Private Land Conservation Ambassador

Sander Wurfbain

Sander Wurfbain and Margriet van Mourik at De Houberg Estate.
Sander Wurfbain is a passionate real estate entrepreneur and conservationist. He is the chairman of Gelders Particulier Grondbezit and vice president of de Federatie Particulier Grondbezit (FPG).
He is now dedicated to the conservation and creation of De Houberg estate, a circular farm that respects and protects the environment.
With his wife, Margriet van Mourik, and inspired by his family’s legacy with the Heuven Estate, they are driven to build a home that can accommodate their combined family of seven children and future generations.
Wurfbain’s commitment to sustainability and love for nature serves as a beacon of hope for a brighter, more responsible future.
A sustainable and self-sufficient farm that respects the planet and its animals, while providing a warm space to host loved ones and create cherished memories – a legacy for future generations.
For Sander and Margriet, the goal is crystal clear – to run a farm that operates in harmony, restoring soil quality, and serving as a gathering place for family reunions. Their commitment to sustainability and regenerative agriculture ensures that the land is protected and nurtured for future generations to enjoy.
The Houberg near Lobith was born out of a 56-hectare land on the Old Rhine – a former trotting ground and typical river forest land that had suffered damage from human activity and neglect.
In the 1950s and 1960s, clay extraction for house construction left the land abandoned and overgrown with vegetation. Today, the sandy soil is mostly infertile, but there are still pockets of fertile land where they cut grass to feed the animals or allow them to graze freely.

‘It is Natura2000 area with nature and agricultural land, and the presence of quite a bit of woodland meant that ranking under the Natuur Schoon Wet (NSW) was no problem at all. The forest needs to become more diverse: it is now mainly willow and alder, but oak and even beech should also get a chance.’ Sander Wurfbain, the Houberg owner.

Circular farming at De Houberg was inspired by the farming practices of the past, where waste was minimized and resources were used efficiently. The goal is to create a closed-loop system that produces food sustainably, while also regenerating the land and benefiting the local ecosystem.
De Houberg is home to healthy and free-range cows, pigs, and chickens that roam the open spaces. Wheat is grown on-site to feed the animals, and the spacious fields are perfect for summer mowing. Arjan and Martine, the farmers of De Houberg, are doing an exceptional job in raising their livestock and managing the farm sustainably.
Various methods to improve the soil
“We make bokashi and compost from the manure of our cows, chickens, and pigs, using effective micro-organisms (EM) and rock flour. Composting follows Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web method, with our own wood chips and freshly cut grass added to the potting compost.”
“We assess the quality of the compost and soil samples using a microscope and try to cultivate missing micro-organisms by adding worms or forest soil, or by making compost tea using our brewer. By adding nutrients like fish hydrolysate during the brewing process, we can increase the population of nematodes, protozoa, bacteria, or fungi.” – Sander Wurfbain.
We cooperate with plants and trees

We promote diverse soil life by growing a variety of crops, including 10-20 species of grasses and herbs that have different growth curves and flowering times. This results in a diverse insect and bird population, and improves climate resilience by allowing for different and complementary types of root systems. 

We also plant various trees, berry bushes, and hedges for livestock and human consumption, which help to slow down wind speed, reduce evaporation, and provide shade for animals in the summer.

We think everyone who eats meat should know how the animal lived. If that is not transparent, you may unknowingly eat something you do not support at all. Conscious consumption ensures that there is room for farmers who are committed to animal welfare, improving the landscape, healthy soil, and a livable earth for our children.

The Wagyu, a Japanese breed of cow
De Wagyu cow with Arjan. Copyright: De Houberg
Arjan and Martine, the farmers, dedicate ample time and care to the Wagyu herd, including regular stroking and massage.
Our Wagyu beef is known for its high marbling, which gives it a unique and delicious flavour.
Our cows are free to graze outside during the warmer months and are provided with hay and an outdoor run during the winter. Calves stay with their mothers in a family herd.
The Lakenvelder, a classic Dutch cow
The Lakenvelder herd at De Houberg Copyright: De Houberg.
The Lakenvelder breed is chosen for its ability to cope well with natural grasslands and weather conditions. They are entirely grass-fed with our pastures and raised in a family herd where calves stay with their mothers. They run year-round outside.
Most bull calves are raised as steers and cows reach higher ages. This results in meat with a rich, special flavor.
The Mangalica pig is a Hungarian wool pig.
The mangalica pig at De Houberg Copyright: De Houberg.
Our curly-haired pigs are closely related to wild boars and can withstand extreme weather conditions. We provide them with plenty of space to roam around.
The Houberg Hoen is a true outdoor chicken.
The houberg hoen chicken at De Houberg Copyright: De Houberg.

Our chicks spend 4-6 weeks under a heat lamp before moving outside to scratch, eat grasses, herbs, insects, and worms like in the wild. We don’t use drugs or antibiotics. The slower growth and outdoor lifestyle result in meat with higher nutritional value.

Dare to invest in the beauty of nature. When you have the responsibility to manage a piece of land, it is so rewarding to see it grow, flourish, and expand. Invest in it and let it nourish your soul as much as it nourishes your body.


The news items collected on this blog have been written by project partners of the LIFE ENPLC project.