— Drawn from Clay, Noordoostpolder

Polder Farmers documents the livelihood and character of farmers who work the soil of the Noordoostpolder. During their stay in the polder in 2007, Atelier NL methodically visited different up to five farmers every day — 80 of them altogether — and harvested potatoes, rode tractors, and even witnessed the birth of a calf. They gathered information by listening to the farmers' stories and digging up buckets of soil from their fields. Many of the farmers who were befriended by Atelier NL no longer reside in the polder, which has recently been taken over by larger agricultural producers. Paul Scala, an Australian photographer based in London, captured vivid portraits of 42 of the farmers at work on their fields. 

Farmer Portraits by Paul Scala

"A bucket full of soil is anonymous; the stories of the farmers imbue it with identity."

Getting to know the Noordoostpolder region meant starting with the farmers who earned a living by working the soil. "The farmers were skeptical that we would be able to make anything from their earth," remembers Nadine. "But they were very kind, offering us coffee, driving us around on their tractors, and sharing information about the land."

Collecting soil from a farmer's field.

Paul Scala’s atmospheric portraits provide a vibrant look into life in the polder. By photographing the farmers on their own land, Scala captured the character of many individuals who brought the Noordoostpolder to life.