Monday, September 24, 2007

Kinderboerderij and Community gardens

Most kids grown up in urban areas have seen cows, sheep, hens and the alike only in a book or on TV. Yet in most Dutch towns you can find the so called Kinderboerderij where children will be able to see, pat and even feed animals, and it is free.

We heard about this from the couple from US with a two year old girl. We then roamed around the city, and found some animals in a fenced area in a weekend several weeks before. There were no other visitors other than two of us. It was located inside a mental hospital, so we thought that was a place for people with mental problems to relax. Over there, we even saw three kangaroos. That was not the
Kinderboerderij. It shows that a pet really makes psychological benefits to human beings.

Finally last weekend, we found out the place. It was close to the Delft hout, which literally means Delt Wood, a big park around an artificial lake, surrounding by three rings of trails: one for pedestrians, one for horse riders, and one for bikes. The lake is quite big with trees surrounding all around. There was a piece of land covered with sand sand forming a small area of beach. I spotted a couple sun-bathing, and later found out there was a small nudist area around the lake. I have to admit that Dutch people are full of imaginations. They can make everything possible close to their home. That might be the reason why Dutch designers are so popular in the world.

There are also many community gardens close by. It is a little similar to the community gardens in US, but the piece of land you lease is much bigger. Many people built a little one room cabin in their land. However, there was no water electricity or drainage in the land. Only a drinkable water tap shared by many pieces of land. When people come to enjoy their outdoor farming, they can at least have some clean water for their thirsty.

The rest of the place are full of flowers or vegetables. Some are well maintained, and some you could see the owner hasn't come for a while. We have formed the habit to ask, otherwise we couldn't even figure out what it is. One retired couple told us, they owned this at a cost of around 350 euro for a year. They would spend at least one hour every day over there in the garden. In their small green house, they grow some tomatoes and some orange color fruits I have never seen before. We tasted and it might be belong to the same kind as pomegranate but much softer. The guy was consultant now working in helping Indonesia government in water management in the city. We were offered with some apples from their garden. It was for baking and we later made apple juice from it. I can still remember the sourness when I am writing about it now. It is bio-natur (organic)!

I have been wondering why people in the Netherlands rarely grow vegetables in their garden but mostly flowers. I got a not very satisfied answer, touching the point but still not convincing. Half of the land in the Netherlands are mostly claimed from the sea water, and not fertile for vegetations. So farming becomes the most reasonable agriculture when grass is well grown with the help of plenty of rain water. Today
approximately 60% of agricultural land in the Netherlands is used by dairy farmers, and there are around 1.4 million diary cows.

The fun of
Kinderboerderij is all in the pictures. It is interesting for us to find out, goats like to stay close to people, being touched. Sheep were all the time silently eating the grass, mostly staying away from people. Young sheep are very alert and wouldn't let people get close. Mr. Awaarar successfully touched an adult sheep the first time in his life time, and its fur was very thick. We also saw a huge white pig, with a tiny little curly tail at its back.

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