Organisation - March 12, 2015

Holland gets gardening

Roelof Kleis

Is Francisca Wubben, information specialist at the library, the best
kitchen gardener in Holland? She is taking part in a TV programme called From Dutch Soil (from the EO broadcasting company). First installment: this evening.

Francisca Wubben from Swifterbant  and her partner IJsbrand form  one of the eight couples who will be  doing battle for the title of ‘Holland’s  best gardener’. The programme  is a Dutch remake of the  BBC production The Big Allotment  Challenge. In six installments, in each of which one team bites the  dust, it will become apparent who  has the greenest fingers – and is a  good cook into the bargain.

The programme was filmed last  year between April and September in the garden of Amerongen castle. Each team was given a vegetable  plot and a greenhouse. Francisca: ‘We were at work in Amerongen two days a week: one weekend day and one weekday, when I left work at  three o’clock. Until August it was just the two of us gardening together. Then the jury came along.’ 

Two vegetables are focused on in  each installment. The participants  have to show their product and talk  about how they went about growing  it. And they have to cook a tasty dish  with it. ‘But you were only told  which vegetables just before the  start. If it was strawberries, say, and  yours were not looking too good at  that point, it was just your bad luck.  Then you had to think up something  to do with two half-green strawberries.’ 

Francisca and IJsbrand were put forward for the programme by an acquaintance who had seen the advert  – ‘and thought of us. We are  both fanatical gardeners. We come from Westland, from market gardening  families. I was already working  at the former research station, now Applied Plant Research, at the  age of 16.’ The production company Tuvalu  then selected the couple to participate  after an interview and a  screentest. How far they got is still a secret, betraying which would incur  a fine of 20,000 euros. ‘One couple  is sent away at the end of each installment.  That will look pretty dramatic  on TV. But in reality we stayed  in touch outside of the filming,’ she  says. ‘We haven’t seen any of it ourselves  yet. We’ll be watching the premiere tonight together with all the  teams.