The task for the weekend was to create a report on Dutch Culture focusing on ‘Where People Make the Difference’. This is a vague topic. So I decided to do my report on something that I really think makes a real difference to people – food and the environment.
This probably doesn’t sound that interesting. In fact, I had several doubts yesterday as to how nerdy this topic is. When people generally think of Holland and particularly Amsterdam, I’m pretty sure that several more exciting topics come to mind. But the naughty side of Holland isn’t the only side to Holland. It’s actually one of the greenest countries in the world, and coming from a big industrial city in the UK, it was amazing to see all of the green spaces in such a major city – not to mention the endless trail of cyclists cutting down city emissions.
I spent a big part of my weekend in Amsterdamse Bos – which is absolutely unpronounceable to me for some reason. This is one of the biggest parks in Holland, relatively easy to get to (a 20 minute tram journey away from Central Station) and has a lot going on. To my probably quite socially unacceptable excitement, I finally rented a bike and rode around until I found the Goat farm (geitenboerderij).
On my little cycle up to the goat farm, I stopped to ask someone a question about whether or not I was allowed to cycle around. He answered that the farm was for children… Not only was this answer irrelevant, but untrue! I had a great time! I’m 21. And on my own! It was beautiful. I fed little baby goats and had some nice food, talked to some pretty cool people etc etc. Pah, definitely not only for kids. Maybe just a heightened sense of what constitutes fun.
But the thing that really struck me about the goat farm was the people who owned and worked on the little farmers stalls dotted around the main building. From handmade souvenirs to a fresh fruit and veg market to a whole stall dedicated to nuts. I interviewed a few of these people, who – apart from the camera shy Yvonne and her organic Italian based market – were more than happy to talk about why what they are doing is important.
This farm, and the beautiful park that it’s situated in, is not just a tourist attraction. The people who work here are passionate about what they do: bringing people of all ages together to recognise and appreciate where food comes from, and why this knowledge really does matter.
If you’re just not into the whole eco-warrior thing though, Amsterdamse Bos is still an awesome place to visit when you’re in Amsterdam, providing a well deserved break from the less environmentally conscious attractions of the city!