Caroline van der Lande-Vogels and Floris van der Lande, the enthusiastic owners of De Hoevens, are delighted to share their conservation journey. We are thrilled to have them on board as ENPLC Ambassadors.
De Hoevens, a 190-hectare estate located between Alphen and Goirle, has been in Caroline’s family for 100 years. Initially, the estate was purchased by her grandfather as a residence and for hunting. When Caroline’s mother took over the estate she started an agricultural business here. In the 70’s the agricultural activities expanded to include milk, meat, potatoes, and more. However, regulations and costs made it unsustainable.
In 1992, Caroline and Floris took over the estate, ready for a new chapter in their lives. They were the first to settle in and actually lived at the estate. From their love for nature they transformed the estate into a recreational nature area. They hope that their four children will continue to cherish this legacy.
Step by step they learned how to maintain and develop the estate in a sustainable way, guided by their core values: Nature, Simplicity, Silence, Space, Culture and Quality. Every activity which is or will be developed at the estate must fit these values.
Floris: “At De Hoevens, we run various small recreational businesses. Surrounded by nature only – the estate doesn’t have a restaurant, shop eg. – there’s a camping site for tents, caravans and campers, a B&B and a holiday cottage. Families with children enjoy their holiday here, with a natural playground, swimming pond and lots of space. But also elderly people who likes to hike and bike visit De Hoevens often. Companies and trainers visit our conference centre for their meetings and teambuilding activities. We also host guided walks, nature labs for children and school programs to educate them about nature.”
Floris highlights the importance of the human-centric approach, saying, “At De Hoevens, we invest in the human connection. For e.g. we ask our staff to bring in good ideas. And we host volunteers who help us to maintain and develop nature. We also invest in good relationships with our ‘neighbours’ who live in the area.”
In addition to the recreational activities, De Hoevens also produces its own beer, made of rye, in collaboration with a local brewery. The local beekeeper provides them with honey from the estate. And in collaboration with the local bakery they produces biscuits and crackers, made of their own rye.
Volunteers help with planting hedges. © De Hoevens
Ceremonial building at natural cemetery. © Marcel Willems
Natural cemetery as a new sustainable business model to preserve the estate,
From their personal wish to be buried once at their own estate, Floris and Caroline developed a natural cemetery, which opened in 2014. The natural cemetery offers a sustainable, natural alternative to conventional burials, without high-cost coffins, concrete vaults and fancy gravestones. At De Hoevens burial is simple. People make their return to the Earth in a way that celebrates how they lived their lives.
Walking the cemetery, you choose your own future grave. It can be in the open meadow, nearby a tree, ashes can also be buried into the woods. With such a choice, you choose nature and with eternal peace of mind, as graves are never cleared.
The wooden markers blend in beautifully with the natural surroundings and the presence of grazing sheep. They welcome visitors to come and reflect during the quiet moments of sunrise and sunset, taking in the beauty of nature and finding comfort in the cycle of life and death. It truly is a special place.
The Hoevens also offers a unique farewell location for a farewell and condolence for up to 125 persons. Because only one funeral a day takes place here, both people and nature are given space.
Due to this and previous mentioned business models, De Hoevens can maintain and strengthen its natural features through meadow restoration, mowing, hedge and woodland management, and partridge conservation.