time were all so beneficial for me. I felt wanted, valued and nurtured.
One part of the mission at De Groene Boerderij is the Day Care Program. The target groups that are invited to participate in the program are for example people with mental health problems, with long term unemployment, burnout, or young people who dropped out of school. The vision that Amber and Jeannette inspire is that everyone who comes is already 100% OK exactly as he or she is. Tools that are being used to support clients in finding value and happiness regardless of their circumstances are NLP, coaching, systemic work, and “The Work” of Byron Katie.
By having a structured day, working in the garden and with the horses, experiencing the seasons, physical activity, and creative work in a peaceful space, the clients get renewed opportunities to find their talents and to develop them further. On their website (which is very well translated via google translate) the common values that support clients are listed. These values are for example durability, respect (for ourselves, each other, and nature), safety, enjoyment of life and responsibility (for our own happiness and learning to sense when to ask for help) and a positive outlook.
From my own experience and from what I learned about De Groene Boerderij I think the work they do is tremendously valuable. I think it is remarkable that the Day Care Program is co-financed by the local government and I really hope to see something like this in Germany soon. Please share in the comments if you have information regarding this topic!
Below you find an interview with Amber and Jeanette who answered my curious questions for you.
I read on your website about your Vision to contribute to the happiness of others. You write your mission is to create a house of happiness. What was the moment in your life where you found your vision?
It came up when we started living here 17 years ago, on our beautiful spot in Den Ilp. Back then the vision wasn’t clear yet. We both grew by developing ourselves, in our jobs as well as in our personal growth. Three years ago the vision became more clear and more relevant. By making a vision board, slowly it revealed itself.
(In case you are wondering what a vision board is, Jeannette explained it to me like this: “a vision board is like a dream / future board. You go through magazines and tear all pictures out that seem to do something for you. All sentences with a meaning. And then you make a collage. Notice that things that are important to you are there”)
And how did you gather the courage to go and put your mission into action? What would you think is the key for coming from an Idea into action?
First getting your mission clear, and giving it time to ripe. Then, knowing when it is time for action and being truthful towards your well formulated goal, taking small steps and just DO IT.
On your way of putting your mission into action, what where your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Once the mission is clear, you get in a flow. For us, overcoming challenges is not how it feels. Being in the flow creates a fast amount of energy. We always stayed open for change, because although our mission was clear, the content was able to alternate.
If there is one challenge we had, it was staying patient, and it still is…..
You participate in the Day Care Program, we don t́ have something like this in Germany. At least I don t́ know about it. And I find it really great. Would you please sum up what it is?
The Day Care Program is for people with a problem which keep them from getting into a normal employment process. These people, with small or big physical or mental disabilities, are one way or the other financed by the state to participate on a farm to gather a sense of daily rhythm, getting in touch with nature, by taking care of flora and fauna, getting a sense of the seasons and feeling worthy.
I know you both work in several jobs besides the farm and the Cay Care Program. How many hours you d́ say you work per week and how do you manage the energy necessary for this amount of work?
If you do your mission, it doesn’t feel like working.
Because our jobs are really different from our work on the farm, it is possible to stay inspired, always being truthful to our core values. And be able to allow yourself to make mistakes. (Amber told me this April she resigned from her job to be able to focus 100% on the farm.)
What do you love most about this life?
The freedom, the energy of the magnetic mission to which a lot of volunteers are drawn to, and so our mission became a mission of a team. Alone, you go faster, together you get further. We love the creative process we are all in, and we are really enjoying the ride.
What else would you like to share with my readers?
Everything needs its own time to ripen. Trusting the process and knowing that eventually everything will come together is the most important lesson we are learning.
If you want to contact Jeannette and Amber, you can do so here: email@example.com
You find their website here: www.degroeneboerderij.nl