Living outside, sharing the outside
We wanted to live outside. It's fantastic, and now we'd like to share the outdoors too.
When we bought an old monumental farm with neglected outbuildings in 2002, the plan was simple. The farm needed to be restored and we would create a lovely vegetable garden, create a chicken coop to collect our own fresh eggs, and reap the fruits of the old pear tree at the back of the land for a delicious 'tarte tatin'. That's how it happened: we went out to live!
We soon discovered that there was so much more to think about, get started with, and enjoy. We planted old varieties of standard fruit trees, we made shingles, and learned how to maintain the elements of the barnyard. We also learned about our own plot. The ‘rootland’ probably used to be on one spot, and a cow bend somewhere further on. In some places we were not even allowed to dig because rivers used to run where possible Romans have camped.
Now that nature and the farmyard elements were increasingly emphatically restored, it became visible how quickly the quality of the outbuildings deteriorated. Many litters of young kittens saw the light of day but we had to do something with them. It was the mayor at the time who, over a cup of coffee, proposed to turn it into a bed & breakfast and meeting location. She wanted to stimulate high-quality tourism in this beautiful area and saw an opportunity for us to make a start on this.
From that moment on it took another 7 months before construction started. Together with the Municipality of Lopik, the province of Utrecht and the European Rural Development Program, we made a plan for the restoration of the existing buildings and the development of two new apartments that fit into the ribbon development. Another 11 months later, in September 2010, the mayor had another coffee. Now together with the aldermen and the Queen's Commissioner to look at the end result.
In the meantime, thousands of guests from all parts of the world have also had coffee at Onder den Peerenboom. They also stayed overnight or came here together for a meeting in our boardroom. In doing so, they have all contributed to the preservation of the small piece of intangible cultural heritage that we want to preserve. We thank them for this and look forward to welcoming you here too and sharing the "outdoors" with you!
Femke Berns and Kees Gelderblom