Sustainability Excursion: CIEE heads to the farm(s)!
On a grey and chilly Saturday morning, CIEE Amsterdam students joined forces with their fellow students from CIEE Groningen for a day on the farm. Actually on two farms! Our colleague in Groningen, Fjaere van der Stok, wrote about our experience:
"Co-organized with Caroline, my Amsterdam colleague and aficionada of all things green and wellness-related, the goal of Sustainability Day is to provide CIEE students with contrasting perspectives on Dutch agricultural methodology. As a nation that prides itself on its produce and dairy and heavily subsidizes the production of both, the Netherlands may be a highly urbanized country, but it's also actively engaged in maintaining rural spaces through its investment in agriculture. Since our students spend much of their time in urban Amsterdam and Groningen, Sustainability Day is a great opportunity for them to glimpse how the rest of the Netherlands rolls. And for those of our students that have spent much of their lives in big cities, it’s also a chance to pat cute calves and see first-hand what goes into milking a cow (with and without robots) and sowing a field (always with GPS).
This semester, we spent the morning at De Polderzoom, a family farm that prides itself on producing and selling its own cheeses. Ard, a lifelong farmer, works on his farm seven days a week, welcoming his 160 cows into their milking stalls twice daily (these days, his shoulders lock up somewhat around 130) and enjoying their rodeo antics when his opens the barn doors in the spring.
After a giant lunch spread at a locally-sourced restaurant that included vegetable soup, savory Dutch pancakes with ragout filling (so good!) and vanilla vla (pudding, sort of) topped with fresh cream and fruit, our second tour began. In contrast to the more traditional methods of De Polderzoom, the Almere Stadsboerderij, or City Farm, is grounded in biodynamic philosophy and the passion of its visionary founder, Tineke. What started as a dream of integrating farming seamlessly into the local community has evolved into a multifaceted hub of eco-activity that includes a work-study program, a weekly organic farmer’s market, and a shop selling local wares.