Plentiful Lands: Where trees and sheep help tackle the environmental crisis and spark a love for nature
The lack of representation of women in rural areas not only affects the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but prevents many women from fully developing their potential. In order to improve the position of women in the agrifood industry, the Empowering Women in Agrifood programme was launched.
The EWA programme in Croatia is organized by Lean Startup Croatia in cooperation with EIT Food. It is a support program intended for female entrepreneurs in the early stages of their careers for the purpose of developing a sustainable business. The program was launched with the aim of achieving gender equality and encouraging women to occupy leading positions in the agricultural and food industry. 10 entrepreneurs are participating in the 6-month entrepreneurial incubation program in Croatia, and one of them is Naomi Sarah Bosch, who is behind the startup Plentiful Lands. This is her story.
Story behind Plentiful lands
„Why did you return to Croatia? Why didn’t you stay in Germany after your studies?“, they often ask me. My answer may be very subjective; as Blaise Pascal once said, “The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of”.
But being an agricultural scientist, my heart aches to see the many fallow fields across the Croatian countryside. Croatia is a country of wide and diverse landscapes, home to a rich flora and fauna. However, when it comes to its agricultural production, it could fill so many more bellies with nutritious, local produce. For instance, only 40% of the domestic demand for fruits is grown in Croatia. Add to this the numerous environmental challenges we are globally facing today: soil degradation, biodiversity loss, overflowing plastic waste…
Luckily, as more and more people are becoming aware of these issues, the organic food market is booming. The EU plans to expand its organic farming share to 25% by 2030. People are hungry for nutritious food and for solutions that honour the Earth.
The Mission of Plentiful lands
Since 2019, I've been fervently searching for solutions, writing about farming, faith and sustainability on my blog Plentiful Lands. But as a writer, the time has come for me to also „walk the talk“.
Right here, in Croatian soil, I want to sow the seeds of my regenerative farming business. Regenerative farming methods are even more eco-friendly than organic ones, as they enrich the soil with humus, making it more fertile and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. They also let biodiversity thrive on the farm itself. Being a “nature-based solution”, regenerative farming can help solve multiple problems at once: climate change, the soil & biodiversity crises… As every ecologist knows: in nature, everything is connected.
Specifically, my aim is to grow aromatic herbs, flowers and fruits using the regenerative silvopasture system: a setting in which annual crops, trees (in my case fruit trees) and animals (in my case sheep) co-exist and mutually benefit each other. The trees prevent soil erosion and provide food. The nutrients from the sheep dung are returned to the soil, feeding the plants and creating humus. The sheep, in turn, benefit from the shade and shelter provided by the trees. Such silvopastures are also real hotspots of biodiversity!
To minimize waste and help tackle the crisis of (plastic) waste, my products such as jams and juices will be sold in reusable glass containers. Because even though glass can, in theory, be recycled, the recycling process still uses unnecessary energy.
Plentiful Lands will be a place where people can not only taste and see my local fruits of the land, produced with regenerative, zero-waste-principles. It will be a place where people can learn about sustainable farming, composting, permaculture, wild edible and medicinal plants and the connection between faith and ecology.
Through my foraging walks, various courses and spiritual retreats embedded in the Christian tradition, visitors will learn practical skills and gain a completely new understanding of the natural world.
Vision on Pletiful Lands
Plentiful Lands will also be a place to spark a love for nature and experience it with all our senses. Because we can only solve our ecological crisis if we’re aware of it and care about it. I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself: once you have a personal, emotional connection to a specific place or to nature in general, you’re much likely to shift your behaviour to have a positive impact on the Earth. Therefore, I believe that education and first-hand experiences in nature are key to fostering environmental awareness.
As I plan to build up my farm from scratch, I’ll continue writing inspiring articles for magazines and businesses. In 2023, just before I start planting the first trees, I’ll publish my first book on sustainability and faith in German. In the long term, my wish is also to create new job opportunities in a rural area in Croatia. Meanwhile, I’ll carry on with my foraging walks and work on collaborations with like-minded individuals, businesses, and publications in Croatia and beyond.
Added value of EWA programme and next steps
The Empowering Women in Agrifood programme has helped me carve out a crystal-clear vision. I got countless new ideas to try out and learned about strategies how to build a business sustainably and successfully. As a newcomer to the entrepreneurial world, this was just what I needed at that moment. But even more than that, the programme has given me the confidence that my dreams are valid and realistic. With the incredibly supportive guidance of my mentor, I dared to do what I otherwise surely wouldn’t have done. From conducting interviews as part of my market research, over initiating potential collaborations, all the way to professionally presenting my ideas to strangers. The experience was challenging, but having other mentors and mentees from the EWA programme and from Lean Startup Croatia believe in me, gave me the courage to carry on.
One beautiful, sunny autumn day, I was working on my financial plan. With the help of my mentor, I was battling with my huge excel table. The numbers felt intimidating to me. But as I was watching the colourful falling leaves later that day, things started to fall into place for me, too. I’ll make it, I thought to myself. I’ll find a way; right then I knew it.
If you want to follow my journey as I sow seeds, plant trees, write my book, teach courses and inspire people to live more regeneratively, join my newsletter or become part of my social media community (Facebook / Instagram).
The time to build a more regenerative and thriving world is now. One seed at a time.
You can see what a working day at Plentiful Lands looks like in the video below:
Video from our youtube channel:
Video for download: