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The story of a Dutch farmer & his cheese farm

Once upon a time there were two farmers. Both lived and worked in the Green Heart of the Randstad, the area between Utrecht, Leiden, The Hague and Rotterdam. One was a cheese farmer in Zoeterwoude and the other a business man on  his parents’ cheese farm in Kamerik. Although they lived some miles apart, there were different aspects that tied them to each other.

Karin cheesemaker at Kaasboerderij van Veen at a local Dutch farmers cheese festival
Karin cheesemaker at Kaasboerderij van Veen at a local Dutch farmers cheese festival

Royal Supplier Dutch farmer cheese

I had invited Sjaak van Veen to the Dutch Culture Talk about the photo exhibition on farmers in the Netherlands in the The Hague Gemeentemuseum. His story, the story of a Dutch farmer, started decades ago.  When his parents started farming there were almost no rules and regulations. No one came to do check ups on the hygiene in the cheese farm, on the health and the nutrition of the animals. Running a cheese farm became more difficult from 1984 on. That was the time Sjaak took over the farm from his parents.  Now inspectors come every week to test the milk, see if the cows are healthy and if they’re chipped. Sjaak and his wife Karin, who is the actual Dutch cheesemaker, are lucky, because although the Dutch government & EU regulations make farming and producing cheese difficult, they are still able to deliver good quality cheese. Their farmers cheese won many awards and their farm, Kaasboerderij van Veen is even the official royal supplier.

They do have a difficult time finding succesors. Running a cheese farm requires different skills than a regular farm. They show people what life on the farm is really about and often give guided tours & cheese tastings to groups of school-aged children trying to make them interested in a future as a cheese farmer.

Cattle shed converted into a meeting room at De Boerinn
Cattle shed converted into a meeting room at De Boerinn

New life for a dutch cheese farm

Due to the milkquota in 2001 Hendrik Jan Hoogendoorn  had to take a brave decision.  He converted his parents’ cheese farm into de Boerinn, a place where recreational activities & business activities meet. In this inn there are rooms for different group sizes, ideal for business meetings and dinners made of regional products. The hayloft is definitely the most authentic place with an amazing view on the farmer’s land.  If you are on your own or with a group of friends or family you can also enjoy this view from the watchtower.

 

The 40 hectares of land invite every visitor to go on adventure. Either you go on a polder walk or choose from the many options de Boerinn offers like golf on clogs or survival games in the polder.  If the weather is bad there’s  an authentic farmhouse, decorated in Old Dutch style where you can do different old Dutch games.Farm land around Boerinn-veritasvisit

 

Although the focus of the ex cheese farm is not on cheese anymore, there are still enough things that hint to the past, like the cheese making workshop. The two brothers, Hendrik Jan and Elmar Hoogendoorn will always do their best to cherish the past and prepare for the future.

 

A polderwalk in Kamerik,  through the land of De Boerinn is part of the Culture & Cheese Tour Woerden on Saturday 2 July. You can still join. Send an email to travel(@)veritasvisit.nl for more information.

Verita’s Visit organises meet & greets with these two men so you can hear the story of a Dutch farmer at the Kaasboerderij Van Veen and at the De Boerinn.  This can be combined with Dutch cheese farm cycle tours in the area of Gouda, Leiden or Woerden. On request a guided tour on the (cheese) farm, a Dutch cheese making workshop, lunch and other activities can be included.

 

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