De Streekboer (The Regional Farmer)

by: Tamara de Zeeuw, De Streekboer

Support measures by the local government
The Municipality of Groningen has helped De Streekboer with developing their business case, delivery model and quality controls. As a local government, we helped De Streekboer in finding a suitable location for the weekly issue point, where customers can pick up their orders directly from the producers. Also we have helped De Streekboer with public attention and connections with other partners/ food related SMEs. Key element in this approach was the invitation for De Streekboer to become member of the network organization the Ketentafel Voedsel. Also the Municipality of Groningen De Streekboer gained access to knowledge about quality assurance and food safety regulations.

Through the support of the Municipality of Groningen and Reframe De Streekboer was able to connect with partners Toentje (urban farming) and Bie de Buuf (social restaurant). The result is the realisation of a first issue point at Bie de Buuf. Also De Streekboer was able to adjust its business model and introduce measures for quality control and food safety.

Local network: Ketentafel Voedsel
The Ketentafel Voedsel is a joint initiative of the local government, food related SMEs, large scale consumers and business support organizations to foster short food supply chains.

Local partner: Toentje
Toentje is an initiative of concerned citizens who are growing vegetables for poor people who aredependent on food from the foodbank. Growing food can provide fresh food for them. More than 50 volunteers work in Toentje. The two project managers have paid jobs for 20 hours a week. The municipality provided start-up grants. Toentje is still financed by gifts and sponsoring but is looking for ways to become a financially independent social enterprise. In that way we hope to learn from other countries. One way to find income is by setting up a hops nursery as a result of a working visit to Bremen in the framework of the annual trade meeting in 2016. The hop is sold to a local brewery. Also by collecting local honey for sale (brandname is Groning) Toentje tries to acquire income.

Local partner: Bie de Buuf
Bie de Buuf is the social restaurant which is set up by Toentje and Resto van Harte (a national coordinated concept of social restaurants with the aim of combating loneliness). In the social restaurant inhabitants can twice a week have diner for very reasonable prices. Resto van Harte has a lot of restaurants in the greater cities and is financed bij donations, sponsoring and retailers.

Quality assurance and food safety
Thanks to the support of the local government Streekboer -as en startup social enterprise) learned that laws and regulations as ordered in HACCP rules on social hygiene, demand extra investigations in cooling technics, transport and storage.

Adjustment of business model
Streekboer discovered that the successful concept -as introduced in the province Friesland- does not work the same way in Groningen. Adjustments to the concept of sales are still made. It would be worthwhile to exchange experiences with other initiatives.

Regional differences
Streekboer has at the moment 2 regions with 4 city’s with several points of delivery. Each region has his own manager. 17% of the sales price goes to the Streekboer. There are now more than 300 customers. In Groningen is is more difficult to get customers than in region in the province Friesland.

Lessons learned
We learned that for low profile start-ups (SME’s) it is difficult to find a appropriate business model. For the first start up crowdfunding helps a lot. But after that it is difficult to find a way to scale up.
We learned that there are strict requirements for accessibility of the issue point, as well for the delivering producers as for the customers. The number of customers keeps stuck on 30, that is not enough to be profitable.

Next steps
Searching more locations as issue points in the city of Groningen.
Researching for new business models and locations in the city of Groningen.
Share the knowledge we gained in this project with other SME’s.

Contact information:
De Streekboer
Tamara de Zeeuw