Mest - NL

The Netherlands has an agrarian economy. The top ten national export products are agricultural products. Flowers, eggs and pork chops are the foundations of the Dutch prosperity. 1* But for various reasons at the same time arable farming is also the problem child of the Dutch economy. Due to severe cuts in European farming subsidies the agricultural sector has to compete on a global market. Besides this farming is threatened by disease in both plants and animals and strict environmental laws have been imposed on the farmer and his business.

Three-quarters of Dutch soils have an agricultural use. Throughout history the agricultural industry has been fundamental to the specific spatial development of the Dutch Landscape. The base of this development has always been a balance between agriculture, natural resources and landscape. Now, in times of declining economic importance, the agricultural land is seen as a spatial reservation for urban expansion and nature development. In the governmental spatial planning briefs (nota ruimte) there is almost no attention for the characteristic Dutch polder landscape.

Can we think of new perspectives or do we have to abandon the idea of the Dutch agricultural landscape? Are we going to urbanise the farmland through housing and business parks and will today's farmed acres be the nature development of the future? Or can we reside on, graze, recreate in and farm the same land within the one spatial model? In that case does Dutch agriculture industry continue to intensify or does it need to focus on small scale organic horticulture? How do we handle the ecology of our food supply? Can manure be the new national energy resource?

Can we think of new perspectives or do we have to abandon the idea of the Dutch agricultural landscape?

Client: Academy of Architecture Rotterdam, 2002
Project: Research into the future of agriculture in the Netherlands
Planning: researchstudio 2002
External experts: Henk Hartzema (West 8) ), Eric Luiten.
Lecturers: Catharinus Wierda (Ministry of Agriculture), Zef Hemel (VROM), Jan Juffermans (De Kleine Aarde Boxtel), Henk van Blerck (Landscape Architect), Meta Berghauser-Pont (Permeta Architects)