What: Floating dairy farm
Who: Beladon / Courage2025
When: started in 2010
Educational and positive for the image of the industry
The floating dairy farm in the port of Rotterdam is the brainchild of Peter van Wingerden and the company Beladon, which specialises in building on water. One day Van Wingerden came across plans for a ‘cow garden’ by the Courage Foundation, an innovation platform for the dairy industry that was set up by the agricultural and horticultural organisation LTO and by NZO, the trade association for the dairy industry. The Courage2025 cow garden, one of which will soon be opened in the Achterhoek region, is a kind of indoor zoo containing cows. In other words, it is open to the interested public, yet nonetheless produces milk on a commercial basis.
This educational goal appealed enormously to him, says Van Wingerden, an entrepreneur from Rotterdam. “Many city children no longer even know where our milk comes from. In cities, there is hardly any room to keep cows. At least not on land. But you can do it on water, especially in a city like Rotterdam, of course.” See here the genesis of the plan for the floating cow garden, where city dwellers will soon be able not only to look at live cows, but also to see how they are milked and what happens next to that milk. That Courage should also put its energy into these plans was an obvious step, according to De Vries. “For the sector to continue to function properly, we need to retain society’s appreciation and respect. Look at the discussion on factory-farmed chickens. This has had major consequences for the poultry industry. We think that these cow gardens will allow us to position ourselves in a positive way, literally in the middle of society.”
Courage and Beladon are now in discussions with a consortium of farmers that might be interested in investing in the floating colossus. The project consists of several phases. Firstly, there will be a cow garden on land, similar to the one in the Achterhoek region, possibly in the Merwede-4 port with an outlet to a meadow. A floating dairy processing station will be situated next to it. The next step is the construction of the floating dairy farm which, cows and all, will be located on water. The whole thing must eventually be towed from the port to the heart of Rotterdam, says Van Wingerden.