The Broeders company, a feed distribution and contracting company in Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands, has several sources of income. In addition to providing services for farmers, his clients also include the potato industry and a brewery.
Already in 1881, the monks moved from Northern France to Berkel-Enschot. They founded the Koningshoeven Trappist Abbey. Since the soil in the heather was too meagre for farming, the Trappist began to brew beer. The La Trappe Brewery was founded. A major source of income, because according to an old tradition, the monks must earn their keep themselves. It is still that way today. Over more than130 years, modern farming developed around Berkel-Enschot, in the Dutch province of North Brabant.
The grain harvest is nearly finished. Marco Broedersnow buys hay and straw from farmers. He pays strict attention to the quality. “The hay must be free of poisonous plants, such as the common ragwort or injurious thistles,” explains the managing director of the Broeders VOF (OHG). The contracting company’s premises lie behind a dense green hedge, which separates it from the road to Tilburg. Behind it is the office building and a wide, high machine hall with a green roof. Everything is well cared for and tidy.
The same goes for the thatched house, which belongs to Marco Broeders and his partner Mirandavan Korven and stands next to the company grounds. Her three children are in school now. Time for her to finish the work in the office. Marco is now sitting at his desk, like every morning, and is taking care of purchasing and selling, or informing himself about the market. His driver Koen de Bruin is already on his way and taking care of various transport trips. In the afternoon the boss will also make his way to his customers.
Marco Broeders grew up on a dairy farm and showed an interest for farming at a young age. It is therefore no wonder that he went to a school specialising in farming, and founded his own company in 1989, directly after graduating. At that time, he only owned a shovel excavator, with which he did contracting work. “The company grew continually. We bought additional agricultural machinery. Certain circumstances helped us, like the mandatory slurry injection, which has been in effect in the Netherlands since 1995, or the climbing demand for harvesting maize. Not all farmers can afford all the necessary agricultural machinery. And that is where we come in,” he explains. Crucial for his success, however, is also his corporate philosophy: “Always do your best!” This claim includes a professional appearance, for example with shiny, clean machinery. “These now include six Fendt tractors,” says Broeders and points to three neat tractors, which are lined up properly in the machine hall. The other three are already outside in operation. There is also a workshop in the building. It is the realm of his brother Arjan. He is a year younger and, as an agricultural machinery specialist, he is responsible for the company’s machinery.
A path leads directly from the workshop to the neighbouring grounds. This is where the parent’s house with four bull stalls is located. Hefty, meaty cattle from the French “Blonde d’Aquitaine” breed, peer out of the bright, deep litter stalls inquisitively. They weigh up to 650 kg. “My father has 1,000 bullshere,” explains the tall man and points to the animal swith the yellow coat: “This all is luxury meat for the Bief Select brand, quality meat with a special taste, healthy colour and a certain kind of texture,” he explains.
The stars are given for species-appropriate animal husbandry. The highest number of stars is three, for animals that have been raised according to organic principles. “I have two stars. No other conventional bull fattener in the Netherlands has somany,” says Henk Broeders proudly, who just came in through the feeding corridor. The 65-year-old pats his charges on the head. He puts together their feeding schedule personally. These include rests of potatoes, which his sons get from the Agristo company in nearby Tilburg. The company’s headquarters are in Belgium and specialises in the production of chips. “In 1991, Agristo asked if I would like to sell the residual products of potatoes to livestock owners. I did not think long about it,” remembers Marco and continues: “That comes to 550 t of potato peels per year that are delivered to pig farmers and 400 t of other potato rests, which go to bull fatteners.” So, in addition to contract work for farmers, such as tillage, applying fertiliser, and harvesting, which are executed with their efficient Fendt tractors, new sources of income are always being added.
Back in the farmyard, Johan Hollanders comes driving through the entrance gate in a silver automobile. The employee of the agricultural machinery department of Abemec in Veghel has been the Broeders’account manager for nearly 20 years. He is responsible for selling Fendt machinery. He knows why his customers appreciate Fendt tractors: they work many hours, without running up high costs for repairs or fuel. “This business has a vision: They want to work quickly and efficiently with new, modern to work quickly and efficiently with new, modern machines,” claims Hollanders, as he climbs out of the car. “Besides, Fendt tractors are the best looking,” laughs Arjan Broeders, who just came out of the workshop to welcome his business partner. The Abemec company has been importing Fendt agricultural machinery from the Allgäu region in Germany to their sales region in Southern Holland for 50 years. Over the years, their operations have grown to include 18 Abemec workshops with about 220 employees.
From the farmyard, Marco Broeders points to the two pointed brick towers of the Koningshoeven Trappist Abbey, which is located on the other side of the street. Surrounded by trees, they reach up into the sky. Two crosses shine on their slate grey roofs. Right below there is a clock on each side of the tower; their black faces are decorated with golden hourmarks and hands. “Today, the La Trappe Brewery belongs to the beer producer Bavaria, but it is still run by the Trappists. The La Trappe brand has also been kept,” he explains. The monks still do not do any farming to this day. But they are connected to farming indirectly. They sell spent grains to bull fatteners, which the Broeders deliver. A part of this byproduct of beer brewing goes to Henk Broeders’s bulls. More at http://www.broedersfourage.nl/
To be allowed to call itself “Trappist beer”, a beermust be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbeyunder the supervision of monks. Such are the rules. The La Trappe brand beer from the brewery in theKoningshoeven Trappist Abbey is brewed according toits own specially developed recipe. Furthermore, the monks only use natural raw materials, such as hops, barley and yeast. Even the water comes from their own well. Five special beers are offered under the “LaTrappe” brand: they are called Blond, Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel and Witte Trappist. Each has its own special flavour and special qualities. That comes as no surprise. The Koningshoeven Abbey Brewery in Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands, is one of only seven Trappist breweries in the world and their beers are therefore of special excellence.