The Her Berg experiment – one year later

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Dear friends of Her Berg,

We have just returned to Amsterdam after an unforgettable renovation holiday. Before we look ahead again, we would like to stand still for a moment. “Experiment Her Berg” has been around for 1 year now. Time to take stock. Here it comes, based on the three goals we set for ourselves a year ago:

Community development

Don’t talk too much, just do it. That’s how we started Her Berg. Inspired by the big questions of our lifetime. Soon it became apparent that we were not alone. Almost automatically a community arose around Her Berg.

Including all the community members who traveled to Her Berg and worked so hard on the renovations. All the generous donors of our crowdfunding campaign that enabled us to purchase the place. All other generous donations, from a canoe, a trailer full of building materials, late 19th century windows and solar panels with a scratch, to the most beautiful plants and fruit trees, delicious meals and so much more.

In Sweden, more and more people are also finding their way to Her Berg and the first connections with similar initiatives are emerging. For example, we visited Urnatur, which is an inspiring example for us in many ways. According to the founders, the urgency of nature conservation is greater than ever, even in a country with so much nature as Sweden.

Sustainable living

From day one, we have been working on the question of how we can create an ecological positive impact with Her Berg, and that constantly poses new challenges and questions. How does Her Berg fit into the direct nature? How environmentally friendly is a septic tank compared to a compost toilet? How do we (quickly!) get ecological building materials? And what is the impact of all those travels by the Dutch to Sweden?

A few questions have been answered, others await. A small overview of what we have done and discovered so far:

October 2019: The first thing that had to be done in the context of energy savings was a new roof on the main house, with natural wood fiber insulation. Under supervision of brother-in-law Sjoerd, we got the job done in two weeks. The roof of the barn and the guesthouse will be tackled this fall.
April 2020: With regard to sustainable transport, we have been driving on biogas to and from Sweden since April, the most affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to electric driving.
May / June: Installing a modern, yet attractive bathroom was high on our wish list. With as many sustainable materials as possible and some beautiful vintage we come a long way, with tiling and grouting until the early hours.
June: One of the biggest projects was the installation of an environmentally friendly septic tank, in which bacteria filter the wastewater before it flows back into nature. This is necessary to provide Her Berg with modern amenities such as several toilets, showers, kitchens and a washing machine.
June: This summer we drove away from a generous uncle and aunt from Vlijmen to Sweden with a fully loaded trailer. With building materials, antiques, industrial lamps and handy tools. Everything used and second-hand. In this way we try to reuse as many used and second-hand materials as possible.
July: With the help of Henrik’s childhood friend Joost from Climatedeal, we started to insulate the barn and the guesthouse naturally, in order to create two extra accommodations. The main ingredient of the insulation is flax.
July: Under the supervision of real horticulturists / garden enthusiasts, an edible garden is created which also increases the biodiversity of the plot. The first berry bushes, an apple and plum tree and various ornamental plants have already gone into the ground.
July: Since July 1, Her Berg has officially become a foundation, thus fulfilling this promise. The next step is to officially transfer ownership to this foundation and take it off the market forever. Here you have a sneak preview of our fellow board members Jan Reinder Rosing and Veerle Devreese. We will introduce them to you in more detail in the next update.
Autumn 2020: Our friends from Groenpand have solar panels with ‘scratches’ ready to give energy to Her Berg; when will they arrive to install them… ? 😉

Feel free to join and participate, and good ideas are always welcome!

Nature conservation

Her Berg as a ‘post stamp-reserve’ is rich in (predatory) birds, foxes, deer, squirrels, many other animals, giant trees and insects of all shapes and sizes. We are learning to let nature take its course as much as possible here.

Due to all the renovation efforts of the first year, this third pillar of the “Experiment Her Berg” has received the least attention. However, the actual experience of Her Berg in the past year has only increased our desire to secure more nature ‘from the market’ and restore it in this way. Our hands are itching to work on this as quickly as possible. The goal is to use donations from guests staying in Her Berg to eventually buy more land in the area and secure it in the foundation. We are more and more interested in restorative agriculture. We want to use the land, for example, to create a food forest and grow crops that extract CO2 from the air. An exciting and new voyage of discovery for us, which we can certainly use help with!

We are also working towards making Her Berg a breeding ground for new experiments on this topic, so that more people dare to start their own “post-stamp reserve”. We are going to organise several theme weeks at the Her Berg upcoming year to facilitate this.

And now?

You probably understand from this blog post that the answer to the question of what is “home” for us now has several answers. In November we expect to travel to Sweden again for a few weeks, for the first time with the three of us ?. A 10-day job is therefore planned to transform the guesthouse into a second full-fledged accommodation. Be welcome to join!

In spring 2021 we will start with the construction of the tree house and everyone who dreams of it can come and learn the tricks of the trade under professional guidance. Exact data for this will follow later.

In the meantime, of course, always be welcome, the door of Her Berg is always open, even without a renovation agenda you can come and ‘bath’ in the forest 🙂

With summer greetings,

Anne and Henrik

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