Farmers Club Chairman Richard Butler and his wife Sue accompanied a group of 19 members to the provinces of North and South Holland in the Netherlands in late September, writes Marjorie Talbot.
The tour was thoroughly enjoyed in warm sunshine, with great friendship shown on every visit we made, and an exciting balance struck between technical innovation and interesting Dutch culture. As one couple reflected afterwards: “An excellent tour! A great success. Very good fun and a very convivial group too.”
We explored how water engineering from the 15th to 20th centuries has reclaimed land from coastal delta and inland fresh water lakes to develop food production and housing. Our visits included the Royal Flora Holland auction market and farms in the Haarlemmer Polder and Meddenmeer Polder to better understand how agriculture and horticulture prospers on lands below sea level.
In South Holland we visited the €450 million Maeslant storm surge barrier and Keringhuis public education centre at Hook of Holland to learn about risk management of North Sea storms and rain water floods from the rivers Lek and Maas. Dr Ton Duffhues presented government policy and vision for 21st century agriculture and environment in the Netherlands.
Anneke Athmer, our knowledgeable local guide, provided cultural information, illuminating our scenic views with explanations of dykes, polders, crops, livestock and architectural styles. She shepherded us walking through the risky tramways and cycle-ways of Amsterdam, to sample traditional Dutch hospitality, and the van Gogh and Anne Frank Museums.
All in all it was a most fascinating tour, undertaken in an atmosphere of considerable friendship.