Back in September, Ecomatters had its annual retreat for 2018, with this year’s destination being the beautiful island of Texel (an island in the North of the Netherlands). The retreat consisted of a few days of reflecting on who we are as a company and partaking in some fun team-bonding and educational activities.
At Ecomatters, we prioritize functioning as a powerful and effective team. This means taking the time to reflect on how we work together and to refocus our goals to support our company mission and vision. This year Ecomatters spent 2 days at a beautiful farmhouse on Texel and participated in activities including the exchange and discussion of professional personality traits based on the Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder method, experiencing local sustainability efforts, and hiking through the beautiful nature areas Texel has to offer.
Visit to the Salt Farm Texel
With global demand for increased agricultural productivity and the rising threat of disruptions in freshwater availability, the Salt Farm Texel has dedicated their work to identify varieties of edible plants that can be grown at different increased salt concentrations. Ecomatters visited the farm and took a tour led by Dr. Bas Bruning who did his PhD work in relation to saline agriculture. We were able to experience first-hand how the farm grows vegetables and other plants at various salt concentrations. Dr. Bruning also showed us several successful examples of how the Salt Farm Texel has worked with farmers all over the world, helping them improve their cultivation techniques and use different crop varieties that increase the yield in saltier soils. These techniques and the ability of plants to grow more easily in less-ideal environments helps not only to improve productivity but also reduce water stress as there is decreased need to pump in freshwater from far-away or from valuable drinking water sources. It was exciting to see practical research supporting the future of sustainable agriculture and to discuss how this kind of action plays a role in the development of modern sustainable activities.
Besides learning a lot about saline agriculture, after the visit we got to enjoy a delicious four-course dinner cooked with many of the salt-tolerant crops that are grown in the farm.
Team-bonding: Strengths finder and hiking
In order to enhance how we work as a team, the activities on Texel also included a lot of time together both indoors and outdoors. One of the team-bonding activities consisted of presenting the results of our Strength Finder assessments and discussing how these attributes contribute to working better as a team. We also had face-to-face sessions among each other where we gave feedback on our colleagues’ professional traits, having productive discussions about the traits we admired, the traits we wish we had ourselves, and those traits which we find challenging to work within each other. It was a great time to get to know everyone better and to find ways to work more productively and effectively as an Ecomatters team.
We also took some time just to have fun together. We took a hike through “De Slufter”, a unique nature area of the island featuring a space between two “sand dikes” (Zanddijks) where the North Sea flows inland during high tide and heavy northwesterly winds. When the tides are down, it offers a lovely sandy plain with many plants and flowers to hike through. Ecomatters also visited the Eierland Lighthouse and climbed up inside of it to see breath-taking views of the island from above. Getting out and experiencing preserved nature areas are a great way to reinforce motivations to work toward a sustainable future that is productive, but still finds a way to protect the natural resources the world has to offer.
Overall it was a great couple of days together as a team, and we look forward to taking on the next year with renewed perspective, and to continue working together as a team in an integrated and productive manner.