You might be surprised by just how much farmland there is in the vicinity of Rotterdam. This countryside is great for bike rides and walking, but the amount of food it produces – vegetables, dairy products, meat and cereals – is also impressive. The foresters of the Dutch nature conservation organisation ‘Natuurmonumenten’, together with Rotterdam. Make it Happen and 17 other partners, is making great efforts to realise the sustainable dream: ‘Rotterdam – down on the farm!’. After all, the journey of a beetroot grown in a more nature-friendly way in the Hoeksche Waard region, or a piece of cheese from the Midden-Delfland area, to a consumer in Rotterdam will be shorter, and that has to be a good start.
‘Rotterdam – down on the farm!’ marks the start of a major revolution in the countryside around Rotterdam and in the city itself; more biodiversity in the countryside, regionally- and sustainably-produced food in the city, plus sound and responsible farm management. The Dutch Postcode Lottery has awarded a grant of 5m euro to set this joint dream in motion.
The impact of the shopping basket
The food that ends up in our shopping baskets is decisive for the quality of both nature and landscape. That is why it is so important that farmers, online shops and supermarkets, and local short-chain initiatives all work together to ensure that an enhanced offer of sustainably- and locally-grown products is always available in the city.
The Rotterdam Transition Fund plays an essential part in the realisation of the ‘Rotterdam – down on the farm!’ initiative. This fund supports farmers who want to make the move to a more nature-inclusive type of agriculture, such as strip farming, the growing of crops on damp soils or the deployment of robots.
Connecting the city and the countryside
‘Rotterdam – down on the farm!’ is going to ensure that Rotterdam residents are involved in what goes on in the countryside surrounding their city. We are going to re-connect the city with the countryside. There will soon be plenty of locally produced food for sale – online, in the supermarket, in restaurants and on markets. Nature-inclusive model farms and food forests will be emerging on the Rotterdam city margins; an environment where the people of Rotterdam will be able to enjoy the countryside and its diversity. The participation of Rotterdam residents in this project will be enabled in a way that suits them. This may vary from simply knowing where your food comes from, to visiting a farm or participating in the Rotterdam Transition Fund.
Natural farmland surrounding the city
Biodiversity has suffered a severe blow in the Netherlands in recent decades. Modern farming techniques have silenced a countryside that used to be teeming with wild flowers, bees and birds. This initiative is going to change that.
Arie van den Berg, an organic dairy farmer from the Midden-Delfland area: ‘I embrace the Rotterdam – down on the farm! initiative wholeheartedly. I want to be able to make fine, honest products while treating the land and nature with the respect they deserve. At the same time, however, I would also like to see some appreciation from the community, as well as an appropriate financial reward, neither of which are a reality right now. As things are at the moment, I see the young farmers around me struggling with these issues. In deploying this project, all of us will be giving a boost to nature in the countryside around Rotterdam; instilling more faith in farmers as well as putting good, wholesome food on the plates of Rotterdam residents’.
If you would like to know more, read all about this dream project on www.rotterdamdeboerop.nl
The Dream Fund Project ‘Rotterdam – down on the farm!’ is a unique, unorthodox and versatile coalition of 19 Dream Partners, and involves the following organisations: Natuurmonumenten, Aardpeer, DRIFT, FrieslandCampina, the Municipalities of Midden-Delfland and Rotterdam, Greenchoice, Herenboeren Nederland, LTO Noord, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Picnic, Rabobank, Rechtstreex, Rotterdam. Make it Happen, Rotterdamse Oogst, SMK (Stichting Milieukeur), Staatsbosbeheer, Stichting DOEN and Zuid-Hollands Landschap.