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Farmers discover tourist appeal of own operation

‘Inner-city folks’ ideal target group

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

UTRECHT, the Netherlands - Amidst all the exotic and adventurous travel destinations touted at booths at the recent Holiday Fair, the home country also offered a large variety of holiday possibilities. One such booth, a green pavilion, stood out from the others because of its non-exotic destination: the Dutch farm.

Operators of all kinds of farms individually or in regional cooperatives are offering their homes and land - and the surrounding environment - as venues for all kinds of holidays. Dairy farmers, fruit growers, cheese makers, poultry operators and even those ‘cow milkers’ whose fields and herds are away from their farmstead, all have something to offer.

Although the notion of thirty or forty years ago that city folks were never ‘exposed’ to farm life doesn’t hold water any longer, spending a weekend or an extended holiday in the countryside has its own unique appeal: from sounds and smells, a different daily timetable and rural amenities to environmental concerns, neighbourhood discovery and work experience.

Hay cart

To meet the varied wishes of all kinds of tourists, some farmers has banded together to offer a large choice of Farm Holidays. One of the participating farmers could offer old-fashioned accommodations while another might have a campground and a third organizes hayrides or allows his guests to help pick cherries.

With the variety of possibilities, farmers are jumping on the bandwagon - or in this case the hay wagon - also because it often means a welcome addition to sometimes meager operational income. Judging from the range of possibilities, participating farmers are quite inventive in making ‘a mountain out of a molehill’ so to speak. They offer boat rides to reach their outlying fields, hold competitions in pole broad jumping, offer courses in herb growing, build mazes in their corn fields, have a petting zoo or prepare old regional dishes - or drinks - for their guests.

Tourists of course don’t have to spend their entire holiday in one location or at one farm. They can sample what individual farmers or entrepreneurial cooperatives have to offer. In rural Groningen for example, eleven farmers promote a combined arrangement with a different host each night. Others cater to the daylight visitors, or offer biking or hiking tours through the extended neighbourhood, especially if that already is a designated tourist area. All with the motto: Visit the Farm!