Floating farm, the crazy idea of ​​a farm-barge - Companies

Floating farm, the crazy idea of ​​a farm-barge – Companies

Since 2019, a particularly original platform has been moored in the port of Rotterdam. And for good reason, since it is a floating farm housing around forty dairy cows.

Three floors

The port of Rotterdam, its cranes, its container ships, its industries, its dairy farm. For nearly three years, a new kind of urban farming operation has been firmly anchored there. On board this three-storey floating structure, 40 sea-legged cows and all the equipment necessary for milking as well as for transforming milk into yogurt or butter. At the initiative of this crazy project, we find Peter and Minke van Wingerden, whose objective was to produce healthy food in the city while respecting the environment and animals. The duo does not intend to stop there, since a similar vertical farming project is also in the works. But why on the…

The port of Rotterdam, its cranes, its container ships, its industries, its dairy farm. For nearly three years, a new kind of urban farming operation has been firmly anchored there. On board this three-storey floating structure, 40 sea-legged cows and all the equipment necessary for milking as well as for transforming milk into yogurt or butter. At the initiative of this crazy project, we find Peter and Minke van Wingerden, whose objective was to produce healthy food in the city while respecting the environment and animals. The duo does not intend to stop there, since a similar vertical farming project is also in the works. But why on the water? Because the pressure on agricultural and urban land is only increasing and climate change brings new challenges. The concept of the Floating Farm is deeply linked to that of circularity. In addition to supplying Rotterdam with foodstuffs and moving towards energy self-sufficiency thanks to an adjacent platform covered with photovoltaic panels, the farm also recycles the city’s “waste”. The city provides the floating farm with a good part of the raw materials necessary for its operation, starting with cattle feed. Dregs recovered from breweries, stale bread from local bakeries, grass mowed from sports fields, potato peelings from a processing company, etc. Sustainable sources of supply are multiple and sometimes conveyed by the same vehicles that deliver dairy products. Thanks to this economic model, “we hope to reach the break-even point by the end of the year”, says Minke van Wingerden. Another point on which the initiators of the Floating Farm project ensure that they do not want to compromise is the well-being of dairy cows. They got help from the company Easyfix, which specializes in “comfortable solutions” for farm animals. A small meadow has also been set up right next to it, on dry land, to allow these ladies to stretch their legs there regularly… An adjacent meadow is however optional, assures Minke van Wingerden, and does not constitute a a sine qua non for the deployment of other similar farms. However, these commitments were not enough to reassure animal defenders from the Partij voor de Dieren. They believe that cows have nothing to do on a floating structure. And the fact that two of them have already had to be rescued after falling into the water gives them food for thought. For the militants of the PvdD, the Floating Farm is a “madness” which they intend to put an end to and a “marketing device” in favor of intensive breeding. “Our cows are doing very well but there will always be people who oppose the use of animals for food. Everyone is free to form their own opinion,” retorts Minke van Wingerden. Others are also critical of the project. Klaas Van der Molen, of the architecture firm Goldsmith who designed the floating farm, clearly believes that farming on the water does have a future, although he is sometimes critical of the way in which van Wingerden run their farm. Be that as it may, the Goldsmith firm is already working on other floating structures (hen houses, vegetable gardens, etc.).

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