‘Extremely proud!’ that’s what Ellen Willems is. She is the founder of Urban Farmer, in Doetinchem.
Her business Urban Farmer is the only Dutch entry which has been nominated for the European ARIA
Award in the category of socio-economic rural projects. Urban Farmer, easily meets the selection
criteria for social inclusion, education, production of affordable and healthy food, environmental
benefits, innovation and networking.
Urban Farmer, is a place where everyone is welcome to meet up. Urban Farmer is over three
hectares of land. It has vegetable gardens, a cosy reception area and a shop. To run Urban Farmer it
takes fifty volunteers from various backgrounds and nationalities plus five professionals. Students
from seven schools regularly visit. And now, there’s the nomination for an European Award.
Ellen is proud of the nomination. “We are a place that connects various groups of residents; we
produce sustainable food together. Additonally, we focus on education; we offer a program that
involves students from seven schools.” There’s much more, including sustainable catering, a farm
shop with healthy producee from our own garden, excursions and hosting groups. “We also provide
breakfast for Noorderlicht primary school with our volunteers. The school children get healthy food,
with bread made from local grain!”
Urban Farmer is the Dutch nominee for the Agricultural & Rural Inspiration Award (ARIA). With the
ARIA, the EU aims to promote an exchange of knowledge plus networking in rural areas by
presenting the best practice examples. Every year, various agricultural and rural projects within the
EU compete to win one of the five ARIA Awards. In the socio-economic development category, Urban
Farmer is the sole Dutch entry. The Management Organization for the Common Agricultural Policy
(CAP) selected the project from one of the many Dutch rural projects supported by the European
subsidies. Urban Farmer received subsidies from LEADER Achterhoek.
September will be the first round of the selection process of all the entries which will result into a
short list of 24 candidates. Subsequently, there will be an international public vote, from which five winners will emerge: one per category and a public choice winner. The awards ceremony is likely to take place in December 2023.
The exact location and date of the award ceremony is still be announced, but Urban Farmer is
certainly a serious contender for the international ARIA award. The seed that Ellen planted with her
savings has sprouted into something beautiful and magnificent. It’s time to reap what has been