As a kid, I remember being absolutely mesmerized by an airplane flying overhead. I didn’t experience an altitude change of my own until I was in junior high. Flying has since changed to an experience of being awestruck by the world passing slowly below. A little fish in an ever-expanding pond is how I feel after flying more than 12,000 miles in the last 21 days; I imagine my travel companions feel the same.
I am not sure it is even possible to put into words how amazing our two weeks in the Netherlands truly was. We learned about the minute details of developing seeds for consumption and eye-candy, how the Dutch people are breaching the consumer-producer gap and what it means to have governmental policy dictating agricultural practices far more than any of the fellows have ever known.
Dutch culture is all about efficiency, collaboration and the environment. So much of the land they currently farm was under water not long ago. They have adapted to their environment and made farmland pop up from virtually nothing. Dutch farms are dwarfed compared to the typical American farm, we can learn a lot from those in the Netherlands who understand how to use a small amount of land so effectively.
Optimization is absolutely key in all of Dutch agriculture. They optimize the land they have to use, the seeds they put into it and the business running the logistics. We were all impressed by how well adopted agro-tourism was everywhere we visited. Not only did farmers bring consumers to their farms to buy their products they also facilitated tours and learning opportunities as another form of income for the operation. We can definitely take a lot of ideas from our time in Holland and implement them in our own current and future operations.
To say this group meshed well is an understatement. By the end of the trip it legitimately felt like we had become a family. Our in-country guide, Anna, we lovingly called dad and our AFA supervisor, Annie, became our in-country mom. I can imagine at some point, it truly appeared like we were siblings; it definitely felt this way. It was an experience of a lifetime and I am thankful to have spent it with the ones I did. It would not have been possible without the hard work and support of so many people and organizations, and for this we are all thankful.
Lindsay King, Oklahoma State University