Farm rentals, dumpster dives: Europe crisis is mother of invention
In the midst of Greece’s economic crisis, one entrepreneur has come up with a novel way to earn extra cash: He’s renting out farmland. Dimitris Koutsolioutsos started gineagrotis.gr to connect city dwellers to rural farmers. The urban resident rents out a section of the farmer’s land to grow whatever produce is desired, which is then delivered to the city each week — either to the resident or, if desired, a local soup kitchen.
The benefit to the city dweller is obvious: fresh, cheap produce. For the farmer, the benefit lies in having a guaranteed market for what he makes. (Like a CSA box, but more tailored and one-to-one.)
Koutsolioutsos described his motivations to The Guardian:
“It’s about disrupting the market, creating a direct connection between the consumer and the producer,” says Koutsolioutsos. “You have a real farmer, a real man, and a real, physical piece of land that you can — indeed you must, we insist on it — go and visit. It’s an alternative way of organising food production and distribution.”
True, Europe may not be the best place to look right now for inspirational examples of capitalism at work. Nonetheless, as Koutsolioutsos’ venture illustrates, market-based economies do have a way of exposing humanity’s resourceful side.
Not all disruptive resourcefulness is as charming. Amsterdam is seeing increasing instances of people foraging through garbage to find valuable materials for resale. It’s akin to picking out recyclable containers from a garbage can — but looking for a broader range of material, and, to residents’ chagrin, sometimes in closed garbage bags.
One the one hand, there’s a benefit: reuse of material that would otherwise go to landfills, money for people that need it. But there is a cost, besides social stigma: The city has seen a 20 percent drop in the revenue it collects from recycling, according to Radio Netherlands’ report.
The takeaway? You might take heart that, even in a chaotic, evolving world, there are plenty of ways to make a buck (or a Euro). Then again, there is that “chaotic” part.