|Bank Merkur Cooperative Bank|
|Client Bjarne Krog|
|Location Fjenneslev, Denmark|
Bjarne Krog was raised on a farm and has always had an interest in farming: ‘I love to see and help things grow. Farming – and especially organic farming – is very versatile. That’s what I love about being a farmer,’ he says.
Krogagergård is not only a farm but also includes a farm shop where Bjarne and his wife, Kirsten, sell vegetables, flour and meats produced on the farm as well as products from other organic manufacturers. Their clients are mostly young families in urban areas who are starting to think more about how their food is produced. For Bjarne and Kirsten, animal welfare and environmental impact come first. Bjarne says: ‘We need to leave the least possible mess for our future generations, so we find it exciting to work on reducing our energy consumption for example.’
Krogagergård is also part of the BERAS programme and is an example of Ecological Recycling Agriculture (ERA) – organic agriculture based on local and renewable resources with an integration of animal and crop production. This way a large part of the nutrient-uptake in the fodder production (in Europe about 80 % of the arable land is used for producing fodder) is effectively recycled. This means that each farm strives to be self-sufficient in fodder production which in turn limits animal density and ensures a more even distribution of animals to farms.
We need to leave the least possible mess for our future generations, so we find it exciting to work on reducing our energy consumption.
Bjarne came into contact with Merkur Cooperative Bank early on: ‘After converting to an organic farming system, Kirsten and I started thinking more about sustainability and values in general and I think that is why we ended up choosing a bank that is about more than just the money,’ Bjarne explains. ‘We have a fairly close relationship with our account officers in Merkur and we have a mutual interest in each other’s work. This makes it easier to discuss the bank-related matters.’
Merkur granted Bjarne his first loan in 1998. ‘It is very fulfilling to work with clients like Bjarne, because it makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for society by providing financing. It is a pleasure to see that animals, nature and employees are treated well and with dignity at Krogagergård, and if my work can help projects like this grow, I am very satisfied,’ says Merkur Loan Officer, Lise Arnbo.
‘We show a genuine interest in the client and his or her work. This may take more time than what account officers in conventional banks are willing or able to spend, but to me this is very important in order to ensure the best possible collaboration between Merkur and the client. Furthermore, we don’t have sales objectives at Merkur, but we focus on advising the client according to his or her needs.’
‘Merkur has a great network within its working field and tries to link clients to each other. If, for example, Bjarne needed help with his website or another part of his business, we would probably be able to put him in contact with some of our other clients that provide this kind of service. We often work in this way.’
‘In Bjarne’s case, his ideals and values correspond very well with what we believe at Merkur. Our role is to ensure that the organic business is also economically sustainable.’