In 1978, founder Piet Glasbeek grew headed cabbage on a field next to a farm in the Frisian town of Haulerwijk, simply because he wanted to. He experimented with biodynamic agriculture and used no pesticides or growth promoters. Piet believes: you don’t mess with food or the environment. The cabbage harvest is good, but what to do with the bulk? Piet decided to make sauerkraut. With juniper berries to taste, following his grandmother’s recipe. In the shed behind his house, he packaged the biodynamic sauerkraut in wooden containers. They sold like hotcakes in the area, and he went through the entire supply in no time. Piet had found his craft.
The name for the young business is obvious: Machandel, Old Frisian for ‘juniper berry’. And Piet didn’t stop at sauerkraut. He went out seeking similar growers to supply him with beans, peas, corn and other vegetables. With the biodynamic farmers, mainly from Flevoland during those first years, he made agreements that still remain today. The wooden containers were replaced by glass jars and the shed behind the house was quickly bursting at the seams with the increase in production. Lorries full of jars with carrots and tomatoes left the home in Haulerwijk on their way to customers. Piet saw the need to rent a production facility elsewhere. In the meantime, his wife Bonnie reached agreements with the budding health food store chains. And at organic food fairs, Bonnie established contact with international consumers and suppliers.
Machandel returned to Haulerwijk in 2000, the hometown of most of its employees. A large production hall was built at the town’s industrial park, which soon required further expansion. That trend is still ongoing. The way of doing business – product transparency, fair prices for farmers, and accountability towards consumers and employees – laid a solid foundation for Machandel and has furthered the growth of the company.